Monday, December 14, 2009

USATF National Club XC 10K Championships

Lexington, Kentucky 10K XC National Championships

December 12, 2009

First of all, where is Kentucky? Never been there, never thought I would be going there, had no reason to go until "The Team" coerced me into going. The Team was the same "Team" of GMAA runners who had me going to a 5K out and back road race in October where I nearly puked at the finish. Yes this would be on grass instead of pavement and would be twice the distance from before and have some hills. I figured I would do it for "The Team" and booked my flight to Lexington. The Team consisted of Norm Larson, Tony Bates, Jim Miller, Kevin McMahon and myself. And for this race we added Keith Woodward, Bud White and Ted McKnight.

The big issue in training for the race was to properly train in spikes on golf course like terrain. We were informed that the course would consist of rolling hills on grass. What better way to prepare than to run on a golf course. But we don't all have access to a golf course. On the advise of Kevin & Norm I started to do weekly speed work but on the gravel and wood chip trails in the Park behind my house with the spikes, my Mizuno Kaza spikes. 4 minutes hard, 4 minutes easy and so forth with many variations. And of course tempo runs too. I think these are Norm's favorite. Any way, for the month before the race, I tried to fit this all in with a crazy work schedule that had me up at 2:00 am most mornings and some nights working until 10:00 pm. If anything, I looked at this trip as a chance to catch up on some sleep.
Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm was my flight out from Burlington. I ate my pasta dinner in the airport before loading on the plane. No sooner did I get on the plane, that I passed out immediately and awoke as we were up in the sky flying to Chicago. With a quick transfer, I was off to Lexington arriving sometime after 9:30 pm and at the hotel shortly after 10:00 pm. Norm had the room all ready and had picked up the race bibs earlier in the evening. After a little snack and pre-race briefing, I was sound asleep until our morning wake up run at 8:00 am. Nice thing about this race was that we weren't racing until 11:30 am! I had an incredible sleep. Hadn't slept that good in months. I was woken up by a phone call from Bud who was wondering about our morning run. I looked over to Norm and he was already gone. I thought I overslept but Norm was out getting some snacks and arrived with bagels and juice. Nice! Shortly after that, we were down in the lobby and out the door for a morning run in Lexington. 22 degrees and mostly clear, not bad at all. After a 10 minute or so run, we were back at the hotel. More food and some rest and we were off to the races, only a 5 mile drive to Masterson Station Park. It looked just like a golf course, only it was a horse park with nicely groomed rolling grass terrain. We all took some time to check out the course and our spikes. Norm was hopeful that we could finish in the top 5 and if all went well, maybe the top 3. That seemed reasonable as this was the Nationals and more experienced teams from all over the country were here.
For the start, we had our block to start in, on the lower side of the field with a little more of an uphill climb. After some pre-race warm up, we were off and running. Right from the start, Norm was in the front for our team. Tony was next with some goofy green hat that you couldn't miss. I was a short distance back from Tony with the rest of the team behind. The course consisted of 3 full loops with a finish at the stadium. The pace seemed much more comfortable than at the 5K road race in October and a much softer surface which was more to my liking. I much prefer to run on grass and dirt than pavement. The race seemed to thin out from the mass start and we all got into certain groups. I was trying to watch the competition and at the same time was looking for Tony's goofy hat to make sure I was keeping pace. I felt pretty good and the sleep I had certainly helped. The spikes were digging into the soft spots and felt good too. The first 2 laps seemed uneventful and I was keeping a steady slightly under 6 minute pace. On the third lap, Jim Miller came by. Jim had been doing nothing but water training for the past month and I guess it worked. He was looking strong as he went by. Nice work Jim. I could see him picking off runners as he edged his way forward. And with Kasie on the sidelines yelling, I had to pick up the pace too. On one of the uphills I passed by David Oliver running for Greater Lowell, who has always finished ahead of me. Could I stay ahead? Almost to the finish, Kasie was yelling again to sprint. And with about 100 yards to go I decided to kick it in as I saw another runner ahead with a "50" on his back. (That meant he was running on a 50's team). I passed him and ended up finishing one second ahead, good enough to finish in 19Th place for our team. Kevin was just behind me and finished the same time as another 50 year old but with a photo finish, put him ahead. We all felt good about our race and with Norm leading our team coming in just under 35 minutes, incredible! Tony, Jim, myself and Kevin all came in within a minute of one another. And Keith, Bud & Ted, following along.
In the end, we all were surprised when we found out we won! We beat the second place team by one place. This was a team who won the last 3 years in a row and were the heavy favorites. After the race we all watched the women's open race to cheer on Kasie Enman and then I added some more miles for the day and explored the rest of Masterson Station Park and then ran back to the hotel to get ready for the post race party.
We have an incredible bunch of senior runners who help push each other to run the way we do and have fun while doing it. I was proud to be part of this team and thankful that I was invited to participate.
MY GEAR: The Mizuno Kaza spikes were awesome! When I needed the traction on those slippery sections, I just dug in my toes and they responsed as they should. It was warm enough to wear the Mizuno shorts too. For the run before and after and the run back to the hotel, the Mizuno Alchemy's worked great as usual. Thanks Colin!
Maybe next up, I could get these guys to do some team Ultra event. Wouldn't that be fun!
"2009 National 10K XC Club Champions"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stone Cat Ale 50 miler

