Wednesday, April 1, 2009



This was one busy month, even with it having the fewest races so far this year. I traveled all over the country and had a heck of a lot of fun.

I started out the month by visiting the highest point on Long Island, which is the Suffolk County High point (Jaynes Hill) outside of Huntington NY. It was a bit nasty that morn and I was greeted by strong winds and snow. Luckily it cleared up as I watched my teammates win the 50 Km road national championships. Justin Fyffe completed his first ultra in fine style, taking the silver medal. Ben Nephew and Dan Verrington took third and fifth to give CMS a dominating team victory.

The following day my work closed due to the big snow storm. I had already gone in so I took full advantage of the fitness center and put in 10 miles on the treadmill. On Friday I flew to Portland OR for the snowshoe national championships. Ex-CMSer Richard Bolt took me out to the race site and we previewed the course. We didn’t see Mt Hood the entire weekend as it snowed almost continuously. We did some exploring that included a waterfalls, the Portland city high point, and the Willamette stone (which is the location where the meridians were laid out for all of OR). The race went well; I had hoped to be in the top 15 and was pleasantly surprised with a sixth place finish. I was only slightly disappointed as top five are named to the US team and I had been in fifth from the mile to 6.1 miles. I guess I need to work on my kick. Rich took 12th despite a balky knee which has severely curtailed his running.

I kept the theme of “no full week of work” alive, flying back on Monday and taking a half day the following Friday. I headed out to Northfield to set the course for the Mass snowshoe champs that I was directing. I detoured to Warwick MA and did a run up to the summit of Mt Grace and back. The fire tower on top of Mt Grace afforded great views including a close-up of Mt Monadnock. After two loops setting the course on the last of the spring snow at Northfield, I headed to Sunderland and another round-trip to a fire tower. Mt Toby had great views of Amherst and the Holyoke range. The Northfield race went well, 46 finished, I would’ve gotten more but I think a lot of people saw no snow out their window and couldn’t imagine snow so close by at Northfield.

The next day I met up with Dan, the Quintals, and double-J and we headed to New Bedford for the second race in the road Grand Prix series. I was nervous as this would be my longest run thus far since coming back from the stress fracture. I was also having trouble with a sore hamstring. It didn’t bother me once I got going and settled into a good rhythm. I ended up running with Albee the entire way (he was doing an easy work-out) and I hit my goal, setting a 40+ PR of 1:17:11. It was a bit of a disappointment to get 25th in the 40+, I had been hoping for top 15, but the field was strong. The 40+ team just missed winning, taking a close second to Whirlaway by a scant 7 seconds! That bodes well for a good battle over the next five Grand Prix races.

The next day I was traveling again, this time to Kansas City for work. As always I mixed in a little pleasure. I visited five county high points over two days, with ones in Kansas and Missouri and also ran at a couple of nice state parks. I was also surprised to find a great running path only ½ mile from my hotel. There was quite a bit of foot traffic even at 5 AM when I went out for an early morning run. When I returned home on Friday I got a rare treat…Double-J ran with me and I got a tour of his house (VERY fancy). JJ tells it like it is and when we finished the run (which I thought was a good effort) he noted “That is the slowest time I’ve EVER run on that course”.

The next day was a full one, starting with a run at Winnekenni with some of the gang (mostly with Mark Behan and Ken Tripp who slowed down enough to give me some company). I made a brief appearance at Vita and then headed west for an unusual afternoon race. I decided to bag the final western Mass towns I hadn’t run in. A brief stop on a sunny 50 degree day and Sheffield/New Marlborough were off the list. A little later (and a hilly 25 minute run later) I bagged Mt Washington – the town not the mountain. Then I was off to Ergremont/Hillsdale NY for the final WMAC snowshoe race of the season. The course definitely suited me, it had 1,000’ of climb in just over a mile then a bit more forgiving downhill. I managed to gap teammate Tim Van Orden on the climb and had enough to hold him off on the drop. The win secured my spot in the series as the top 40+ but left me .28 behind overall champ (and CMS teammate) Ben Nephew. It was a great end to a memorable Snowshoe season that had a record 17 races. I ran a personal best of 12 snowshoe races in a season, topping my previous high of 10. Hopefully we’ll have a strong season next year as Nationals come back to the East.

I kept my streak alive during the final week of March by taking a half-day on Friday. This time I was off to Florida to visit my parents. I had a lot of fun, even though it was a short trip. We visited the highest point in the county they live in (Pasco) and checked out a local hill that had a nice view. They also took me out for dinner on my 45th birthday.

Instead of coming home directly, I detoured to bag some Bristol county towns that I still needed to run in. The short trip was over early Sunday morn as I caught a 7 AM flight back to Boston. I figured since I was already 30+ miles south of home that I’d head out for some Mass. Town bagging. I planned out four runs in eight towns. First I headed to Rehoboth and parked next to the fire tower on Long Hill (pictured above). I don’t know how they would be able to spot any fires as the trees surrounding the tower were all higher than the tower itself! I got in a 3-mile run that took me from Rehoboth to Dighton and back.

Next up was a short drive to Raynham and a run on part of the Bay Circuit trail and a short stint on a rail-trail in the Great Hockomock Swamp. This was a nice quiet location despite being right behind the Raynham dog track. I got in three miles in both Raynham and Easton then quickly headed for run number three. I parked in a cul-de-sac and ran onto a rail-trail behind the Mansfield airport. The trail was paved after I crossed the road by the airport. It was also marked out in ¼ mile increments and had a surprising number of walkers on in considering the weather (40’s and drizzle/rain). It looked like this section of the World War II veterans rail-trail had been recently worked on and it had a nice crushed stone path along the paved part. I got in three miles covering Mansfield and Norton, and then headed for my final run of the day.

I headed to F. Gilbert Hills state forest in Wrentham and did a nice three mile trail run which included a run up to the highest point in the forest (High Rock). The rain/drizzle from earlier in the day had lessened and it was nice and quiet in the forest, even though I was just a stone’s throw from busy route 1.

The final day of the month was a typical day with a six mile run at lunch and then six in the afternoon. The big difference was that I didn’t run with Dan as he has started doing track workouts on Tuesday. I headed for the River to check out how the course is looking. I dropped and email to some of the guys but figured I’d be running alone. Double-J and Albee showed up, which made for an excellent run. It was a great way to close the books on the Month.

354 miles – my best since August of last year
Weeks of – 75, 79, 83, and 50
3 races placing – 6, 108, and 1
Mass Towns – Sheffield, New Marlborough, Mt Washington, Raynham, Mansfield, Norton, Foxboro, Easton, Dighton, Rehoboth, and Wrentham
7 County high points – NY:1, FL:1, KS:2, MO:3
3 Fire towers - Mt Grace, Mt Toby, Long Hill

Looking ahead:
I’m planning on starting outdoor track workouts, gotta get some leg speed if I want to run well at Rhody. I had planned on trail races and orienteering this April, but my ankle just won’t cooperate. I’m now hoping to do a couple of track races. I haven’t raced on the outdoor track since 1995!

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