Friday, November 28, 2014

Pipestave XC race

Winners Circle cross-country race – I’ve raced a lot on Thanksgiving and the one race I’ve done the most is the WCRC XC race.  The venue changed a few years ago but the event itself is unchanged.  This year the start was postponed by ½ hour due to the overnight snow storm.  There was anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of snow on the ground at Pipestave hill.  The course is almost all in open fields so there were very few spots where there wasn’t deep heavy wet snow with a crust to punch through.

I showed up extra early figuring I’d need additional time to run the course.  I got my number and put on Kahtoolah traction devices and headed out.  The course was well marked and was easy to follow especially since there was only one set of footprints out there, from the guy who flagged the course.  The running was a slog.  I ended up covering the course in 28 minutes (a little over 9 minute pace).  The Kahtoolah’s didn’t really help they just got clogged up with icy clumps of snow.  I switched into Inov-8 racing flats and did another half-mile with a couple of strides.  My guess was that I could run right around 7 minute pace.  This was not going to be easy.

Teammate Greg Putnam and I lined up in the middle of the soccer field along with 300 folks.  Greg won the race last year and was looking for another win but more importantly did not want to get hurt.  My goal was also to not take a spill or something like that and pull a muscle.  The mad dash sprint was pretty wild, almost like a snowshoe race with the snow flying.  I stayed on my feet and found myself just outside of the top 10 as we turned at the first cone 100 meters into the race.  One hundred meters later I was in sixth and by 400 meters I was in fourth place.

Greg was out front breaking trail and two other guys were trying to stay close to him.  I was already 10 seconds down as we hit the first hill.  The long downhill into the mile was fun, probably the nicest running of the day.  Then I ran into trouble.  A lady with five dogs did not have them under control.  One dog shot off with Greg (and ran with him for another mile), one pounced me and bit me!  I yelled at the lady to get her f-ing dogs under control and powered on full of adrenaline.  Greg was twenty seconds up as I hit the mile in 6:41 with the two guys about 10 seconds ahead of me running together.

The climb up Pipestave hill was tough, but I felt that the two guys in front of me were “coming back” so I worked it as hard as I could.  Greg was now out of sight but the other two were 15 seconds ahead.  After two miles (a 6:50 split) I caught sight of Greg on the climb back up through the equestrian field.  Chris Ritchie (Coastal) had pulled away from Sam Coppola (a junior running at Pentucket) who was struggling on the climb.  At the top we hit a section that we’d run on previously and the 300 pair of feet had packed it down.  It felt weird to suddenly be able to accelerate.  I went by Coppola and kept pushing.  I was worried about him coming back and kicking by me in the last quarter mile.  That kept me rolling, with 200 to go I heard them announce Greg winning the race as I looped around the paddock into the finish.

Greg was happy with his win and I was pleased with my time (breaking 7’s).  We quickly grabbed a t-shirt and headed back out on the now packed down course.  We caught up to Mom Dunham on that final uphill which was slick from the packed down snow.  Mom took the 70+ division and I was top in the 50+ (although they took me out of the age groups for finishing in the top three).  No spills but now I have to watch out for rabies symptoms!

Pl   Time           Name                Sx         Age       Cat        Cat Pl    City, St
1    20:22.4        Gregory Putnam  M          45         TOP3     1/3       Stoneham MA
2    20:46.1        Chris Ritchie       M          31         TOP3     2/3       Hampton NH
3    21:08.7        Dave Dunham    M          50         TOP3     3/3       Ward Hill MA
4    21:38.7        Sam Coppola      M          16         M1317   1/11      Groveland MA
5    22:40.4        Keith Leblanc     M          36         M3039   1/37      Amesbury MA


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Old Pet Cemetery

On Saturday I visited Londonderry (and Derry) to check out a section of the rail trail in anticipation of the long run on Sunday.  It was fun going back to my old stomping grounds; I lived in Londonderry from 1989-1995.  Since I parked at the junction of the rail trail and route 28 I decided to check out the pet cemetery I knew was in the area.  Back in “the day” I ran on all of the trails between the rail trail and Scobie pond and Old Derry road.  On one of those runs I cut behind the power lines and noticed something in the woods a few feet from the trail.  Of course I investigated and was surprised to find a very small pet cemetery.  I was doubly surprised when I noted that one of the stones was for a pet that had died on that very day! (In a different year)

