Monday, January 31, 2011

acidotic RACING's Chris Dunn talks with Amber Ferreira

Anyone who has done a race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series has probably seen or met Chris Dunn either as a race director, racer or possibly both. He is the guy with all the logistics and contingencies planned for with backups and backups to the backups. A very diligent guy, who once you talk with him a little, you realize is very friendly and funny as well. Amber and I have been lucky enough to race for his team, acidotic Racing, for the last three winters for snowshoe and trail races. Acidotic RACING jerseys can be found on us featured in Snowshoe Magazine, Running Times and, most recently, New England Runner. And we wear these jerseys with pride. Acidotic Racing not only puts together great races with great competitors but aR, guided by Chris, does a ton of community service as well. Chris sat down with us the other day to tell us a little more about how it all got started.

Why did you start acidotic RACING?

Originally acidotic RACING was started as a way to increase the number of potential teammates for our adventure racing team.

What are your favorite aR events?

For the better part of the last decade I've favored the off-road stuff. And both my own racing and our event management reflects that. I really can't say that I've got a 'favorite' aR event other than the one I'm currently racing, directing, or both.

Non aR events?

For the past 5 years I've circled the Pineland Farms 25k on my race calendar at the beginning of the year. It's the race that I organize my training around for the first five months of the year. Rounding out my Top 3 are the 24 Hours of Great Glen (mtb race) and Reach The Beach. It's no surprise that these two races are both team events. Without question the best thing about aR is my teammates and I cherish every opportunity I get to race with them.

What do you hope will become of aR as a team?

My hopes for aR are now a reality. We've got an incredibly diverse collection of some of the greatest people in endurance sports that I now call friends.

Where do you see the team in five years?

Just this past summer we started an aR-WEST COAST team thanks to the efforts of my friend Brad Brown. I'd love to see Brad grow this group the way we've done it here on the East Coast...focusing on recruiting tremendous people who happen to share our passion for endurance sports. Who knows, within 5 years we may be hosting and racing snowshoe, trail, and mountain races from sea to shining sea?

How did you get involved in snowshoeing?

In 2007, I was a frustrated trail runner looking for a 'distraction' during the long winter months when Mother Nature seemingly conspired against my enjoyment of the trail network where I live. While searching the internet I stumbled upon the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race in Center Sandwich, NH. I bought a pair of snowshoe's that winter and gave it a try and surprisingly finished 3rd overall behind Kevin Tilton and Dave Dunham. It was that early "relative" success that hooked me. It was one of the hardest things I'd done but also one of my most exhilarating competitive experiences.

You have gotten ar in several charitable giving opportunities-tell us about them and how our readers can get involved.

It was important to me when we started the event management part of aR that we make charitable giving a top priority. All of the events we host benefit, at least in part, a charitable organization. In 2010 aR raised over $5000 in cash and collected 69 warm winter coats for local and national non-profits. Some of those organizations include the Cocheco Valley Humane Society, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Alzheimer's Association, and Exeter Conservation Commission. In 2011 we're adding the Children's Hospital Boston as one of our beneficiaries in support of our teammate Timmy Lindsey who's raising money through his Miles for Miracles Boston Marathon team. Please visit his website for more details. And thanks to Bob Dion of DION Snowshoes we're selling 100 $10 chances to win a new pair of DION 121's. All of the proceeds go directly to Children's Hospital Boston. You can buy a "chance to win" at any of the races in the Granite State Snowshoe Series.

A little more about you now, what are your most proud athletic accomplishments?

It's hard for me to talk historically about individual accomplishments. I try not to spend a lot of time talking about and focusing on what I've done in the past. The objective at every race is to 1.) own the outcome and 2.) learn from the experience. If I'm not learning, I'm not growing. And growth is the essential element of power. I derive great satisfaction from every race that I'm able to give my full attention and commitment.

What does a sample training week look like for you?

As I've gotten older my philosophy has become, "train the very least to gain the very most". In the winter macrocycle I put in 6 running/snowshoeing units a week including at least one snowshoe race. In addition, I put in two units of sport-specific resistance training at the gym. As an exercise physiologist I've studied various performance enhancing training techniques and have developed a strength training approach for endurance athletes that I have personally found to be incredibly valuable. In the spring, summer, and fall macrocycles I'll typically add a 7th endurance unit resulting in at least one double each week (i.e. lunchtime speed workout followed by a longer trail run in the afternoon). I also try to sneak in two mountain bike rides each week as well when the weather and trails permit. I'm really just trying to stay as fit and healthy as I can possibly be and if what I do results in me remaining somewhat competitive within my peer group then that's a bonus. I also realize that I'm modeling for my kids. I think it's important for them to see their father exercising and committing to a healthy lifestyle.

