Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ultra-iron-running Girl and Boy

Spider Dan and Gat Man
That's right. I think it's time for a name change to our blog. After my yog in the Colorado Rockies last week, and Amber's AMAZING year thus far, I think the above title is more than appropriate. Other options: IronAmberandonehundredandtenpoundweakling, Supergirlandwailingwhilerunningboy, and Irongirlandspiderdan.

Spider Dan?
In the spirit of the heroes honored at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth(CHad) Hero Half Marathon and trying to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the most superheroes gathered in one place, my friend Eric Gattie and I decided to help out a noble cause.

The Rules:
I had to dress up as superhero that has been published in a book, comic, television program or film(So no Wailingwhilerunning Boy). Guinness had indicated to us that 3 characteristics that make a character as a superhero:

1. They have a secret identity.

2. They fight crime.

3. They wear tights

So I as Spiderman and Eric as Batman(or Spider Dan and Gat Man) ran in the stiffling hot race on Sunday. Fully covered in the Spidey Suit and Mask, made things a bit hotter. To commemorate such a auspicious occasion, the Super Secret Project performed "Granite State of Mind" which certainly helped us get in the right state of mind.

While this was in fact a race, Eric and I did not neglect our duties to the community as well proceeded to run 13.1 miles while giving hi-fives, enjoying the day, dispensing useful advise and saving any kittens stranded in trees. We even let this lesser known superhero pass us at the finish just to make herself feel better.

I can't think of too many races that were quite as fun. While certainly not running any PR's, giving back to the CHaD and being amongst so many people who came to help was pretty inspiring. After all we do have to live up to our Super Hero names.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leadville 100-Part II

Leadville 100- Talk about highs and lows. I arrived in Denver on Thursday before the race to find that my checked baggage was lost. In the bag, was all my nutrition, my trekking poles, cold-weather gear and headlamps. After five unsuccessful attempts of contacting United about my bag and going out to Walmart to purchase some backup gear, I finally get the call that they'll be delivering it within the hour. I get my luggage, prepare my drop bags and am ready to go. To the bathroom...

Leadville is located at 10,200 feet above sea level. Therefore, I was very nervous about getting altitude sickness before the race. So I did what most(or at least some) sane people would have done-drink copious amounts of water. Good news? Didn't get sick. Bad news? Had to pee every hour making sleep difficult. I actually had to stop on my way from my hotel in Frisco to Leadville-a thirty minute drive!

I went into Leadville with two goals: 1) Redeem myself from last year's VT 88.6 and finish and 2) Not die.

With low standards like that, I will always be successful.

To the race itself: The race starts off with a five mile downhill and paved and dirt roads, I knew better than to go out too fast so just ran at a comfortably slow pace. We soon turned onto the first trail of the day and "holy crap" there was this 1/4 mile ascent probably as steep or steeper than anything at Washington. I thought to myself that I didn't remember seeing that on the course map. And of course it wouldn't be there due to its brevity but nonetheless it was a wake up call for what was to come.

After coursing through trails alongside Turquoise Lake, we began our first ascent of Sugarloaf and 11,000+ feet. It was at the point that I knew I was in for a long day. Actually it was the first of many lows. As I jogged into the 24 mile aide station, I was seriously considering quitting when I saw Chad Denning from NH cheering me on. What on Earth was he doing here? Supposedly he was running the TransRockies race and had a couple days to relax and came to watch. Clearly, I couldn't quit now. Or at least until he was out of sight.

Luckily at that point the course become mild and a good portion of flats allowed me to get in a bit of a rhythm and was able to almost forget that I wanted to quit until Hope Pass shook me violently to my senses at mile 40. Picture Mt. Washington. No not Jewell Trail or even the Access Road. Picture the Great Gulf Trail and the precipice that you're skirting alongside. That precipice or cliff was Hope Pass; sure there was switch backs but it only made looking up and seeing runners 3,000 feet above you, that much more devastating. Additionally, it was about that time that it occurred to me that I must be attached to some wheezing little asthmatic school girl until I looked around and realized that little school girl was me. I subsequently got passed by nearly the entire field on the remainder of the way up.
The only consolation for those that didn't' pass me on the way up was that they then had the opportunity to pass me on the way down-which they did.

I finally reached the far side of Hope thinking I'd quickly hit the aid station and then head back, only to find that I had 3 more miles of gradual uphill prior to the fifty mile mark. DAMN IT! I whimpered as I dragged my downhill torn quads up the road.

Finally making it to the turn-around provided limited relief but looking at the bruised and battered fellow runners, I realized that I better not quit quite yet. I needed some bruises or at least some genuinely shot quads. So I took off, down three miles, back up 2,400 feet over Hope, down 3,000+ feet to the 60 mile mark. At this point something weird happened. I started feeling good. The miles 60-80 were probably my favorites where I alternated running with jogging and walking, laughing and joking with my somewhat less amiable runners. I was feeling really good as the sun set and I knew that I could now finish even if I walked the remainder of the race.

The moment that I realized that something was wrong was when I realized that I had just passed Leadville High's Cross Country coach. He and I had been running together for about 5 miles earlier but he had had to change shoes, use the rest room, and await a new pacer. As I didn't have a pacer, I had just taken off. So passing him at what I that was nearly the summit of Sugarloaf again throw me for a loop. It took a few desperate moments to realize what had happened. I had gone straight when everyone took a right causing me to loop back to nearly the start of this long arduous uphill. So instead of nearly at the summit, I had brought myself back to nearly the beginning. Tears welling up in my school girl eyes, I limply waiting for Kevin and we jog together. After a couple jokes and him offering me a beer( A beer at 11,000 feet 80+ miles into a race? Yes! Only in Leadville... ) I started to feel better again especially when he told me about Burro Racing.

Yes, Burro Racing. Apparently it is an old miner tradition to race with a mule(not on a mule but with it leashed to you) up a very steep and long mountain. And Kevin here was a two time winner. If that wasn't going to get me out of a bad mood, nothing was going to.

We ran, walked together until Mayfield the last aide station at 87 miles. I knew I could finish, I could also potentially finish under 26 hours, maybe even 25 hours! This is why I held back early so I had energy left now! Yes! No! That surge of energy lasted about three miles at which point my spent and wasted body proceeded to get passed by nearly every one's grandmothers(the grandchildren and children had already passed me).
One such grandmother.

When I finally got back to the road, I almost that I was there only to find that I still had five uphill miles ahead of me. I am really glad there was no place to quit because I certainly would have utilized it. As it was I was debating about throwing myself on the porcupine that I saw running beside(and yes, faster) me just so I would have a viable(and unique) excuse for my DNF.

Luckily? there were no such places and the porcupine quickly sauntered out of sight. I proceeded to walk all the rest of the way to the finish which I unceremoniously walked across.

I finished up in 27:43:23 which I was very content with until I realized that it was being printed on my sweatshirt. NO! I want 24:59:59! Damn it! Next Year! Or not...
Danny walking across the finish line.

Monday, August 23, 2010



Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment (164th out of 647 starters) and on changing your finish status for 100-mile events (I know this was one of your goals)! REST IN PEACE 88.6!

Here are some of Danny's quickie statistics for one of the more dangerous events in the world (heart/lung/brain-wise). At the lowest point on the race, it’s still almost 2 miles above sea level (talk about oxygen deprivation).

Dan Ferreira (age division M2)

164th out of 647 starters and out of 363 finishers

17th in his age division

149th in his gender

There were 284 who were DNF

There were 150 who were DNS

Race report coming soon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Amber In Foster's

Andy Schachat: Shining the spotlight on triathletes

"Amber Cullen-Ferreira, Concord — Cullen-Ferreira is by far the best female triathlete in New Hampshire and no other female is close. She has won a number of local races and has competed well against pro's at races outside of the region. Among her accomplishments: age group awards at the Mooseman and Black Fly Triathlons in New Hampshire, and a top finish at Ironman Lake Placid in New York."

The article also mentions Sean Snow for his consistency in winning as well as Connor Jennings and Matt Gloekler from Concord who are showing some promise as up and coming athletes.

Check it out at fosters.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leadville 100-Part 1

To follow Amber's trend of starting a story and then leaving our readers hanging, I have decided to do my Leadville story in two parts, but don't hold your breath for part two.

I have now started to taper for Leadville as I'm only eight days away. This is a very odd feeling. If you remember from last year's Vermont 88.6, I spent the few weeks prior to the race making up for all the training that I hadn't been doing in the months leading up to the race. I actually did a 3 day triathlon competition the weekend before. Additionally, I put my flexing my stomach muscles and holding my breath in overdrive. Apparently those strategies didn't work all that well.

