Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hibernian 5K St. Patrick's Day Recovery Run

In the lead with Mark Mayall at 400m. Chris Mahoney close in 3rd.
Photo by Joe Armstrong 

Krissy and I signed up for the hometown 5K road race a few weeks back. I finished 3rd last year with a 17:14. I put out an email to the CMS team, invited them down earlier this week for a chance at some prize money. Chris Mahoney took advantage and did not disapoint by winning and setting a course record in 16:12. I lost ground to him and Mark Mayall after mile 1 which felt like they were holding back. I was 5:28 at the mile, two seconds behind them. Chris took off on Mark with a legit surge after 1.3 miles. I had to watch them pull away. I ran 5:29 for the second mile, not only losing ground, but was passed by Erik Hutlquist. He put 11 seconds on me in the last 1.1 miles. I finished 4th overall, 17:02, quicker than last year. I ran back out to the course to find Krissy and pace her into the finish. She ran 36:19 and said that I helped her push her pace over the last 600m of the race. To prove it, she dry-heaved after she finished. Perfect! Dennis Floyd ran his first race in two years for an 11th place finish. It was good to see him in action again. With almost 750 finishers, this is by far the largest race in Lynn. It is good to see it grow over the past four years. Full results.

At the finish line.
Photo by Sandy Armstrong

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Bedford Half Marathon

Looking forward after 12 miles
Photo credit to Scott Mason

It was time to line up for the second USATF New England Grand Prix race of 2013: New Bedford Half Marathon on Sunday. I car pooled down with Dave Dunham and Joe Shairs from Wilmington. The ride to New Bedford went by pretty fast with all the talk in the car about the CMS team, competition, et cetera. I was not nervous at the starting line, settling in about five rows back next to Scott Leslie (he ran a 50K a few weeks back) and behind Sean McDonough (SRR) who was looking for a 1:16:00 as was I. However, my legs and head were doubtful for that. I got out with a 5:51 mile into a head wind. By three miles, the lead truck for the women was at least 300m ahead and I was not in the mood to chase until we got some downhill. My pace was now averaging at 6:00 per mile. The lead truck scenario really defeated me as one goal was to stay in front of the lead women for the day. From 4-7 miles, I rolled through, felt decent, and had teammate Kevin Gorman around for company. My goal in that stretch was to catch Norm Larson (50+, GMM) which I did. Then I got on the heels of Ryan Miller (SISU) around 7 miles. My pace in the downhill stretch was likely in the mid 5:40’s and by 10 miles I recall I was around 59:2X. The head wind came after mile 9 or so. The group I was with included Kevin and was working hard albeit, single file. I had some lapses but battled. I was cooked at 11 miles and lost the single file group I was with. I caught Dave Principie before the hill at 12 (40+, TNT) and encouraged him to finish strong. Meanwhile, he was helping be get away from two Whirlaway guys including Mike Cooney. The last downhill was tough on my burned out legs. I was hobbling but sucked it up and stayed behind Dave who finished very strong. My time was 1:17:41 (1:17:38 bib time), 111th place overall. I cooled down as far as it took me to get back to Dave’s car and got some warm clothes on as the days temp could not have gotten past 38 degrees or so. The highlight of the day was the post-race fish sandwich and chowdah at the CMS table. I did not hear too many complaints from the guys who had solid times for the 13.1 miles. As I write days after, I was pleased how I recovered from this race compared to the Amherst 10 miles several weeks back.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Granite State Snowshoe Championship

The train 300 meters after the start.
JJ followed by Mark, Greg, Kevin, Dave, and I
Photo by Gianina Lindsey
 Jay Curry and I packed his car up and arrived at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, NH 1.25 hours later where his team, Acidotic, was hosting the Granite State Snowshoe Championship. After signing up, I got a course briefing from Acidotic’s Chris Dunn. This helped me get a mental picture of the figure eight course which I saw on a map the night before. It would be a rolling course with plenty of rail (75%) which Chris had to educate me on as I never heard that term used (rail) to describe single track. I did an easy 1.8 mile warm up 30 minutes before the 10:00 race start out on the pavement that left the park. The direct sun was warm but I figured we would not see much in the race.

