Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2015 New Bedford Half Marathon

Four races in four weeks! Wow! That's the most racing I have done in quite some time. I'm starting to enjoy this again. This weekend was the New Bedford Half Marathon, the second race in the New England Grand Prix series. I had given up my goal of PRing here after looking at my race performances and training but I was still hoping to beat last year's race time of 1:17:57.

At the start of the race, I aligned myself around runners I hoped I could run with. The race started off okay but I could tell immediately that I should have warmed up more as my breathing was more ragged than it should have been. Jim Pawlicki passed me at mile 3 and I hoped to hang but that only lasted a few steps before letting him go. I ran solo for a few miles before getting passed by Tim Snow. For those of you not in the triathlon scene, Tim, a former pro-triathlete, is a strong runner and I jumped in behind him. We started picking up the pace a little and picking off runners.

Just like last year, I started warming up and tossed my gloves to my parents who were cheering around mile 6.

Note: This might be the last picture you see of me with a beard. Tim's comment around mile 7 asking me how old I was plus my friend's daughter's comments earlier that weekend are to blame.

Photo courtesy of Richie Blake
First to Rich's daughter Anna comment. While over his house with Kendra, I went to the bathroom. While I was gone, Anna asks Kendra:  Where'd your daddy go? In regard to me! Kendra, who I am training to qualify for the Boston Marathon, is THREE months younger than me!

Then at mile 7, Tim asked how old I was. 32 I replied, to which he responded: Oh my god you look so much older than that. I mean, errr, I just thought you were older.

And out come the clippers.

Anyway back to the race. Tim and I ran together until mile 10 where the wind picked up and so did his pace. We passed through 10 in 59:05 which was 10 seconds faster than last year's time. Unfortunately, unlike last year where I held strong, I fell apart running 2 of my slowest miles of the day. I pulled myself together for the last mile, but still came up about 11 seconds short of beating last year's time.

But the weekend was not a tragedy! I finally made it to the Whaling Museum where I learned(and likely already) forgot a lot about whales, whaling and ships. For instance, did you know that a blue whale's(which happens to be the largest animal in the world) throat is only about the size of a basketball. Jonah wouldn't have had to worry about getting swallowed by one of those suckers.

Also, in addition to the old favorite of Antonio's which we did for lunch, we found a great Portuguese restuarant in Tiverton, RI for dinner. Where I ate copious amounts of delicious food.

While not the race I was hoping for, it wasn't a disaster and the weekend was a fun one.

Up Next:
Ironman South Africa March 29th(Amber)
St. Louis Marathon April 11th(Danny)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Under the Radar Races- Join the fun!

There are so many good races out there, make sure you don't waste your time with the lousy ones. There are a few good race series out there including the New England Grand Prix and the All Terrain Series that get plenty of publicity. Below are a few under-the-radar races that are worth pre-registering for.

April 11th
The Merrimack River 10 Miler
While not really under the radar now that it's part of the All-Terrain series, this race is a great early season trail run on some of the best easily accessible trails in Mass. I often will stop on my way home from Boston just to run a few miles of it. Unfortunately, I won't be able to race it this year, as I'll be tackling the St. Louis Marathon that same weekend but I highly recommend you check it out.

May 2nd
Ralph Waldo Emerson Trail Race
This course is on the trails I run all the time. This acidotic RACING event will take place on the City of Concord's Winant Park Trails. Located close to downtown Concord the trails offer a beautiful taste of windy singletrack, switchbacks with breathtaking views of the capital area and nordic-type paths.  I wasn't around to do the race last year but I plan to this time around.

To register for the Emerson Trail Race, click here.

May 21st
The Rock N Race
This Thursday night race is a must-do if you live in the Concord area. When you see how many people do it, you'd question that it's under the radar but it is for the front of the pack runners where a sub 17 can net you a top five finish. Not bad for an event with over 6,000 runners! Even if you don't like running, you should really consider walking it as it is for a good cause. However, you may gain weight if you walk it and stop at all of the free food tents along the way which include chips and salsa and chocolate covered strawberries.

To register for the Rock N Race, click here.

July 19th .
You are in luck! Two good races going on in New England that weekend. You've got a choice between a road 10K that is sure to attract some speedy racers and a trail marathon that keeps getting longer and tougher each year:


The Level Renner 10K race directors scoured race calendars and have finally  settled on a date with the fewest possible conflicts:

They have tons of awards and raffle prizes. If pre-registration is strong enough, they are even going to increase the prize purse. You may remember the Level from when Amber and I graced it's covers several years ago. Since then, they've continued to cover the New England running scene from track meets to trail races. A go to site for all things running.

