Sunday, September 30, 2012

Amber Ferreira Finishes Second at Pocono 70.3!!!

Haha. Tricked you with the title again. Well it's not a trick in that Amber, in fact, DID finish second female overall at the Pocono Mountain 70.3 today. This was sweet redemption after last year's less than stellar performance. But yes. I did fool you if you think I will be writing about that in this blog post. Sorry suckers but I'll leave it to her.

What you will find in this blog is a harrowing story of windy and wet conditions, a bad running pacer and an even worse biking pacer that brought my friend, Rich Lavers, in with a 3:09 marathon time at today's Smuttynose Marathon.

As I had mentioned before, Rich was trying to break three hours and he had recruited me and our friend, Jay Massa, to help him to this end. I was to run with Rich for the first few miles and then the last 10-12 to ensure that he was keeping on pace and a)not going out too hard, and b)not fading too much in the first and last miles, respectively. Massa's job was simple. Ride the course heckling Rich into keeping the pace high. Oh best laid plans...

Yesterday, Massa had made us a HUGE breakfast as only a Kurt Perham athlete can make. It was delicious and I highly recommend stopping by Cafe Massa any time of the day OR night and have him make you something. He may appear to not be receptive at first but if you needle him long enough, he'll likely fold. Or floor you... The food is worth the risk!

I picked Rich up at 5:45 this morning to ensure a stress free start to the day. Despite the early start, the traffic and parking(we had to PAY to park!) slowed us down enough that I dropped Rich off to make sure that he got everything ready before the start. By the time we had parked and registered we barely had time to make it to the start before the race began.

 Mistake #1: By not giving ourselves any time to warm up, we took off at a pace that was slower than what we needed to run. By adequately warming up, your body reaches a steady state and perceived effort is actually reduced. This didn't happen to us until mile three which meant we blew through three miles which we could have banked a little time.

We may not have banked much time but we were feeling pretty good and with a good group of people including Gate City Strider, Steven Ruhm, and TNT's very own Thor Kirleis. I had secretly been hoping to run the whole marathon with Rich but by mile seven I analysed how I was feeling and decided it wouldn't be wise to try to run the whole thing and potentially slow him down... I told Rich I'd see him again at mile 16 and turned around(it was a two loop course).

Mistake #2: By running the first seven miles with Rich(instead of the originally planned last thirteen miles), I exposed myself to the wet and cold weather which was not too noticeable while running but became very cold very quick when having stopped. After a few minutes of standing in a porta-potty to stay dry, I realized I was being selfish and preventing actual runners from using it. I started running back to mile 16(it was also mile 3), but stopped to help hand out GU's at one of the aid stations which leads me directly into:

Mistake #3: Helping out at aid stations may be fun but not a smart idea if you're planning on running ten miles in less than an hour. I sufficiently cooled myself down enough that after about forty minutes, instead of making my way to mile 16, I asked a kindly volunteer whether I could warm myself up for a few. A few turned into a few more and before I knew it Rich was upon me. I quickly jumped out of the car to pace him for the last 6, instead of the planned 10, miles.

Did Massa pace you for the middle? 
Nope, never saw him. He probably didn't come out because of the rain.

Actually Massa did come out in the rain, in fact, biking from Concord to pace Rich. Unfortunately, Massa committed:

Mistake #4: by not knowing how to get there. Getting lost in Exeter, NH he somehow added over ten miles to his ride which exposed him to the cold longer so by the time he got to Hampton, he was nearly hypothermic. Luckily for him, he had left some warm clothes in my car to change into but he was out for helping Rich.

So here we are with 6 miles to go and no realistic of breaking 3.(If I had picked him up at 16 there was a good chance we could have mustered enough gumption to pull it out-unfortunately at 20 there just wasn't enough time to make up for the slow start).

What would Danny do? Seriously? With six miles to go and knowing I'd need to run sub 6:10's to get there? It's raining and freezing AND my quads are cramping? Easy! I would have walked and spent the next 6 miles coming up with believable excuses for my poor performance.

What did Rich do? Carried on. Not only carried on but actually probably had a few of his fastest miles in those last six. He felt like crap but didn't back down. He stepped up to the plate and put himself out there. And while he didn't achieve his goal, he did something better: showed he could persevere in less than optimal conditions with lots of mistakes. Just think what he could do on a good day with just a few less mistakes.