It was nice to return to run with the GAC crew this year at the Stone Cate Ale 50. I missed it last year but had been there for the previous 3 years. I was looking forward to this years race as it looked like a reunion of the top ultra runners in New England with the likes of Leigh Schmitt, Todd Walker, Kevin Sullivan, David Herr, Brian Rusiecki, Joe Carrara and Aliza Lapierre. My training leading up to the race had gone well, racking up lots of miles as usual, mostly on trails. But the big change this year in the week leading up to the race was sleep, or should I say lack of sleep. The combination of personal changes and working a new part time job which has me up at 4:00 AM led to a week getting anywhere from 1 to 4 hours of sleep a night. Not my usual 7 hours to replenish the body & brain. A little burned out by Friday but thankfully I got a ride down with Joe Carrara & his wife Kathleen and a new young buck from Middlebury College, Alex Russo. I passed out soon after I got in the car. On the way down we stopped at Lui Lui in NH and carbed up on some great pasta and a nice cold beer. Back in the car and back to sleep for the trip to Danvers, Mass. Alex and I roomed together for the night, getting our race gear ready for the early morning wake up.
Race Morning:
4:15 AM wake up. Breakfast was on! Hot Waffles! One of my favorite pre-race meals. A short drive afterwards led us to the race start in Ipswich. A quick registration process, race meeting and meeting with old friends and we headed outside. A cool morning in the upper 20"s. Shorts or tights? Shorts was my call which worked out just fine. Soon the sun was up enough to see and the start of the 2009 Stone Cat 50. Feeling sluggish as usual in the morning, I tried a short warm up run to get the blood flowing and then we started. Right off the line Ben Nephew took off. He was only running the marathon distance so he went out at a fast pace along with Greg Hammett who was also running the marathon. There was a group of six of us running together, chatting along as we pulled slightly ahead of the other runners. We were led by some unknown runner who set the pace, but it seemed comfortable. We had Leigh, Kevin, Todd, Brian and myself. David Herr was just back a bit, trying to be smart and conserve a little for later as the last three runnings of this race I've had with him, he lost it on the last lap. This was lap one of four to make up the 50 miles. Soon in lap one I saw that Todd has fallen back but at the same time noticed that David Herr had caught up. It was still the unknown runner leading followed by Leigh, Brian, Kevin, David & myself. First lap was uneventful, we were going along at a good pace but not killing it. We were probably doing a 7:30 to 8:00 pace for much of it. I usually pride myself in the fact that I can pee and run at the same time, usually saving it for an uphill climb where the pace slows down but I was amazed to see that Leigh had perfected it. He could pee while we were running full speed and without losing a second. Wow, that's how he wins all those 50 milers! I tried it later on but had to slow down a bit. Need to practice. Lap one was done with the unknown runner coming in first with the four of us following. I did a quick fluid exchange which was all set to go and off for lap 2. It was the four of us again but the unknown runner was starting to fall off. We headed out at roughly the same pace until Kevin, who "was not racing" today decided to pick up the pace about halfway through lap 2. He took off and we all followed. After a while, the lack of sleep was catching up. I knew if I continued to run Kevin's race, I would be done soon. I backed off and decided to run my own race. Kevin, Leigh, Brian & David continued on ahead. I was really starting to feel tired and a bit dizzy and then I went down, hard! That hurt. Up and onward. A little while later, down again. This time on my face, knee and thumb. That really hurt! Not having fun. I was ready to give up but kept on going, sort of like in a trance or zone. Finally lap 2 was done and it was slightly faster than lap one and I was only a few minutes behind the other 4. A quick refuel and out I went for lap 3. Kevin had continued on his fast pace for lap 3 but as I headed out, I saw Kevin limping back in. Calf issues and done. Then there were only 3 ahead, Leigh, Brian & David. Lap three felt better although I was in the full trance/zone just plodding along by myself. It was great to see the aid stations on route for a quick drink and a bite to eat. Still I went down 2 more times, hard. Never have I fallen this much. Lap 3 ended and I was about 10 minutes slower than the previous 2 laps. As I was heading in I saw Brian, Leigh & David still moving along, probably about 10 minutes ahead of me. They all looked strong. Lap 4, I was in the zone and dizzy, thinking I could just walk and still finish without a DNF. Then I figured if I could just maintain and get in under 2 hours, I would still be able to do a sub 7 hour finish. I could live with that for such a tough day. I also kept thinking about the keg of Stone Cat Ale at the finish. The sooner I finish, the sooner I can have a beer and then sleep! Next thing I knew, I was down again, hard. 5th fall today, not good. Pick up the feet. I felt like I was slowing down incredibly and kept looking at my watch to see how much time I was losing. Could I even get in under 2 hours, I was starting to doubt it and wanted to walk. But no, keep going. After going by the old car in the woods where the guy in the Stone Cat outfit usually honked the horn, I knew the end was near. Coming around the last hill about a mile from the finish I saw someone in an orange shirt. He looked familiar. It was David. He had lost steam on lap 4, worse than me. At that point I was actually feeling better knowing a slight downhill was all that was left. I passed David and picked it up a notch, or it felt like that anyway. Finally the finish with the last lap under two hours and with my total time of 6:51, coming in third overall and first master with a new 50 mile PR for me. Hmmm, what if I were rested?
Post Race:
Beer time! I don't why but I was being served beers as I stood around after finishing. Thanks Jason and someone else who brought me beers. Instead of sleeping, I was hungry so had a couple of burgers off the grill and other snacks. David Herr ended up coming in just behind me, less than a minute. Brian ended up winning the race in 6:27 (course record) and Leigh was second in 6:30. Soon after David was my buddy and VT 100 pacer, Joe Carrara in 7:18. Joe does incredibly well for not training enough, or so he says. And a minute after that was Aliza Lapierre, first woman with a new course record. We also had some of our local VT trail runners down for this even. Alex Russo, the youngen (20 years old) from Middlebury finished his first 50 miler ever in 8:02. Soon after that was Sue Dodge in her first 50 at 8:04 for third place in the womens division and first women's master with blood streaming down her shin. Formerly a road runner, Sue has crossed the line into trail running. Then was Rowly Brucken, Bob Ayers Jr. & Todd Archambault. Todd was also running the next day at Franklin Park for the NE XC Championships. Good luck Todd! One the way home Alex and I got a ride back from Bob Ayers, Jr. I knew with the lack of sleep I would be in no position to drive home myself. Thanks Bob! Another Stone Cat come and gone. It was great to see old friends and chat. And the GAC crew puts on a great low key, well organized event. Thanks again.
The Gear:
I wore the Mizuno Wave Cabraken trail shoes. Great shoe! The rest of the gear, Mizuno shorts & Mizuno shirts (layered in the morning and took off the long sleeve as the day warmed up). Excellent techy wear. Thanks Colin for all your support.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

