Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Odd Double

Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE--This weekend had to have been one of the strangest doubles I've ever done. Death Race yesterday, Exeter Trail Race today. No matter how sore my back was this morning there was no missing Ri & Sarah's debut as RD's (and our own event). Last night I had tentatively made the decision to skip the 10 miler I had pre-registered for and instead race the 4 miler. When I arrived in Exeter a little after 8:00 AM and found Steve Wolfe he helped change my mind. According to Steve he too had heavy legs and a sore back and was just "planning to run eeeeeeasy". As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Anyone who has raced Steve knows his idea of "easy" isn't the same as most mere mortals. I was once again suckered, although he actually did me a favor. At the gun he was off like a shot. You would have thought he was racing the 4 miler! I did mention to him before the start that the trail narrows to fairly tight singletrack several hundred meters from the start and that it's best to secure a position early. Right away the lead pack including Steve and local orienteering master (and fantastic runner) Ernst Linder broke away from me and never looked back. I kept them in sight for a while but by the 5 mile mark I didn't see a soul for the rest of the race...until the two leaders ran by me going in the opposite direction! Just as soon as they ran past I came up on teammate Mike Sallade (volunteering today after placing 4th in the Death Race yesterday) and asked him if I was going in the wrong direction. He shouted "NO!" and I was left to ponder what the heck was going on? After a minute or two when nobody else ran by I surmised they must have taken a wrong turn. By the second half of the race I found a zone and quite astonishingly felt great...legs strong, no health issues at all. I finished unofficially right around 1:20 and 6th place overall (4th if you DQ the two guys who finished 1 & 2 and looped a couple miles of the course in the wrong direction). Steve Wolfe, despite his heavy legs and back spasms, taped in 3rd place overall but took home the winner's prize money when the top 2 wrong-way runners were DQ'd. Oh, and for future reference...Steve always races hard even when he's racing easy. Finally, it was also great to see so many teammates show up to race and volunteer including those I've mentioned as well as Maddie, Karen, Hayley, John Skewes, Jen Smith, Leslie Dillon (who won the 4 miler race outright!), and Joe Merriam.

PS. Ri & Sarah did a fantastic job as RD's and represented acidotic RACING incredibly well. I don't think I've ever done a 10 mile trail run that went by so fast! The course was exceptionally well marked (despite the wrong way runners) and simply a joy to race. When word of this race gets around it's sure to grow in '10.

Next up: MDI Relay, Bar Harbor, MAINE

Saturday, June 27, 2009

O'fer Death Race

Pittsfield, VERMONT -- Although I am interested in the performance of others, I usually can't bring myself to read an entire race report if I have to use the scroller-thingy on my mouse. Admit it...you don't read them either. Therefore, in an effort to simultaneously reduce my carbon footprint and spare you five minutes of your life you'll never get back I'll keep this brief. The picture to the left is me pulling my son's BMX (sans wheels & chain) and a root stock (which I hacked out of Mother Earth at approximately 05:15) under a small wooden bridge and through a rocky creek to roughly 50 meters of low lying barbed wire over said rocky creek. [NOT PICTURED: my pack wedged in a 5 gallon bucket]. By the way, I had just finished a looong 3 hour river scramble carrying all this junk. Shortly after this I hauled all my stuff across RT100 to a pile of twenty logs which had to be quartered and stacked. Having nearly made two adjusted cutoffs, I was racing literally on borrowed time. Carrying the smaller lighter axe (vs. standard issue lumberjack model) became a liability on this task as the 12+ inch diameter tree trunks were more than a little too much for my nimble, but overmatched camp axe. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) the last adjusted 10:30 cutoff for all logs quartered & stacked wasn't enough. I was DNF'd after having completed only 2 of the 14 challenges. Because I promised to keep it short I'll end my tale there, but believe you me there is PLENTY more to the story than that! The next time you see me ask about 1.) what happened to my teammate Dwight, 2.) what the hell a tap root is/does, and 3.) why thru hikers make great death racers.

PS. Thanks to 2008 Peak Races Series champion, Ri Fahnestock, for crewing for both Dwight and I...although it was a little like having Micheal Jordan watch you shoot jumpers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Death Race Preparation

Mandatory Gear - Bicycle, Axe, String, Chain Break Tool (bicycle tool), Compass.

In four days Dwight and I will travel to Pittsfield, VT for perhaps the greatest challenge of our lives...the Death Race. Saturday I finished reading the Rock Warrior's Way and it really has helped me put this weekend into perspective. In my 20's this race would have held a much different meaning than it does today. What age has taken with respect to VO2max, muscle mass, and recovery time it has replaced with something far more important...wisdom. There is no "success" or "failure" this weekend, only learning. How often in our 9-5 existences do we truly get to experience what lies outside of our self-limiting comfort zones? To face fear and stay within the moment, open to the possibilities. There is a great deal to do before Saturday.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bow Lake Dam 15k