By the way, he still finished 23rd and qualified for Boston, so all in all, it was not the bad day that it first appeared.

A few hours after we had parted ways, Rich texted me. To gripe about the race? Excuses? Complaints? Nope, nope and nope. He just wanted to know how Amber had done.

Friday, September 28, 2012

When Amber goes away, Danny comes out to play!

So Amber has left for the weekend to go down to Pennsylvania for Pocono Mountain 70.3 this Sunday. That has left me to my own devices. No one to wake me up two hours before I need to wake up in the morning with an incessant alarm clock that she so amazingly can sleep through. She also isn't there to encourage good eating so I have been like a pig in dirt(or maybe just a plain pig) spending every meal eating at places that she wouldn't step foot in, no less eat at. Mmmm but it tastes soooo good. Admittedly, my stomach has been somewhat revolted but I will persevere.

Oh yes the life of a bachelor. Eating out, sleeping in, writing blogs about my wife. Oh well, I guess I wasn't foolin' anybody. As much as I'm looking forward to pacing my buddy Rich at this Sunday's Smuttynose Rockfest marathon, I think I'd rather be down in Poconos with Amster. Lame I realize, but such is life. At least a day in the life of bachelor Danny.

Follow Amber at: and swing by Hampton Beach to cheer on everyone running the marathon or half. Nothing to do tomorrow? Head up to Bristol to cheer on Josh Cleland as he attempts his first stand-alone marathon or Eric Gattie doing the half during the NH Marathon. Also Clarence De Mar is Sunday so if you're in the Keene area cheer those fellas on. Plenty of NH marathoning going on this weekend. Fun had by all.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The IronHeart Mile, Upcoming Races, Twitter

Confession: I haven't been running much. Not specific enough for marathon training, not fast enough for mile training, and definitely not far enough to be considered an ultrarunning boy. AND... I just turned thirty so I should now be called the Running Man! I was born in 1982 which was the same year Stephen King's novel came out. How about The Confessions of a Professional Triathlete and Running Man? It could be all about Amber's exploits as a professional triathlete and mine as a wrongfully convicted man sentenced to a life of signing up for events that he is always under-prepared for. I like it. It's better than Irongirl and Mr. Cullen as Mr. Michael Wade likes to suggest...grrrr.

This past weekend, Running Man was up to his old antics, this time showing up to Jeremy Woodward's IronHeart Mile without having done speed work in, oh, 6 months.

A picture from Jeremy's other race: Ironheart 5k. Look who's front and center!
That doesn't stop Running Man from having high expectations. Those were dashed in the first quarter mile in which he took it out a little too fast trying to keep up with Connor Jennings. By the turn around at the Draft, he was already thinking about excuses that he could make... Unfortunately the runner in front of him, Jon Vinnenber, took his idea and rolled with it as he wiped out taking the turn too sharply. That was enough to keep him moving excuse free. Just fast enough to break five minutes. Barely: 4:59:34. Certainly not a PR but squeaked out an age-group win. Not because Running Man had a strong kick but because he was born two days later so he still fell under the 20-29 age group instead of the 30-39 where he would have been second.

The race was very cool as it was run on Main Street in downtown Concord and was a fair course as you ran up and down the same road(as opposed to a downhill mile). It was fun to run on roads usually filled with traffic.

I go right from the mile into the marathon this weekend as I will be running the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon with my friend and co-race director, Rich Lavers as he tries to break 3 hours. He has come suspiciously close to it in the past and with the right motivation, I believe he can do it. I just need to make sure that I don't slow him down.
Rich and Danny(Both in Blue) at the Hoppin' Mad Fun Run with J Massa, Phil Erwin and Chris Dunn

Ms. Irongirl has some upcoming races as well starting this coming weekend with Poconos 70.3, then Miami 70.3 four weeks later with Ironman Arizona as the 2012 season finale. Lots of exciting events left to follow!

In addition to following her on, you can also follow Amber at her blog for actual triathlon talk-rather than my ramblings as well as now on twitter at: AmberTri.