I hadn’t had a chance to go back since that first visit and thought some pictures would be nice to have.  Unfortunately the Utility Company had expanded the cut for the power lines.  After some kicking around I was able to find the stones, now only three stones are standing and I was able to find the remnants of at least two others.  It was interesting to go back after so many years.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving races

Thanksgiving is a very popular day to race.  For me it is my third most popular Holiday trailing only New Year’s Day and Independence Day.  I’ve race 16 times on Jan. 1 and July 4 and 14 times for Thanksgiving.  I’ve only won one race on Thanksgiving (Feaster Five outkicking Verrington).  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to race tomorrow at the WCRC XC race, if they don’t cancel due to snow!
Thanksgiving race results:
Jordan Marsh
Feaster five
Feaster five
Feaster five
Feaster Five
Thanksgiving race
Feaster Five
Maudslay Thanksgiving race
Maudslay Thanksgiving race
Maudslay Thanksgiving race
Maudslay Thanksgiving race
Maudslay Thanksgiving race
Maudslay Thanksgiving race
West Newbury
WCRC XC - Pipestave

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

USATF NE Grand Prix info

Although USATF has yet to post the link for voting, they will be doing so “soon”.  I’ve got no particular favorites for what races get picked next year, although the Maple Run ½ marathon and the GMAA 15k would be my favorites in the “pick two category”.  Here are the races with the entry fee listed (which should always be a consideration since this impacts a LOT more people than how much prize money is given) along with my “plus” and “minus” column.  With this election finally being one without slates I hope everyone takes the time to VOTE!
Date        Dist         Name                      City, St                    Entry       Plus                                                         Minus
3/22         3.1           An Ras Mor             Cambridge,  MA     30                                                                            No dedicated parking (race in the city), poor course marking
6/11         3.1           Fast 5k                    Hollis,  NH              25            Wide start, plus women's sep start     Thursday night race
6/21         5              Ribfest                    Merrimack, NH       30            Fast mostly flat course                         Uninspired out/back course, tight turn at the start, NO RIBS!
8/9           5              Bobby Doyle          Narragansett, RI    27            RI race (the only one to bid)                                15 turns in 5 miles
5/31         6.2           Newton                   Newton, MA            30            Nice course, well managed                   Serious lack of parking, very tight start
9/20         6.2           Lone Gull                Gloucester, MA      30            Well managed, multiple time GP race  Parking lot is a cluster-fuck, both pre and post race
10/4         6.2           Canton                    Canton, MA             25                                           
3/15/       13.1         New Bedford          New Bedford, MA  50            Always competitive and well managed               Terrible post-race food
5/3/         13.1         Maple Run              Middlebury, VT      40            Very well organized, plenty of parking              
10/20       13.1         New England 1/2    Loudon, NH            75            Drop course                                           75 dollar early entry fee!  Point to point - buses to start
5/24         26.2         Vermont Ctiy          Burlington, VT        90            Finally a Spring Marathon!   
11/1         26.2         Manchester             Manchester, NH     75                                                                            Poor response to the mistake made in 2014
5/16         7.4           Rotary                     Bedford, NH           25            Well managed, excellent post race      Can't find a website (which is troubling)
9/6           9.3           GMAA                      Burlington, VT        35            Excellent first time in the GP in 2014   
2/22         10            Amherst                  Amherst, MA           40            Solid race management                         Possible mud or ice for the "reservoir" section
8/29         10            NH10                       Auburn, NH             35            Millennium knows how to put on a race                             
9/6           12.4         Seasons                  Acton, MA                               55                                                                            Unable to locate any information online
9/27         15.5         Nahant                    Nahant, MA             40            Very scenic course

Monday, November 24, 2014

Londonderry to Methuen

I haven't done many runs over 10 miles this year, but was hoping for a long run last weekend.  Dan had recently put in 20+ on the Topsfield rail trail so I suggested a point-to-point on the Londonderry-Methuen rail trail.  I mapped it out quickly and found a good section that went from exit 5 in Londonderry to Railroad street in Methuen.  We threw the idea out to the group and I posted it on FB. Jim P was the only one who took us up on it and Krissy offered to drive us to the start (which saved us having to go back up after the run was over).  I'd done all of the trail in segments over the years (including a lot on the Go!) but it'd been a while since I'd been up in Londonderry.

