Monday, February 25, 2013

Jones Group Realtors 10 mile, Amherst

USATF New England Road Race Championship number one kicked off the new year at the Jones Group 10 mile in Amherst, Ma. There was a buzz of communication that took place in the days before day light on Sunday morning with a pending snow storm. The race director pushed the start of the race until 1pm to offset any poor driving conditions with whatever mother-nature spit at New England over the weekend. Joe, Krissy and I left Peabody at 9:30 and rolled into Amherst two hours later. The rain / snow line was right around Rt. 495. The skies got brighter as we approached Amherst which greeted us with light drizzle, temps in the mid 30’s, and a little wind that did not appear to impact the race course too much. I was happy to hear that the course was 99% clear and the dirt road was certainly runnable (no ice).

After mile 9 in Amherst looking ragged
Photo by KrissyK
I warmed up with the CMS guys and decided to wear the Inov8 195’s that Todd Callaghan (GCS) gave me last year. I got a good start and quickly looked for company to roll with for the next few miles. I was pretty cautious to not go out too fast. I have done this race at least five times so I know the hilly terrain well. It does not get any easier with the experience and age increase. This is not a PR course. I had my GPS watch on but purposely kept it covered under my long sleeve. The first two miles are and up and down, down, down affair. I was at the back of a group that I felt was fast enough for my liking. Sean McDonough (SRR) and I talked before the race and we had a similar goal of sub 58. We started the climb into mile 3 where we both spectated last year during this very race. I reminded him of that as we passed the water stop. It was nice to be racing this time.  We had a steady dose of climbing and light ascending before flattening out into the dirt road. I recall big snow flakes coming down but it did not cause a problem.  I set sights on catching Stephanie Reilly (Team Run) which I was successful in doing around 4 miles. She was cursing and swearing the dirt road which was firm amongst the puddles but my traction was decent.

I caught Kevin Alliette (WRT) and we passed through mile five. I was too lazy to check my Garmin for the time and distance so I asked him what we just passed through 5 in? 29:08 replied Kevin. He took off on me shortly thereafter and put almost a minute on me to the finish line. In the distance, I could see Joe Shairs and then Dave Dunham and thought maybe I could close in. I was closing on Todd. I was only able to get within his heels. I encouraged him, no, told him, that he needs to start rolling around 6.5 miles which has some decent down grade if he wanted to catch the master runners ahead. It was at this point that my right calf was starting to not feel good. The Inov8 195’s and my less than perfect stride were no doubt catching up to me (denial that my fitness is not where it should be). Todd took off. I only wish I had the fitness to join him as he got some decent momentum. I focused on getting to the low point of the course and did not worry about how I was going to get up the hills and into the finish. I was a mess on the climb up to mile 9 but held it together as best I could. I started to hear Stephanie behind me so I had to get a move on (hustle) as I was in no mood give up position in the last mile. I got it together after the rail road tracks and held on into the parking lot where I got within a few feet of Ryan Miller. I finished 53rd out of 510 runners. My time was 58:26 (5:51 pace) and just three spots away from page 1 on the posted results. Page one has been elusive for me in the New England Championship races. The effort was strong the whole way despite fadeding a bit after 7 miles which was totally expected. My training for the week was not the best as I missed some days after wisdom teeth (2) extraction and some good ‘ol pain all week (thankfully does not hurt while running). No excuses though….

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snowshoe Classic at Brooksby Farms

Hitting the line on empty
Photo by Krissy courtesy iPhone 4S
I signed up for this 5K (my GPS plotted 3.09 miles during the race) snowshoe race at Brooksby Farm in Peabody as soon as I heard the Blizzard of 2013 was coming. Mother Nature was not going to keep this guy down. Krissy and I picked up Angel Green (Wicked Running Club) and headed to the farm. I realize that I have kept all of my 2013 racing within a five mile radius of home. Just a lazy coincidence so far. After getting my bib number and race packet that had a pair of socks (can't get enough socks, right?) I made a point to find the race director to get the scoop on the course. He said between orange ribbons, arrows, volunteers, and snowmobile tracks, it should be easy to follow. He also said save your energy for the hills at the end. He was not kidding. Did I listen? Nope. I warmed up for a light run on the roads with Steve Dowsett (Whirlaway) who has been tearing up the snowshoe races this winter. I got set with the racing stuff and eased into the Dion 121 snowshoes that have had only one race under them (Sidehiller 2011). I wore Inov8 195's which are light. We got some instruction from the race director and the Mayor of Peabody, Edward A. Bettencourt Jr., shot the starting pistol releasing almost 70 brave entries. I jumped into the lead and let the lungs burn. I listened to the shuffling behind me as I worked along, shifting left and right on the track to find stable footing. Despite the snowmobile running over it, the snow was still deep, light, and sloppy for footing. I lost the sound of shuffling behind me after a few minutes and headed into the woods loop which could be described as a winter wonderland - tall pines covered with snow. The snow was barely broken by those that marked the course. The hills were gently rolling so far when the course popped out to the orchard with a generous long downhill stretch where I opened up the stride and let it fly for a bit. I thought the race director was being kind but I know what goes down must be offset with getting back up to the farm. The tough sledding came when crossing a field that was exposed to plenty of deep drift from the winds a day earlier. It took a lot of effort. This was certainly the deepest stuff we embarked on the course. I tried to minimize overall effort to prepare for the climb that I anticipated ahead. True to form, the hill that the race director warned about loomed. It was not steep but long enough to get your attention. I worked it and the strides short. My legs were cooked at the top. I could see the barn house that we started next to in the distance and was looking forward to hitting that finish line as my tank was close to empty. It felt like forever to get there as the course teases us as we had to go around the barn property and tour another orchard. I passed a cool green air cooled Volkswagen Camper Bus (something like this) buried in the snow 200 meters before the finish line. Leave it to the VW geek to appreciate that site during a lung burning event. I was relieved to hit the finish line in 31:35, 10:12 per mile average, a result of the conditions. Dave Long (Wicked Running Club) was 2nd in 32:17. Steve finished up fifth overall, 34:49, and was not too happy how his race unfolded. Snow conditions and course terrain can beat up the fittest of athletes. I put down a Vita Coco and two apple cinnamon bars before heading out for a cool down loop with Steve on the roads. The race was treated with plenty of food inside the barn house which is a store all year-round. I helped myself to the veggie chili, apple crisp, and mini italian sandwiches from Santoros. I picked up a jar of Brooksby Farm Honey and a Su Changs (awesome Cantonese food) gift certificate. Meanwhile, there were raffles flying out left and right. Krissy scored a Paddy Kelly's gift certificate. In all, this was a great event. The course was tough but gave the entrant what they would expect in southern New England. Mother Nature came through with the snow and we happily met the challenge.
 Jen Searl, Angel Green, Patrick Taylor, Jim Pawlicki, Krissy Kozlosky