Enjoy and happy runnings!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our Kathadin Trip

This past weekend, my brother and Amber arranged for me to finally make it up(up and up) to Baxter State Park to try my hand at Mt Katahdin. I have always wanted to hike it but have been turned off by all the logistics involved. Having to reserve a camp site the night before to ensure a parking spot at the trail head, the distance needed to travel just to get to the camp ground, no electricity or running water. I end up usually just going up to the White Mountains and do some hiking there. 
Not this weekend. My brother, Matt, took care of the logistics getting me accurate driving directions(there are no street signs or even names for a lot of the traveling), reserved the camp ground, bought all the food, and even brought my sister, Marilyn who joined us for the weekend. Marilyn started the weekend off right by earlier that day posting the following on Facebook: 
Favorite part of the blog:
"While Amber took a nap, I read the newspaper in the hot tub and had breath-holding competitions with myself in the pool. I won the majority of those as well. Oh yeah. I'm a stud too. "

Most intriguing part:
"I figured since Amber hasn't had time to write up her race report yet, I wouldn't keep people in suspense any longer about this past weekend up at Pumpkinman. "
Intriguing due to the fact that you think people were held in suspense. how cute.

It was certainly going to be a fun weekend.

Matt had warned us that if we didn't arrive at the state park gate by 8:30 on Friday night they wouldn't let us in. Since Amber and I live the closest(relatively) it was our responsibility to make it up there on time to get to our camp site. My driving directions estimated that it would take 6:10 to get there and since we were leaving Concord at 2, that gave us a solid 20 minutes of lee-way. Oh boy-hopefully no one has to go to the bathroom.
Amber and I drove up right from work and after nearly 5 1/2 hours of driving we finally arrived at the Baxter State Park gate. Wow! Really good time. Little did we know we still had ten miles of the most pot-holed dirt road to travel which brought us in close to the 6 hour mark. We had a camp site and a lean-to so we generously gave Matt, his wife, Cindy and Marilyn the camp site and we took the lean-to. Generously you say! Isn't the lean-to better? Ask Amber, who typically sleeps like a rock, who spent the night graciously pushing my off my sleeping pad so she could have two and STILL couldn't sleep well. Well the next night we decided to sleep in Matt's tent which sleeps 8 and we both did sleep like rocks. But that could have had something to do with the hike we did. More on that soon.

By the time everyone else had arrived Friday night, Amber was already asleep-apparently her "bad night" didn't start until a little later in the evening. We were all tired from the drive and were planning on an early morning start anyway so we all headed to bed.

When I awoke the next morning, it occurred to me that my idea of an early start and that of the other hikers in the park was quite different. As I tumbled out of the lean-to, I saw one beleaguered hiker scurry to the trail head but otherwise it is was deserted. Everyone else had already started out. Why so early? It's ONLY an 11 mile hike? I meandered around as Matt, Mar, Amber and Cindy all got up. We got some fire wood and cooked up some scrambled eggs. Suffice it to say we didn't have the earliest start, but it was before the 10am cut-off(apparently you can't hike after ten in Maine).
View of a rainbow on our ascent

The one aspect of this weekend that we did seem to overlook was the actual hike itself. Before looking at the trailhead we actually didn't know how long the hike was. Also we didn't know the estimated time for hiking would be, nor the terrain, the recommended trail or just about anything that would have been a good thing to have researched. The hike started out with a steady climb
in the woods to get the blood flowing. We had a steady pace that brought us to our first good views in about an hour. That was also about the time the rain started.

Email to my brother before we left: Make sure to bring water-proof jacket and cold weather gear. 

How Matt interpreted email: Bring your questionably wind-resistant, surely not water-proof wind-breaker that you've had since High School and don't forget to only bring your plaid cotton shorts. 

I am always amazed at how poorly I communicate sometimes.

Cindy, Matt and Danny taking in the views
It was also around this time that we started passing people going the other way. The first few(let's call them the SuperEarly Birds) were able to cross Knife's Edge but warned us that the weather had  gotten worse since they'd crossed. As we came across more and more people, less and less of them had made it across. Too dangerous, wet, or windy was often the refrain.
 However, it took us another hour before we stopped to discuss our game plan. It was decided that Amber and I would go ahead, and Marilyn, Matt and Cindy would head back.
Amber and Danny head out into the great unknown(only to us)

We said our goodbyes and started to make our way to Knife's Edge, the notoriously steep, rocky and narrow trail connecting Mount Pamola to the two peaks of Kathadin. We passed a French couple who had been turned back. The woman kept saying Dagger Russ over and over again to us.
Danny: Dagger Russ?
French Woman: Yes, Yes Dagger Russ!
Danny: Oh okay[no idea]
French Woman: No, No Dagger Russ! Turn back!
Danny: Okay.... Have a nice day.

