Monday, August 31, 2009

Race to the Top of Vermont

The Turtle Mountain Team headed up to Stowe, Vermont this weekend to run up Mt. Mansfield. The event is The Race to the Top of Vermont.  Making the drive up on a rainy Saturday were John Peabody, Martin Tighe(why do people continue pronounce his name"teague"?) and his nephew James, Vicki and Chris Jasparro, Jackie and Bob Jackman, Zak Kudlak, Larry Walker and me. We had rented a house for the night right in Stowe and packed it tight with runners. Also staying with us was Jim Johnson, author of the world famous DoubleJ running blog.

Saturday night, we picked up our numbers and headed over to The Shed Brewery for dinner and some beers. The beers were decent but not great and the food was expensive for what you get. A vegetarian quesadilla for 18 dollars seems a bit steep and it wasn't that big either. Towards the end of dinner, the waitress came over to the table and informed us that there was a police DUI checkpoint set up down the road so we let the non-drinkers drive back to the house. Turns out the police were set up right in front of our house! After the checkpoint broke up, we picked up a few six packs and sat down to watch the 2009 video of  Mt Washington road race, good stuff. You might be able to tell that we weren't taking the race too seriously considering all the beers.

Race morning was overcast but soon burned off to produce a beautiful day. We left early to make a stop at Bingham Falls in Smugglers Notch State Park. It was a long downhill hike to the falls and was worth the walk. The hike also helped loosen up my legs for the task ahead. Now it was time to get over to the toll road and hang out for a while for everything to get started.

First off were the walkers, then an hour later go the mountain bikers followed ten minutes later by the runners. I started off with John P., just behind Jackie and Chris J. I started off real conservative seeing that the uphill started right away. I figured to run with John Peabody as far as possible, but John wasn't coming along, so i had to go it alone. The course is a mixture of steep climbs and a few flats or near flat sections to give you a chance to catch your breath. The road is also dirt, but in really good condition. I chugged along at 12 min. or so pace for much of the race, mixing in slow running and power walking, this seemed to work well for me. Once the temperature started to drop near the top, i felt even better, not that i was going any faster, just more comfortable with the pain. By half way, we were passing mountain bikers on the road. I just can't imagine riding my bike up a road like this, last week i was riding up some of the jeep trails around Mt Toby and the quad burn was intense. I passed bikers on my power walks, they were peddling and going nowhere. I finished up in 54.40 at 97th place. Not too bad for where my fitness level is right now. This summer has seen too many little setbacks, you miss a week here and 10 days there, so there isn't any forward progress. I think that is behind me now, or at least i hope so. I ran down the mountain after the race and could actually walk this morning, unlike Mt Ascutney six weeks ago. I guess that is a sign of progress.

As a group, the Turtles did well, Jackie Jackman placed 4th woman overall and first in 30-39. Martin Tighe won the 50-59 group and Bob Jackman was 3rd in 20-29.
Overall, the race was won by Jim Johnson (35.30) and Kasie Enman (40.12) New course records for both.
Eric Morse finished second.

All in all, this is a nice race. Organization was very good. The only gripes i have are with the post race. If you go to the effort to do big post race free barbecue, you might want include something to drink too. Bottled water, soda, juice, something. In this case, you had to stand in a long line at the bar to get an overpriced can of soda after waiting in a long line for food. The other thing is the award ceremony. At the start, we were told that awards were at 12.30, the entry form said 1pm. In all actuality, 1.45 they finally got underway. There was a huge raffle with some real nice stuff, but considering that we had a 4 1/2 hour drive in front of us, there was no way we were hanging that long. Chip timing was nice, so can't you get things going faster?
For a report on the goings on up front in the race, see Jim Johnsons blog.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Runner Attacks Photographer

                 Well, I wasn't really attacked by a runner, it just looks like i was in the line of fire.

 I took a ride up to the Mt Toby Trail Run on Sunday with 5 of my Turtle teammates who were running this 14 mile trail race. Since i am in really lousy running shape right now, i went only as photographer and as one turtle put it, Turtle trail organizer. The runners were Martin Tighe, Bob Jackman, Larry Walker, Ben Keefe and John Peabody. I like the fact that more of the Turtles are getting into mountain and trail racing, only wish i was running more of them. Soon, i hope! Actually, next week i am supposed to run up Mt Mansfield @ Stowe, Vermont. Not really looking forward to that. Anyway... i did take my mountain bike with the camera in the backpack up the trail at Toby in search of a place to take photos that wasn't too dark. It wasn't an easy trail to bike on, lots of uphill, ruts, rocks and water, but i loved it. I only wish that there wasn't a race going on and there wasn't a 10 pound camera strapped to my back. Flying down the trails at breakneck speed over rocks and ruts is a total blast! I finally settled on a good place to shoot in a brief clearing where the local fire department guys had set up a water stop. We were the 12 mile mark, down hill all the way to the finish. They even offered me a beer, who am i to turn that down until i heard the choices, Bud or Bud Lite. Much as i despise both of these, i went with the Bud. I was hot and sweaty and covered in mud, the Spudweiser tasted great.

After many photos, we all headed south to Northampton for the local brewpub. The Northampton Brewery was very good. Food and beer both tasted good. The double IPA was quite tasty and the aroma from the brewing process just enhanced the whole experience.

                                     I love the smell of boiling malts in the afternoon.

                                   Want to see some photos from Mt Toby, click here .