Monday, May 21, 2018

Trav's Trail Run

I was looking forward to the 3 mile trail run in MaudslayState Park in Newburyport. The weather was sunny and humid, a departure from the cool weather the day before. It was nice to see Nate Jenkins at the race hanging out as he recovers from hip surgery. Stay positive my friend! I went off on a nice warm up on the course with Dave and Greg giving us a chance to catch up on trailing, racing, and life.

The race went out fast, the benefit of an immediate downhill. It thins out after a half mile as the rolling hills and shade embark on the runners. Chris Kealy, now 50 years young, wheeled by me ¾ of a mile in and Dave Dunham went by after the mile. I felt flat and proceeded on autopilot mode. I had Connor Welch in sight on the last hill but I was hurting just as bad as him. My time was 18:18, 12th place. I was 11th last year with a time of 17:28. CMS teammate Greg Putnam took the last envelope, placing 3rd in 16:26. My goal was to finish within a minute of him.

Dave finished 14 seconds behind Chris Kealy in the battle of the Seniors (17:38 to 17:52). I had a refreshing slow cool down with Chris who was educating me on his Flag Day race coming up in June and some coaching that he has been doing. The awards got delayed so they decided to have the raffle first. Krissy score some New Balance socks right off the bat. I managed to score a New Balance backpack, courtesy of an age group placing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Merrimack River Trail Andover

[Cha-cha-cha-changes] The Merrimack River Trail Run course changed a bit this year. There included changes at 3.8 miles where the course approached the power lines with a longer but less steep incline. The course would continue with a horseshoe loop along a new trail and slowly migrate over to the edge of the river. Then the course would head back to the power line. The course would get back to the oncoming race around 5.7 miles. I liked the changes which pretty much retained the same distance as before (9.4 to 9.6 via GPS).

I got right on the start line, getting the pre-race “rules of the rivah” from race director Steve Peterson, long time CMS card carrying member since his days at UMass Lowell (home of the Chiefs back then). After the “ready, start, cayugah” I bolted out into the mud 25 ft onto the single track course. I settled in behind Patrick Rich in the field about a half mile away. I was comfortable with the pace. Colin Carroll passed me before we reached 2 miles.  I would keep that place for miles with Mike Luebeck from GLRR right on my heels through the powerlines and through the new trail loop.

Half mile in behind Patrick Rich and next to Dave Dunham
Photo by Rose Dunham Washak

I closed the gap that Colin had on me while I was now heading along the river and to and through the powerlines. I got on his heels for the closing miles only for him to open up a 17 second gap on me over the last mile or so. I caught up to and passed Michael Payson with a little more than a mile to go. Bob Jackman came into view but couldn’t find any energy to close the gap at the end. He finished 13 seconds ahead of me. CMS won with the top five runners (Patrick Rich 3rd, Tim Van Orden 4th, Colin Carroll 5th, Robert Jackman 6th, and I in 7th) combining with 5:21:52 over Team Gloucester with 6:22:23 for their top 5 runners.

You will note that I and 3 out of 10 runners (Colin and Mike for example) that I see on the Strava Flyby missed a turn with a few miles to go. We got back on the course shortly after the turn (we were actually on the old course) but we all covered the same distance but a few feet less of elevation? At any rate, I was pretty happy with the effort, decent finishing place of 7th overall, 5th master, and I broke 65 minutes (1:04:57) which seems decent within my history on the course. The race was rare for me to be chasing someone down and having company in the 2nd half of the race. 

7th place at the end
Photo by Rose Dunham Washak

Looking back, the course was pretty dry with the exception of a few hops over drainage basins.
Brett and I hung out after the race for the famous raffle prizes picked out of a hat and a call for the name if present. I did not score anything but enjoyed the laughs had by all as “Petey” gave out funny prizes bought at Market Basket that related to the letter of the Alphabet.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Frank Nealon Boston Tune-up 15K

Dennis Floyd, Nakri Dao, and I arrived in Upton for the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-up 15K which was the 2nd race in the USATF New England Road Race Grand Prix. Parking was easy as was picking up the bib number inside the gym. I caught up with my CMS teammates before heading out for a 15 minute warm up. Onto the starting line, about four rows back with my CMS mates. The weather was nice for late March, sunny and almost 50 degrees.

The course rolled early and often. I opened up with a pair of 5:45's. The 3rd mile had the most climb and I registered a 6:09. I mentally was breaking the race down into thirds. Mile 4 had the most net drop (-41ft) and I returned a sub six. Mile 5 was level but recall a hill that I could see from a half mile away. I was sort of keeping Josh Perks close on the down hills. Mile six gave me a 6:00 split.

Two thirds of the race distance was in the rear view mirror. Dave Dunham came by and went by easily. I was hurting. I begged Tim Van Orden to jump back into the race and "jog" with me. He was done, walking off calf pain. I had a pair of 6:17's for miles 7 and 8. Tough ones for me. I regrouped a little bit in the last mile when Joe O'Leary came up on me. I heard his cough and I peeked back and said that I recognized that cough. He laughed and told me to bring us home to the finish.

