Friday, March 23, 2012

Ironman Lake Placid SOLD OUT! Not if you do Mooseman

Good news for people who didn't get a chance(or didn't want) to drive up to Lake Placid to sign up day of for the 2012 Ironman Lake Placid. Now you can qualify at Mooseman 70.3! That is actually pretty amazing news as Lake Placid is an amazing venue and with a month and a half out from Mooseman, triathletes should be fully recovered and ready to roll for 140.6.

It is a little more challenging than just showing up for Mooseman. There will only be 25 slots for Placid and it works the same was a qualifying for Kona or Lake Las Vegas. Slot allocation per age-group etc. Still it makes things a little more interesting for all those competing as another incentive to push it a little harder since you don't know whether that age-grouper ahead of you will want to take the slot for a full-Ironman or if he's a shorter distance guy.

If you were on the fence about doing Mooseman, this should be you're motivation to go out and sign up. It's an amazing race with great organization and post-race celebration, challenging course and fun atmosphere. Having the chance to qualify for Lake Placid just gives one more reason you should do it.

Amber will be doing both Mooseman and Lake Placid, but I hadn't signed up in time for Lake Placid. For a moment, I considered doing a Vermont 100/Lake Placid double but I wised up. Well actually I mapquested the distance and I'd arrive an hour after the race started(best case scenario race too) so unfortunately wouldn't be able to compete.

However, I do still plan on napping after the VT100, then making the drive up to Placid to cheer on Amber and all the other local triathletes that have made Lake Placid their Ironman destination. And hopefully maybe see a few more athletes who have qualified at Mooseman.

You can check out all that these races have to offer here(Lake Placid and Mooseman).


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Winter Wild Championships and New Bedford Half Marathon

This past weekend was an unusual double for me. While I typically do double races, this was the first time that I wouldn't be running in both of them. Saturday was my race directing debut, along with running partner, Rich Lavers, up at Bretton Woods in the 1st Annual Winter Wild Championships. Chad Denning of New London Recreation had been putting on the Winter Wild Series for several years and I had participated as a racer. But when the opportunity arose for me to direct one of them, especially at Bretton Woods where I used to ski race, I jumped at the chance. 
Winter Wild is like a mountain race but unique in that you can use skis, snowshoes, running sneakers or even carry a snowboard to reach the summit, but you have to then get down the same way.

Bretton Woods Ski Area
Months before the race, using my memory of Bretton Woods as a kid, I mapped out what I thought would be a challenging but fair race course for all the participants. Also, as it was the championships, we instituted a "King of the Mountain" challenge for the first to the summit.

As first time race directors there were a few things we hadn't taken into consideration:

1) Day Light Savings. Due to the time change the six am start time meant that it would be pitch black in the dark. This made my marking the course all that much more challenging morning of.
2) Snowless Winter. Bretton Woods probably had some of the best snow in the state this winter but there is only so much that can be done with the unseasonably warm weather.
3) How long it takes to mark the course. I got to the course at 4:45 to mark it thinking that an hour and fifteen to mark a four mile course with a snowmobile would be plenty of time. What I didn't factor in was how many sidetrails we would have to block off, as well as having to backtrack at one point because the course went up a pitch too steep for the snowmobile. We also, at one point, slid down sideways when it lost traction-Yikes!
Luckily, we had the ability to push back the start until 6:30 which allowed some of the fog to burn off and have the sun come up a little so it wasn't pitch black. As you can see it was pretty close though.
The Winter Wild Championships
However despite these things we had a great turnout of over one hundred people! Not bad for a 6am race that most people had to travel at least 2 hours to.
As expected Kevin Tilton took home the King of the Mountain prize which was a free pair of Brooks sneakers. He ran an amazing race, finishing third overall after two very fast nordic skate skiers.
A big part of the Winter Wild Series is the amazing raffle that Chad puts on. I wanted the championships to be even bigger so I started last year to compile prizes that I could give away. Generous donations from Brooks Shoes, Merrell, Atlas Snowshoes, and Sony as well as aR favorite's like RedHook, made for a great raffle.
Rich and I found lots of things that we will do next year but one thing we won't change is the venue. Bretton Woods was so accommodating and the course(when we can run it in its entirety) will be the best in the series. Look forward to planning ahead.

The aR members that came up to Winter Wild

As soon as everything was wrapped up at Bretton Woods, I quickly drove down to Concord, picked up Amber and headed down to New Bedford for the second race, a half marathon, in the New England Grand Prix. We had to make a quick stop in Newton to drop off Amber's tri bike at Fast Splits. Fast Splits is a local rep for TriBike Transport, an awesome company that, as the name so apparently implies, transports tribikes to races. Amber's is now headed to Oceanside, CA for California 70.3 next weekend.
New Bedford has been a tradition in the Ferreira family now for four years. Each year my dad(and most years, my mom) come down with us, stay over and they cheer us on during the race. But the real reason is the food! After finding Antonio's last year, we decided we didn't want to deviate from excellence so we went back. It did not disappoint. Amber who hadn't been able to join us for dinner last year went to town, making sure she had some of my meal as well as her own:)

After dinner we drove over to Fort Taber which is a pretty cool fort built to protect the New Bedford Harbor yet never used.

