Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quebec City Snowshoe Race!

Amber and I just got our confirmation of entry into this Saturday's 10k snowshoe race up in Quebec City as part of their Winter Carnival. Amber was invited to compete and I was able to sneak by(probably by last name alone). It wasn't until today though, that I was able to figure out how to turn the website into any decipherable language(it was originally in French), so this was my first exposure to the race course.

It looks flat! By the description "5 times the 2 km loop on the Plains of Abraham" does not sound very hilly to me. It does look exceptionally beautiful running through the old part of Quebec. I expect this race is going to be VERY competitive as it offers a price purse as well as has nearly 1,000 racers. ONE THOUSAND! Most races that we've competed in are lucky if they get 200 racers. This will be interesting. The snowshoe race is part of the larger Winter Carnival festival which includes a skating event as well as a pentathlon. However, despite Amber wanting to both the snowshoe race and the pentathlon, it is on a separate weekend so she won't have the opportunity.

Just as she did when she had to ride her trainer before the World Snowshoe race last year where she finished second, she has another long trainer ride the day before this year as well.
We're heading up with J Massa and his wife, Steph, and I expect Kurt Perham has a trainer ride on his schedule as well so Steph and I may be taking in the sights on our own Friday.

I'm not sure whether they will be doing any sort of live posting of results but you can check out the website here. Should be another fun weekend:)

Monday, January 28, 2013

A fun weekend

After a weekend of snowshoe racing and hiking the Franconia Ridge, I had an even more packed weekend the next one.

Danny barely eeeking out a 3rd place finish ahead of Chris Dunn

Amber pushing to the front lines

A view back on the Flume Slide I cruised down
With only a fair amount of peer-pressure, J Massa decided to join me for a hike on Saturday up East Osceola and Mount Osceola. He has previously mentioned that there was no point in hiking as he could often get better views from a quick google search, but nonetheless opted to humor this fine morning. I should say fine, COLD morning. I had been out on Thursday hiking Willey, Field and Tom and was hoping that my nose would have warmed up some in the two days between but it did not. Other than the nose, it really was a perfect day for a hike.
View from Flume

If you haven't hiked the Osceolas from the Kanc side, it is a very different hike from Waterville Valley which is where I had hiked it previously. From the Kanc it is an easy 1 1/2 run in with almost no climbing, but is made up for with a unrelenting(or relentless, you decide) climb to the summit of East Osceola. The climb over to Mount Osceola has a little chimney that you can skirt around but otherwise isn't too bad. Unfortunately as it is an out and back, you have to descend that chimney which is somewhat treacherous(ask Massa how close he was to flying off into the abyss), then make a slow slog back up to East Osceola.
That's where the fun begins! From East Osceola, it is nearly a mile of fun sliding all the way down to the cross country intersection of Greeley Trails. I've been doing my fair share of slides(most notably North Tripyramid and Flume Slide) but this was probably the most fun of them. It was probably more fun than the other two because it was quite a bit safer. Without the risk of injury, I could really pick up a bit more speed and just enjoy myself. Plus there weren't any tears of fear freezing to my face. Massa's experience as a rugby player as well as cyclocross racer definitely seemed to help him on the descent. He'd bomb down and just when you'd think he'd have to stop to avoid a rock or tree, he'd do a little flip or hop and just continue on. It was a sight to see. Which I believe most are. With his help, I've finished up January with 18 of the 48 4,000 footers hiked. It will certainly have to be a busy February and early March if I'm going to get this done.

While I was hiking, Amber was done in Nashua competing in an indoor time trial. She ended up in third place losing to second by a second. 1 second. But she produced her highest wattage for that duration of a time trial so things look like the 2013 triathlon season is going to be fun!
Amber sweating it out at the time trial

After volunteering at the Black Ice Hockey Tournament on Friday, I decided to go back to watch it Saturday afternoon with my dad. We ended up not spending much time outside-mainly because I hadn't dressed appropriately, but we did have a fun time hanging out listening to the Strings and Things band at the UNH law center. We would have stayed longer, but I had to get ready to watch Dancing with the Stars.

Our friend, Jeremy Woodward, was gracing Concord with his wonderful dancing skills at NHTI's Dancing with the Stars which is a fundraiser to support the President’s Fund for Excellence at NHTI. His dance partner, Erin Grizone, did not disappoint either. They did a great swing dance and won the competition outright. It was very impressive. Check it out. It was also fun to sample all the different foods and drinks that local restaurants had provided for the evening. Amber must have noticed my joviality as somewhere in the evening, she convinced me it was a good idea to drive her down to Boston the next morning for a continuing education course.
Jeremy and Erin

All the Stars

Michael Wade of GCS had emailed me earlier in the week about a Masters Indoor Track Meet in Providence RI on Sunday. I had given it only a moment's thought but decided against it due to the distance. However, when I realized I had been douped into driving Amber to Boston, it became a viable option. No cold toes or nose? Oh yes, mark me down. Competing against men and women in their 70's and 80's? Oh boy, this is getting better by the moment.