I gave it all I had. Despite that I lost two spots in the last half mile including one to Bradford Klinedinst, within my age group which put me into 11th for the day. Overall, 93rd place with a time of 56:38 – 6:04 per mile pace. I felt pretty good with the effort. I would not have changed my approach. I really liked the course and the rolling terrain. The CMS teams did very well with 2nd open, 2nd masters, and 3rd senior team. I am looking forward to resting up this week and looking for more races which could include Doyles 5 mile and the Merrimack River Trail Race.

My coach, Joe O'Leary catching me in the last mile
Photo by Rodney Hemingway

Monday, March 26, 2018

Hibernian 5K

I ran over to the AOH club and picked up my number from Krissy. She was running with Lisa and Teddy in the Hibernian 5K. I decided to support the local hometown 5K which attracts over 400 runners butjust got lazy with the pre-entry. I got into my racing flats and jumped into the starting line. I got a stare down from Michael Pulli. Maybe I owed him money? I did not make eye contact but maybe it was thePolar Beverages logo.

The gun goes off and I am in 15th place right away. 500m later, I moved up to 3rd behind Michael Pulli and Sean Kay. Up the hill past the fire house, Sean removed and dropped his wind breaker off to the side. He was all business as he trailed by a half stride but I knew he was being held up.

Sure enough, he moved ahead into the lead for good at the mile which I passed in 5:43. He extended that to a "no looking back win" in 17:31. While the wind was in our grill until 2.5 miles, that turned to our back for the last 800m. I finished 3rd, first dude from the City of Good Clean Run (uh, Lynn), with a time of 18:02. Michael Pulli held 2nd (17:54). 

I ran back over to Sean who gave a few words to the Lynn Item reporter. We ran a cool down, most of it over the course again. Back at the post race, I won my entry fee back.

2018 Hibernian 5K Race Results

The prize for 3rd
Photo by KrissyK

New Bedford Half Marathon

The New Bedford Half Marathon kicked off the first road race in the USATF New England Grand Prix. CMS teammates Nakri Dao, Joe Shairs, and Dennis Floyd waited what seemed forever to gain entry into the Elm Street Garage. I have never seen such a delay getting in. Maybe it was the automated ticket generation which is supposed to “lean out” the process? Anyhow, I got my race number and shirt with no issues. I have to thank the registration crew and New Bedford race management team that allowed me to transfer two CMS numbers to other CMS runners. Our team had four runners registered weeks ago that were unable to attend. I had two entries go unused.

I warmed up with Dennis and Nakri with a little out and back. The wind was in our face moving away from the start and at our backs heading back. Noted. After a quick change into the racing flats and shedding a layer, I was on the starting line with 8 minutes to spare. I started about 10 rows back.

The race got going and I started my watch as I crossed the start line. It was crowded but thinned out to single file after two miles. I kept an awareness of who I was race around and who was ahead within striking distance. My goal at this race is to get to 3.5 miles without too much effort (no surges that will cost me later). Once at 3.5 miles, I picked up the speed a bit running with both Martin Tighe and Arthur Besse for periods through 7 miles.

Dave Dunham was in the mix and I was excited to be running with him. That was short lived as he and Arthur smartly surged to a group ahead into 8 miles. I held back. Miles 7 though the start of 12 are flat which helps but the ensuing and expected head wind was heavy into mile 10. My pace per mile reflected this as I was dipping into the 6:30’s instead of the low sixes previously. My legs were heavy but charged the hill at mile 12 with steady authority trying to shake two ladies. On the other side of the hill, I lost the battle to one but stayed clear of anyone one else charging from behind.
After 12 miles
Photo by Rodney Hemingway

Another one by Rodney Hemingway
I finished in 199th place with a net time of 1:22:12 (6:17 pace per mile) or 1:22:18 (gun time). I was 28th out of 290 in my 40-49 age group. I had six CMS teammates in front of me, it would have been more if not for injuries to a few of them. The CMS teams did great with the open getting 2nd, masters 3rd , and seniors taking the team win.

2018 New Bedford Half Marathon Results

My 5:55 mile split from 6 to 7 was my quickest of the day. I was with Dave Dunham and Arthur Besse. Mile 10 to 11 my slowest with a 6:36.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

U.S. Snowshoe Championships

packed the WRX and headed out to the 2018 Snowshoes U.S. National Championships on Friday morning. It was directed by CMS teammate, Tim Van Orden. 40 inches of snow dropped on Prospect Mountain in Woodford, VT a day earlier. Three hours later Dave Dunham and I met up for five mile snowshoe tour around Prospect Mountain under light snowThere was plenty on the mountain. The single track was going to be deep. Not sure how deep as the flags and paths were not created yet. 

