Sunday, November 27, 2011



This was a non-stop week and weekend for me.  It started with the beginning of the Christmas Season Elf work at Dakin Farm.  Since 1981 I have been helping out with the distribution of gifts to people all over the US and occasionally other parts of the world.  So for the next month I will be busy.  Luckily there are 24 hours in a day so I will be running whenever the schedule allows.

Then a trip down to visit Mom in CT for Thanksgiving.  A time to sit an relax a bit and enjoy some Champagne with Mom and my sister and niece.  But before enjoying any Champagne I had signed myself up for some races in CT.  With the National XC Club Championships coming up on Dec. 10th, I knew I needed more speed work.  So early Thanksgiving morning I was up.  I had about a 50 minute drive to Southport, CT for the 34th annual Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Road Race put on by the Pequot Runners.

I've run this race in the past but each year it has become more popular.  This year there were 4223 runners competing in the 5 mile race.  The crazy part is it starts on a narrow back street, jam packed with runners.  The bagpipes play to get you motivated at the start and then it's an all out blast of runners trying not to trip on one and other.  For the first 100 yards it's tricky but after that it mellows out.  The course runs close to and along the Long Island Sound with some awesome views and magnificent homes along the way.  The first mile went well holding a 5:53 pace.  Just right to start.  I ate a GU gel just before the start which seemed to be just the right amount of fuel needed for this short run.  My goal was to try to average around a 6 minute mile for the 5 miles.  After that first mile, I settled in to a comfortable pace and just kept moving.  For the next 2 miles I was holding strong without really thinking about it.  But by mile 4, I was fading a bit.  Not sure why but I had somehow hit the 4 mile marker at 6:12.  I kicked it in a bit for the last mile and finished in 30:10.  Nothing spectacular but a 6:02 average and near my goal for the day.  I wore the Mizuno Musha 2's which worked fine on this fast and short course.

And I felt fine afterwards to go run for a good cool down so I guess a good day.  I ended up 52nd overall out of 4223 finishers and 3rd in my age group out of 389 50 year old runners, enough to get an age award plaque.  The best part was after the race and cool down run.  They had a massage therapist giving free massages.  She did an awesome massage and worked on me for 20-30 minutes!  Thanks Heather!  They also have a great raffle with the top prize this year being a brand new mountain bike.  No I didn't win it but still had a fun time hoping to win.

Thursday night we did get into the Champagne.  Mom, Pam and I went through 3 bottles that evening.  Luckily I didn't have to go anywhere.  And this was also the first time ever in my life that I celebrated Thanksgiving without eating any meat.  That's right, no turkey.  Why?  Ever since going to Europe and seeing how they eat and how healthy they are and also from watching the movie, Forks Over Knives, I've been freaked out over the whole meat industry and decided to try to eliminate meat from my diet.  I also was looking to try something to get some energy back in my system and to eliminate the highs and lows I usually deal with.  So for the last month I have weaned myself completely off of meat.  I eat way more vegetable and fruit.  So far so good and mom cooked a fabulous dinner with all the fixings so I didn't even miss the turkey.  Thanks Mom!

Friday morning, a time to burnout all that Champagne from the night before.  I had a great trail run through an area known as East Hill Woods and then ran to the Bend of the River Audubon Center to run around the perimeter trails of the park and then back to the East Hill Woods.  In all a good solid 2 hour run.