Danny's questions-

What superhero's powers do you most covet?

I've always wanted to fly.


I guess because I hear that it's the closest thing to flying.

Running and the associated training requires a lot of time away from your loved ones- how do you make it work?

I'm not sure I always do, but I try my best to involve the family. My wife and I enjoy racing Reach The Beach together. My son and I (along with my brother) race together at the 24 Hours of Great Glen. And my daughters are integral parts of the event management aspect of aR typically volunteering at our races. It certainly helps to have a supportive family and I'm very, very grateful for that.

Tell us about your record toppling goals set by your father and if there are any still out there.

Anyone who knows the Dunn's knows that we're a pretty competitive family. It's not unusual for my father to insist, typically at holiday family gatherings, that everyone has their body fat measured. The women, of course, always seem to get out of it leaving my dad, my son, and I to battle it out for body fat supremacy. In his day my father was a very competitive and talented endurance athlete and established a number of "Dunn Family Records". This past summer I had the opportunity to surpass one of them with my finish at the Mt. Washington Road Race besting my father's time by 4+ minutes. I'll always remember sitting on top of The Rock Pile and calling to tell him. The only record he still holds is the family marathon mark. My best chance to take that was in the early 2000's at the Music City Marathon in Nashville, TN when I missed the record by less than 2 minutes. I don't see me attempting that one again. You can't win them all.

I hear your brother is quite the biker, who'd win in a tri?

He swims like a rock so I'd say me.

How about a pick-up basketball game?

The last time we played pick-up basketball it ended in a fist fight and my father made him drive me to the emergency room. But to answer your of course.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whitaker Woods, Derry Prep, Gunstock Winter Tri and GBTC Invitational- Wow What a Weekend!

Amber and I started this weekend heading up to North Conway to run in Kevin Tilton's Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race. Surprisingly, it was not what we were expecting. Knowing what we all now know about how Kevin likes runs that are gnarly we were expecting hills, hills and more hills layered with super-technical single track. Instead Kevin served us up some amazingly rolling x-c ski trails with maybe a mile of fun, single track that pretty much just descended. We were not disappointed that our expectations were not met, but it did, however, lead to super-fast racing. The usual suspects, JJ, DD, Tim Cox, Geoff Cunningham were all there as well as a new member of Acidotic Racing, Judson Cake. While Judson gave Double-J a run for his money, Jim ended up pulling out the win. Amber came in 12th*. Note the asterisk. That is due to the fact that some people opted to not make all of the turns, cutting the course a little short. Amber was one of those people. The course was overall very well marked, but that corner was a little tricky.
All in all it was a great way to start our weekend, capping off our trip to North Conway with a trip to Moat Mountain Brewery and a stop at the outlets for some "necessary" shopping.
The next day Am and I split up. She went up to Gunstock to compete in their Winter Triathlon which I had done a few years ago and vowed never again. After coming off the run and bike in first place, Amber was passed by three women on the skate ski to finish fourth. Instead of vowing to never do it again however, Amber is trying to convince me to join her for the next one down in Weston in February. We will see.
I, instead, thought it would be a good idea to spend my morning run 16 hilly miles in single digit temperatures in Derry(results). As bad as that sounds in print, it was worse in person. Probably one of the single poorest races that I have run in quite some time. Very positive splits(getting slower and slower as I was getting colder and colder) on terrain that got easier as the miles went on. I can't think of the last time that I wanted to quit so badly but didn't because I knew I'd have to wait in the cold for a ride. The race finally ended and I was able to quickly grab some hot chocolate before heading down to Boston. Oh Yeah. I was so brillant that I thought it would be fun to do a double-header running Derry then competing in the mile, 200 and 800 at the Greater Boston Track Club's Invitational Meet at Harvard(results).
I rushed into Boston only to find that the meet had been pushed back two hours so I then sat around for a couple hours before my first event. I would have definitely left and gone home but Amber's sister, Deidre, was meeting up with me so I had to stay at least until she got there. She got there just in time for the mile, or so we thought. Seeding myself at 5 minutes however put me in the 9th race so it was over 45 minutes before I actually ran. The mile is brutal. I started out last just hoping to hold on, counting down those 8 dreaded laps(indoor tracks are 200 meters as opposed to the 400 outdoors). After 6 I realized that I wasn't working as hard as I could so I passed four guys in my heat that I was pacing off of running a 34 and 30 for my two last laps to finish in 5:03. I was bummed out because I had enough left to be sure to get under 5 but I'll have to wait for another day.
The 200 was up next. How silly of me to have entered it. I realized this the moment they started setting up starting blocks. Starting blocks? Yep never used them. Actually can't recall ever running 200 meters either. Well apparently it's a sprint which I didn't realize until all the other runners pulled ahead of me(I was in the outside lane was ahead of everyone at the start). By that point it was too late. I was so bad that I couldn't even finish dead last, losing that spot by one as well.
After the 200, knowing we'd have to wait another hour or more for the 800, I made the only wise decision of the day-I decided to go out to pizza instead. And what I great decision it was. Delicious pizza, fun conversation, WARMTH! I couldn't have had a better ending to a very otherwise poor(or at least ill-advised) weekend.
This week has all been about recovering from that, in hopes that I have some legs under me to run Sidehiller on Saturday(the third part of the Granite State Snowshoe Series, and also qualifier for the USSSSSSSSSSSSSSA national championships in WI). We will see...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kevin Tilton' s Interview with Amber Ferreira: 3,000 miles for MD, Whitaker Woods, Beating Jim Johnson

