Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race

I took the 2 hour drive up to the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race yesterday with teammate, Bob Jackman. I had decided not to run after running just 3 times since my lousy race at Sidehiller, due mainly to shooting a hockey tourney here in RI that took up 8 days of my time between taking photos and editing. I figured to take a few pictures and hang out with some of my NH freinds. Of course, it was also an opportunity to go to my favourite brewpub, Portsmouth Brewery, after the race. I found out two things about this race, it is tough to spectate at a night race and taking pictures is even harder. I only took a few shots that were ok, if not surreal with the little light you are afforded from just the headlamps on the runners. I tried using the flash for some, but really did not want to blind any of the runners out there.

After talking to Bob and Jim Johnson after the race, i found out they had run together for the first part of the race, putting some distance on the rest of the field. Then Bob's bad luck hit again, seems there was this guy walking his dog out near the course and this friendly pooch decided to knock Bob down by running into the back of his leg. So Bob falls and has his snowshoe partially knocked off and loses a few spots in that time. The ironic thing is that his entry fee check was made out to Cocheco Valley Humane Society , had the dog known this, maybe things would have turned out differently :) There is no truth to the rumor that DoubleJ payed off the dog owner to watch his back in the race. Now Jim has a huge lead and Steve Wolfe moved up to second and Bob finished in 5th place. It was real cool to watch the headlamp wearing runners weaving down the switchbacks near the finish in total darkness, just little specks of light through the trees. 

I was glad to hear Chris Dunn announcing that the series would be expanded next year so that you can score best 6 of 8 finishes which allows you to miss a race or two. I hope to make at least six of those races next year and if i can get my fitness level close to where it should be, i will do pretty good.  I look forward to it.

We hit the Portsmouth Brewery on the way home for a bite to eat and a 
couple beers. I had a 5c's IPA and a cask IPA, both very tasty for a beergeek like me. Of course, they aren't as good as my homebrewed Imperial IPA, but still damn good.

I though about going out to Amherst today to shoot some stuff at the GrandPrix, but the weather looked like it was going to suck. I will be at the next race in New Bedford. 

Smile at the camera when you come by.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ekiden Relay, New York City 1989

On April 9th, 1989, i had the privilege of running in the Ekiden Relay in New York City. It was made up of 8 international and 50 state teams plus Washington, DC and New york City. The distance covered was the marathon, 42 kilometers in 5 legs, running the lower perimeter of Manhattan and finishing with a loop of Central Park. This was the second and last year that this race was held. Why i did not make the first years race i don't know, i was faster than 4 of the 5 runners that year, but so much for sour grapes, at least i was here this year.

Asics was footing most of the bill on this race and seemed to spare no expense. We had our whole trip payed for, airfare, hotels and meals. We flew down on Friday for the Sunday race, meeting at TF Green Airport in Warwick, it was a pretty talented group of us. The RI team consisted of Charlie Breagy, Mike Crawley, Mark Donahue, Dave Murphy and myself, plus alternate runner Mick O'Shea. Also on the plane with us were Irish team runners John Treacy and John Doherty. I felt more like i was on the Irish National Team than the RI team with Mick being a former Irish Olympian and Charlie being from over there too. Once we got down to New York and got settled, it was off to dinner and a stop at an irish pub for a few pints of Guinness. It's pretty cool to hang with a bunch of talented irish runners in an irish bar, i remember getting my balls busted for drinking my Guinness too fast. What do i know, i didn't grow up with the stuff.

Saturday, we ran Central Park. I did the whole loop i was to run the next day, but wasn't paying too much attention as i was running with Dave Murphy, who finished second at the NYC Marathon a few years before and was telling stories about that. We ran 10 miles and i was second guessing if that was a bit much for the day before our race, didn't matter, i was having a great time.