Saturday morning, up early again.  This time to head down to Trumbull, CT for the 16th running of the Cow Chip XC Race put on by Club CT. I guess the course can vary from year to year but this year was basically a 5k course from the Trumbull High School and running around the athletic fields but also into the back woods trails.  I thought this would be a great trainer for Seattle and was psyched to run this course.  I brought down my Mizuno Kaza spikes but there was just a little too much pavement and gravel plus it wasn't all that muddy so I stuck to my Mizuno Cabrakan Trail shoes.  The first part of the course has you running 2 loops around the llama pen. The first loop you have to hurdle a stone wall.  Going around the llama pen the second time, it was quite congested as you were lapping many of the other runners, then you had to veer off to continue on and go around the football fields and through the first section of woods.  As we broke away from the llama pen I could see the 2 leaders already getting a good lead but there were also a number of others runners to deal with.  Slowly I was able to get on track and pass most of them.  Dave Rivard-Lentz was still in front but by the time we got to the first woods section I passed him.  He stayed right behind me for quite a while which was great to keep me moving as too many times I get in a rut and back off.  I could hear him behind me all along the fields heading up to the next section of woods.  As we ran through he woods, I could still hear him but
Cow Chip Age Award
on any uphills he would fade a bit and then eventually catch up.  But as we headed out of the woods on a slight uphill I pushed a bit harder and saw that he had faded back.  With about a mile to go I just had to maintain a good steady pace and try not to space out as usual.  The 2 front runners where about a minute or so ahead so there was no way to catch them.  The last mile consisted of mostly running through the athletic fields and some other open areas all the way to the finish.  In the end I finished 3rd overall, first in the age group.  Apparently some of the other guys in the 50's age group, George Buchanan (last years overall winner) and Rob Beattie, had mistakenly run the llama loop 3 times instead of 2 so they were back a bit.  They do have some awesome runners in the 50's age group so hopefully I can return to run with them as well.  This was a really fun race with about 250 mostly local runners and well organized.  Thanks to the RD, Marty Schaivone.

After the race it was back to Mom's for a quick lunch and then on the road to VT.  When I arrived home the first thing I noticed was the ground still covered with snow.  I guess winter is here.  After a good night's sleep I was up for a light breakfast and then off for the weekly 20 miler.  I awoke to some fairly warm temps so I guess winter was not really here yet.  I put on the shorts and off I went only to overheat in the first two miles.  Luckily I was ok taking off a layer on top.  Then the stomach kicked in.  I probably shouldn't have used all that hot sauce last night with my burritos.  A quick trip to the woods fixed that.  But I soon discovered that I didn't have a lot of energy either so I figured a long slow run was in order.  I was good until about 15 miles in and then the wheels were starting to fall off.  Doing my usual "experimenting"  I didn't eat enough for breakfast and didn't take any fluids or gels with me for the run.  So as usual it was must a matter of time before I bonked.  By mile 15 I was totally dehydrated and at the point of getting dizzy.  I found a nice patch of sort of clean snow in the woods and munched on that for a while.  I felt a little better, enough to get me back home without passing out.  I jumped on the scale later on and noticed I was down considerably in weight, yes needed way more food which I knew from the start.  Luckily I do this more on my training runs and usually by race day have it dialed in.  Always trying to see what the body can do and where the limitations are.

So that was the long weekend in preparation for the Nationals coming up in two weeks.  Next up for the final preparation will be the Santa Claus 5k run in Burlington, VT next weekend.  With about 1200 Santas, it should be a race to remember!

See you then!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Run Your Can Off and Training for the upcoming USATF National Club XC Championships

To Run Long and Steady or Short and Fast???

That was the dilemma I faced.  After running UTMB in August and the VT 50 in late September I was eyeing some late season 100 milers.  I felt like I needed to get in another 100 miler to end the year.  But at the same time I was being recruited to be part of our GMAA club team to represent the 50 year old age group in Seattle, Washington in December for the USATF National Club XC Championships.  This is a 10K XC race with the nations best masters runners.  For the last two seasons I have been part of this team.  Two years ago in our first showing we very quietly did our thing and won the Nationals in Lexington, KY.  Last year the competition worked all year recruiting to get a top team together and yes, they were succesfull but we still came away with the bronze last year running in Charlotte, NC.  We have a great group of 50 year old runners coming out of the Burlington area.  Norm Larson, Tony Bates, Kevin McMahon, Jim Miller and myself make up the core group but the team can vary depending on availability and injuries.  This year the race is in Seattle, Washington.  Never been there before so I figured I would go.  With that in mind, the focus now would shift from long endurance training to short and fast.  Not an easy transition.

