Sunday, January 31, 2010

Turtles @ Sidehiller

Nothing like waking up bright and early on a Saturday morning to find it is 7 degrees out and you have a 3 hour drive in front of you where the temperature will be dropping even lower. So it was, yesterday, as i waited for Jackie, Bob, Dave and DJ to get to my house for the trip up to Center Sandwich, NH and the Sidehiller snowshoe race. It really isn't too bad a drive, as it tends to go by fairly fast. We had the Family Guy's Star Wars adventure going for the back seat passengers, some good politically uncorrectness to pass the time.

 By the time we got off the highway in Ashland, the temp was reading -1 or 9, depending on which bank you prefer. The one thing that was noticeable was the lack of snow and because of that, the Sidehiller course had been altered from last year. This year it was a 3 lap race around the fairgrounds with a few short excursions into the woods. A very fast course. For some anyway.

We arrived about 9:45 for the 11 am race and headed to check-in. Right away you could spot the horses, Jim Johnson was there with a copy of the Fosters Daily Democrat newspaper pullout section "Showcase" with an awesome snowshoe race photo on the cover taken by yours truly. See the article by Geoff Cunningham here. Also spotted at check in were names like Dunham, Ferenc, Morse, Quintal, Wolfe and Tilton. I was thinking i should have photographed the race instead of running it. Too late now. We did a short warmup with the CMS boys and then it was time to race.

At the start, i was lined up about 3 rows back. I did not know what to expect here. The front row looked like just a regular stacked 5k race, all of them were ready to just slam the pace as the race started. I was just there to run steady and finish. I started next to teammate Ben Keefe and his brother, Josh, who was sporting a nice moose hat, antlers and all. When the race started, everyone went off like it was a road race! I'm thinking, Damn, what is going on here. I can't figure out if i went out too slow or too fast. I ran with a group for the first 1.7 mile lap, feeling half way good, but really not sure how things were going. At the short hill right before the finish, i walked to the top and started running again. My knees were not liking the uphills today, as they were sore for most of the week and the only way to make them feel better was to try massaging them by getting my fingers up under the kneecap. A nice form of self torture :) Once at the crest of the hill, i was just fine. I finished the first lap in 13 change and then dropped off for the next 2 laps. The 2nd lap was 14+ and the last dreadful lap was 15 or so. I was hoping to have a somewhat better race today, but it just wasn't in the cards. I went into the race with only 10 miles for the week and fighting off a chest cold. I know, i don't like excuses either but half way through the race, i knew i wasn't going to run anything worth bragging about.

 Up front, teammate Bob Jackman was running a good race, finishing in 7th place. Not as good as last year, but a much better field today. Turtle Prez Dave Principe, who has been bitten by the SS bug, sporting brandy new Atlas snowshoes, finished up in 14th place, not too far behind Jim Pawlicki and Eric Morse and realizing what a difference a real pair of shoes make.  Next Turtles up were Ben and Josh Keefe in 32nd and 33rd place. The elder Keefe let the kid brother win :)  I was the next TNT runner in 47th place. After me was DJ Principe who was having a bad day. DJ was complaining of a sore calf muscle on the warmup and it really came around to bite him in the race. He finished in 76th place, no where as good as he ran at Feel Good Farm, but still kudos go out to DJ, the youngest finisher in the race. One more runner of note is Rose, Ben's signifigant other who finished 87th.

All in all, a fun day. TNT'ers Bob Jackman, Dave Principe, and myself all qualified for the SS Nationals in Syracuse, NY in March. 

One other note from the race. It was great to meet up with former employee Chris Tessier from Athletic Attic days, who i had not seen for 20 years. We worked in the RI Mall many years ago, drank beer in the parking lot after the store closed and were big Police fans, the band, not the local constabularies. Where is your next SS race Tess?

Race is over, now what? Oh yeah, brewpub time!