We took off just before 8am at a relaxing clip and the miles just rolled by.  Two-plus hours later we were back at the Methuen depot with 17 miles behind us.  It was a most excellent morning!
Our route
Marsh in Derry

caboose at Windham Depot

Ice on the side of the trail

Short rest break

Dash to the state line

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week ending 11-23-14

I'm very happy with how this week went.  I got in 96 miles, my longest training run of the year (17m) and a "little" up-tempo workout.  Hoping for a fast XC race on Thanksgiving!

Week - 96
Month - 276
Year - 3592
Life - 126,613

M - Lunch 7 in 49:58
       PM 6 with a 2 mile tempo - 15:40, 12:05, 16:18 for each 2m

T - Lunch 7 in 47:11
      PM Dan's woods 49:31

W - Lunch 7 in 46:36
       PM Dan's woods 7 in 48:53

Th - Lunch run at Dan's woods 7 in 48:32
        PM Winni 6  alone in 42:20

F - Lunch run again at Dan's woods 7 in 48:35
     PM Winni 5 alone in 32:14

Sat - 4.3 on my own into 5.8 w Petey and D-la in 85 minutes
        PM 3 on the rail trail check out the water crossing 25:03

Sun - 17 mile run with Dan and Jim P from Londonderry to Methuen on the rail trail
6 miles done, 11 to go (Windham Depot)

Friday, November 21, 2014

USATF Grand prix meeting

I went to the LDR slate selection meeting last week.  I was disappointed that nothing was posted about the meeting (other than – “Slate selection meeting to be announced”).  I had to track down the where and when of the meeting which by LDR rules is open to the membership.  Since the lack of communication from USATF NE to the membership was a bone of contention last year, I’d hoped for better this year.  Appearance is everything and this (right or wrong) gives the appearance of USATF doing whatever it pleases.  If you were on the short-list you got an email invitation to the meeting if not the only way you would know about the meeting is if you contacted the USATF NE president and LDR reps.  I did so and got to see the inner workings of the LDR committee.
The short of it was that the meeting itself was productive with the committee finally adopting a somewhat “open” voting for the Grand Prix races.  This is a huge improvement over the secretly created slates which often lumped a race you might want in with others you didn’t.  Now with very little restriction we (the members of USATF) will be able to vote on what races we think are the best to be designated USATF NE championships.
It will be quite interesting to see how this works.  It was refreshing to see LDR willing to move forward on this.  My hope now is that communication and transparency are improved on over the next year.
I’ll be posting the link to the voting as soon as it becomes available.
If you are more interested in the “long” of it, here are my notes from the meeting.
In attendance:
Lisa Doucett – LDR & CSU
Jen Mortimer – MIL
Jan Homquist – LAC
Rick Stetson –
Gordon MacFarland – CSU
Dave Dunham – CMS
Jason Ayr – WMDP
Nico Naranyo – WMDP
Skip Cleaver – GCS
Amanda Wight – Sisu
Dave Kazanjian – WRT
Anna Jean – NSS
Mike Pelletier – NSS
Steph – Sisu
Caityln Germain – Sisu
Chris Spinney – WRT
Tom Derderian – President & GBTC
Jim Garcia – LDR & GLRR
John Barbour – LDR & GLRR
Lisa chaired the meeting.  Opened stating the purpose was to go through the calendar and the races by date and take into consideration other races, series, traditional dates.  Jen Mortimer (Athletes Rep) had a handout based on feedback she had received on slates.  Her idea was to do away with the slates to better have the series conform to the wants of the people.  She set up groups of races by distance and offered restrictions based on how close a selected race was to any other races (example: if you picked a marathon you could not pick another race within 20 days before or after that marathon).
Lisa noted that the goals was to produce a series that had geographic distribution along with varying distances and taking into account the calendar of other events.
Gordon noted that the group was selected and as such delegated by the clubs to create slates.  Noted that last year there were a number of slates and felt we should have four this year.  He also suggested that the ½ marathon be a category unto itself as ½ marathons have experience exponential growth in recent years.
Lisa suggested possible modifications to the GP.  Then moved on to selecting races, she stated that having “open” voting leads to a popularity contest.  I stated that there is nothing wrong with that!  Jim and Caitlyn argued the merits of slates versus open voting.  Including who’s best interest are we looking out for…the athletes or the races.  Lisa noted a hesitancy of athletes to select new races as opposed to ones they are familiar with.
Skip Cleaver went on to suggest having three slates this year.  Caitlyn and others again asked why we weren’t considering Jen’s idea.  Dave K noted that there would be the possibility of conflicts if the voting were done via Jen’s suggestion.  Others noted this could be dealt with by the committee after.  Garcia noted the history of going to a committee over opeing it up to the masses and that voting for each race may create an inherent series.  Dave again stressed that conflicts could be created using open voting.  Spinney noted that there were enough club reps present that a “straw poll” could be done using Jen’s format and we could see how that turned out.
While working on the votes, I noted that the mile was removed and was told that it had been decided at another meeting that bids under 5k would not be considered for the Grand Prix.
Tom D discussed some new ideas he had for other LDR activities and possible changes to the GP.
Those present used Jen’s suggested form and voted as follows:
Marathon – VT (9), MCM (2)         ½ marathon – NB (8), NE (2), Middlebury (1)         5k – Hollis (7), ARM (3)
10k – LG (8), Canton (2), Newton (1)        5m – Doyle (6), Rib (5)  
Other: GMAA (6), Amherst (6), Bedford (3), Nahant (3), Seasons (1)
Side note: discussion about liaisons at the races.  The question was raised regarding USATF ensuring quality control at GP races.  Garcia noted that there is a check list for the liaison and there should be liaisons at each GP race (this was not the case for a number of races in 2014).  Jason noted USATF should be vetting the race and needs a better plan for what USATF will do, using the fiasco at the marathon as an example.  Tom noted that we can’t work this out at the GP slate meeting and suggested that this be discussed further at a later date.
Dave K noted that he worked out a slate based solely on the dates and came up with one similar to what the poll came up with.  He also noted that a spring marathon opens up the fall for teams to focus on cross-country.
A proposal was made that USATF could put on its own 5k.  I noted that Hollis was one of the most popular (based on the number of USATF members who ran) races when it was in the GP 2 years ago.  There was much discussion about adding a USATF managed 5k.
Spinney noted that our poll came up with a reasonable slate and stressed that we should just allow the membership to vote using Jen’s suggested sheet.

Pelletier noted that our poll may be misleading and not necessarily the interest of the membership as we all have our own prejudices (and a number of people in the room had been specifically harmed by races that have bid).
Spinney again noted that Jen’s suggestion could be used and slates would not be needed.  Possibly adding a disclaimer that should races be selected that are in conflict the committee would meet to resolve those conflicts.
Gordon talked about how we always have certain races (such as New Bedford) and perhaps we should have limits.  The pro’s and con’s of having limits was discussed with no decision.
Lisa also discussed the idea of having a “1/2’s of New England” a three-race series of the ½ marathons that had bid.
Amanda and Jen discussed using Jen’s proposal for voting.
Jan Holmquist went over four possible slates she had created, based on geography, calendar, etc.
More general discussion on using Jen’s proposal.  Suggestions on how to modify the sheet to allow it to function in Survey Monkey.  Caitlyn suggested the rules be clearly stated, exactly what will happen and when.  Also, what will be done if a conflict arises. 
Spinney asked what would be done in the event of a tie (unlikely) and I asked whether a majority was need for a race to win (no, a plurality would be enough).
Decision was made to go with Jen’s suggestion.  Lisa will send out information along with the link.  This will be located on the GP page at USATF.  The link will also be out on various social media sites.
Meeting closed.