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Great Stew Chase

Unlaced into the finish at the Great Stew Chase 15K in Lynn
Photo by KrissyK
I placed third (54:27, 5:51 pace) on Sunday at the Great Stew Chase 15K in Lynn. It was not easy as I had a front row seat watching CMS masters and teammates - Jason Porter and Dave Dunham take command in the second half of the race. Jason broke up a pack of six around mile 4 to chase solo leader, Daniel Croteau (NBTC). Jason got the lead somewhere around the "turn-around" while Dave and Somerville Road Runner, Ryan Kerrigan matched his move as they passed Daniel. I trailed a few strides and noted that my downhill prowess was failing. Dave Corbett was beside at this point and looking good. I had to work hard to keep Dave Dunham and Ryan close. I trailed both by four seconds when we left Centennial Park (6.5 miles). I felt my laces loosen up on my right shoe. I did not want to look down, maintaining denial that it was happening. For the record, the shoe was double tied with loops tucked in before race start. I was not about to stop and and take care of it, however, I worried. I lost focus and ground to Dave who was really holding tough and trying to catch Jason. I got past Ryan who stayed in my hip pocket and no doubt laughing at my laces whipping about. Dave and Jason never let up over the last two miles. I barely held Ryan off at the end where Krissy and my dad were. I just then looked down at the laces. Just one loop came untied, the other fine which saved everything from unraveling except my race. Still, this was a hard effort. It was fun to have the pack early on. These guys will be hitting the Amherst 10 mile race hard so the efforts on this course will pay off.

Full results on coolrunning
Stew Chase 15K photos by KrissyK

Sunday, February 3, 2013

AlterG Anti-Gravity experience

Defying Gravity while running

I met up with Kev Balance, EJN, Victoria Barnaby, and Joe Navas at Fitzgerald Physical Therapy in Woburn on Friday evening. Thus LevelRenner was in full representation and got the skinny with a plethorah of video, stats, and interviews over the course of the next few hours. Sean and Holly Fitzgerald have state of the art services, therapy rooms, massage, and an AlterG Treadmill. I have always been curious about the treadmill that defies gravity since hearing Nate Jenkins running a sub 4 minute mile a few years ago. Sean gave us the tour of his facility before we hit him with questions on the AlterG for which we'd all have a go at. I was amazed what it was like to run on the treadmill at 80% of my body weight. Speed, incline, and percentage of body weight are adjustable on the fly. I ran for about 1.5 miles from 8 mph to 10.5 mph. My legs did not feel like they were working too hard but I was certainly breaking a sweat after a few minutes. I adjusted the percentage of my body weight while running and it was hilarious to feel what it is really like to be "light on your feet." I got some video of Kevin for about a minute while he was zipped in below. Joe is taking video in the background. Check out LevelRenner here which will soon feature high quality video of our visit and an inteview with Sean Fitzgerald at the end of the night.

Each of us walked away with a better idea of what the treadmill was all about and the benefits it has for athletes either recovering or to gauge, specifically measure, at what point pain comes into the picture. Sean and Holly were great for keeping the lights on after hours and giving us their time. They offer all sorts of services at their facility in Woburn and have an additional office in Malden. The running services include: full extremity biomechanical assessment, video running analysis, functional movement screen, expert footwear recommendation, assesment of need for orthotics, therapeutic excercise prescription, and instruction for running technique. As for the AlterG, it can be rented by the minute with various programs that are reasonably priced if you purchase bulk minutes.