Strafford, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Life is great when you get to race in your hometown. Actually, I'm technically from Dover but Strafford is where I now call home. The Bow Lake Dam 15k was revived after a several year hiatus and the committee who brought this race back to the Strafford community did a tremendous job. Many of the homeowners along the 15k route set up water stops and there were at least 3 live bands playing music from driveways along the way. Multiple water stops and a ton of volunteers made race day that much more enjoyable. Mother Nature cooperated as well and bathed the beautiful lake loop with sunny skies and temps in the 70's. I met fellow teammate Steve Wolfe before the race and quickly finalized a race plan. Steve is recovering from a mysterious musculoskeletal injury that forced him to shut it down for several weeks. A fierce competitor and incredibly talented runner Steve agreed with the plan to go out together around 6:30's, survive the "hill", and then hammer to the finish. We figured by working together we may be able to pick up a couple of spots late in the race and pull each other to the finish. Our first split was just shy of 6:25's as I worked to find a groove. The rolling nature of the first 6 miles made it somewhat challenging to run consistent splits. A little fast here, a little slower there we stayed within a few meters right up to the monster climb. Funny thing was I sort of lost track of where I was on the course. As we climbed the hill the thought crossed my mind...if this is a roller before we get to the hill I may be in trouble. Little did I know I was actually ascending the hill. As I plugged away I began to slowly open up a gap on Steve. He claimed I opened up a 30 second lead at one point during the climb. When I finally realized I was actually climbing the killer hill I was almost 2/3 of the way to the top. This immediately bolstered my confidence and I set my sights on the guy ahead of me. By the time I finished the climb I was on his shoulder. As we ran down toward Tasker Hill Road I peeked behind me and noticed Steve slowly closing the gap. Flying down Tasker Hill Road (marginally out of control) Steve caught and passed us. He never looked back. The final mile on Bow Lake Road was a struggle as I felt my engine running out of gas. Steve widened the gap between myself and the younger guy whom I had caught and was now pulling away from me as well. In one last ditch effort not to lose another spot I looked behind me and felt the next runner was sufficiently back not to challenge at the finish. I held on for a 1:02:12 (unofficial). It was good enough for 10th place overall and 4th in the 40-49 age category. Imagine that...10th overall and still finish off the podium. Steve's incredible rally and finishing kick were good enough for 8th overall and 3rd in our age group. It was great to see him on the podium after shutting things down for a while. With no rest for the weary, Dwight will be here in less than 24 hours for a 3+ hour Death Race training session. It's a good thing you don't saw logs with your legs.

Next Up: Exeter Trail Race, Fort Rock, Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Exeter Trail Race Preview

Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE--This morning I met Ri, Sarah, & Mike at Fort Rock for a preview of the course for June 20th's Exeter Trail Race presented by TEVA. This will be acidotic RACING's first true trail race and Ri & Sarah's debut as RDs. The 10 & 4 mile courses begin on the same trail starting at the parking area of the Henderson-Swasey Town Forest. At roughly the 2 mile mark the two races diverge as the 4 milers will loop back to the start/finish while the 10 milers ditch under RT 101 through the tunnel to the Oaklands side of the network. Once through the tunnel there's another 6 miles to negotiate before coming back through the tunnel and finishing on the same course as the 4 milers. I've ridden at Fort Rock a time or two and it's definitely some of the sweetest and sickest mountain biking around. The roots, rocks, bridges, drops, and turns are plentiful enough to challenge even the most technical rider. As a trail race, the course that these two have set-up will have no rival in these parts. I've never raced on such technical trails and I suspect not many other competitors on June 20th will have either. Constant focus must be directed a meter in front of your feet as you work to pick the cleanest line through boulder fields and tree roots. Running behind another competitor (as I did with Ri for most of the run) significantly reduces sight lines and the follower is virtually at the mercy of the leader to chose the best footing. For the mountain goats in the audience there's not much (or any) significant elevation changes. Although what it may lack in elevation it more than makes up for it in turns. Mountain bikers hate riding straight lines and have designed the trail network as a two wheeled amusement ride. If you enjoy running trails you'll love this race. I don't think I've ever done a 10 miler (woods or roads) at 8:00 mile pace that has gone by any faster. I was actually a little disappointed when it was over. But alas, in two weeks I'll be back to hammer it for real.

PS. We've secured some awesome prizes from Nathan, Sunday River, Wheel Power, Serendipity, and of course Redhook. Those familiar with the prizes at our snowshoe races will not be disappointed with our trail race prizes! Registration is now OPEN!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Today happened to be "one of those days" at work that everyone has now and again. The wheels started to come off early and it seemed like one misfortune followed another. Extremely frustrated that things hadn't gone my way I stewed over the days events the entire commute home. When I sat down this evening to read I remembered a passage I had read a few days ago and decided to read it again.

"As we accept these responsibilities, we grow to accept a great truth: life is difficult. Once we fully accept difficulty as natural and normal, we cease to be offended or daunted when we encounter a struggle or a test. We can embrace these tests as opportunities. Difficult experiences are the way we learn, and they also are the way we can appreciate ease. We understand brightness by its contrast to dimness, happiness by its relationship to sadness. By embracing this duality of experiences, we allow ourselves to find peace within our difficulties rather than wasting our power on trying to escape them. We shift to a position of power by focusing on seeds of opportunity within difficulty and staying curious, by exploring reality instead of avoiding it."

From The Rock Warrior's Way by Arno Ilgner

This lesson applies not only to my professional experiences, but to my personal life and athletic endeavors as well. There is no growth within the realm of comfort. Great opportunity lies within the belly of the beast of great struggle.