The Team

Training plan:  Run short and fast as much as I can until the December 10th Nationals then refocus on the longer runs.

October 8, 2011:  Art Tudhope 10K
     This race always hurts and this year was no exception but a good trainer.
October 16, 2011:  Des Moines Marathon
     Bad weekend overall and my worst marathon in 7 years.  Still a good trainer. (Did win my age group).
October 29, 2011:  Halloween Hustle 5K
    Starting to feel better.  Of the top 6 runners in this race, 4 of the 6 were 50+ years old. (Myself and my teammates). Bony Tony took first overall.
November 6, 2011:  NE XC Championships 8K at Franklin Park
     Another good trainer but I spaced out a bit in the woods.  At the end I felt like I didn't even run a race.  Need to run harder, I can!  GMAA took 2nd place for our 50 year old team.
Coming Up:
November 24, 2011:  Pequot Runners 5 Mile Thanksgiving Day Run
     I've run this in the past.  Popular race with up to 7500 runners for this event.
November 26, 2011:  Cow Chip 6K XC Run
     Have heard about this but never run it.  The course changes every year.
December 4, 2011:  Santa 5K Run
     First time race in Burlington.  Should be fun wearing a Santa suit for the 5K distance.

Along with these races I've been making a weekly visit to the CVU track to do speed work.  The first week was terrible but each week seems to be getting better.

Then came the Run Your Can Off on November 12th, a 6 hour event.  I had been so good at working on the short distances but finally fell off the wagon.  I really needed a good longer run for many reasons so this fit into my life schedule.  I had no expectations but to just run with friends for 6 hours.  It was also a good fundraiser as we all donated items to help support the Winooski Food Shelf.  The event involved a 1.25 mile loop in the Gilbrook Natural Area in Winooski.  You could donate on a per lap basis or time.  For my 6 hours I donated a turkey.  This was a very low key race but very well organized with the help of Greg Veltkamp and many other volunteers.  It was a typical VT day, cold and dark and standing around for the start I was shivering in my Mizuno shorts but soon after we got going, I warmed up.  Right from the start I headed out with Chad Shepard and Pablo.  Chad was only going 20 miles so he took right off at a fast pace.  Of course I had to run with Chad but new I would pay the price later but so be it.  This was just a fun day in the woods with friends.  After about 4 laps, Chad was overheating and had to change out of this tights into shorts so he went off to change.  Meanwhile, Pablo and I continued on the fast pace.  We never saw Chad until he was finished with his 20 miles as we were probably running at similar paces and never caught up again.  The course consisted of a 1.25 mile loop (according to a GPS??) on trails in the woods with very little elevation change but just rolled and twisted through the woods.  My Mizuno Ascend trail shoes where perfect for this run.  For the first couple of hours there was some congestion with other runners but all in good fun and no worries.  There were walkers, runners, strollers and dogs so it made for an interesting run.  Pablo is a young buck going to UVM and just getting into the ultra scene with some experience but after 20 miles I could hear his foot steps getting louder and louder.  And he was starting to catch his feet and trip a bit.  I knew he was tiring.  By mile 26 or so, he took a longer break at the aid station and I continued on.  We were about 3 1/2 hours into it at that point.  So for the rest of the day, I just did laps, occasionally running with some friends here and there.  Serena Wilcox ran with me for a while but she was running with dogs which was not easy.  I came across Todd Archambault and he was having stomach issues so opted not to run the full 6 hours.  Amazing to see was Wayne Warnken who ran for I think 2 1/2 hours with a kid on his shoulders.  After about 30 miles or so I was feeling low and asked for some Coke at the one aid station.  None to be had, but to my surprise at the next go around I was informed that Coke would be here soon.  So the next lap, there is was, ice cold, fizzy Coke.  Just what I needed!!  Thanks Greg!  What a pick me up and off I went.  I had been drinking GU Brew throughout which was great and eating GU Gels but there's still nothing like a hit of Coke to give you a boost.  So round and round I went, spacing out as I did my laps.  I ran into Pablo a few more times and ran a bit with him but he was in a slower mode and I just kept moving along.  I could see time was getting down there and the 6 hours was getting closer.  I thought maybe 2 more laps if I moved my butt but then I saw Scott at the aid station.  His goal was to run 50K this day but was one lap short and was done.  When I heard that, I convinced him to run with me for one final lap.  He had just eaten a bunch of food but it wasn't hard to get him back on the trail for one final lap.  The RD, Greg also joined us for this last lap.  We had a fun run around and ended on a good note.  Scott completed his 50K, Greg had a very successful event.  Pablo came in shortly after we finished at just around the 6 hour mark.  I think Pablo and myself were the only ones to run for the full 6 hours that day.  I haven't seen the official results but Greg had me down for 35 laps or almost 44 miles.  I had my watch counting laps but realized later on that my high tech watch only goes up to 30 laps.  And so much for speed training but it was a much needed run anyway.  Thanks to Greg and all the volunteers who put on this event!