I changed my shirt, secured the Native eyewear, and headed down to the lower parking lot to step into my Dion 121 Snowshoes. I did an easy 400m on the trail before bumping into CMS teammates, Greg Hammett, Kevin Tilton, BAA’s Mark Miller, and Jim Johnson. It was going to be a fast race. Then I found Dave Dunham who saw the course the day before and was finishing his warm up. I conferred with him on the layout and what type of pace he felt was sustainable. I got behind Kevin Tilton at the start line. The race of less than 100 competitors set off from a narrow (5 athlete wide) start before quickly rising into rail (single track). I got behind Dave Dunham. Jim had the lead followed by Mark, Greg and Kevin. The race climbed along gentle rolling hills on single track. There were some tight turns but certainly negotiable as I followed behind Dave. Kevin was pulling away from Dave about a mile into the race and I could not longer see the top three. Once I got out to a wide fire road, I felt good enough to pass Dave and check inventory, asking him how he felt. We came out to a field where I could see the top four guys in the same order as we started in but with some distance on Dave and I. Jim had 250 yards on me while Kevin had 150. I pulled away from Dave and closed in on Kevin a bit before losing sight of him while course went back into single track off the ski mobile trail.

Minutes later, to my surprise, I was gaining on Greg and Mark while Kevin found second place. I was really motivated and engaged in closing the gap. I saw progress as the real estate shortened between Greg and I. Mark was a stride ahead of him. We came upon another fire road and we started a good climb and I gained. I could hear Dave not too far behind. I eventually caught Mark on a single track and gave him a tap of encouragement. Then I slowly went after Greg who was not ready to quit but seemed to be laboring. Our strides and effort seemed to match while we got back out onto the fire road. I felt I had another gear but was really cautious as I did not want to disturb a sleeping giant in Greg. It was here that the snow underneath was soft from direct sun light. There were snow mobile tracks but footing was fine as we gained shade. I glanced at my Garmin (4.22 miles) knowing the course was just over 6 miles. I almost mentioned what we had left to Greg but didn’t (he mentioned after the race that he wished he knew how much left remained). I soon got around. Kevin was not too far ahead, maybe 300m. I got a few steps into what turned out to be the last of the single track. Still, I had no idea where, what, and how much we had to cover for terrain. I had no time to glance at the Garmin and had to focus on staying on track, literally. I focused on trying to drop Greg and go after Kevin who was no more than 150 meters ahead. There was certainly purpose to my stride. We had some switch backs that I started to recognize - we headed out on this part of the course in the opening mile.

I figured I was running out of room to catch Kevin because I heard voices in the distance, perhaps a sign of the finish line? Greg was back on my heels, showing he was hungry to end this race in a hurry. I dropped out from the single track and Greg got loud with effort. He pulled onto my left shoulder 40 yards from the finish line. We sprinted for third place but it felt like slow motion. I heard the folks at the line with anticipation. I almost dove at the line but just leaned over as we passed. It was a mad rush of a finish for us. I still had the adrenaline rushing through me minutes later. I was so excited about the full effort from start to finish. Dave kept pace under control early on and did not quit as he was on my heels for 2/3rds of the race. Greg pushed me and kept me honest for the last two miles. That is classic racing. It was awesome. On my snowshoe race scale, this effort and course are tops in my book. This was the first snowshoe race where I felt I got stronger as the race progressed. As I closed in on those ahead of me early on, it gave me confidence. I never felt that in a snowshoe race before.

Greg (120) and I sprinting for the finish
Photo by Gianina Lindsey
I swallowed a few chocolate chip cookies and ran a road cool down with Dave, Kevin, and Jim (giving him crap that the yellow and blue does not look good on him). I picked up Vermont Maple Syrup and a bag of chocolate chip cookies and brownies for third place overall. Later on, I picked up a raffle for Poco’s Bow Street Cantina in Portsmouth, NH. The team took first place as Melissa Donais closed out the scoring while getting the silver medal for the women. Thanks to Jay Curry for driving and keeping my nerves calm on the way up to the race. He would finish in a respectable 33rd place.

Granite State Snowshoe Championship
Allenstown, New Hampshire
Place Name             Age S    City State      Club                        Time             Pace
===== =================== == = =============== == ==============================
1 Jim Johnson         35 M Madison NH            BAA                                     43:22 6:59
2 Kevin Tilton         31 M North Conway NH Central Mass Striders/INOV8      46:24 7:28
3 James Pawlicki     38 M Lynn MA                 Central Mass Striders              46:29 7:29
4 Greg Hammett      35 M Chesterfield NH      Central Mass Striders               46:30 7:29
5 Dave Dunham     48 M Bradford MA           Central Mass Striders                  47:27 7:39
6 Mark Miller          32 M Parts Unknown NH BAA                                        48:22 7:47
7 Danny Ferreira    30 M Concord NH             acidotic RACING                      49:35 7:59
8 Anthony Parillo  28 M Sherborn MA                                                            51:11 8:15
9 Phil Erwin             45 M Ridge NY                  acidotic RACING                  51:17 8:16
10 Chris Dunn        44 M Strafford NH             acidotic RACING                    51:25 8:17
23 Melissa Donais 29 F North Andover MA Central Mass Striders                       56:28 9:06