Monday, January 26, 2009

Another weekend another double

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a while as I’ve enjoyed racing Curly’s record run before. It is probably the series race that is best suited for me (tough climb, run-able downhill). I won the race last year and although I wasn’t as fit as last year I hoped it would be one of my better performances.

Things quickly changed as I woke up sick on Monday morning. I’ve run through illness and injury before, but there was no doubt on Monday that I would not run. I slept from 10 AM until the next morning. Then I ended up staying out of work on Wednesday as I still was dizzy nauseous and just plain sick. So Monday was my first day off in 89 days and then I was only able to muster 4 miles each of the next three days. On Friday I started to feel slightly better, probably because I was able to eat again on Thursday night after not eating for over three days. I figured there are only so many opportunities to race on snowshoes in any given year and I didn’t want to miss any. My goal became to just get through the weekend and not get myself sicker.

On Saturday morning I headed out for the nearly 3 hour drive to Readsboro. I hit a couple of snow squalls in Greenfield and then some rough road as I drove through Heath (MA). I came out in Vermont and wouldn’t you know it, right in front of me on route 100 was Ed Alibozek and the gang from CT. I followed them the last 15 miles into Readsboro.

After checking in at the Readsboro inn (nice to have indoor facilities) I headed out for a warm-up. There really weren’t any side roads so I just ran out & back on route 100. This also gave me a chance to check out how far it was from the Inn to the start (about ½ mile). I felt okay warming up and thought that there was a chance this could be my day to pick up an elusive win. You never know, especially with first time races. I think it was right about that time that I saw Justin Fyffe and he mentioned that he brought Greg Hammet along. Oh well!

About 70 of us gathered at the Catamount ski trail and we found that Bob Dion was not kidding when he described it as single track. The trail was very narrow and it was broken out one person wide. That would make for an interesting start. It would also make for an interesting return as a good portion of the race would be out & back on the rail trail.

Conditions were decent, 20’s and sunny, when we took off in a desperate sprint for position and snow flying everywhere. Justin and Greg went right to the front and Ken Clark was in third with me right behind. I figured Ken would be the guy I’d be aiming to beat. After the race he noted that he “hated going out fast” as it took him out of his normal rhythm. I felt the same way, it was nearly an all-out sprint for the first 400m. At that point we had to jump a stream and there were two trails. I went left, Ken went right, and I apologized as I bumped my way in front of him. After that I tried to push really hard and get some distance on Ken. I could see Greg and Justin each taking a turn at the lead. Justin said he took the lead because he was sick of Greg kicking so much snow on him (or maybe it was the other way around?). Anyway, they seemed to be having a good battle up front. Meanwhile I tried to get into a “coast” mode. I couldn’t hear Ken behind me and I had images of me gapping him by a lot. I checked my watch as we passed the point we’d be coming back on and saw 11:34. Three minutes later I was exiting the rail trail and in the woods. This gave me the chance to check out where Ken was. Boy was I surprised, he was right on me, maybe only 10 seconds back. Ugh!

I started pushing harder, thinking “I’ll push to the rail trail then see where he is”. I was back on the rail trail at 18:06. Ken was still right on me and I was struggling. I thought “I’ll run 5 minutes hard then see where he is”. A long difficult 5 minutes later I snuck a peek and he was still right there. Ugh! I thought “Five minutes to go, don’t give it to him after you worked for 23 minutes”. I ended up pushing right up to the finish instead of maybe saving something for the next day and was very pleased to get third. Justin took his second win in as many races running 27:30 with Greg 23 seconds behind him. I came across in 29:18 with ken 14 seconds behind me and Paul Bazanchuk taking the 50+ age group and fifth overall a minute later.

After a warm-down it was back to the Inn for some soup and hot cocoa and a ton of awards. All category winners got a cool authentic rail spike and a pick of anything on the prize table. I got a huge box of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Justin took a Dion winter hat and seemed quite happy sipping away at a local brew with Greg, and it wasn’t even NOON. J

I headed off to Pittsfield for the afternoon. I had hoped to do some climbs or town runs or something, but being sick had really taken the wind out of my sails. Instead I just got something to eat and was in bed by 5 PM.

After a good night sleep I headed over to the state forest for Curly’s record run. The temperature was five-below zero as I drove through town. It did warm up to zero at race time and actually didn’t seem too bad in the sun. I had no illusions of a win on day two. My goal was to finish and I figured I’d aim to run with either Ken Clark or Abby Woods. I still wasn’t sure how much the flu had taken out of me and I had felt pretty beat doing a flat 3.3 mile the previous day.

I did 3 miles of easy running on the road and that did nothing to improve my predicted place. I felt pretty much dead on my feet. I decided to stick with my normal race warm-up (3 miles on road then a mile in snowshoes on the course) but I’d skip the usual strides. I figured I only had so much gas left in the tank and I didn’t want to use it doing sprints before the race. I saw Ben Nephew and Matt Cartier and Tim Mahoney who I guessed would be the top dogs, although rumor had it that there might be a bunch of William’s college kids showing up (they didn’t). I also bumped into Tim Van Orden (TiVO) who had also been sick all week and not run a step since the Greylock race the previous Sunday. Right before the start TiVO got a bunch of us to help someone who got there car stuck in a snow bank and were blocking the road. Nothing like ten 125 pound runners trying to move a car in snow!