To register for the LVL10K, click here.

Bear Brook Trail Marathon
Another aR race, this one is brutal. I paced my buddy, Rich, a couple years ago and thought the 27.4 miles of ups and downs were tough enough, but supposedly race director, Ryan Welts, has upped the distance and the challenge. Good post-race celebration and a run through a blueberry patch makes it all worth while.

And if you are looking for a little less competition than you might see at the New England Grand Prix or the All-Terrain race series', you may want to consider doing the CARS Race Series. All seven of the races are in towns surrounding Concord, hence Capital area race series, and are well put on.

Up Next:
Danny tackles the New Bedford Half Marathon on Sunday(March 15th)
Amber looks for world domination at  Ironman South Africa on March 29th.

Stay Tuned!

Monday, March 9, 2015

The New England Snowshoe Championships! A Battle of US Snowshoe Champions!

I carpooled with Amber up to Moultonborough on Saturday to race the New England Snowshoe Championships. Amber was hot off her 4th place finish at Worlds while I was coming off my misadventures at Kingman Farm. As Ironman South Africa is coming up quickly for Amber, she hadn't been sure that she would be able to compete, but when she saw the weather report and figured she could do a bike ride outside on Sunday, she decided to do the race. Her weekend training didn't start with the race however as she still led a morning tri swim at the Concord YMCA before heading up. And it didn't end at the end of the race as she still had another hour she had to run. And that was only her "light" Saturday workout. Don't get me started on what she had to do on Sunday.

This race was exciting to participate in for several reasons: 1) It would be the last snowshoe race of the season and was the championships, 2) It is part of the All-Terrain Series which looks to see who's the best runner on (you guess it) all terrain and 3) It was another acidotic RACING event which meant it would be well run and there would be great prizes.

This race wasn't going to be easy though. Coming in slightly under 10K, it was longer than most snowshoe races and offered up 1324 feet of climbing with the max slope topping out at 26%! Yikes!

Made more challenging was the fact that because Amber a) had tri swim until 8ish b)thought the race was at 10:30 instead of 10 and c) Danny wanted a muffin and coffee. Why did this make it more challenging? Because we showed up to the race about 7 minutes before start time which resulted in no warm-up and me resorting to using my Leadfeathers instead of a brand new pair of Dions.

We got to the start line just in time to hear Chris Dunn's intro to the course, which after Kingman Farm I tried to listen to. It was also enough time to see that this race had definitely attracted some pretty fast runners and I saw that Kasie Enman, a runner with a 2:37 marathon PR and a former US snowshoe champion, was in attendance. This would be no cake walk for Amber today.
Joe Viger snapped a picture of the start- That's Amber in the pink!

The race started off fast and I found myself about 30 people back in a race that turned out to be almost entirely single track. Using the first mile as my warm-up, I was able to see the long line of runners ahead of me. A couple of the super fast guys like Jim Johnson and Kevin Tilton were out of sight fairly quickly but the rest stayed in sight for a while. It was interesting to see exactly when the two packs started to separate. In that second pack was Amber near the front. She looked to be running strong but comfortably, probably also using the first few miles as a warm-up.
'Yesterday Acidotic Racing hosted the Northeast snowshoe Championships!! @[623223067:2048:Kasie Wallace Enman] and I battled it out for first and second.  If you have never tried Snowshoe racing I invite you to grab a pair of @[100001182524344:2048:Bob Dion] Snowshoes and try it out. It has a funny way of taking you to deep dark places where you lose your mind, your way, your ability to care about anything but the next step...'
Amber hopping an obstacle with Kasie on her heels- courtesy of SNAP acidotic
Around 2 miles, Amber started picking up the pace which was evident by the runners that started stepping off the trail to let me pass. By the fourth mile, I was only a few people behind her with Dan Verrington, another CMS runner and Kasie Enman between us.

