Friday, January 22, 2016


End of 2015 and New Adventures for 2016


 After Running Fat Dog in August, I had nothing on the schedule (except finishing house projects) but had to work some races for Pearl Izumi so was able to jump in at the last minute.  Early September was the Jay Peak Trail Running Festival and late September was the VT50.  Both were quite improved over the past year and were a lot of fun.

The Jay Peak Trail Festival is a weekend long event with Saturday being the shorter 5k races and the kid’s race.  You can run one or two or 3 of the 5k races with varying abilities.  And these are not flat by any means.  You’re at Jay Peak Ski Area so they are up and down the mountain.  Even the beginner 5k is not what I would call an easy beginner trail race but still, they are all fun as long as you understand “mountain” races.  The kid’s race varies in length depending on age and the kids have to get stickers at the aid stations.  The more stickers the better and are rewarded at the finish with more prizes.  I had to work all day so no time to run these this year.  But it was a beautiful day and a great turnout.

Jack finishing the 25k.
Sunday was the big event featuring a 25k and 50k, the 50k being 2 laps.  Again it’s a “mountain” race so lots of ups and downs.  I decided I could squeeze in the 25k race on Sunday and be back before most of the runners to man my event tent.  My wife Kristin and Aliza drove down Sunday morning to run and just managed to get there in time as they got lost on the ride and had to scramble to get ready.

Kristin being challenged at the finish,
she beat him out!!

Chris Bernier the RD has made some changes to the course which I thought were great and added more equipped aid stations based on some feedback from the previous year.  No need to go blasting out at the start on this one as after the first mile or so as it was straight up the mountain and then up the Long Trail then down the Long Trail, then back up and down the ski trails and so forth.  I was running with Aliza Lapierre from the start and we hooked up with Ludo Bruyere and Ryan Kerrigan along the way.  They were all running the 50k.  Some of the steeps were so steep on the down hills that you slid as you were trying to run.  But it was fun!  I knew I was only doing the shorter course so I blasted down some of these downhills giggling to myself leaving the 50k runners behind as I knew I didn’t have to save my quads for lap 2.  The last major climb before the last downhill went on and on almost to the summit again but the reward was an even longer, steeper downhill to the finish.  I never really knew what place I was in and didn’t see any one until I finished but managed coming in third place overall behind some young kids.  It was nice only doing the 25k too as the temps started to heat up later on and there were a number of casualties and DNF’s in the 50k.  Aliza took top honors overall with Ludo coming in third.  Here are the final results:  RESULTS

A few weeks later was the VT50 Mile Run and Ride at Ascutney Mtn.  Saturday was the Expo and bib pickup with the race on Sunday so I was busy working all day at my event tent for Pearl on Saturday.  I didn’t know if I was running or not until Saturday afternoon when I finally got a bib to run.  Kristin came down later on Saturday to join me as she was registered for the 50 mile run.
Pre-VT50 mile with Mike, Kristy, Jack, Joe and Kristin

After a nice crisp night of car camping, race day turned out to be perfect for a run or ride.  My only goal was to not cramp up during the race.  The previous year I was rolling on the ground numerous times in pain from heat cramps and the same thing happened in August at Fat Dog.  This time I made sure to go out slower and just to hold back enough to keep the intensity lower.  Any time I felt I was heating up I would back it down.  And that seemed to work.  I was just out having fun, enjoying the run and not really racing it.  I made sure to eat and hydrate.  And I was able to swallow some electrolyte pills, some days I just gag on those and start puking but this day was good.  I had fun meeting some unfamiliar runners like Bernie from Canada and spent some time running with Kelsey, the women’s winner of the 50 mile.  In the end I finished in just over 8 hours and won my age group.  
Jack getting his maple syrup.

Kristin had an awesome race too finishing her best ever VT50 even sprinting to the finish.  RD Mike Silverman did a great job with the race this year.  Having enough food for 1300+ athletes coming in all day long is a challenge and this year he got it right with plenty of food for all, Thanks Mike!  Here are the results:  RESULTS

Shari, Jen and Kristin post race refueling.

One other quick race to mention; the Canine Crossing 5k at Catamount Family Outdoor Center held this year on Halloween and another perfect day.  Kristin was out of town pacing a friend at Javelina in Arizona so I was home alone with the dogs.  I decided I would try to run with both Charlotte and Pippa and devised a harness to attach both around my waist.  Since this was all new, it would be an experience for sure.  And being Halloween I thought it proper to “dress” up the girls.  And with Kristin gone, I got out the Halloween makeup kit:)  Charlotte became Petey from the Little Rascals and Pippa became a skunk.  