After some instructions and one question (“How did Curly get the name Curly” – “He had lots of hair”) we were off. The snow was solidly packed which would make for fast going. Ben went right to the front with Matt, Tim, and TiVO tucked right behind. I was off the back in the first 100m and had gapped 5th place by an equal amount. So much for running with Ken or Abby as I was in the lonely gap between groups. I started to feel a lot better as the climb progressed and I felt like the lead four were coming back to me. About ½ way up the hill TiVO started walking and soon after I was around him. I noticed that Ben was walking which isn’t unusual for him on steep climbs, but he seemed to be walking early and often (in my opinion). I was steadily closing the gap and thinking “Ben must be running a tactical race, biding his time”. Tim yielded the trail at about ¾ of the way up and I went into the powder to get around Ben soon after. I was feeling GREAT, but working very hard. I could see that we were almost to the top and I got it into my head that I wanted to be King of the Mountain, so with 50m to go I went around Matt and hit the summit in a little over 17 minutes leading the pack.

As expected, not even 50m later Matt blew by me and Ben went around as well. Soon they were flying out of sight. Tim was right behind me keeping me honest on the drop. I hit the bottom 4 minutes later thinking “17 minutes up and we lose it all in 4 minutes”. No time to relax as Tim was right on my tail. I like the last mile or so of twisting trail where you can get a look behind without really looking. I kept looking and checking my watch every couple of minutes. Finally I hit the half-mile to go where I had warmed up to (great way to check out the finish to the course so there are no surprises) and made one final push for the line.

I was surprised that Ben had not passed Matt on the Shadow Trail as I think of Ben as one of the best descent runners in New England. Matt ran strong on the down and Ben didn’t take him until a little more than ½ mile to go. Ben got his first win of the year and his 5th all-time WMAC win. Matt rolled in 10 seconds later and I took third 49 seconds later. Tim kept it close finishing 12 seconds behind me. TiVO had a battle with Paul Bazanchuk, taking him by 8 seconds at the finish. Paul had a heck of a weekend, taking the 50+ in two consecutive days and finishing 5th and 6th respectively. There were a bunch of age records set on the fast snow and Abby took 8th overall breaking her course record by more than 30 seconds.

Twenty-two runners doubled up this weekend, racing 3.3 miles in tough snow at Readsboro, VT and then taking on the fast snow but tough climb of the 4 mile course in Pittsfield, MA. Eleven of them also did the double on the previous weekend (bolded)!

Ed Alibozek
Ed Alibozek Jr
Paul Bazanchuk
Laura Clark
Ken Clark

Denise Dion
Dave Dunham
Martin Glendon
Bill Glendon
Paul Hartwig
Jamie Howard
Sibyl Jackson
Chris Johnson
Konrad Karolczuk
Walter Kolodzinski
Jay Koloodzinski
Mike Lahey
Jody Lahey
Bob Massaro
London Niles
Laurel Shortell
Erik Wight

With the second double-race weekend wrapped-up a total of 6 races have been held in five weekends. There have been 342 unique finishers in the six races (199 men and 143 women). The average age of the runners is 42.4 with the youngest being 8 and the oldest 79. 246 runners have done one race, 42 have done two races, 18 have done three, 18 have also done four, 11 have done five, and seven have done all six races.

There have been 101 races since Bob Dion won the first WMAC snowshoe at the South Pond shuffle back in Feb. of 2002.
Here are the All-time WMAC finish leaders
Rank Name
1 Konrad Karolczuk 89
2t Laurel Shortell 86
2t Richard Busa 86
4 Bob Dion 85
5 Laura Clark 78
6 Edward Alibozek 76
6 Ed Alibozek Jr 75
8 Ken Clark 66
9 Bob Massaro 65
10 Dave Dunham 55
11 Denise Dion 52
12 Peter Lipka 48
13t Walter Kolodzinski 47
13t Paul Hartwig 47
15 Jay Kolodzinski 46
16t Mike Lahey 45
16t Martin Glendon 45
16t Bill Morse 45
19t Lawrence Dragon 44
19t David Boles 44
19t Jim Carlson 44

All-time WMAC point leaders
Rank Name
1 Bob Dion 6980.23
2 Ken Clark 5927.91
3 Dave Dunham 5097.09
4 Edward Alibozek 5064.26
5 Ed Alibozek Jr 4164.81
6 Jay Kolodzinski 3694.55
7 Leigh Schmitt 3242.14
8 John Pelton 3129.14
9 Laura Clark 2946.52
10 Mike Lahey 2922.8
11 Ben Nephew 2761.09
12 Bob Worsham 2704.89
13 Laurel Shortell 2667.88
14 Bill Morse 2631.32
15 David Boles 2607.65
16 Peter Lipka 2585.9
17 Richard Bolt 2454.67
18 Lawrence Dragon 2390.29
19 Dave Hannon 2344.17
20 Paul Hartwig 2313.88

Some All-Time landmarks reached this weekend:
Bob Dion – 85 races
Ed Alibozek Jr. – 75 races
Bob Massaro – 65 races
Dave Dunham – 55 races
Mike Lahey, Martin Glendon, Bill Morse, Jay Kolodzinski – 45 races
Ben Nephew – 30 races
Peter Malinowski and Tom Mack – 20 races
Paul Bazanchuk – 15 races
Tim Mahoney – 10 races
Dave Dunham and Ed Alibozek both passed 5,000 points this weekend.
Chelynn Tetrault passed 1,000 points.

1 comment:

pbazanchuk said...

Enjoyed the stats at the end. Now I know how many races I've done. Not many.
I'm only 20 minutes from Northfield so let me know if you need any pre race help on Saturday.