This year, after several fall 2009 marathon disappointments, I decided to put in the mileage and effort and see where that would take me. To date it has taken me to PR's in the 5k(17:29-and that's with running an extra indoor lap), 10k(37:03-and that's with a stop for a beer), half marathon(1:18:33), and marathon(2:47). It also has taken me to a stress fracture from running a 25 mile birthday run for Amber on a Wednesday and a marathon on Sunday. After taking nearly two full months off to recover from the stress fracture, I started back running the end of June to find that my cardio as well as leg strength really took a hit. I steadily ramped up my mileage to that point that last week I ran the most I had ever during a week(around 70 miles)*. While I still don't have my speed back, I am definitely getting my legs under me.

Danny with Jimmie Cochran III after a disappointing first race back from the stress fracture.

So now begins my taper, I feel so underprepared and yet looking back at last year's 88.6, and the twenty mile weeks I was doing, I see that I am in far better shape than previously. And as a co-worker of mine pointed out, I can always rename the Leadville 100 as well.

Flying out Thursday, race on the 21st, post to be continued that following week...

*I don't measure my mileage but rather time myself and use 8 min/miles as an average for my runs- last week I did 9 hours for the week.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lake Placid Race Report- Part I

Now this race is big enough to blog about! Long story short: race Ironman Lake Placid. Long story long: READ ON!

Everything happens for a reason...right? Just missing a spot to compete in the world championships in Kona at Ironman Wisconsin last year was the best thing that could have happened to me. I didn't think so at the time but that near miss gave me the drive and determination to train and race myself into the best shape possible. I wanted to make sure I toed the starting line at Lake Placid 100% confident in my training and my fitness. I wanted a spot to compete with the world's best in Kona!

Let's fast forward from September 2009 to July 2010. The past year pretty much went like this: My alarm goes off way before the sun even thinks about rising and I catapult myself out of bed to face the first workout of the day. From there I will sprint off to an 8 hour work day (and attempt to function like a normal human being) only to sprint home for the second workout of the day. I took many Fridays off from training so I could recharge for 140 mile bike rides followed by 20 mile tempo runs on the weekends. The past year has been a blur of intensity in the pool, hot and sticky marathon training runs after 120 mile bike rides, snowshoe marathon races, hill repeats on foot and on bikes and with snowshoes on, Mount Kearsarge repeats, black toenails because you have been running too much (and biking too much and swimming too much...repeat!), rainy century rides, bonking, spin class intervals, 5am power lifting (including tire flipping) track workouts followed by bike intervals, followed by track workouts followed by fast and furious ingestion of powerbars and gels and...oh man I have a hard time even typing 'powerbar' and 'gel' without gagging...phew!

Times flies. Before I know it, I am treading water on the starting line of the 2010 Lake Placid Ironman. Gulp! I positioned myself at the very front of the swim start, surrounded by ferocious looking male triathletes. I was more than ready to jockey for position as I was still a bit upset after one guy looks at me at tells me to "get off the front line unless I wanted to get swum over." What!? Apparently he disregarded my gills and dorsal fin. ;)

I let out a little growl...grrrr...and before I know it Mike Reilly, (the voice of Ironman), announces over the loud speaker: Get ready athletes you have 10 seconds...9, 8,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1....the cannon sounds and I bolt from the starting line. I move my little arms like a pinwheel, trying to free myself from rest of the 2800 athletes. The ironman swim start is one part slug-fest and one part violent washing machine minus the soap suds. Luckily, someone was looking over me because I was able to break free of the chaos and the first time I lifting my head, sighting for position, there was nothing in front of me but open water...wonderful. Ironically, just as I am thinking, 'this is great', someone swims over me. Doh! Adrenaline flows through my body and I kick hard for 30 seconds and once again find open water. I accelerate to the next pack of swimmers like a hungry shark and manage to find some fast feet to hang on to. I cling to this fast swimmer like a barnacle. These feet keep me occupied for quite some time and I begin to zone out. Suddenly I feel the water temperature drop and when I turn my head to breath I notice I can't see as well. It's raining. Perfect! I love the rain! I breath to my right and notice a pink cap. Is that a female pro? Yes it is! I am passing some of the professional field. I get another surge of energy and again accelerate through the remainder of the swim.