Amber and I then continued to climb while the couple after giving us some further exasperated stares descended. Then it occurred to Amber. Dangerous! She was trying to warn us not to go up any higher. Rather than heeding her advice we both broke out laughing which carried us up to the peak of Mt Pamola. 
Marilyn's picture of us as we part ways. 

As we got to Knife's Edge(which we couldn't actually see due to the rain and clouds) we realized two things: 1)We had only gone 3.2 miles thus far, and 2)there was no way we were going to risk going across Knife's Edge twice(it was an out and back) with the windy, rain and cloud cover. 
So we decided to just sit down for a little while and decide whether we wanted to turn back or go down the Dudley trail that someone had recommended to us(curse him!). While sitting, the rain stopped and the clouds parted and we had excellent views of Knife's Edge. It was pretty amazing but made us glad that we hadn't tried crossing it. We stayed for a little while longer then decided to go down Dudley trail. Dudley trail, we soon found out, should have been called the Crazy Rock Garden as it was nothing more than huge rocks that we had to scamper down from. There were sections that we actually couldn't fit through without taking off our packs and throwing them ahead of us. We soon found that our arms were getting as tired as our legs having to lower ourselves down multiple times. Imagine going through the Lost River without the wooden bridges and losing nearly 3,000 feet of elevation in 1 mile! Yep. It made for very slow going.  
We finally made it to the base only to find we still had another 3 1/2 miles to hike back to our camp site. By the time we made it back Matt had already eaten dinner and looked like he would not be getting up for the rest of the night... Great veggie chili courtesy of Cindy and smores were the highlight of the evening. By 8 o'clock we were all sprawled out in Matt's camping mansion fast asleep.
Nearly 12 hours later we awoke.

After failed attempts to make camp-fire coffee, we decided it was time to head out back into society. We stopped just long enough to get real coffee and breakfast and for Marilyn to leave her jacket and purse behind. Twenty miles down the road I hear: Panic, Panic! I think I forgot my purse! Sure enough she had but the good people of Millnocket had put it aside so we turned back and got it for her. On with the drive.

We stopped in Bangor at a cute little cafe for lunch. On with the drive.

We dropped Marilyn off at her car at the Portsmouth Park N Ride after she declined going out to dinner with us. We opted for the Portsmouth Brewery where we had an early dinner then.... on with the drive.

We eventually made it home, unpacked and settled in for another early night. While it was a fun weekend spent with my siblings(missed ya Drew) and Amber, I think from now on we should stick with the White Mountains.

Up Next: IRONHEART MILE Sept 22nd; POCONOS 70.3(Amber) Sept 30th

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Amber is a Pumpkinman

I figured since Amber hasn't had time to write up her race report yet, I wouldn't keep people in suspense any longer about this past weekend up at Pumpkinman. This would be her first 70.3 since hurting her hip doing the Mooseman/Eagleman Double and it would also be her first race weekend double of the season(doing the sprint on Saturday and the 70.3 on Sunday). She did the half-ironman two years ago and won it so the pressure was on for a repeat. She couldn't pass it up though. Kat Donatello and her husband put on a great race.  Not only does it attract some pretty stiff competition for a local race, organized well, has a beautiful locale, but it also has a great post-race spread. Shipyard brewery provides the beer which accompanies a full turkey dinner with actual plates and silverware!

Amber knew she was in for a tough weekend when she saw the start list which included: Amanda Kourtz, Andrea Wilhelm, Amy Danna, Katie Hursey, Catherine Sterling, Kim Shattuck and Karen Smyers. Amber Ferreira(nee Cullen). Ah ah ah and Cah cah cah. Jeeze if I were the announcer I would be confusing all of these similar sounds studs something cah-razy. Luckily for Pumpkinman spectators Andy Schachat of Announcers on the Run was there to officiate.

Anyway. Spoiler Alert!

Amber ended up doing both races finishing third on Saturday and first on Sunday.
Danny and Amber

After Amber's third place finish on Saturday, we stopped at a little restaruant in York, ME for lunch of very good burgers and a game of Connect Four(which Amber states she had never played before. Ha! She only said that after she lost on three consecutive occasions). Anyway, with Amber suffering her second defeat of the day we headed into Dover, NH for a night at the Dover Days Inn. Now that is a nice two star hotel! Right in the center of town, great pool and hot tub and clean comfortable room. Did you know that Dover was settled in 1623 and is the seventh oldest permanent settlement in the US? Well now you do.

