Sunday, January 25, 2009

Feel Good Farm ???

So if they call this Feel Good Farm, why did i feel like crap for most of the race? 

I drove up to NH on Saturday for this snowshoe race hoping to improve on my first race at Pooh Hill, two weeks ago. I brought along Bob "wrongway" Jackman, who was looking to get redemption from his shortened race at Pooh Hill, along with his better half, Jackie. Also coming up was Ben Keefe, who finished third at last weeks race in Hollis. We pull into the driveway to see two runners there, DoubleJ Jim Johnson and Dan Verrington. Last place is looking like a possibility right now. We check in at the barn and meet race director, Mike Amorello, who proceeds to describe the course.  He points at the top of this hill and says that is what you have to go over.....twice! Oh Shite!! I would call him evil, but i wouldn't be the first that day. The race went off with 13 starters, so i was thinking i had a great chance at a top ten finish :) At the start, Jim took off like he was shot out of a cannon, i tucked in towards the back. The trail was narrow and i kept it real slow to start as opposed to  the last one where i was sucking wind almost before the start. Things went well until the uphill at which point i figured a power walk up the hill would work better for me, at the top i ran into Steve Wolfe taking pictures, great, just what i want to see. People probably say the same thing about me at times. OK, so i make the top and now for the descent, i let it all hang out, flying down at reckless abandon. It was great, a total adrenaline rush. I passed Jim Hanson on the way down, who seemed to be going very cautiously and put some good distance on him, but going into the next loop, he caught and blew my doors off going up the hill a second time. I took him on the downhill a second time and finished one place in front of him at the finish. Little did i realize that we were battling for the 50 year old title. I will look out for Jim at the next one i do. All in all, it was a beautiful day at Feel Good Farm. As much as i dreaded the course at the start, it was fun. Your not evil, Mike, a little sick, but not evil :)

Oh, i almost forgot, Bob stayed on course and finished second to Jim Johnson and Ben finished 5th. CMS beat us, but there wasn't a team prize so forget about it.

We hit Martha's Exchange Brewpub in Nashua on the way home for some good food and excellent beer. A good race makes them taste all that much better. 

See more photos by Steve Wolfe here:

What to do on Sunday? Well, Martin Tighe was going up to Derry for the Boston Prep 16 Miler, so i tagged along to shoot some (323 pictures) at the race. It was quite cold when we got there, about 6 degrees, so we went out for a short run so Martin could get 20 in for the day. I cut it short because the legs were still dead from the race yesterday. Martin is training for a 100k race in Ireland in March, that is why he wanted extra miles.

 It was nice to get out there with the camera, i hadn't shot anything since an early December Cyclocross race, so i was feeling a bit stale. No need to worry, all the shots came out good.

I got to hang out with some of my blog buddies up there. DoubleJ and Steve Wolfe were there as well as Goon Squad Runner Sarah Prescott, who i finally was able to meet in person. What a treat!

Saturday night was a party to celebrate Turtle Pieter Snoerens becoming an American citizen. Congratulations, Pieter!

What a great weekend.

See more photos from Derry here: Boston Prep 16 Miler

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This Sport is Tough

I took the ride up to East Madison yesterday for the Pooh Hill Snowshoe Race with teammate Bob Jackman, not knowing what to expect. Having not raced in over 2 years and with little training at all, my expectations were very low. Last week was my highest mileage in 8 months at 21 miles, but i figured that i have to start somewhere so this was as good a place as any, why start out with something easy?

It was cold at the start, the temperature down in the single digits without any wind, so it did not feel too bad. I ran a short warmup with Bob and then we strapped on the snowshoes for another short run, this was the first time Bob had ever run in them. With the race about to go off, I did not know what to expect. How slow should i go out? Slower than i started would be the answer to that! Running through snow on single track is work, my lungs were burning before the 2k marker and i found it easier to walk up the hills and get going again at the top. Then i arrived at the Pooh Hill trail which went up for what seemed an eternity.

 As i was trekking up this steep trail, Jim Johnson was flying down the trail looking somewhat out of control with a very comfortable lead. Turns out that Bob was running in second place when he missed the turn for the trail and did not realize it until he was kilometer or two down the course, so his race was over as he just jogged it in, at least he has some snowshoe
experience in the bank now. As for Pooh Hill, that would be a tough hike with no snow around, so doing it in snowshoes was just brutal. It really showed me how badly out of shape i am in right now and also train that much harder to get back. By the time i reached the top, the knees were screaming at me and now i had to run back down. The run down was incredible, you are out of control and trying not to run into any trees or trip over any logs. My knees hurt and i was loving the challenge of bushwhacking down the hill. Once i got to the bottom and back on the groomed trails i just slowed it way down and did some powerwalking on the way in with some jogging in between. I finally finished in a whopping 14.41 per mile pace.