Sunday morning, we wandered over to Tavern On The Green where the relay was starting. My leg was going off last so there was time to kill. I was hanging around watching everyone warm up for the first leg of 5k and was just amazed at seeing Steve Scott doing strides. He has the longest, most graceful, effortless looking stride, just incredible. He was fastest on the first leg, blasting a 13.35 5k time. We started out with Charlie Breagy doing 14.43, running mid pack at 25th position, he handed off to Mark Donahue for the 10.8k leg which he ran 32.32 and moved us up to 14th place in the state team division. The international teams were running their own division, not that we had to worry about trying to compete with them. The third leg was a 9.3k leg that we had Dave Murphy doing, he ran 28.20 and moved us up into 11th place and was followed by Mike Crawley for 7.1k in 21.32 to put us into 10th position. It should be noted here that the second fastest state time for this leg was by Dave Dunham in 20.44 for Massachusetts. I took the handoff for the last leg, 10k around Central Park. I remember not feeling all that smooth out there, but being a relay, i was all alone for most of the run. As in any relay, you do not want to get caught from behind, but about 4 miles in, i hear people cheering for RI and then almost right away for Pennsylvania. I'm thinking, oh shit, Sydney Maree is running for them, nothing i can do except watch him blow on by. Sure enough, here he comes, there he goes, former world recold holder for 5k. Next from behind comes Paul Cummings, ex-olympian, on his way to a 29.24 followed by Pat Peterson, who ran 28.46. Now after all this, i think i must be running 6 min pace which i wasn't, my finishing time was 30.27, not a good race in my mind, but my teammates did not mind. We finished 14th in our division. The team from Ma. was in 4th place with DD, Dennis Simonaitis(who i knew from work at the Athletic Attic), Wally Collins, Paul Gorman and Tim Gannon. The Irish team finished first in their division with a come from behind win on the last leg, John Doherty ran 27.50 to pass Pat Porter( 28.20) for the win.

This was a fun race. It is too bad that it ended after only 2 years. The race was on tape delay replay by NBC on a Sunday afternoon. So it was a pretty big deal.

Click on the results pages to enlarge.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sidehiller Adventure

I have been looking forward to running the Sidehiller since Feel Good Farm, thinking that my fitness level is starting to improve and i am getting a used to running in snowshoes. Oh well, wishful thinking.

Bob Jackman and myself hit the road at 7am for the three hour drive up to the race. I'm getting used to these long rides to the races, so it is not a big deal. We pulled into the lot about 10 to see a pretty good crowd already there. Sign in was quick and then it was off for a warm-up run. I was feeling quite good, which surprised me, considering the long ride. We ran a bit with some of the CMS heavy hitters, but turned back before them, i did not want to push it too far. So now i am feeling positve about the race. I lined up well towards the back of the pack. Paul Kirsch started the race by just saying GO, and we were off. The snow seemed real soft and could not get any grip at all, by the time i was half a mile in, i knew this would be a long day. It seemed like my feet were sinking and rolling, there wasn't any stability there which isn't good when you have a funky knee. Once i was across the road and into single track, it got worse. My knee was screaming at me, the smart thing would be to end the race here but i was going to finish this even if i had to powerwalk most of the way, which i did. I like running the downhills and even that hurt today. Not much more to say, i guess these things happen when you are coming back from a 2 year break due to injuries.

I must say that it was a good course and real cool how the locals shovel snow onto the road so you can cross without killing the cleats on you shoes. Not many people along the course, but the ones out there were very supportive which is greatly appreciated when you are having a bad day. Thanks to them all.

On the brighter side of things, at least Bob managed to split up the CMS winter train, getting 4th place. I hear that DoubleJ and Kevin Tilton had a good battle up front. CMS took 1,2,3,5,6 and 7th places for a real good showing.

Right now, i don't know if i will try anymore snowshoe races this year. I will probably be better off working on base mileage and looking forward to some late spring races. It is always frustrating trying to get back into shape and attempting a few races early on. What you have done in the past is always in the back of your mind and you can't figure out why you are not improving faster. People say you are not a young as you once were, i don't buy that excuse. There are plenty of real good 50 year old athletes out there and i will be one of them again, one of these days. Being patient with the comeback training is the hardest part.

You can read some race stories by some of the faster guys:

Steve Wolfe
Chris Dunn
Jim "DoubleJ" Johnson
Dave Dunham

Photos by Kristen Thanks for not taking my picture :)

Check out Bob looking for a BIG meal.

Actually, we hit Milly's Tavern in Manchester on the way home for some good food washed down with some excellant beers. We have been hitting a brewpub after every race, part of the fun of going to faraway races.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Maryland Marathon Numbers

I ran across this results booklet while going through some old running stuff the other day, it is from the 1980 Maryland Marathon. I had made the road trip down to Baltimore with 5 of my teammates: Roland Davide, Gerry Beagan, George Gardiner, Richard Collard and Kenny Field. I ran a 2:47.15, not a very good race for me, but i wasn't in too good a shape as i was coming off a groin pull. Roland ran 4th in 2:24.24, 5 minutes behind winner, Jerome Drayton.

A few observations on this race....

There were 2430 finishers

2229 Men 91%

201 Women 8%

339 Men under 3 hours 14%

1743 Runners under 4 hours 71%

Those are interesting numbers when compared to marathons run now.