Today's choice is Milly's Tavern in Manchester, NH.  Situated in the basement of an old mill building on the river, it is a great location! The place was deserted for the most part, being a Saturday afternoon.  The Turtle crew grabbed a table and tripled attendance at the bar. The beer menu had 16 beers on tap, all in house brews. I naturally gravitated towards the hoppiest they had, ManchVegas IPA. It is a decent IPA with good west coast hops and not too much maltiness. A very drinkable IPA. I was bummed out that the Imperial IPA was not on tap as it was last time here. It Rocks!! I did try the cherry porter. It is a pretty good brew with subtle cherry flavor. As for food, i had the BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with a side of sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries were good, not outstanding. 

On a side note, as i type this, i have Pulp Fiction going in the background. Is there a better scene than Mia getting the adrenaline shot from Vincent when she is OD'ing. Oh well, probably not everyones cup of tea....... 

Next week? Looks like Exeter. Talking with Northfield RD Dave Dunham on the warmup, seems like that race could be a no go. I prefer to do the longer race, but i want to race no matter what. Looks like Exeter. Then Horse Hill, Kingman Farm and Nationals. Granite State Finals, maybe i run........maybe i just take the camera, what do you think, Chris Dunn??

More race blogs here when they are good and ready to post: 

Dave Dunham
Jim "DoubleJ" Johnson
Acidotic Racing
Steve Wolfe
Jim Pawlicki

Sidehiller Results
Sidehiller Photos 



Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Snowshoe Race of the Year.

Finally, I am competing in my first snowshoe race of the season. The location is King Pine Ski Resort and the Pooh Hill SS Race in Madison, NH. I had been a bit banged up due to a knee problem suffered 3 weeks ago, but the pain has subsided and i felt a need to race.

I started the preparation for the race on Friday night with the best massage therapist in RI, Nikki Toth. She pummels the knots out of my legs like no one else and seems to enjoy it.

Saturday morning, Dave Principe, Jackie and Bob Jackman and me, headed out for the 3 hour drive to Pooh Hill. It is not too bad a drive, straight thru Boston and up to Rte. 16 in NH to Madison. When we left here in Warwick, the temp was about 25 and as we headed north, it kept dropping. By the time we reached Madison, the trucks thermometer read 13, but it was a dry 13 :) Oh yeah, the sun was out too.

Sign in and it was time for a 3 mile warm-up. I was surprised that my knee was feeling quite good, no aches or pains. Looks like the massage helped! I cruised thru that and felt pretty good about what was about to come. Now i just wondered how to dress, so i went for the thin polypro and Turtle tank top and no hat. It may have been cold, but the sun was warming things up just fine. This was just the second time this year that i was on snowshoes, so there was some trepidation heading into this race. So the gun goes off and unlike last year at this race, i hold back and keep it easy. As we run thru the early single track, i am actually feeling pretty good. No oxygen debt, no high heart rate, i like this. Thru the little ups and downs, everything seems to be working well and i actually manage to pass a few runners out there. Coming up to 30 minutes of running, i was starting to feel the lack of conditioning that you really need to run in snowshoes. I walked a short hill but was running within 20 seconds. Then came the zigzag across the lake thru a narrow trail with slow, soft snow that really seemed to sap my strength. So for the last 2 miles, i survived by running and quickly walking up a few of the inclines. Into the finish and a 47 minute 8 k, give or take a bit, and it was over. All in all, a good race. It surpassed my expectation so i was happy with it.

Bob Jackman finished up in 3rd place and Dave Principe took 10th place. Nice run guys!

I have to applaud Chris Dunn and  the Acidotic Racing Team for the job that they do. This is a very organized race, even going off right on time. The check in is easy and post race is a great time with lots of awards and a large raffle. Oh, by the way, i won the big prize...Kahtoola the raffle. Thanks Chris.

