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

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hallo-wiener Hustle

Finishing the first leg of the
Hallo-wiener Hustle in Manch Vegas
[Photo courtesy Gianina Lindsey]
"Drinking beer doesn't make you fat, it makes you lean...against bars, tables, chairs, poles..."  -Anonymous

Manchester, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- You know the old saying...if you can't beat 'em, start racing in hot dog and beer drinking relays!  For the second time in less than two months I found myself dressed in full redneck regalia on the starting line with Perry the Platypus, a 5 foot tall Coney Island Dog, and some dude in a poncho and sombrero.  What in all things Dijon was I doing?  Why the Hallo-wiener Hustle of course.  This new event popped up on the radar back in the summer when the RD e-mailed me to ask for help spreading the word.  Originally the race was scheduled for Halloween but a freak snowstorm forced a postponement.  We lost one of the original four, but found a Disco Bunny as a replacement.  This relay was modeled after the Grog 'N Dog that we did in October...4 person team, 1.25 mile city loop, hot dog, and beer.  Back in Providence last month I held back a little not having any experience with following a run with shoving a hot dog down my throat and guzzling a beer.  Turns out it was still difficult so this time I decided to employ the Fitzgibbon Principle; show up or blow up.  But this event wasn't mine alone to win, I brought three very capable (and very thirsty and hungry) teammates in Dena 'Disco Bunny' Beauchesne, Timmy 'Wiener' Lindsey, and Mariano 'The Nerd' Santangelo.  Without our 4 minute miler Nick Wheeler, who happened to be in Philly trying to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon trials, I would lead off the race and attempt to establish us somewhere in the Top 5.  With the aid of a belt (I didn't wear one last time and ran with one hand on my cutoffs the entire way) I jumped off the line hard and tried to stay with the lead group.  Clearly the ringers would be a 4-some of tight wearing no shirt 20-somethings who apparently thought 'abs' were a costume (thank you Gianina Lindsey for that line).  The youngster quickly gapped myself, Perry, and the dude with a sombrero.  By the time we had run the 1/4 mile up Elm and before the turn onto Blodgett I had moved into 2nd place and was pushing as hard as a redneck could push.  Perhaps pulled by my younger and faster competition or lured by the smell of stale beer and cigarettes in McGarvey's Bar, I arrived back at the start in 2nd place overall in a brisk 6:45 for the 1.23 mile loop (5:30's if you're scoring at home).  Quickly 'hustling' inside I found my place marker at the corner of the bar with my steamed wiener and a 22 ounce Miller Lite.  Not a big fan of the bun dunk and naked dog chomp I methodically alternated between bites and gulps.  With the dog down I still had about 1/2 the beer to go and with two college-sized 'sips' I emptied the plastic cup and set it down emphatically on the bar.  Apparently my skinny-legged ab wearing foe must have been drinking his beer with a straw because I emerged out of McGarvey's in first overall!  Or did I?  Handing the baton off to Mariano we were now in 1st place overall...for the moment, and what a brief moment it was.  The #2 'ab' clad no shirt wearin' track star quickly overtook Mariano making him look like he was running in chinos...wait, he was running chinos.  With a determined look and a pocket protector he bravely held off all other challenges and matained our 2nd place overall lead as he arrived back at the bar.  In a dog eating display that would have made Joey Chestnut proud, Mariano buzzed through his Schonland and empty his beer with dizzying efficiency.  Sort of made one wonder if he had done this before?  By the time he handed the baton to Dena the "transition area" outside the bar was chaos and it was becoming next to impossible to figure out who was where and what place we were in other than behind the "Dudes With Abs" and in front of the "4 Amigos".  In true aR fashion, Disco Bunny Dena ran her tail off (figuratively) and although gave up a spot to a guy in a multi-colored poncho kept us decidedly in the mix overall.  Our anchor, Timmy Lindsey (or as they call him in the 'hood, T-Lin), had made the most ironic journey of all to be in that moment to help us podium.  Only a few short years ago he had found himself topping 375 lbs.  With the support of his family and incredible determination, he had lost over 200 lbs. and is now a multiple time marathon finisher!  As he took the baton from Dena his two worlds collided in the most ironic moment in dog & beer relay history.  Here he was setting off to do something that had become a huge part of his life now (running) to get to a place he had been to not long ago (devoring hot dogs and drinking beer).  In a head-to-foot hot dog costume he steamed the course and pushed up the bar for the last 'leg' of his race and ours.  Harkening back to his days as a semi-pro eater he devowered the dog and polished off the beer in near record time sprinting out of the bar and perhaps into Hallo-wiener Hustle history!  Confident we had to have been in the Top 5 overall and perhaps the fastest co-ed team we anxiously awaited the results.  And when they were finally posted we were shocked to see...that we weren't even listed!?  Fearing there had been a mistake I immediately went inside to talk to the timer (and aR teammate).  Apparently, during the pre-race briefing I was too busy getting in the head of the young guy with tights and didn't hear the RD explain there was one door for going into the bar and another for leaving bar.  And the door for leaving the bar had the official timer.  My lap had never been recorded.  I wasn't alone.  Multiple teams made the same mistake.  But we ran all the loops, ate all the dogs, and drank all the beer.  After a few tense moments and some re-scoring the official annoucement was made...we had won the co-ed division!  Our prize?  A Pabst Blue Ribbon beer wagon.  Oh, how I love these races!