We were lucky enough to have the ability to interview Kevin Tilton to talk with him about his upcoming snowshoe race, Whitaker Woods(the second race in the Granite Snowshoe Series) as well about his goal to run 3,000! miles in 2011 to raise money for muscular dystrophy. He's asking for donations as low as 1 penny per mile, but we told him if he could run 3,333 we'd pay him a whopping 3 pennies per mile! Big Spenders. But seriously, such a great cause and definitely worth thinking about donating. And without further ado, here's Amber's Interview with Kevin:

Amber: How did you get started with running?
Kevin: I ran my first road race in 6th grade at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I grew up a car racing fan and thought it would be fun to run a race there. From there I joined the track and cross country teams in high school and never looked back.

Amber: Favorite Running Memory?
Kevin: The parade for the opening ceremonies at the 2005 World Mountain Running Trophy in Wellington, New Zealand. Wearing the US uniform in the streets of a foreign country was pretty cool.

Amber: Tell us more about running 3,000 miles for Muscular dystrophy:
Kevin: My Dad was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy in his late 30's. It is known as a young person's disease, but it can manifest later in life. My Dad was a hard worker and wouldn't let it keep him down. He passed away this summer and I thought it would be a great way to honor him by getting pledges for every mile I run in 2011. My goal is 3000 miles for the year. If everyone pledged a penny per mile, that would be a $30 donation per person. I think it's a great way for a community of active, physically fit people to help people who face physical challenges everyday.

Amber: Would you consider yourself a mountain runner who is also good on the roads or the other way around?
Kevin: I would definitely consider myself a mountain runner who races on the roads. I don't really enjoy training on the roads anymore, but I do enjoy racing on them. I think my road racing helps my mountain and trail running and vise-versa.

Amber: Favorite Distance...P.R's...?
Kevin: The longer and gnarlier the better. 5ks hurt too much!

Amber: We’ve seen you be a part of Tuckerman’s Inferno, ever think about doing triathlons?
Kevin: I can swim enough to not drown, so I don't see any in my future. I have done one duathlon (Wildman Biathlon) and that was a lot of fun. The Tuckerman Inferno team event is one of the most fun races I have ever done.

Amber: What's your favorite pre race meal?
Kevin: I love pasta, but I usually have pizza the night before a race. It's been a tradition of mine since high school.

Amber: Head to Head snowshoe racing- you vs. Jim Johnson? Too close to call?
Kevin: On a fast, groomed course, Jim will usually blow my doors off, but I think I've got him on a hilly, mashed potatoes type course.

Amber: This weekend is Whitaker Woods. What should we be expecting?
Kevin: It should be a pretty fun course. It's about 3 miles of groomed ski trail and a mile of singletrack. The whole course gains about 400 feet. I ran a tempo on it a few weeks ago in 32 minutes, so it should be pretty fast.

Kevin in 2008 running the Rivah!