Fifty five minutes later I am out of the water and attempting to rip off my wetsuit. Now this proves to be quite the project. I'm stuck! I feel claustrophobic! Did my wetsuit shrink? Fortunatly a kind volunteer notices the panic on my face and commands me to sit on my butt while she gives my wetsuit one giant tug. Her efforts work like magic and I'm freeeeeee from the confines of my wetsuit. I spring up and sprint off eager to begin the 112 mile bike ride.

To ride 112 miles on a bike is hard. To race 112 miles in the aero position on a triathlon bike after swimming 2.4 miles is....CRAZY! I won't drag you through the entire bike course with me but instead reflect on some highlights...and low points. All in all the Lake Placid bike course is phenomenal and a true test of endurance. Like a good final exam Lake Placid tests all facets of triathlon training - brutal hills, fun flats, and 9 mile descents! I felt so lucky to be racing the Ironman that I did take some time to enjoy the scenery, take some deep breaths and smile! The latter was a bit difficult when I realized both of my water bottles needed to be discarded because they tasted like soap. GAG! Live and learn and make sure to only use a dime-sized amount of dishwasher soap. Oops. Overall I felt great on the bike, I pushed hard uphill, down hill and smiled when I passed some more pro girls :) Before I move to the run portion let me remind you that if Ironman were easy everyone would be doing it. Ironman also wouldn't be ironman without a good old BONK at mile 90. Ahhh...abnormally low levels of blood glucose gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Just kidding. Actually, this BONK left me feeling extremely weak and lethargic, I started sweating profusely and got very light headed. I was ravenously hungry and sick to my stomach at the same time. How can this be? I raided my bike jersey for snacks only to find empty wrappers - bugger! I began to develop tunnel vision and was only aware of the spot on the road directly ahead of me. Oh boy. And then there was light. Am I dying? Did I crash my bike? Wait, what is that just ahead of me? Is that an aid station? It is!!! SNACKS! A wonderful volunteer hands me a banana and 2 GU's. I inhale those babies, lick my lips and before I know it I am back in full force!! 10 miles of biking to go and the marathon begins! An offical yells to me from the side of the rode: "You are the 7th female overall!" Grrrrrrr!!!

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Is in the works! I will have it done by Saturday at the latest.

Amber Ferreira :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lake Placid a Success, Now Comes Leadville 100

This summer has flew by. It seems that it was just the other day when I wrote up my prediction for Amber at Lake Placid and I looked and it was over a month ago. Sorry to keep everyone in suspense.
For those who didn't see the results: Amber finished 8th overall female, 90th overall and 2nd amateur finishing with the fourth fastest amateur time of all time at Placid. Her 10:11 was good enough to qualify her for KONA the World Championships for the Ironman on October 9th of this year.
The race itself was a disappointment. But only for me. See, I was coming from a Bachelor party in Rochester that morning and had to content myself with text updates from my friends on how she was doing. 3rd female out of the water. Biking over 23 mph for the first 30 miles, first two miles on the run were 6:30's. I finally got to the race when she was a mile 11, where she stopped and gave me a hug before scurrying on to pass a pro(the pro's also had a ten minute head-start).

So on to Kona for Amber. But up next on the docket is that pesky 100 miler I had signed up for to motivate myself to get in shape and really prepare for. Leadville had gotten me in probably the closest to fit that I have been in in a long time but unfortunately, getting the stress fracture really set me back. I am just now getting back into running with any sort of speed and I still can't go very long yet. No worries. I still have three weeks and as Amber loves to point out; my training regime of holding my breath and contracting my abs can only be improved with some actual running.

I've been hiking Falling Waters Trail at Mt Lafayette in the Whites to simulate the climb up Hope Pass and the last few times I have been within my race pace plan, the difference being most notably that this will be occurring at mile 45 not after sitting in the car for an hour and at 12,600 feet not 5,000 feet. But it's always easy to focus on the negative, in this case my ill-preparedness, rather than all the positives. Positives include: I get time off work, I am going to Colorado, and even with all that went wrong this year I still have put in significantly more mileage than last year where I was still able to make it 88.6 miles at Vermont.

At this point, I will try to get in a solid remaining week of running then just rest as much as I can and be as prepared as I can logistics-wise and hope for the best.

Will keep everyone posted on the outcome and hopefully Am will be getting a Placid Race report posted soon...