As was the case last year, I knew that the race would start out fast, so I took it conservatively aiming to run the same pace as I had last year. I went through the five mile mark about 30 seconds slower than last year and more than a minute slower at the ten mile mark. I ended up running a slightly faster last 5k than last year but still ended almost exactly a minute behind last year's PR. I was hoping to have run a little faster but considering the hotter temps, the windier course and no long runs of note, I will take it.

Mile 12

I met my parents and Amber, cheered Amber's dad, Greg, on as he finished grabbed a coffee and then hung out until Mrs. Cullen finished. Unfortunately for us, she had been sand-bagging and finished over ten minutes faster than predicted so we missed her on the finish line. We won't be fooled again. All in all it was a fun weekend with friends and family and a pretty good start to the racing season as well as my race directing career:)

UP NEXT:  California 70.3!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Amber would be representing the USSSA Team
Because we found out late about the World snowshoe championships, Amber and I were unable to take off work to head up to Quebec early. Therefore we had to head up after work Friday night.

From the vague directions given to us by the proprietress of the place we were staying, I estimated we would arrive right around midnight. However, after a stop in Lincoln, home of Gordi's Steak and Fish, for dinner we were already running a little late when I came across 10 Est or 10 Ouest option on the highway in Canada. Looking back now I realize Est makes sense as east and ouest as west but at the time I thought est was west- they rhyme right? Suffice it to say we went the wrong way and didn't get to Quebec City until 1am. At this point Amber has been asleep for approximately 5:55 of the 6 hours we've been driving, but awakens just long enough to see the city lights then promptly falls back asleep. I, however, am wearily noticing our diminishing fuel and have started looking for a petrol(gas) station. We pass several closed stations after the gas light has already been on for over fifteen miles(24 km). Two things I noticed despite my near continuous anxious glances at the fuel gauge: 1) we are in the middle of nowhere, 2) the snow is getting deeper. A LOT deeper. There are places alongside the road that are over our car. Apparently Quebec did not get the memo that it was in the high 60s in New Hampshire this week.

We finally came across a station where we filled up at ~$5 per gallon and continue along our way. The directions to the place say, at the 103 kilometer mark our facility is on the right. What it doesn't say is that it's nearly two miles down this side road glazed with ice. We slowed creep along finally making it slightly after 2am to what appears to be a replica of the Mt Washington Observatory or some other subarctic station. Luckily we see in the parking lot NH and VT vanity license plates that clue us in Kevin Tilton and Tim "TiVo" Van Orten have already arrived.
Danny's feet and Amber's Snowshoes

A night watchman gives us keys to our room which turns out to be a dorm room. We were not partial though and soon were asleep. We awoke, or were awoken, to the sounds of foreign speaking people. I roll over in bed and mutter "freakin' French"( I later found out that they were, in fact, Italian). It seemed like they were standing directly outside our room and yelling. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I said there must be a common area nearby and it just seemed that they were outside our room. And yet, when I spied out a little while later, I found that they were immediately outside our door. Thank you.

We decided that we weren't going to be getting anymore sleep that morning so decided to venture around this facility and see if we could find any breakfast. Sure enough, we find the cafe as well as aR's Judson Cake and CMS's TiVo and KT all eating breakfast. Well aruably breakfast. While Kevin and Judson were partaking in the typical fare served at the cafe, Running Raw's TiVo was downing a shake. Kiwi,dates, something, something and kale. A lot of kale. I opted for the eggs and bacon. Although I do appreciate the theory behind the raw food diet, he and I discussed how all the other factors of eating(socialization,smell, connotation of a "filling meal" etc) makes going raw very challenging.

Amber had a three hour bike to do that morning so I decided to snowshoe the course with TiVo. Yes. Amber had a three hour bike the day before the snowshoe worlds. A pro's gotta do what a pro's gotta do.

After helping set Am up with a radio playing nothing but French tunes, TiVo and I set out for the snowshoe.

There was a cross country ski race going on that day so it took a while to find the snowshoe course but once we did it was quickly evident how fast this course was going to be. At least in regards to snow. The snow wasn't iced over but was firm enough to act more like trail than snow. The lighter the snowshoes the better for this race. Luckily Amber has a pair for Dion 121s which, in the US, is pretty much as light as you can get.

TiVo and I only ran the first 6k of the course of which 1K was nearly straight up with 2k or so of a steady descent losing the elevation gained. That left about 2 miles of rolling FAST terrain. aR's Judson Cake predicted that it would the race would start at sub-6 minute mile pace until the first climb and then people would start blowing up. That 1k up was a beast. It was pretty much as steep as many of the hikes that Amber and I do in the White Mountains, but she would be running up it with snowshoes on. Since TiVo was competing in the race the next day, we decided not to do the second loop but spoke with another racer who said that the climb was longer and steeper. Yikes! Looked like a good day for me to be a spectator.