[L-R] Dena, Timmy, Chris, Mariano
[Photo courtesy of Gianina Lindsey]
 NEXT UP:  Andover 6k XC Race

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RI 6-HR Relay

Finishing lap #4 of the RI 6-HR Relay
[courtesy of Scott Mason]
"The older I get, the better I used to be." - Lee Trevino

Warwick,  RHODE ISLAND -- Among the many things that acidotic RACING provides is the chance to be a part of something great.  Sunday at the Rhode Island 6-Hour Relay, hosted by our friends from the Tuesday Night Turtles, we had the chance to defend greatness.  Last year our 5 person relay team won the event and set the relay course record by running 22 laps (59.4 miles) in 5:54:00.  Four of those athletes including Rich Lavers, Danny Ferreira, Charlie Therriault, and myself would return accompanied by newcomers Judson Cake and Chris Lalmond.  Top to bottom we had at least as strong of a group as 2010 and we had our sights firmly fixed on a record breaking 23 laps.  Judson led the event off and put down a very fast first 2.7 mile lap establishing an early 90 second lead.  And we were off.  Charlie, Danny, Chris, Rich, and then myself took turns looping the gently rolling Warwick City Park bike/walking path negotiating the tight turns, ultra runners, and leashed 4-leggers.  Heading into the event I felt a little tired from a busy year of racing and aside from some annoying nagging hamstring tightness quite healthy.  I opened with a 16:01 (5:55's) and felt comfortable doing it.  When I got back to our team area word had it that Chris' foot issue was a much bigger deal than originally thought.  His opening 16:51 was very uncharacteristic and not at all representative of his immense talent and very high fitness.  As we clicked off the laps our lead began to grow as our nearest competition from Fuel Belt was running a man down with only five.  In the sixth position it was certain that I'd only run three laps total so I attempted to repeat my first effort on my second lap.  At 16:07 (5:58's) I was a little off pace but felt like I ran in control and consistent.  Sitting down to recover between laps the word came that Chris would be forced to withdraw from the event because of his foot.  Although he was obviously disappointed it was certainly the correct decision.  Our overall lead was secure and through a dozen laps we were actually a little ahead of record setting pace.  Knowing I had a little less time to recover and would need to run a 4th lap I adjusted my race plan for lap #3.  Not having any experience running 4 laps at this race I chose to throttle back for my third loop and ran a very conservative 16:45 (6:12's).  By the time I finished I could almost tell my goose was cooked.  I quickly headed to our rest area to hydrate and get my sweats back on my legs to keep them warm.  Laying down I elevated my feet and began to wonder what I'd have left to give on my 4th lap.  As is typical of my aR teammates they gave nothing less than everything they had and their tenacity was infectious.  Everyone was obviously feeling the effects of 5 1/2 hours of very hard racing including Charlie who due to a calf injury could barely manage a stiff legged shuffle during his warm-up only to snap out of it miraculously once he got up to race pace.  Judson was rock solid as always, Danny stayed on course, and Rich exceeded his #5 placing putting in one fast lap after another.  Then with just shy of 30 minutes left in the race Rich handed the bracelet to me for our 22nd and record tying lap.  In order for Judson to have any chance of putting in #23 (and breaking our own course record) I would have to run at least 30 seconds faster than my fastest lap of the event.  I'm as positive as they come but I'm also very realistic about my athletic ability.  I took out of the transition area determined to 'show up or blow up' and to give Judson at least a fighters chance at the record.  I hit the mile split in 5:50, ccertainly faster than my Lap #3 split but not fast enough to run sub 16:00.  I ran as hard as I could but was struggling to find a rhythm.  That was until I met Danny and Rich who had doubled back on the course to intercept me and pick me up for the last 1/2 mile.  Danny immediately got 3-4 meters in front and shouted encouragement while Rich hung back to pace teammate Ryan Welts who was finishing the ultra.  The course rolled over those final few hundred meters and I felt Danny's energy pulling me forward.  Finishing in 16:29 (6:06's) there's no question that without his help I probably would have repeated my 16:45 Lap #3 performance.  Judson knew that 13 minutes and change didn't leave him enough time to complete a full lap but he headed out to cross as many timing mats on the course as he could.  We didn't officially finish that record breaking 23rd lap but we did set a new course record of 22 laps (59.4 miles) in 5:47:33 (5:51's) breaking our own mark by 6.5 minutes and defended our title!  I'm so proud of my teammates for the toughness they displayed including ultra runner Ryan who finished 11th overall running 37.8 miles in 5:48:50.  Just incredible.  For our victory we won three cases of Harpoon beer and a cool RI6-HR Relay pint glass.  A very heartfelt thank you to our hosts Bob and Jackie Jackman from the Tuesday Night Turtles for another fantastic event. 

(L-R) Chris Lalmond, me, Judson Cake, Rich Lavers,
Charlie Therriault, Danny Ferreira
[courtesy of Scott Mason]

NEXT UP:  Hallowiener Hustle