All in all, i am glad that i went up to this race. Acidotic Racing put on a good event.

 I met Steve Wolfe, who finished second and has a blog i read alot,  

I will be doing more of these races, i am looking at the Feel Good Farm 7k outside of Wilton in two weeks and then the Sidehiller up in Center Sandwich. I hope to be in better condition for these. Can't get any worse :)

Special thanks to Kristen Wainwright for taking the photos. See more here

Read Jim's account of the race here

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lake Waramaug 50m/100k 1981

Lake Waramaug was one of my favourite ultras to go to, not that i ran 50's, but i was there to act as photographer and handler for some of my crazy friends that did these races. Waramaug is out in western Connecticut, run around a lake. It is beautiful country. This race would bring in the best runners in the east as well as the rest of the country and beyond.

This particular year i was heading out with the usual crew of Gerry Beagan (who was running) and Kenny Field (fellow photog and handler) and picking up Amby Burfoot along the way, Amby was running part of it. We got there late and set up camp in the truck while Amby headed into the Inn to get his room. I slept in the back of the Bronco with the gate down and feet hanging out as did Kenny and Gerry slept under the truck as we were parked in the middle of a field, so the grass was sort of comfortable. This is not what you would call ideal sleeping conditions, but alot of our roadtrips to races ended up like this and we did not mind. Morning came fast. The cows in the pasture woke us early as well as a pissed off George Gardiner who was cursing at the cows and anyone else who was around, he hopped into his car and drove back to RI without running a step which is too bad, he would have been one of the top runners.

You can read the race report from Frontrunner Magazine by clicking on the story at the below.

The race was won by Stu Mittleman, who was just elected into the US Ultrarunning Hall of Fame. He ran an impressive 5:14.05 50 mile time, going through the marathon split in 2:41.
Leslie Watson from England won the womens race in a World Record time of 6:02 37, marathon split of 3:10, which was good for 10th place overall. The depth of talent here was incredible, 21 runners finished under 6 1/2 hours. 11 runners ran under 3hours for the marathon on their way to 50 miles, and in a 2 cases, all the way to 100k.

I really like going to these races, it is similar to going to the mountain and trail races. Runners here have a different mentality, going to extremes for the challenge of pushing their bodies. They do what seems impossible to many runners, but if you set your mind to it, you can do it.

You can see more photos from this race as well as other recent entries, Nifty Fifty 1980, Block Island 1980 and Boston Marathon 1986 @

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fast Guys Plus One

Went out for a few beers tonite with the guys and ended up hanging with these guys among others. It is a tough group when you are the slug with a 14.23 5k personal best. Here we have Charlie Breagy, Mark Carroll, Geoff Smith, Keith Kelly and myself. Do i have to list their credentials, no, i didn't think so. If you haven't checked out Keith's blog, please do so, if  just for the music links, good stuff!
The link is on my blog page.

And as for those Narragansett kingers at as220, i should have stuck to the pints of Guinness.

Check out Jimmy Hirst's t-shirt, signed by a few runners. Can you decipher what it says?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First Snowshoe Run

Well, i had a good start to the new year. With all this snow yesterday, i was able to go for a run in the new snowshoes and see what kind of torture i am getting myself into, so i took a ride over to Goddard Park this morning. It was quite windy here, so trying to judge the depth of the snow was tricky. The wind cutting across Narragansett Bay left some bare spots on the ground and also 15 inch deep drifts. Anyway, off i go and i'm thinking this isn't too bad, then i hit the first deep "hole" and almost fall flat on my face, back to reality! The course goes into the woods on the horse trails where i'm trying to stay in the cross country skiers tracks because the snow was a bit deep. I will admit that i did some walking along the way, i don't know how you guys do it for long runs in deep snow, this is tough work! I survive the trails and come out into the fields (where's the Thin Lizzy music?) and head for the golf course where i know the snow depth will be better for running. It was, but now i'm running out of gas, so i see a xc skier that i can use as a target to try to beat across the field and i win. Dangle a carrot in front of me and i can get it going, all i need is a target. Almost done, i run down the par 5 fairway towards the parking lot, i come up past a woman with her dog and wouldn't you know it, misstep and faceplant. So all those opportunities to fall and i have to do it in front of one of the only persons that i see in the last hour. I must admit, it was a great fall, not as good as hitting a tree on my mountain bike, but very spectacular anyway. She looked at me like i was out of my effin' mind, but we did a good laugh out of it. Across the field i go and i am done, soaking wet and tired. As a snowshoe neophyte, i have a ways to go, but i am determined to succeed. It is one hell of a workout. It looks like the snow will hang around for a while so that i can get in some more workouts, and i need all i can get before heading up north to do some races, or should i say, survive some races :)

Now it's time to sit down with a Ruination IPA and a pizza to watch USC play Penn State in the Rose Bowl.