Amber leading the charge after just dropping Dan. Courtesy of Scott Mason
It was really fun to watch the two women battle it out with Kasie closing the gap on all the descents and then Amber pulling away on the climbs. Unfortunately for Amber the final mile was primarily descending and with less than 1/2 mile to go, Kasie passed her fairly definitively.
'@[304132093051553:274:Amber Ferreira-Pro Triathlete] is just 5' 2" but looks like she may have the longest stride in snowshoe racing.  That probably explains why she's been National Champion twice.  She finished second yesterday in a battle with 2011 World Mountain Running Champion @[284494995007218:274:Kasie Enman] for the Northeast Championship. @[106610482726535:274:Dion Snowshoes] @[117524208265808:274:acidotic RACING]'
Amber on a long descent- Another picture from Joe Viger
Amber surged to close the gap and at one point was probably only 5 feet behind but there was too much downhill at the end and Amber ended up getting nipped at the end by 5 seconds or so.
Kasie makes the pass with Amber on her heels. This is the closest I got to the two of them. Courtesy of Don Fredrickson
As I mentioned earlier, Amber wasn't done yet, still having an hour of running to do afterwards, Kasie and I joined her for a "cool-down" which became progressively more and more fast to the point where I was working considerably faster than I had been during the race. Of course, the final 1/2 mile of our so-called cool-down was up a 15% grade which left me totally wasted.
Thanks to Julbo's for covering up my tears. And to Snapacidotic for another picture
Luckily there was plenty of food and drinks providing by Moat Mountain Brewery which helped revive me and my spirits but I can honestly say that that workout was probably the hardest I've done a a while. And Amber had a six hour bike ride the next day! Crazy!

I went ice climbing the next day and my legs were totally shot. Even the lazy hike in along a railroad bed had me questioning my fitness. Hopefully it's just getting me stronger:)

It wasn't pretty folks.

With good scoring at this race, Amber is in prime position to be competitive in the All-Terrain series if she chooses to do it so you may see her be competing a bit more locally this year which is in line with her thoughts on staying more local with her sponsors. That being said, she does travel FAR for her next race which is Ironman South Africa on March 29th. Stay Tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 South Africa Ironman Preview and Pro Start List

On March 29th, Amber will be starting her triathlon race season with the African Ironman Regional Championships. In years past this race has had few competitors and was a destination race for a (relatively) easy podium finish. On average, only 13 female pros finished this race in the last four years. This year, due to the marked shift in prize money and race availability, will signify a 180 degree change from that. In fact, as you will see from the depth and talent of the female pros signed up to race, this is likely to be a high caliber and very competitive race.

This winter has not been friendly to Amber and she will not have been on her bike outside before arriving in South Africa. And yet, I suspect that Amber will continue to perform well and will likely surprise some people who may have thought last year's string of podium finishes was a fluke. I don't know how much longer she can keep up this under-dog facade.

Amber is likely to have a fast swim-not so much due to her fitness but rather due to her knowledge that sharks typically only attack isolated swimmers so she'll be doing her best to stay with that lead pack. Fun Fact: South Africa is one of the most shark-infested waters in the world!
Chomp chomp! Better swim fast Amber!
The bike is in Amber's favor as the two loop course is described as a challenging course with some steep and continuous climbs. Hopefully enough to separate her before the flat coastal part of each loop.

The run is super fast and will be a test to see what fitness she has been able to accrue this winter.

No matter how she does, she will be in Africa and seems to only be concerned about seeing Elephants and doing a shark tank dive. South Africa is also known for their vineyards so I am sure there will be some wine tasting as well.  So no matter what, this trip is guaranteed to have many memorable experiences and will be a trip of a life-time!

That's right! 31 pro triathletes will be competing in South Africa.

  Jodie  Swallow UNITED KINGDOM
  Linsey Corbin UNITED STATES
  Stefanie Adam BELGIUM
  Anne Basso FRANCE
  Anja Beranek GERMANY
  Svetlana Blazevic REPUBLIC OF SERBIA
  Susie Cheetham UNITED KINGDOM
  Tine Deckers BELGIUM
  Amber Ferreira UNITED STATES
  Astrid Ganzow GERMANY
  Alyssa Godesky UNITED STATES
  Eleanor Haresign UNITED KINGDOM
  Corina Hengartner SWITZERLAND
  Jessica Jones Meyers UNITED STATES
  Caroline Koll SOUTH AFRICA
  Heather Leiggi UNITED STATES
  Caroline Livesey UNITED KINGDOM

Nina Pekerman ISRAEL
  Diana Riesler GERMANY
  Riana Robertson SOUTH AFRICA
  Linda Scattolin ITALY
  Caitlin Snow UNITED STATES
  Sonja Tajsich GERMANY
  Kathrin Walther GERMANY
  Eva Wutti AUSTRIA

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race or Wrong-Way Ferreira Strikes Again!