End of August 2009 Report

Another full month beginning with rain, finally some hot and humid summer weather and now cooler temps. More of a recovery month for me as feeling a little burned out from the 100 last month and many miles and races leading up to that. No running plan to follow but I seemed to still crank out the miles with over 430 for the month. I guess not much of a recovery but raced only in the local Tuesday night 5 k trail races at Catamount and the GMAA 5K XC Scholarship run held at Redrocks Park. Came in first in my age group with a time of 17:56. Not really being a short distance runner, I was pleased. And my new secret weapon for the xc races, the Mizuno Kaza XC shoe with SPIKES. Wow! They are fun. Thanks Colin! First day I had them I ran 10 miles of trails to break them in for the Scholarship run. They were different than my usual Mizuno Trail shoe but so light and you can feel most everything, which I kind of like now. And they look good too, bright yellow. It just makes you feel fast.

During August I also had some nice longer training runs, one of my favorite being the round the mountain loop which starts at Stevensville Rd. in Underhill and follows the Long Trail to the Trout Club, then along the Catamount Trail to Trapps to the Haule Rd and over to the Mansfield XC Center, then up the Toll Road to the Chin, VT's highest point, then heading back south on the LT and back to Stevensville Rd. by the Notch Brook Trail. Some good runnable terrain and some great hills and a little bit of scrambling along some rocky sections with ladders. Overall a fun run, especially along the rocky ridge of Mansfield. 

BIG Moose prints!

Kept up with the Catamount Wed. night bike races for my crosstraining. Fun times too but I seem to crash too often. Maybe it's because I've been using a vintage late 80's Diamond Back Tapanga. Overall it works great even with the Bio Pace technology but it has no suspension so I tend to bounce a bit. I had some good crashes and head-ons into trees but the last race I did the Superman over the handlebars, landing on my side HARD. Weeks later, I can still feel it. The rider behind me said I looked like a rag doll when I hit and the rider in front heard the crash but was afraid to look back at the carnage. Still I got up and continued to ride and finished 2 more laps. If I didn't I think I would have hurt more.