(BackgoundI have raced twice there in the past: February and March of 2014. The first race was challenging with deep snow. I recall that it took me about an hour and twenty minutes to finish what was around a 10K distanceI fell and hiked in several single track sections of the course. However, over a month later, for the U.S Snowshoe National race, there was less snow. I ran under an hour. I got to the podium placing in my age group (master) as I was going to turn 40 later in the year. I had a feeling that 2018 was going to offer a challenge and I was right.  
Prospect Mountain Trails
After the tour of the Mountain, I headed into downtown Bennington to pick up my number. Bob and Denise Dion were set up with the snowshoe offerings. After catching up with them and Mark Elmore (the man behind USSSA), I headed over to the hotel to meet Dave and unpack. Wgrabbed dinner at the Bennington Pizza House. I killed a plate of Eggplant Parm and Dave went after a pizza. I crashed fairly early so I got plenty of rest. 

Dave and I were up early, heading over to Dunkin Donuts for coffee then hit the hotel breakfast buffet where I had oatmeal with granola. I had over 4 hours to wait for my noon race so went back to the room. I packed up several sets of gear (warm up, race, and cool down/chill clothes) imy bag and headed to the mountain – 18 minutes away. It began to snow on the way up to the mountain. Fitting. The parking lot was packed. The announcer was calling for the women's 10K race. I managed to see them start and yell for Leslie O'Dell and Amber Cullen-Ferreira 

I caught up with my CMS teammates: Steve Brightman, Greg Hammett, Ed Sheldon, and Ben Nephew. I did a short warm up and got into the snowshoes. The women's leaders started to finish as my race started to line up. Without hesitation, I got on the front row. Tim Van Orden advised us not to go out too fast – "a lot of climbing early on." He proceeded to get into the race as a competitor. A flurry of snow was kicked up and about 100 shuffled out. The sound is amazing. We circled around the base and began the climb. I settled in and had a healthy gap between me and the gent in front. Greg Hammett was right behind me. I was holding back with patience. Greg went by after a couple of miles while on the ascent up Prospect Mountain. Smart move.  
With Greg Hammett early on
Photo by Dave Dunham
I fell on the approach 50 yards to the top. I dusted myself off and moved on. Soon I was heading down in full flight and into the first real narrow single track with two foot walls created by the earlier race with the women. It was crazy. Barely two feet wide. Going down this single track required caution. Throw in a turn every four feet and I am talking Amusement Ride quality with a heavy fee if you wipe out. I felt so unbalanced. I tried to focus on staying upright. 

Xavier Chiriboga barelled up on my ass during my cautious pursuit on the descent. I offered him to pass and jumped to the side even though there was no room for anyone to passIt cost me. I got pushed into the wall of snow while my snowshoe got stepped on. My right shoe went in about a foot deeper. My right calf started to cramp. I was rip shit. He said sorry and scurried up and away.  

I was afraid of another competitor coming up on me in the single track. I was looking forward to getting out of that single track and onto the wide fire roads. Unfortunately, over the last three miles, it seemed 80% was single track with no passing lanesI got tunnel vision when surrounded by the two foot wide and two foot walls. 
My favorite: down hill
Photo by Dave Dunham
Peter Keeney from Maine caught me after 5 miles. He declined to pass when I offered. Now my concern was not to hold him up. The single track near the base of the mountain was constant with short ups and downs, left and right, hold on to a tree to maintain balance. I was tired of the single track 
After five miles with Peter gaining
Photo by Dave Dunham
The race was pretty close to six miles and I was heading to the finish line happy to see this ride endI was directed past it. OK, no problem, a little out and back to finish up with a 10K. Nope, we dived back into more single track, left, right, left, right – like the secret code to endless lives in Contra (old Nintendo reference there). Finally, I crossed the finish line. 1:19:29. I measured 6.8 miles. I was amazed no one passed me after Xavier crashed into me half way through the race. I felt so bad for the gents doing the half and full marathons the next day. 
Heading to the finish line with Peter behind
Photo by Dave Dunham
I walked back inside the lodge and changed into dry clothes. I hung out until the results were posted. I finished 20th overall and 4th CMS finisher behind Tim (9th), Greg (12th), and Steve (17th). Ed finished 29th. Ben (7th) competed for MPF so they could field a team (2nd place in the open). CMS masters finished 1st I would agree with Tim in that he wanted to give athletes something to remember. 

1. 3:41:43 Central Mass Striders (1:13:55) 
1 1:10:40 Tim Van Orden 50 Bennington VT  
2 1:13:38 Greg Hammett 41 Chesterfield NH  
3 1:17:25 Steve Brightman 50 Providence RI  
4 (1:19:29) James Pawlicki 44 Lynn MA  
5 (1:24:53) Ed Sheldon 54 Hooksett NH 

Check out the photos. ben kimball photography showed the narrow single track terrain well
2018 Snowshoe Championship Photos