While Amber took a nap, I read the newspaper in the hot tub and had breath-holding competitions with myself in the pool. I won the majority of those as well. Oh yeah. I'm a stud too.
Amber arose from her slumber just in time for her massage that I had scheduled for her in Portsmouth at Elements Massage. You may say that I was being kind but I really just wanted some Danny time to spend at Odiorne Point exploring. It is a pretty amazing area where you can barely make out Fort Dearborn which was a World War II fort and you can hike along the trails that bring you alongside the coast line. Continuing south, you can come to the sheltered tide pools of the Drowned Forest where treestumps are all that remain. The forest sank below sea level as it rose and the trees couldn't surrive because they couldn't live in salt water for very long(and they were submerged).
We met back up and went out to dinner at Blue Latitudes in Dover where I proceeded to engorge myself on Nachos and Buffalo Chicken. Delicious! We waddled back to our hotel and proceeded to watched several hours of television. I really appreciate the fact we don't have cable-there is nothing on! And yet, we continued, earnestly, to try to find something interesting to watch for several hours before Amber finally succumbed to her third defeat of the day: nothing to watch.

Well, those three losses: Pumpkinman 3rd place finish, 3 losses at Connect Four, and TV show searching must have lit a fire under her humpkin, man. Here she comes Pumpkinman!

All the male and female pros start the half-ironman together and it was a two loop course, so I was actually able to see her swim by me half-way through the swim. At that point she was with a group of men, with Ethan Brown off the front(where he would proceed to win back-to-back races). As she finished her second lap, Amber had made some gains on the men, coming out of the water second!
The Swim: 1st Female: 27:08

The Transition from swim to bike: Amber on the left- Danny in Green cheering her on

She then made tore apart the bike, finishing the 56 mile course in about the same time it took me to finish an excellent buffet breakfast.
The bike: 1st Female: 2:24:57(23mph)

Amber then took off on the run. This would be the real test for her hip. It would be her longest run since Eagleman and her first back to back hard runs. And although she had a good sized lead on Amanda Kourtz, she knew she had to have a solid run to hold her off. Which she did. Every time I saw her on the run she was smiling, striding out nicely and looking strong. Which she was. She ended up running a 1:29:41 half-marathon which is 6:50 pace. She looks ready for her fall race season. Which she is.
  The Race:  4:24:42 - 1st Female Overall

So Amber made up for the devastating losses of Saturday to come back big for the win on Sunday. After the race, Amber finished up her winning streak by being the first to the food tent which, as I mentioned above, comes with a turkey dinner and Shipyard beer. We were joined by Lisa Ransom and her beau, Paul who had also done the race. A great way to finish up a fun weekend.
Lisa Ransom and St. Paul

Up Next: Hiking Mt Katahdin this weekend.
Knife's Edge

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Well, at least my friend, Greg Whitman, does. You may remember him from such adventures as the Little Red Lighthouse 6 mile swim, the lost car keys at the end of a long hike in the White Mountains, or maybe his interview with us. He left his friends in Concord, NH to study medicine in Australia but he hasn't been far from my heart. Well at least from my head. Thousands of miles does not prevent Greg from heckling from a distance.

Here are some of the better ones:

On Thanksgiving Day 2010[In response to Danny stating that he wanted to get to a 155 pound race weight]: On this day focused around eating, remember one thing: 155. 

Upon losing to Amber on the swim, bike and run portions of Mooseman 70.3:  I thought you were at least a faster runner?

After announcing my retirement from Ironman Tri's: No more ultra marathons. No more Ironmans. What are you not not going to train for now? 

After seeing Amber had won Rock N' Race in a 17:38: I thought you were at least a faster, short-distance runner? 

After seeing Danny's picture in the newspaper after the Rock 'N Race: You do realize shaving your chest won't get you down to 155, right? 
Most recently(and surprisingly not heckling me)[in response to Paul Ryan's claim to have run a sub-3 hour marathon]: When facts and reality don't matter, anything is possible: vote Republican!

Followed up immediately with: I once ran a sub 3 year marathon. 

While it's funny to see Greg's commentary, sometimes it's scary. How can someone forget how fast they ran a marathon? Not just forget, but round down by over an hour?
Check out the article here.

Up Next: Amber Returns to Triathlons with PUMPKINMAN this weekend!