Run Your Can Off Finishers Medal

Back to reality and speed work.  I have a 10k race coming up to prepare for.  Tuesday, speed work day.  Although this week instead of the CVU track it was a trip to Burlington to run with Mike Early and Jess Cover.  Both are training for the Houston Marathon in January.  They had on the schedule for this day to run 5 x 1 mile repeats with about 12 miles total.  My body still hadn't recovered fully since Saturday's 44 miler especially with Joe Carrara taking me out for a hilly 10-11 mile recovery run on Sunday.  The warm up run wasn't feeling too bad and after about 3 miles, we were running hard and fast.  First repeat went well, Mike and I ran just under 6 minute miles.  Same for repeat # 2.  By the third mile I had slowed up a bit and ran more like a 6:08 mile.  4th repeat, not good, down to a 6:15 and feeling beat up.  I was waiting to be chicked by Jess.  5th mile, about the same, maybe slightly faster but not feeling any better.  All in all, a good workout, painful but good.  Thanks Jess and Mike for kicking my butt.

So now, three weeks to go.  I have three more short races on the agenda and more speed work to do.  Hopefully this will make a difference and help my speed which has been lacking.  For the Team!  Special thanks to Headsweats for sponsoring us with awesome hats so we can all look like Norm.

Jack with the new Headsweats Midcap.

I almost forgot.  The Video Of the Month has to be this guy surfing the biggest wave ever, a 90 footer!!  What a rush and what fun it would be to ride this.  Here's the link:  Big Wave Ride

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vermont 50 Race Report 2011

I've been a little late on reports lately so some of the details may not be fresh in my mind.  It's been a busy month with running, work and life.  So here goes.

Sunday September 25, 2011

This is always a home town favorite.  Good course, excellent volunteers and race director Mike Silverman, who understands and listens to the runners.  Thanks Mike!

I showed up around noon the day before to set up a booth for the Green Mountain Athletic Association.  We are the states largest organized running group with over 600 active members.  This was our first year at the event and somehow I volunteered to host the booth.  I wasn't sure if I would be running the race, but of course since I was there I had to.  I had quite a few visitors at the booth and had some goodies to give away in a drawing thanks to the generosity of SkiRack, Julbo, Catamount Family Outdoor Center and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.  It was a sunny, warm and humid day with the occasional burst of rain just to add to the already muddy course from the rains all week.

Jack and George

After a great pasta dinner it was back to the ultimate camper race rig in the upper parking lot, (my F150 with cap set up with a queen platform bed.  Mike Wiegand and I were car camping.  And what a night.  We hung out for the pre-race ritual, Buds and Tequila under the stars before settling in for the night.  Mike had his own Audi "camper", which seemed to work well too.  The race start was at 6:20am so it would be an early to rise morning.  5:00 am, still dark but already fairly warm.  This could be a warm day.  After a little breakfast it was a quick walk to the start area.  There's a huge tent set up with snacks and refreshments as we wait for the bikers to get going.  With so many bikers, there was some issue and the race time for the runners was pushed back some, but finally at the crack of dawn, we were off and running.

