Monday, February 22, 2010

Qualifying for NYC Marathon

Talk about disappointment. Amber and I ran the Half at the Hamptons yesterday, both running to PR's hoping to qualify for automatic entry into the NYC marathon for 2010. Very exciting, but unfortunately, NYC marathon only accepts results from Jan 2009-2010 so our times although good enough for automatic qualification were a little too late. Drat!

However, this race was great for both of us. I had told myself to go out strong and just see how long I could hold out. I hit the first mile with the second pack(a group of six others) in 5:55. It didn't feel too too tough but then we turned the corner at were blasted by high winds which slowed the pace a bit. Our group of six quickly turned into just two, Jimmie Cochrane and me, with two guys slowing and two guys catching the front pack of six runners. Jimmie and I ran solid miles together, taking turns breaking the wind(he more than me) and talking about upcoming races. We hit mile 10 right around the sixty-two minute mark and I was still feeling good so I wished Jimmie well and picked up the pace a bit, or it felt that way. However, I finished in 1:20:42 so I couldn't have actually picked up the pace so much as just maintained it. I was pleased with my 5 minute PR and felt strong and am ready for New Orleans this Sunday.

Amber had a smoking fast 1:27 PR, taking nearly four minutes off her previous best. She ran a smart race, in 3rd for the most of it only to scoot by Dede Griesebauer at mile 12 to take 2nd overall.

Amber is to give her race report soon.

Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race

Kingman Farm snowshoe race in Madbury, NH is a very popular event which has sold out the last two years. It is a snowshoe race, held at night lighted only by head lamps. It is part of the Granite State Snowshoe Series and is put on by Acidotic Racing so you know the prizes are going to be good.
However, this year due to unseasonably high temperatures and lack of snow and despite Chris Dunn and his Acidotic teammates attempting to patch together a trail, the race had to be modified. Due to the modification, it no longer was part of the series.
When Amber and I showed up to the race we were shocked to see how few cars were parked in the lot. We knew it wouldn't be the best terrain, but COME ON! it's still one of the most fun, and unique experiences that most people will have during their season. About 50 other loyal snowshoers toed the line, Amber and I in running sneakers, some in Yaktrak or Microspikes and a few in snowshoes. As it was no longer part of the snowshoe series and the terrain was questionable, Chris had given everyone the option for what they chose to wear.
The pack took off with Geoff Cunningham taking the lead at a 5k pace; soon he and another Acidotic Racer, Charlie Therriault, were nothing but bouncing light off in the distance. After about a half mile of running with my head lamp on, I decided to turn it off and run by the moonlight. It was amazing! There is nothing like running at night in mixed footing with nothing but the moon to guide your way. It was such an enjoyable race, I feel bad for all the people that decided not to come and enjoy it. Yes, it was not a true snowshoe race, but it was a great experience and, as promised by Chris, truly rewarding for everyone. Everyone in attendance at the post-race celebration won something from the raffle varying from White Mountain Granola(my prize) to a pair of Kahtulla snowshoes(Amber).

The only downside to the race was that it was the same day as the Horsehill snowshoe race and the day before the Half at the Hamptons. Therefore, we decided to forego Horse Hill which looked like it turned out to be a nice race.

Thanks to Chris Dunn for the great race in less than optimal conditions-I was telling him that next year it should just be called Kingman Farm Race so people can come out in any weather condition and not be let down-It is sure to not disappoint.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Snow in New England?

In an unexpected turn of events for Granite State Snowshoers, we had two snowshoe races that were canceled this past weekend due to lack of snow. Lack of snow! In February! In New Hampshire! Stranger things have happened but they usually include David Ducoveny and a three eyed midget speaking backwards...
As Frosty melted away on Sunday, Amber and I decided to do a long run instead. We joined her father for a rolling 18 mile jaunt through Westford and Chelmsford. The hills came early and often, but we kept up a solid pace and put some good mileage in. Amber decided to take off for the last two miles running 6:30 pace. Needless to say, she left us in the dust.
What to do after 18 miles of pounding the pavement? How about 5,000 yards of swimming? Amber's sister, Deidre, invited us to the Harvard Master's Swim practice in Cambridge which was terrifying! Not only was I the worst swimmer there but I think they were trying to get me to stretch rather than swim so I didn't hold up the others. Gasping and nearly drowning for over an hour, we finally were finished. Thank heavens! Unfortunately, it appears that Harvard spends their money on clear water rather than complimentary towels and I was thus relegated to hand driers and paper towels to dry off.
I got another 20 miles in yesterday, running 10 with Amber and B. Lavoie and another 7 with Lavoie on the Bill Luti course and finishing up with 3(or so) at the garage with Joey(training for Flying Pig). I'm pretty happy with that mileage especially(as I'm writing) the snow is FINALLY FALLING- which is great for this weekend at Kingman, but bad for trying to run in the city of Concord.
Hope to see everyone at Kingman on Saturday night and Half at the Hamptons Sunday morning.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The 2-1-1

The 211 you ask. Is that the new 411? Nope. It's Amber placing this weekend in our three peat. Joining us this year was Sean Snow who had a respectable: 8-1-7 while I took a 9-4-6 placing.
The weekend started out Saturday at Northfield Mountain on a course eerily similar to the Mountain Race series race held there in the summer. The main difference? Instead of taking 3 miles to attain the 1,000+ feet of elevation gain we did it in two. After hoofing it to the summit, we followed some single track before barrel assing it 3.3 miles back down to the finish. That's where both Amber and I lost it. I was solidly in 6th place catching up to Tim Mahoney(at least I'd like to think that) when I took a wrong turn and got off trail. It only was a delay of 30 seconds or so but in that time five runners had passed me. I was able to catch two but Sean, Steve Wolfe and John Pajer all held me off. Amber lead the entire race until the last kilometer where, in her words "out of nowhere" Carolyn Stocker bombed by her to take the lead and win for the women.
The next race was the third in the Freeze Your Buns series where I paced Amber to a solid 18:43 for first female and 3rd overall. Sean smoked the competition in what can only be described as a beehive poking race, as he tried to evade being drafted on for the entire 3.1 very windy miles. Needless to say his irritation probably helped him cruise to the win.
The final race of the weekend was Concord's Fourth and Four, when I came one second off finishing in the top five. Amber pulled off a strong win over the tough competitor in Christin Doneski while Sean "limped"(while still running 6:12 pace) in with a pulled hamstring.