I headed down after dropping Amber off not knowing what to expect. Would it be a bunch of CMS guys like Dave Dunham and Dan Verrington ripping it up or would I be competing against the old guys from the Concord YMCA who heckle me in the pool? The first person I ran into that morning was Justin Soucy who is only one year my elder so I knew I'd have some competition in the 5k. That was the only event he was running since he had to get back to Durham to coach his team at the High School Indoor meet at UNH. I had also signed up for the 400 and the mile since I didn't need to be back to Boston until around three. These would be my first three races in several months with several months more of no fast running. I realize fast running is relative with some people doing cool-downs faster than my PR's while others race at my easy run pace. However, none of my fast running for me in months. For example, I haven't run a race(or training run) where I've done anything faster than 5:45's since September.

And yet, here I was trying to run three fast races with minimal preparation. The 5k was first and is obviously psychologically the hardest. 25 laps! Yikes! That is brutal.  As the gun went off, I settled in behind Justin. There were a couple of fast guys from BAA that looked like they were going to lap us several times(it is 25 laps)...Justin pulled for the first five laps with his wife diligently shooting out our splits. After going out a little too fast for the first two 39's, we settled in consistently hitting 41's. After the fifth lap, I pulled ahead for the next five, telling him that we could alternate every five. I brought us to the second kilometer averaging 41 or 42 every 200. Justin took over the lead and threw down a 39 which was enough for me to blow up at that point. While I stuck with him for a bit, I faltered around the 4k mark, drastically slowing. I staggered in with a time of 17:26 more scared than ever how amazingly fast Amber has become running(she did 17:36 at Rock N Race and had a big smile on the whole time).

Meanwhile, no smile on my face, but a fair amount of cottonmouth. After a ten minute cooldown with Justin, I had run the furthest I have in several weeks. Still the 400 and mile to go.

The 400 is a brutal race. Two laps indoors at nearly full speed. It's very difficult to pace as was proven by my 26 second first lap and 34 second 2nd lap. Oh yes, I certainly went out too fast. I was hoping for a mid-to low 50 and ended with 60 flat. Not so good. And as luck would have it, the mile was up next. I didn't even bother looking at my splits this one just hoping not to pull anything or hurt myself. I pulled in for a third place finish with a 5:16... Yikes- I did a 4:47 last year around this time. However, since Justin and I were the only 30-somethings with little enough self-respect to show up to a Master's meet, I was able to take home a gold, silver AND bronze medal for the day. Not too bad.

I headed up to Cambridge where I was going to meet Amber after her class(the crazy girl ran there from Allston-not directly there but managing to find enough bridges to do repeats on for a while first). I hung around the Harvard COOP, not to be confused with the Dartmouth(or Concord)Co-op then we went out for dinner at the Border Cafe and called it a weekend. We were asleep earlier than most weekends which says a lot.

Up Next: Quebec City Winter Carnival 10k snowshoe race! 2/2/2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Hiking NH's 48 4,000 Footers

The Game: Hike all 48 4,000+ foot peaks in NH in winter.

The Stats: According to the Appalachian Mountain Club, while 10,098 people have reported finishing the White Mountain 4000-footers, only 550 have done them all in winter. Only 65 people have done all 48 4,000 footers in one winter. However, that's exactly what Myles Chase and I are attempting to do: hike them all in the 2012-2013 winter and we have until March 19th to do it.

The Rules: The rules are very simple: You must climb to and from the summit of each peak of the 48 peaks in New Hampshire that are 4,000 feet or higher and at least 200 feet higher than any ridge connecting it to a higher neighbor. In winter, skis and snowshoes are both allowed. To officially hike them in winter for the 2012-2013 season, it started at 6:12AM on December 21 and ends at 7:02AM on March 20.