We finished with a run around the lake which was super flat but gorgeous. Actually the whole course and area was amazing. If next year ends up being such a dud in regard to snow as this year was, I would consider taking a vacation up here because they certainly had the snow and the scenery. I finished up checked in on Amber and grabbed a snack at the cafe. After Amber finished the 3 hours, she and I went for a quick 20 minute run before heading down to Quebec City to meet her parents and explore a city I've heard compared to European cities.

The Governor's Walk
It did not disappoint. I particularly liked the Governor's Walk overlooking the river and the city. Walls surrounding cities has such an appeal to me: loved it in Portugal, Germany AND Quebec. Also amazing was that they had a skater cross course set up throughout the city. For those who haven't seen this you need to check it out here. After marveling over the crazy people that thought skating down an ice course was a good idea(the irony is not lost on the couple that competes in Ironman and ultra-marathons), we ended up in a Starbucks to warm up and started talking about the upcoming triathlon season. When talking about Amber's cousin who may be joining us for some triathlons this season, Amber's mother said :"She's at least 5'6", but no shorter than 5'5"." And this that one sentence the mood was set for the rest of the weekend. Lots of laughter and fun times ensued.

Amber and I headed back to the race course/dorm(which we found out WAS a dorm for forestry students), went to a race meeting. At the meeting it was discussed that there were snowshoes spotted that were not legal in US competitions. This was brought up to the race director who stated that as long as they were not modified they would be ruled legal. This was a game changer as it was(supposedly) a substantial advantage to those using them(which Amber was not). Either way, after a little complaining(entirely by me) we headed to bed to get a good night sleep. A good night is relative for those with children or from Italy as was evident from the wailing and laughter that kept me(luckily Amber can sleep through anything) up almost the whole night.
The next morning we awoke, warmed up with Kevin and TiVo and everyone got prepared for the race.
Amber before the race

Amber race to race favorite and eventual winner, Maria, from Italy
Amber's father, Greg, and I had devised a plan to see Amber at the maximum amount of times so there were plenty of places to cheer Amber on. She had an amazing race and it was fun to see her power up the climbs and sprint down the descents. She put up a good fight but a stronger racer from Italy, prevailed. Either way it was a very fun race to have watched.

Danny interviewing the Silver Medalist, Amber Ferreira

Amber at the Awards Ceremony
Summary: Amber comes in second in the world of snowshoeing to an Italian woman wearing snowshoes that are illegal in the US but aren't anywhere else. Therefore not illegal in the Worlds. Some people had made a fuss about this but Amber had a fun time and still got the Silver Medal(or in this case snowshoe).  Amber's take on that is that she would have lost to her either way.  Some may say that Amber was the legimate snowshoer winner and the other woman was just the fastest runner on snow. I, on the other hand, would say that Amber should have been at least first but no less than second.

 Up Next:  This coming weekend I will be making my race directing debut at the Winter Wild Championships at Bretton Woods, which you can register for here. Briefly, it is a race at a ski area where you race up and down the mountain in whatever mode you prefer(no not snowmobiles): skis, snowshoes, sneakers, cross country skis and have to get down the same way. It is a really fun challenge for everyone. A bonus: in addition to overall winners for each category(telemark, open(running, snowshoeing etc), track and heavy metal(skis snowboard etc) , and an award for the first to the summit overall, there is also an extensive raffle which will include SONY walkman MP3 player, 2 sets of snowshoes, free Brooks sneakers, and many more fun prizes. If you have nothing else to do on St. Patrick's Day, there probably isn't a better way to start the day.
The next day: New Bedford Half Marathon; Two weeks later: California 70.3 for Amber!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Triathlon Season is Fast Approaching: California 70.3

I realize that I'm getting a little ahead of myself talking about triathlons before Amber competing in the World Snowshoe Championship on March 11, but only two weeks after that Amber and I are flying out to San Diego for her to compete in California 70.3. This will be her first triathlon as part of the Zoot Ultra Team and she is pumped! I am too but that's because I've never been to San Diego and hear it's amazing. Also I can't wait to see Amber race. This race is traditionally very competitive and this year does not look to be any different with twenty-three professional women already signed up. Below are the professionals racing and links to their websites or blogs so you can read up on each of them. I am very excited to see Amber race as this will be her first year where she actually put in some time on the bike in the off-season. Can't wait!

  1. Kristin Andrews
  2. Michelle Bremer 
  3. Kathleen Calkins
  4. Rachel Challis
  5. Gillian Clayton 
  6. Haley Cooper- Scott 
  7. Linsey Corbin
  8. Trish Deim
  9. Amber Ferreira
  10. Heather Jackson 
  11. Meredith Kessler 
  12. Amanda Lovato 
  13. Jennifer Luebke 
  14. Mackenzie  Madison
  15. Rachel McBride 
  16. Melanie McQuaid 
  17. Lesley Paterson 
  18. Kristen  Peterson
  19. Beth Shutt 
  20. Jessica Smith 
  21. Thibodeau Karen
  22. Magali Tisseyre
  23. Beth Walsh
Up Next: World Snowshoe Championships, Winter Wild Championships at Bretton Woods, New Bedford Half Marathon and California 70.3