Pre-race excitement
When we got there the girls were wild, jumping and barking, completely excited.  Aliza and Serena held back the girls so I could register them, then it was socializing with the other dogs.  This was a real challenge and Pippa would go one way and Charlotte the other with me in the middle of the harness.  I finally decided we had to go run and get a feel for the harness and calm down.  And it worked, they were working together while running and as long as we had some direction, they were good.

Charlotte and Pippa pulling me along
At the start of the race I got them near the start line so as not to be distracted too much with other dogs and off we went flying from the start.  I tried to hold back for a while to get them used to it and me used to being pulled by 2 dogs but finally I let them take over.  Wow, I couldn’t keep up with them on the downhills and used them to pull me up the uphills.  Not before long we were running in second place which was good.  As long as they could see someone ahead, that would be their carrot to chase.  They were awesome, running like a team of sled dogs until Pippa saw a person at an aid station which freaked her out and needed to be redirected back on course.  Back running again in unison and then a fuzzy squirrel goes running by.  I thought I was done as they both bolted towards the woods in chase mode.  It took every bit of strength to get them back and then it happened again chasing another squirrel.  Finally back on track and near the finish Charlotte saw a young boy slowly running along.  She loves kids and decided she was done running with me and did the straight arm stop waiting for the boy to catch up.  Meanwhile Pippa was trying to run forward with me in the middle.  So we had to wait for the boy to catch up, then Charlotte would go.  Slowly I got her back up to speed and into the finish a quarter mile away.  In the end we took second place overall running around an 18:30, not a bad day.

So that was the end of 2015.  Not totally focused on running but still managed 3700+ miles.  I'm ok with that.  No injuries and 9 1/2 years of running without a day off.  Got in almost 1500 miles on the old Honda motorcycle and only fell over once.  All good!

Last ride of the season on Christmas Eve.


So here it is, the 2016 season ahead and Kristin and I were in three different lotteries to see where we might be going for 2016.  First lottery, WS 100 with Kristin, a no go.  Next up is Hardrock for me, 10th on the wait list, what the heck. And 7 years trying to get in. That’s just a teaser.  Last year # 9 made it into the race the week before.  How can you even train for that, not!!  Then we both were in for the UTMB/CCC lottery, Kristin for UTMB and me for CCC as I hadn’t run enough of their “qualified races” for enough points for UTMB even though I ran UTMB in 2011 and then Tor de Geants in 2013 and Fat Dog in 2015.  Crazy rules these days.  Anyway, neither of us got in…..again.  I was totally discouraged with all this lottery stuff, meanwhile Kristin was busy searching for a new adventure for us for 2016.  I mentioned some other “lottery pick” races in the US but she was beyond that and wanted something new and exciting.  So instead we are heading to Spain for the Uhunmilak 100+ miler :) .

Basque Country Spain, some technical terrain on course.

It’s rated harder than UTMB and Hardrock with 36000 feet of climbing and 36000 feet of descending with 48 hours to finish.  I wasn’t totally sold on it until I looked on a map and saw we fly in to Bilbao which is right near the ocean and there’s incredible surf there!!!  I found all kinds of videos on the surf and it really is incredible.

Incredible breaks !!

Being an old surf bum from the 70’s with my surfboard still hanging in the garage, I’m suddenly all excited about going to Spain.  And get this; the race entry fee with insurance is only 140 Euros!!  Not the outrageous fees for 100 milers in the states.  So we have to pay a bit extra for air fare but that’s ok.  Now we have a new race in a country neither of us has been to that looks awesome!

Somewhere on the race course.

Finding some more local races to work up to Uhunmilak:  Kristin is running the Boston Marathon and I’ll be running the Don’t Run Boston the day before so I can support her during the marathon. Last time we did that was in 2013, not a good year as I got totally lost at DRB and ran for 12 hours lost until sunset and joined Kristin the next day running with her from mile 13 until 1/2 mile from the finish before we were stopped suddenly because of the bombing.  So we’re hoping for a much better Boston experience this year!!  And we’ll see what else we can find for races.

The other good news is that after 2 years of non-stop working on our new house I’ve got to a point where I can finally relax a bit and focus more on other stuff, like running again :)

So that’s about it, all is looking good again for 2016!

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha