Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Amber's 28th Birthday Run!

So I have just finished mapping out Amber's 28th Birthday Run for April 28th. As it will be her Golden Year, this run is a special one. It will be 28+miles long starting in Warner at the Base of Mt Kearsarge and wind its way through Warner, Contoocook, Hopkinton, Penacook and finally ending for breakfast at In A Pinch in Concord. I've mapped it on Map My Run so feel free to check it out: here.

It guarantees to be a fun and challenging morning. We plan on starting at Magdellan College at 4am on the 28th, so for anyone that would like to join us for part or all of the run feel free. We're planning on running around 8 min pace so we should be getting into Contoocook around 6am and at St Pauls by 8:30am.

More to come as we get closer to the date, but in between we have the next two Will Run for Beer Races, Salisbury 4 miler and Great Bay Half Marathon, the Merrimack River 10 Mile Trail Race as well as the National Duathlon Championships in Virginia. It has the making for a fun and busy April! We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Granite State Snowshoe Championship

After recovering from nearly lighting our apartment on fire by running a fun three miler and having drinks at The Top of the Hub with my brother Matty and sister-in-law Deidre, we were ready for the Granite State Snowshoe Championship.

The whole way up to Great Glen on Sunday was rainy and dreary. "Great way to end the series". However, we cross through Jackson and start up the hills on Rt 16 and all of a sudden the rain turns to snow. By the time we've hit the Mt Washington Auto Road, we felt like it was really winter again. Now the Auto Road has been a site of some memorable events-Amber competing in the Nordic 300(300 minutes of cross country ski racing), hiking Washington as well as running it twice(the first was when I proposed). Sunday's race was no exception. It was by far the best race of the season. It had a perfect blend of hard packed fast terrain with rolling hills as well as tough climbs and single track. It had it all. Did I mention the Red Hook? At the finish Chris had gotten Red Hook to donate a Keg of IPA(my favorite) which when split amongst the 50 or so volunteers and racers made for a very merry post-race.

The race brought out some of the usual suspects with Jim Johnson, Kevin Tilton and Geoff Cunningham all vying for the first place finish. Closer to my competitive level was Dave Dunham(only close due to injuries), Chris Dunn, Steve Wolfe, Kurt Gustafson, and Dave Principe. The way the course worked was that the first half was on groomed x-c trails which while hilly made for a much faster first 5k than second. As was expected, the fast guys were out of sight within minutes and a pack that included Kurt Gustafson, Dave Principe, and Steve Wolfe were right behind. I followed behind that pack trying to see through my iced/fogged up sunglasses for about 2 miles when Dave Dunham passing looking as if he showed up to the race late. He quickly traded places with Steve and when we went under the tunnel to start the second 5k I caught Steve on the hills.
From catching Steve, I spent the rest of the race doggedly trying to get passed by Steve, then Chris, then Steve again who alternated riding my heels for the remainder of the race(Chris is great on the hills and Steve on the flats and descents). I had made it within 200 yards of the finish when Steve passed me to finish right ahead while Chris came in less than a minute behind. What a great way to finish with two of the guys that I'd been competing with all season.

Amber had a bit of an interesting race and was very close to losing the last race of the season due to equipment error. She had put on a sizable lead when she somehow stepped on her running shoe with one of her crampons. This resulted in a head over feet fall(luckily into powder). Fumbling with her snowshoe she was unable to rid herself of the impaled running shoe. Determined to finish the race she momentarily considered hopping to the finish line nearly three miles in the distance. Luckily for her, our teammate and friend Rich Lavers, kindly stopped. Not worrying about his own place or time, Rich worked to get the feet apart. Despite the delay which probably cost them nearly two minutes they finished in 11th and 12th places overall.

At the award ceremony, in addition to the typical prizes for overall finishers, there were enough prizes for two goes at the raffle meaning everyone won something and many two things.

For an otherwise, snowless snowshoe season, this Sunday's race rejuvenated my love for snowshoing and was a good sendoff amongst friends and family. We now look ahead to a fun trail running and triathlon season. Thanks to Acidotic for a fun winter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lighting a Fire to the Weekend

For a supposedly low-key weekend, Friday was to suggest anything but.
Having seen some of the children that I work with in the schools cooking up burrito's, I figured that Friday night I would do the same. I am smarter than a fifth grader, right? Hmmmm, questionable. So I was able to open up the canned beans and tomatoes without problem, was getting all the fix-ins in order flawlessly, all the while thinking: "Oh man, why don't I do this more often?"

Moments later, Amber and I found out why. The idea was a quick frying of the burrito shell in the vegetable oil which was on high on the stove top. Hopefully some of you are questioning, "High, oh no, not high you idiot!" Well, yes, apparently I am an idiot as the moment that I took off the lid from the frying pan the oil burst into flames!

No problem, right? Just cover it back up and turn off the heat. The only problem with my first instinct was the 2 foot high flames nearly licking the fan above. Second plan: throw it in the sink and pour copious amounts of water on it. Only problem: Amber has about fifteen dish towels in between me and the plastic filled sink. Option Three: Get the heck out of the house and toss it in the snow. Reality: moving quickly while holding three inches of flaming oil is difficult. At one point stepping on the carpet, I sloshed some of the burning contents on the carpet and POOF! now the carpets on first. Luckily it went out with little more than a singed mark.

And yet, I'm still 30 feet away from the apartment entrance while the flames are scorching my arm hair and Amber is already out the door and not even looking back. For better or for worse? Not if there's fire involved apparently.

Finally, I make it to the apartment door when I realize that I don't have my keys and I know Amber had thought about it as she ran a PR out the door. So, precariously holding the pan in one hand and holding the door open with one foot I reach for one of my Brooks Cascadia's to perch the door open. Yes! I'm free. I run to the building's entrance and toss the pan into the snow. Only there is no snow, just a bunch of wet grass... Or should I saw burnt wet grass.

Moral of the story: "Danny, you're not allowed in the kitchen ever again!"

More to come on the awesome snowshoe season finale up at Mt. Washington.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ferreira Wins Snowshoe Nationals!

March 6, 2010: Tully, NY- The United States Snowshoe National Championships were this past weekend in Tully, NY where a strong group of competitors from all over the country toed the line to attempt to qualify for one of the five spots reserved for males and females to represent the US at the 2011 World Snowshoe Championship. Many of the 2010 athletes, having competed the weekend before in Vancouver were there this weekend trying to get back on the team for a second time.

Amber and I went into the race knowing the competition would be steep. There were several women racers that we overheard at breakfast that morning talking about running sub-2:50 marathons. Additionally, as New England really did get much snow this weekend and there were competitors from out West, we were a little concerned that we'd be prepared for the snowfields that lay ahead of us on this 10k hilly course that both started and ended trudging up a ski hill. It was also excited though, as we could see where we placed on a national level as well as just to see some of the amazing athletes that came out to play. It was especially exciting for Amber as the women had a separate race from the men so she could actually compete solely against women. As her race was before the men's, I was able to watch her start and finish.

Amber and I had talked about holding back a little at the beginning to get a feel for the competition and to try to make a decisive move where they appeared to falter. So much for good intentions, as soon as the race is started, Amber sprints to the front of the pack and continues to lead the race for the majority.

The only times that she relinquished the lead were on the steep descents where some of the more experienced racers would bomb right by her.

As it would happen there was such a descent occurring within 400 yards of the finish where racers had to descend the re-ascend the ski hill to an uphill finish. Amber exited the woods in first, but was soon passed by the second place woman on the descent. By the time they had rounded the curve to head back up the hill, the woman had a 100 yard lead over Amber. I was thinking "Second place still qualifies-this is so great for Amber!" Amber wouldn't be having any of that though.

She took advantage of her superior hill climbing skills to surreptitiously pass the woman and finish in a strong first.

I finished pretty much where I expected- mid-pack as I struggled with the deep, loose packed snow and narrow single track which was, apparently, not me forte. All in all, it was a fun filled weekend and we look forward to going to Worlds, which may be held in Japan this coming year.

Thanks to all the Acidotic and S2 racers that supported and cheered for Amber and me and congratulations to the other competitors representing these teams: Anne Rasmusson, Chris Dunn, Geoff Cunningham, Sean Snow, and Lisa Ransom.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Orleans Marathon

Amber, her parents and I went down to New Orleans this past week for a nice vacation as well as to run the Rock and Roll Marathon. We flew in Thursday, explored the city for the weekend and ran the race Sunday and flew home Monday. It was the perfect amount of time to be in New Orleans-we experienced Bourbon St, took a Steamboat ride on the Mississippi River, played some slots at Harrah's, drove across a 24 mile long bridge, stood at the site of the War of 1812's last battle, and ate a lot of food(crawfish, turtle soup, beignets, po boys, jumbolia, gumbo, shrimp...). Needless to say, between the half marathon the week before and all the food we ate and amount of walking we did, we weren't expecting stellar race times. Therefore, when Amber shattered her marathon PR by 13 minutes and I sped to a 10 minute PR we were both pleased.
I went into the marathon thinking that it would be great to beat the Ocean Drive marathon where I ran a 3:01 after stopping at my hotel to drop off my shirt and spending the night prior at Atlantic City. I took off at a conservative 6:50 pace soon realizing that I was feeling great and soon picked up the pace. I ran the first half marathon in 1:25:35 only slowing 20 seconds over the second thirteen miles to end up with a 2:51:36. I was so happy with my pace per mile that I was nervous about being "greedy" and trying to push the pace and then crash so I maintained that comfortably, fast pace throughout the race. Unfortunately, had I known I was only 1:36 away from getting into the 2:40's, I definitely would have tried to speed things up. Either way, I came in 24th overall in a field of 3,500 finishers and PR'd so I'm pretty happy.

Amber ran another solidly conservative race, finishing 9th woman overall and 83rd overall with a time of 3:03:48. A miscue by her GPS watch may have been the reason why she didn't break 3 hours as she finished the race at the requisite 6:56 pace but the distance the GPS had was 26.6... Despite not getting her goal of break the three hour mark, she looked really strong coming into the finish and should be tapering for this coming weekend USSSA's Snowshoe Nationals in Syracuse anyway.