Friday, November 19, 2010

Rhode Island 6 Hour Relay

The Acidotic Team of Charlie Therriault, Chris Dunn, Rich Lavers, Steve Wolfe, and me along with the borrowed Alan Bernier from CMS drove down last Sunday morning to race the RI 6 hr relay. Taking place in Warwick, RI along a 2.7 mile bike path, Robert Jackman and the Tuesday Night Turtles(TNT) had runners race as many loops as they could in 6 hours.

We had decided that each of the six of us would run one lap at a time and try to get as many laps in as possible-keeping the pace high and allowing time for recovery between legs. This race was serious- there was three cases of Red Hook IPA on the line for first place. It looked like the main competitors would be a team from Fuel Belt, TNT, and an interesting duo of Pat Moulton and his girlfriend running a two person 6 hour relay. Pat Moulton, half of the famous Moulton twins, can run a marathon averaging low 5 minute miles so theoretically he could run hard enough to beat us.

Charlie Racing Acidotic

Not taking ourselves too seriously, and yet for a good cause, the majority of us we rocking moustaches as part of Acidotic's Movember which was designed to raise awareness and money for Prostate Cancer which two of our teammates' fathers have had.

Danny rocking the 'stache

The race started out competitively with Charlie handing off to Alan with only a second lead over Fuel Belt with Pat Moulton and a TNT runner within 15 seconds of them. Alan hammered the second lap putting about 15-20 second separation between us and Fuel Belt and handed off to me.

Alan running the second leg

I was not going to be the one to give up the lead! I ran hard sighting slower runners ahead, racing to each and passing them-thinking this would be a good way to keep up the pace. I passed two runners pretty steadily and was cruising-only to come to a fork in the road that was not marked. What? I look back at the two runners I had just passed and they had turned around. Apparently I had chased down and passed two runners warming up for their laps and had gone off course. Frantically I raced as hard as I could back to regain my lost time only to cross the first mile in 11:35- a little less than six minutes slower than predicted.

Danny trying to regain time after getting lost

Finally getting back on course also had taken a lot out of me, far more than I had planned to expend on the first of four laps planned for the next six hours. After handing off to Steve Wolfe, I sat down dejected and upset that I had let the team down and potentially got us off the podium as there were now three teams ahead of us.

Wolfeman after the hand off from Danny

Steve would have none of it. He swiftly picked up and passed the 2nd and 3rd teams getting us in good position to close the gap on Fuel Belt which we did within the next few laps, in no small part due to Chris Dunn sandbagging his expected times to such a degree that every lap he ran was over a minute faster than predicted.
Chris J Dunn Sandbagging it

So in the three laps that he ran he gave back a bit more than the six minutes that I had lost. Charlie, Alan and Rich all contributed their share to reducing the deficit that I had created.
Rich Lavers running solidly after a strong fall season

We eventually passed Fuel Belt and started to put a sizeable lead on them and soon realized that our goal would be to lap them before the six hour limit. With 45 minutes or so to the finish, Alan put the hammer down and assertively passed Fuel Belt for the lap. Steve and I ran our last laps to finish up with a total of 22 laps(59.4 miles) in 5:54(they didn't count partial laps) which was good enough for the course record and the win. Fuel Belt came in second with Pat and his girlfriend a solid third.

A great late fall race to get us in the mood for Snowshoe season which starts in less than two months. We celebrated our win sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away sipping on our newly won IPA's.

The Team

Danny excited after getting the winnings

All photos courtesy of Scott Mason.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Last Month

I just received a text the other day from my friend Greg asking me when I cut him from my life. He was referring to the fact that there have not been any updates to the blog in a month. A month, which he states, "your wife did Kona finishing top 10 in her age group, you went on your honeymoon, you finished 93rd out of nearly 25,000 runners at Marine Corps, you won two road races in the same day in the same town and you and Amber finished Manchester Marathon together again for the second year in a row."

When he put it that way, I guess we did have a busy month.