Now that the race was over, time to think about the task at hand. Turtle tradition says we have to hit a brewpub on the way home and today that choice is the Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH. After a race this grueling, you find yourself craving a good brew. Well, there aren't many better spots than this. The Bottle Rocket IPA was up first for me, quite tasty with a good hop bitterness but not overpowering. Bob, Jackie and Dave all went for the Stout and seemed to enjoy it. Food wise, i went for the salmon fillet sandwich with chipotle mayo and fries. I was a bit bummed out that they did not have sweet potato fries as i tend to judge these places by their IPA's and sweet potato fries. The fries were good none the less. I tried a barleywine ale also, it was good and malty with some good hop overtones, i recommend it if you find your way to Portsmouth. I do like my homebrewed IPA much better, for the record.

Next week it is the Sidehiller Snowshoe race in Center Sandwich, NH, which also means i get to go to Milly's Tavern in Manchester after the race. Nothing like good snowshoeing and good beer!!!!

Thanks to Steve Wolfe and Krissy Kosloski for suppling the photos above of  fat old me.

 It was funny how a few runners asked who was going to take pictures at the race, since i was running and Krissy Kosloski who shoots too was competing, but turns out that Krissy dropped out and grabbed her camera so see her photos here. For the record, i love shooting photos at the races but would much rather run. I will find my way to another SS race to shoot this year, but it is not a priority. Either way, i will support the sport!

If you would like to read some blogs of the fast guys up front, check out these:

Jim Johnson
Steve Wolfe
Acidotic Racing

Todays Results:

Go Here.



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race

Usually when we go to a snowshoe race, there are 2 or 3 Turtles competing, but Feel Good Farm was a major breakthrough for the club. We went up to New Hampshire with 6 runners, should have been 7 except for my gimpy knee. Regular shoers Bob Jackman and Ben Keefe were joined on the line with Dave Principe and son, DJ as well as John Peabody and Jenny Saunders. The latter 4 runners have never run a snowshoe race before and ended up choosing a race that might not be the best initiation to the sport. The course is between 4 and 5 miles, exact milage really doesn't matter as you can't compare race to race because the courses vary so much. Jim Pawlicki noted in his blog that his Garmin measured at 4.03 miles. Total climbing elevation was 2200 feet. I ran this race last year when the snow was much deeper, this year you had to deal with some icy, almost bare ground with a lot of rocks in a few spots. As i hiked up to the top of Moose Mountain with Jackie Jackman to find a spot to capture some good photos, i noted to her that there were some real treacherous downhill running and it made me happy that i decided not to run here.

It turned out to be quite the day for a snowshoe race. Temperatures were approaching 45 and the sun was shining brightly. There was some wind at the top of Moose Mt, but nothing to affect the run. The big question for the day was how to dress for the race. A few brave souls went with shorts, but many opted for tank tops and short sleeves with their tights.

I parked myself at the top of the second climb and waited. First up and over was Kevin Tilton with a sizable lead, first Turtle up was Bob Jackman in 5th place with newby Dave Principe running in the top 20. Next Turtles up were Ben, then DJ, John P and Jenny. By then i was shooting from the downhill where everyone looked great. I even got a few smiles as runners ran by the camera. As we moved back down the hill shooting as i went, Kevin came by for a second time looking somewhat out of control, but that is how you run downhill in snowshoes and you really are in control of your running. This section of trail had little snow, lots of ice and rock. This must have been the reason for a number of broken cleats on snowshoes, hopefully they were wearing Dions where replacing a cleat is a cinch. Once past here, there was plenty of snow for the rest of the downhill into the finish.

Bob finished up in 5th, Dave P was 19th, Ben came in 28th. John Peaboby was 49th followed by DJ Principe(11years old) in 64th and Jenny at 73rd place. There were 100 finishers, a bit of an improvement from the 12 finishers last year. I am not sure how the team awards go, but it looks like the Turtles did ok as we had 3 in the top 28. CMS Polarbears put 3 in the top 6 and Acidotic Racing put lots of runners in the top 30. Post race was a good time. There are no indoor facilities here at Feel Good  Farm, so the warm weather made it quite enjoyable. There was a big pot of portuguese kale soup, thanks to race director Mike Amorello. I heard Mike comment that the RI'ers should have brought up some quahogs. We will Mike, one of these races.