Right from the start, I knew it was going to be a warm day so the electrolyte replacements were going to be key.  Self supporting, I had a drop bag at mile 30 with replacement electrolyte pills, GU gels and GU Brew which has some electrolytes as well as calories making it the perfect drink for the 50.  I also knew the drink they offered at the aid station was not my favorite so I would have to get by with mostly water after I ran out of my initial bottle of GU Brew.  That would be a gamble with warm temps and high humidity.  For shoes I wore the Mizuno Ascend's, a great all around trail shoe.  Some runners were wearing road shoes but with the mud on course, I knew a trail shoe would be the way to go.  This was probably the largest field they ever had for the 50 mile and as usual we were off at a fast pace.  With some of the early season flooding, there were some course changes.  Instead of a fast 3-4 miles along the river, after about 1/2 mile we were climbing steep hills which I really didn't mind.  After running with the front pack for a bit I backed off and settled into a groove and just did my own thing.  Brian Rusiecki was up front along with a couple of other young bucks.  I was running along with Glen Redpath, Steve Trull and a couple other guys.  Glen and I seem to run together quite a bit at these races and usually go back and forth throughout the day.  Glen had some good morning energy and seemed to take off ahead and I wouldn't see him again for some time.  Overall the course was in great shape.  The first half of the course has a lot of dirt roads with some single track mixed in.  The single track had some good muddy sections which seemed to cause more havoc for the bikers as we passed by many.  The day was warming and I kept on a regular schedule of taking the electrolyte supplements.  And I tried to eat a GU gel at least every hour for a little burst of energy.  Somewhere about halfway I was catching up to some of the other 50 mile runners who were starting to slow up.  Usually in these races, I just keep going and sometimes get stronger in the later phases of the race and today would be no exception.  I like the second half of the VT 50 way better as there is so much more fun single track.  Yes it was muddy but also lots of fun cruising through the woods.  I grabbed my drop bag at the mile 30 aid station, replenished my electrolytes, GU gels and GU Brew and quickly headed out.  I heard Aliza was not too far back and was waiting for her to catch up to me as she has been having a great year on the trails but never saw her.  Soon I saw a red hat in the distance.  Sure enough it was my Canadian friend, Glen Redpath.  Glen was slowing down just enough for me to catch up.  We ran together a bit and then I took off feeling good.  Glen was not too far off and at the next aid station he caught up to me.  We also met up with Chad Denning who was supposed to be pacing Aliza but heard there was a change of plans.  So Chad was coming out to pace with myself and Glen for the last 10 miles.  In the wide open fields it was getting really warm and I could see Glen fading a bit so I took off again.  Chad stayed back to run with Glen.  I was feeling good but was also thinking about food and was ready to end this race.  Finally I approached the last aid station, mile 47 or so.  I got some food in me and there was Glen again, right behind me.  So off I went again.  At many of these races Glen and I are only minutes apart, sometimes he is ahead of me, sometimes I'm ahead of him.  I think in the end we help motivate each other to keep going.  This last section was all uphill until the final mile.  I remember coming out of the woods into a field and it felt like a sauna, things were really starting to heat up.  So far so good with keeping on top of the electrolytes.  In more races than not, I develop leg cramps and have to make adjustments and back off for a while and/or limp in cramping.  But today I had it under control.  Finally, it was the final mile, a downhill finish.  To my surprise they had made some changes and added more single track variation which was fine.  And then finally to the finish.  Not my best but not my worst.  Coming from a hundred miler 4 weeks prior I wasn't sure how I would do but overall I was pleased.  In the end it was my year to stay ahead of Glen, I think by 2 minutes.  I was top master and won my age group and was 5th overall with a time of 7:15:20.  Youngin Mike Dixon was the overall winner with a blistering time of 6:17:33, I believe a new course record.
Another finish at the VT 50

So another Vermont 50 in the books.  Thanks to Mike Silverman, RD, Mizuno for their great trail shoes and gear and to GU Energy for nourishment!