Amber and I used her qualifying for Kona as our honeymoon spending the week after the race to explore the big island. For those of you who have not been to the big island, the name suits it perfectly. It is BIG-both in size(~equal to CT) as well as diversity(Kona has lava fields and Hilo has rainforests). During our trip we hiking around a crater and through a rainforest, went cliff jumping at "the end of the world", rode scooters, paddled on stand-up surfboards and with kayaks in the ocean, swam with sea turtles, hiked the highest mountain in the world(if measured from its based at the ocean floor), watched hula dancers and manta rays dancing, ate great food and drank, arguably, the world's best coffee. As could be surmised, it was an amazing trip.

Oh, and Amber raced through 127 degree surface temperatures of lava fields to finish top 10 in her age-group at the Ironman World Championships.

Hopkinton Races-
Before we left for Kona, I did a race weekend double where I raced the NFTI 4.3 miler then biked over to the Hopkinton Senior Center and ran the Lions Cup 5k. I was thinking what a good workout I had planned for myself until I see Dave Audet show up after already running a race in Henniker that morning. While I was on my way to a double, Dave outdid me with a triple race day only to race the Rockfest Marathon in Hampton the next day. Crazy guy. Anyway, including Dave and I nine or so other racers toed the line at the 4.3 miler. I started in first and kept that position for the entire race. Quickly thanking the race organizers for a well-run race, we booked it over to the next(he in a car, me on my bike). Again, I started in the front of the pack and held on for the win despite a very strong kick by Mark Hecox who nearly pulled off the win. We both then watched as his daughter came in only minutes after us to take first female.

Marine Corp-
Marine Corps was a special race because it would be the first for Amber's sister, Genny, and her boyfriend, Brandon as well as for her mother. It was also her mother's 56th birthday. What a fitting way to spend your birthday running a marathon with 25,000 of your closest friends!
We had driven down on Friday and spent most of Saturday stuck in traffic because of the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally. After a early morning drive to the shuttles, we started a long day of waiting: waiting for the shuttles, waiting for the portapotties, waiting for the start(and some of us to cross the start), waiting for family at the finish, again waiting for the shuttles back, and waiting in traffic in Baltimore, all of Jersey, NYC and Connecticut. Despite all of the waiting, the weekend was fun-it was nice to spend some time with the family and the course itself was great.
You would imagine with 25,000 other runners I would have been able to find people to run with. However, after the first couple miles getting settled in my pace, I didn't run with a single runner for more than a 1/4 of a mile. I think a lot of people started out too fast so when I'd catch them, they'd be going to slowly to stick with. I, on the other hand, ran one of my more intelligent races, keeping pretty even and comfortable splits throughout the race, never extending myself too much. It certainly gave me the confidence to push the marathon pace a little more next time.

Manchester Marathon-
One week after Marine Corps, Amber and I were again toeing the line of a marathon. Amber was running it while I was pacing the 3:20 group. I had never done that before and was nervous as I wouldn't just be letting myself down but a whole group of aspiring Boston runners. I borrowed Amber's GPS so I'd be getting nearly instantaneous feedback on pace and invited my friend, Rich Lavers, to join me at the half. This wasn't entirely benevolent. While I did want him to get a nice long run in and I do enjoy his company, it was also insurance that if I wasn't feeling good, I'd have him there to keep the pace up. Good thing!
We started off with over 20 runners in the group(some of which were half marathoners) and I did my best slowing things down to keep everyone together but by the time we had gotten to Rich at mile 12, we were down to five runners. We quickly picked Amber up(who surprisingly was tired after a solid performance at MCM the week before and Kona a couple before that) and ran the next four miles together. At that point, having to go to the bathroom, I had Rich keep the pace thinking I'd catch right back up with them. However, as I finished and started back up, Amber and I noticed another small pack of runners that looked like they needed the support. Confident in Rich's capabilities as pacer, we decided to pace this new group to 3:30. While we can't say we got them in at 3:30, most finished somewhere in the 3:35 range and I had several people come up and thank me at the end. It was definitely an awesome experience and I would recommend it.