Monday, January 17, 2011

One Warm Coat

Extravagance isn't a word that usually described Amber and me. We have economical cars, rent instead of own, don't have huge flat screen television, or for that matter cable. Racing and traveling is usually the way we spend our money. It works for us. However, around the holidays it can be frustrating to our loved ones who want to get us something special that we will actually use. China as a wedding gift? I don't think so. We registered at REI. We inevitably get gift cards to REI and EMS which has resulted in a glut of various jackets- I have a heavy, mid-weight and light-weight down jackets for example. And while I can make an argument for each and every one of them, I cannot argue that there are many people out there that need them a lot more. That's where One Warm Coat comes in. You donate your coat and they'll find people that really need them. At every Granite Snowshoe Race this year, Acidotic Racing and Chris Dunn will be collecting them. Not only can you have a great time snowshoeing but you can help those who truly need it.

Up next- we will be interviewing Kevin Tilton, mountain running phenom and this week's Whittaker Woods race director, on how he's trying to run 3,000 miles this year for muscular dystrophy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Let It Snow! The Ferreira Saturday Snow Double

Finally! We finally have snow. Enough snow, in fact, to have a snowshoe race. Enough snow to make breaking trail very challenging. Luckily for me, I never have to do that in races, thanks to the likes of Jim Johnson et al.
This weekend will be Amber and my first snowshoe race and only second time this year on snowshoes. We can't think of a better way to start it off than with a snow double.

The weekend will begin Saturday at 7am at the base of Whaleback Mountain for the first race in the Winter Wild race series. This race has participants ascend and descend the mountain on whatever equipment they choose. This includes skate skis, snowshoes, crampons, running shoes etc. Whatever you use up, though, you need to take on the way down. Last year I just wore running shoes and completed the 2.5 mile loop in 16:13 for 11th place, 3rd in the Open category(first 8 finishers were all skiers). I'm aiming for under 15 this year. We'll see.

After a quick drive down to Lyndeborough, NH, we will prepare for Feel Good Farm, the first race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series . Amber and I did this race last year with very little snow and it was tough. It's a five mile two loop course that climbs 3,000 feet up and down Moose Mountain. Amber finished 18th overall and I came in 10th with less than two minutes separating us. Amber will not settling for that this year. She's gunning for the Ferreira win, which based on her fitness as compared to mine, she has a good shot being the fastest Ferreira on snow Saturday.

Speaking of Snow, Sean will be coming to this race with a vengeance. Feel Good Farm is his arch nemesis, as it chewed him up and spit him out last year in his lowest finishing place in the whole series. He made a lot of progress throughout that year, qualifying and placing well at the Snowshoe Nationals. I'm expecting a good race by him tomorrow.

Another racer that I expect to see higher up in the standings this year is Chris Dunn. He has only gotten stronger and stronger over the past year and is an exceptionally strong hill climber so will be right in his element on Moose Mountain. He and Sean are in the same age group so it will be interesting to see how the race turns out.

Acidotic Racing has picked up some pretty strong runners in the past month or so, and I'm expecting multiple top ten finishers.

This weekend is going to be great!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where has the snow gone?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Well mostly just the worst of times, at least in regards to snowshoe racing. After an illustrious 2010 snowshoe and triathlon season, Amber has been rearing to defend her national snowshoe champion title. Apparently mother nature has had other ideas.

The last two weekends were supposed to be weeks 1 and 2 of the Granite State Snowshoe Series, but both had to be postponed due to lack of snow. While not twiddling her thumbs due to the poor weather, Amber certainly has not had the opportunity to get out on the Dion's yet. In fact, the weather was so nice(nice as non-snowshoers would describe it) yesterday, that she and I went for a bike ride outside. This a week after racing in a tights and singlet for the Hangover Classic.

Hopefully this Wednesday can produce some precip that can stick around for Saturday as we are hoping that Feel Good Farm makes us do just that.

Unrelated Sidebar: As you may have noticed, on the upper (L) side of our blog is now media mentions and there is a pretty cool post about Amber in Running Times. Also, if you haven't already think about voting for Amber for Fittest Creature(athlete) on the planet. Who else do you know who can: place 10th in her Age Group at Kona(and be disappointed with her race), qualify for the US age-group duathlon team, win US nationals and qualify to represent the US at Worlds in Snowshoeing, complete a 10 mile open water swim, run a marathon on snowshoes, place third in a 5 hour cross country ski race, run competitively at every distance from 5k to marathon, and make killer brownies?