Next up is the Pooh Hill Snowshoe Race on the 23rd. I plan on running this one. It is really pissing me off that the knee isn't healing as fast as i want or like.

As is tradition after a snowshoe race, we hit a brewpub on the way home. This time it was Martha's Exchange in Nashua. We were joined by Dan Scotina, Chris Smith and Emily Trespas. The beer was good, i had a Belgian called Barrel of Apathy, very tasty. There was a lack of a real IPA which really bugs me since i am a hop head when it comes to beers. The chicken mozzarella panini was very good but i would not recommend the sweet potato fries, they were over cooked with no meat on them. I heard no complaints about other beers, so i assume that everyone liked what they had. I think Emily had the appropriately named "Blond Bombshell" A fun time was had by all. After next weeks race we get to hit Portsmouth Brewing, i can't wait, it is one of my favourites.

On a side note to Steve Wolfe, sorry to hear about your dog. It really hurts to lose a pet.

Want to see a bunch of photos from the race, see my site: ScottMasonPhoto

More photos to see here at Krissy Koslosky's site.

Race Blog Roll Call:  Dare Mighty Things - Chis Dunn
                                Breakheart Trail Running - Dan Scotina
                                   Good Clean Run - Jim Pawlicki

Race Results here at Coolrunning

SeeYa Next Week


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Best shot of 2009??????

2009 is over. I shot many photos last year, 40 thousand plus over the course of the year. I was at a lot of races and i took many shots that i liked. What was the best one of the year, a very tough one to call....or was it. What exactly constitutes the best shot? I think that emotion has much to do with the best picture. If that is the case, then the shot of Scott Graham at the top of Mt Washington should be my best of the year. It is a case of "you had to be there", i was 400 meters from the finish, above the clouds and shooting runners coming up the mountain. I like to think that i got the real feeling of running up the mountain in this shot. The look on Scott's face says it all...this race sucks every last bit of energy out of your body and then you have to dig down even deeper to make the top. This is a feeling that i will get to endure this year, as i am already entered into the 50th Mount Washington Road Race. Gee, i can't wait!!

Here is a bonus slideshow that never made it out this past summer. It never made it to YouTube because of the music choices i wanted to use on it. Recently, i uploaded it to Facebook and linked it to my blog. Hopefully you will like going back to last summer and the warm weather of July to enjoy this slideshow. It is also on my Facebook site if you belong and can watch it in a higher quality than here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year

A New Year and what is my resolution......that's easy......RUN MORE! I just totaled last years miles and had to cringe, it came up to a paltry 866 miles. That used to be a nice 2 month total! Wanna run better, run more miles. Like the Nike ad used to say, Just Do It. Lets see if i can.

I headed up to Hollis, NH January 2nd for the Beaver brook Snowshoe Race. I was supposed to run it, but ended up just taking pictures. Seems i screwed up my knee the other day while photographing the RI Classic High School Indoor Track Meet in Providence. I had tripped over the inside lane curbing, planted my foot and then the body twisted but the foot did not move, thus, a twisted sore swollen knee. Damn good grip on those INOV8 shoes :)  I had really looked forward to running this race, it was a wicked fast course. I still got to touch base with a bunch of the NH regulars and fellow bloggers, Jim Johnson, Dave Dunham, Steve Wolfe, Scott Graham and a few i didn't get a chance to talk to like Jim Hansen, Chris Dunn.
Hope to run in 2 weeks at Feel Good Farm, which i did last year. Up and over the mountain twice, what fun.

                                  Click here for Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race Photos 

Speaking of the RI Classic Indoor Meet here in Providence. Here is my niece, Lindsey Kopech, ripping it up in the 4x200 relay for Classical High School.