Kingman Farm Snowshoe race is one of my favorites. And that's not just because I seem to somehow end up on the podium every time I do this race. Admittedly one year(2009?) was due to a dog attack on an unsuspecting Bob Jackman, another(2011)  because the group of racers ahead of me all took a wrong turn and a third(2010?) because there was no snow and it became a trail race. The real reason I like it so much is that it's just a plain fun race. Chris Dunn of acidotic RACING puts on a great event, it's always a challenging but fun course, there's a great post-race raffle and good food and it's run at night! It's just a good time all around.

This year I lucked out and was able to get in on the wait-list after the race was postponed due to weather. I hoped to possibly podium on my own this time. When I got to the race, I quickly disabused myself on any such thoughts as I saw 4 or 5 guys including Jim Johnson, Chris Mahoney, Jackman and Eric Narcisi who could handily beat me. Oh well, I guess I could just hope that they all would get lost:)  Apparently my wishes somehow got lost in translation(more on that later).

After saying hi to many fellow runners who I hadn't seen in at least a year(the opposite of last week's Amherst race where I knew next to no one), I warmed up with Lisa Ransom before the start of the race. 
The widest part of the trail-before the sun set
The race was originally set to start at 6pm but Chris wanted to make sure it was dark enough before we started. The front of pack of guys were all chit-chatting as Chris went through his pre-race course description. Having done this race several times before I wasn't terribly concerned about it. Apparently he said something about making sure you take a turn at the two way junction. Not sure though.
Pre-race: TNT and CMS in the front with Danny in lime-green
I love running in the woods and this race with the snow reflecting moonlight and the little make-shift latterns that Chris put out on the course, I opted to go headlamp off. Plus it forced me to keep up with the guys ahead of me. Which I soon found to be challenging.

Chris sent us off with a quick "go!" and, like always, Jim Johnson sprinted to the front with Chris Mahoney, Robert Jackman and Eric Narcisi right on his heels. I settled in behind Eric with another runner right behind me.

The thing I find challenging about snowshoe racing is that the pace never seems extraordinarily difficult but if you try to pick it up at all, you become anoxic almost immediately. It's about finding a balance that will keep you going fast enough without blowing up. I settled into a comfortably hard-ish pace but soon was slowly being gapped by the four ahead of me.

Luckily I was wearing a reflective vest or you wouldn't be able to see me

A fast start

Moment of honesty here:  Probably within the first two miles I was starting to feeling pretty lousy. There was probably a 100 foot gap that had now separated from me and the three ahead of me(the fourth: JJ had created his own little gap on those three). My right binding on my snowshoes was starting to come loose. And here's the confessional: I got excited about it! Here was my chance at a good excuse to have a bad race. So I told myself, just keep running until your binding comes totally off. But the darn thing never did!

In that time though, I did catch back up with Bob Jackman who suffered a pretty hard fall on one of the climbs. He graciously let me and my shadow(no sure who it was) pass. We slowly started closing the gap on the two now ahead of us, but I could see by the lights of civilization we wouldn't be able to close the gap in time. Just then we pass Chris Dunn who was marshalling the course and he told us we must have missed a turn.

Sure enough we had come into the finish line from the wrong side. For a moment I was panicked-thinking that I had led people astray without my headlamp on but Chris and Eric had also taken the wrong turn and were now finished up right ahead of us. I probably would have been content with just finishing there too but my shadow turned around and started running back towards the way we just come. Grudgingly, I took off in hot pursuit. We ended up back-tracking quite a while before realizing where we had taken the wrong turn(at the two-way traffic point), and then started picking off runners who were now ahead of us. I ended up getting jammed up a bit as the course became more single track and my shadow slowly faded out of sight. Oh well, I finally crossed the finish line about 15 minutes later in my first non-podium finish at Kingman Farm. I jinxed myself!

But the fun didn't end there! Chris had solicited my help as a judge for his first annual chili cookoff, so I was soon was shoveling back copious amounts of various types of chili. It's tougher than it sounds! I had to pick the top three which meant I had to taste all of them, narrow it down to five, narrow it down again to three and then rank those three first through third. All I can say is that I was glad to be driving home alone after all those beans.

A fun raffle after ended the night and it definitely made me want to get back into the snowshoe/trail running scene again. Thinking about it yourself? Check out acidotic RACING's website or join Runner's Alley at Red River tomorrow night for a Trail Running Film Festival.

Up Next: Women on Wellness March 14(Amber); New Bedford Half Marathon March 15(Danny) and Ironman South Africa March 29(Amber)