The Mountains, Elevations:

1 Washington 6288
2 Adams 5774
3 Jefferson 5712
4 Monroe 5384
5 Madison 5367
6 Lafayette 5260
7 Lincoln 5089
8 South Twin 4902
9 Carter Dome 4832
10 Moosilauke 4802
11 Eisenhower 4780
12 North Twin 4761
13 Carrigain 4700
14 Bond 4698
15 Middle Carter 4610
16 West Bond 4540
17 Garfield 4500
18 Liberty 4459
19 South Carter 4430
20 Wildcat 4422
21 Hancock 4420
22 South Kinsman 4358 23 Field 4340
24 Osceola 4340
25 Flume 4328
26 South Hancock 4319
27 Pierce 4310
28 North Kinsman 4293
29 Willey 4285
30 Bondcliff 4265
31 Zealand 4260
32 North Tripyramid 4180
33 Cabot 4170
34 East Osceola 4156
35 Middle Tripyramid 4140
36 Cannon 4100
37 Hale 4054
38 Jackson 4052
39 Tom 4051
40 Wildcat, D Peak 4050
41 Moriah 4049
42 Passaconaway 4043
43 Owl's Head 4025
44 Galehead 4024
45 Whiteface 4020
46 Waumbek 4006
47 Isolation 4004
48 Tecumseh 4003

Bolded mountains are the ones I've climbed thus far this winter(Myles is a few behind me but will catch up when I go to Puerto Rico with Amber in March.
The Epic Hikes: While it looks like we have our work cut out for us(and we do), we are planning a few epic days to cover multiple peaks. Our proposed main three are:
1)Presidential Traverse: Madison->Adams->Jefferson->Washington->Monroe->Eisenhower->Pierce->Jackson
    This will certainly be the most challenging due to the elevation and potential weather but I suspect it will actually be easier than in the summer because the snow/ice will be covering the scree... we will see.

2)Bonds Traverse:still somewhat in the air but thinking: Bond->West Bond->Bondcliff->Zealand->Hale
     The other option would be Bonds and the Twins but I'm thinking about doing the Twins with Galehead and Garfield which will be a mini-epic day in itself.

3)The Wild Wildcats: Wildcat D->Wildcat->Carter Dome->South Carter->Middle Carter->Moriah
   We have already been turned back once from this guy. It will certainly be our hardest day and we'll try to plan it later in the winter with more daylight.

Other long days will be hiking Owl's Head(always long), Isolation, and Carrigain due to the closed winter roads which make long hikes even longer.

Myles and I are always looking for people who want to join us. We like to run ridge lines and make use of our butts for any slides steep enough(see the Tripyramids). Let me know if you want to come out and play!
Looking forward to a fun winter wonderland!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Wild Wildcats and Trying the Tripyramids

As Myles Chase and I are attempting to hike the 48 4,000+ foot peaks in New Hampshire this winter, we were looking to hit some up this weekend and New Years day. On Sunday we attempted to do a long traverse of the the Wildcat and Carter Ridges which would have netted 6 peaks. It was going to be an epic day. Amber and Deidre joined us as we started bright and early for the nineteen mile hike.
Amber and Deidre

Myles and Deidre at the second ledge on Wildcat
After 2 1/2 hours of postholing through 2-4 feet of unbroken snow making it less than 2 miles, we decided that the day was better spent regaining warmth in our feet, having a good lunch and doing some shopping at the outlets.

Amber and Danny
All in all, it took us about four hours to cover the four miles. So instead of six peaks on Sunday we climbed 0.0 mountains.

Danny Breaking Trail

Deidre on his heels

Danny is a wildcat?
Or is it Amber?

After nine days of winter: Peaks climbed: 1; Peaks Remaining: 47.

Danny Breaking More Trail

This week wasn't meant to be for epic hikes as our New Years hike along the Franconia Ridge got vetoed as both Amber and Deidre wanted to go cross-country skiing instead. Myles and I then settled on the Tripyramids. Amber and I had done them in the past and I remembered that going up one was significantly more challenging than the other. I just forgot which. Apparently it's safer to go up the North Slide and down the South Slide.

There are two reasons for that. The South slide is somewhat less steep but also it is more covered from the wind so typically is just snow filled. The North slide on the other hand typically is sheer ice and at a steeper pitch.

The North Slide- Imagine it covered with sheer ice.

The North Slide-One of the few places with deep enough snow to stand
 So what did we do? We climbed up the South Slide and down the North. This ended up being a good thing as we used the North Slide as the name implies. One long fun slide. My butt is not pleased with me today but we surely made up some time on the descent. Also making things go a little quicker, was our foresight to bring snowshoes which was certainly needed as at the bottom of the slide there was nearly three feet of unpacked snow(most people hike the Scaur Trail to avoid the slide altogether).

That line marks Danny's butt slide on the North Slide

All told, we hiked a little over 11 miles in a little less than 4 hours. A little better than our day at Wildcat and hopefully a sign of what we can do for the remaining winter.

The South Slide on Mt Tripyramid Trail
As of 1/1/2013-Peaks climbed: 3; Peaks Remaining: 45.