A fun weekend and good tempo training for the 21st's Half at the Hamptons.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bring on the Northeast Snowshoe Championships!

You only find out how good you really are when you toe the starting line with the best athletes and everyone brings their A-game!!!!

Thanks to Chris Dunn for getting the ball rolling on this!! His Blog:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snowshoe Rankings Revisited

I figured that since it seems that everyone is doing, I might as well. I think that we'd all agree that the men are pretty accurate but that the women's rankings are somewhat up for debate as there haven't been any races in that all five of the top women have competed. Therefore, I came up with a ranking that I'd like to call the Jim Johnson Equalizer. While he hasn't run in every race that the women have, he has run in seven in three states finishing nearly first in every race. Therefore, from these seven races, assuming JJ a constant, we can figure out the percentage that each woman finished behind him in their respective races. The results aren't significantly changed from what Chris Dunn and Dave Dunham compiled but the top five have changed in a few positions.

Drum roll please:
1. Abby Mahoney: 1st with an average JJ percentage of 119%
2. Amber Cullen: 2nd with an average JJ percentage of 125.6%
3. Amy Lane(and fellow ex-Bear Naked Team Member): 3rd with an average JJ percentage of 129.5%
4. Ann Rasmussen: 4th with an average JJ percentage of 129.6%
5. Carolyn Stocker: 5th with an average JJ percentage of 134%

It'll be exciting to see if we can get all of these racers together at one race-Granite State Snowshoe Championships? USSSA Nationals? That will sure make for one fast race!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Morning Run

I've discovered a key ingredient missing from my last year's failed attempt at the VT100. Yes, yes I realize a lot had to do with my 20 mile weeks and a triple triathlon the weekend before, but I'm speaking of the middle distance tempo run. Last year, I would do 3-5 miles 2-3 days a week and then whatever race was planned for the weekend. This year, thanks to Amber, B. Lavoie and Sean Snow, I've found the beauty in a mid-week tempo run.
It started a few months back with a 13.1 mile birthday run that we all nearly PR'd during, and has grown to a twice monthly morning tempo run where we go out too fast and all hang on for dear life. The unofficial rule of thumb is you don't want to be the one to cry "uncle" otherwise you will spend the rest of the week being harrassed via email. Usually, I'll just stay a few strides back from the others so that they can't see my tears.
Tempo runs are great to get the legs used to running at marathon race pace for a longer duration than most of the early season races that we do so it's a great complement to the weekend miles that I've been able to put in. Additionally, these tempo runs will increase in length as we get closer to marathon(and Ironman) season so it will be a great way to increase QUALITY miles, much better than the 2 hour slogs that I did by myself last year that prepared me for NOTHING.
It is way to early in the season to see how effective these runs really are but Amber and my first test will be Half at the Hamptons Feb 21st and New Orleans Marathon the following Sunday. I'm hoping to qualify for automatic entry to NYC marathon at one of those two races, so I'll definitely be putting on my game face.
This coming weekend will be interesting in itself, as Amber and I will be doing a Three Peat. We'll be doing the Northfield Snowshoe Race on Saturday and then a double race(Freeze Your Buns and Fourth and Four) on Sunday. Should be a good speed weekend!

Monday, February 1, 2010

USSSA Nationals Here We Come!

This past weekend, Amber and I raced the Sidehiller Snowshoe race in Sandwich, NH. Due to the lack of snow in the woods, the race ended up being a 3 lap 5.2 mile FAST race. The competition was steep as CMS men came out to qualify for the United States Snowshoe Association's National Championships which will finally be held on the East Coast. My hope was to crack the top ten overall to qualify as well. With 8 racers well ahead of me, I settled into a comfortably hard pace for the first lap. As I was rounding the fair grounds to start the second lap, CMS's Dave Dunham passed by me. For the few people who have never seen Dave run, it really makes you feel like you're running in mud the way he almost floats above the ground. I decided to stay right on his heels for as long as I could and see where it brought me. The two of us ran the next lap together when Acidotic's own Steve Wolfe, passed us both. Now the three of us were vying for spots 9-11th! Everytime that one runner would make a move it was quickly picked up by the other two runners. It was neck and neck until the final turn where I sprinted by Steve who, once he realized that I wasn't in his age-group anyway, let me pass to finish 9th, with Dave 3 seconds behind and Steve 4. So on March 6th, Amber and I will forego the Frigid Infliction we had scheduled to head up to Syracuse, NY to compete in the National Snowshoe Championship.
Amber ran a strong and smart race, running even splits for all three laps, taking home her fourth win in the Granite State Snowshoe Series also qualifying for the USSSA nationals. I do find it a bit interesting that Amber's won every snowshoe race that's she's entered and yet is only ranked 4th in the New England Rankings. Therefore, I've convinced her to take a week off of the Granite State Snowshoe Series Races this coming week to head down to Northfield Mountain and take on some of the CMS women. Should make for an interesting race. We'll keep you posted on the outcome...