Some of the other crosstraining I did was at Vermont Skydiving, for mental preparation and to relax. I also do the Superman there too as I exit the plane but not for landing purposes.
That's it for August. Til next month.

Monday, July 20, 2009

VT 100 Endurance Race-July 2009

Pilla Wins Vermont 100 at Age 51

As posted in Ultrarunning Online

South Woodstock, Vermont, July 19. Jack Pilla of Charlotte, Vermont won the Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run today at age 51, which is believed to be the oldest winner of a major 100-mile run ever. Pilla finished well clear of a pair of 28-year-olds for the win.

Stephanie Case of New York City was the women's winner, besting Jill Perry and Serena Wilcox for the win. The race was held under ideal weather conditions, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching only the low 70s. Heavy rains on Friday did create several sections that were more than a little muddy. Of the 249 starters, 176 finished within the 30-hour time limit.

Men 1. Jack Pilla, 51, Charlotte, VT, 16:36:212. Jason Lantz, 28, Lancaster, PA, 17:19:443. Jim Sweeney, 28, Albany, NY, 17:55:564. Daniel Larson, 33, Cambridge, MA, 18:15:435. Brian Schmidt, 41, Leesburg, VA, 18:16:22

Women1. Stephanie Case, 27, New York, NY, 18:38:422. Jill Perry, 39, Manlius, NY, 19:30:383. Serena Wilcox, 30, Cambridge, VT, 19:50:524. Annette Bednosky, 43, Jefferson, NC, 21:11:185. Lori Anne Lebel, 36, Danvers, MA, 22:28:32

Jack's Race Report
It started out as it usually does, warm and humid with threatening skies for the wake up call at 3:00 AM which was an improvement from the rain overnight. Not a bad sleep either although the Larson family was a bit active and the car alarm at midnight woke me up. At the 4:00 AM start I was looking for some familiar faces to run with. No Andy, Glen, Todd, Kevin or Joe to follow, so how to pace myself? I found Brian Rusiecki and Chad Denning and recognized a few others. Off we went. There was a rather large group initially moving along at a good clip. I knew I wanted to get to Taftsville in about 2 hours and Pretty House in 3 hours to stay on track with the last two years but how to pace? Soon I found myself in front of the group, leading the way as we headed into the woods. Not what I was hoping but I was feeling comfortable in my pace and figured why not keep going. As we went along I could see the group thinning. By the time we got to Taftsville, I could see we were just over two hours, close to what I was hoping so I figured my pace was good. With me was Jason Lantz and right behind was Chad Denning and Wynn Davis. Somewhere Brian has dropped.

As we came into Pretty House we were just under the 3 hour mark so I knew we were on pace for a decent race, if there were no major issues. I also knew the easy part of the course was over and from here on in, we'd be getting into more hills. On we went at a good pace but walking some of the bigger hills. As we were slowly going up the big hill after the Lincoln B aid station, another youngster came cruizing by, running up the hill. This was a big hill and I usually look forward to it as I can rest going up for a change of pace. In years past I've been known to slowly run backwards up this hill. This young guy, not only did he leave us in the dust, and I expected to see him near the top but I think he ran this whole hill like it was nothing. WOW! We were all rather amazed. Not far behind was Brian who had caught up to us and was passing too. I figured I had better pic up the pace too so I followed along and so did Jason. We finally figured out who this young fast guy was, Jim Sweeney from Albany. Yes, I recognized the name. Young fast guy, but his first 100, could he go the distance? Only time would tell. I've learned over the years to just run my race, and if it 's my day, then so be it. Brian, Jason and myself ran along to Camp 10 Bear, weigh in time. No issues for me this year, only lost 4 pounds or so. I did a quick sock check as I thought I had blown out a toe, but no, so I tightened up the shoes a bit and off we went. Somewhere along the way to Tracer Brook or so we lost Brian again. Jason and I were cruizing along chatting and helping each other out at aid stations. No signs of anyone else and Jim was 4-5 minutes ahead. We had the long slog up to Margaritaville in the heat of the day with the sun coming in and out. It was hot with the sun. Jason was slowing a bit and after a quick refueling I was gone with Jason behind. Eventually he caught up and were were running together again. At the next aid station I was told Jim was about 4 minutes ahead. Hmm, slowing? We were told we had 5 miles of downhill to Camp 10 Bear, but why was the hilling still going up? Jason and I moved along but eventually I left Jason. The next few miles was a fun downhill jeep trail. As I was about halfway down I noticed someone up ahead. I was amazed to see Jim. When I caught up to him I asked him if he was ok. He said he trained hard for the uphills but didn't for the downhills. A big mistake for many who think VT is easy. His downhill quads were toast. So off I went, in the lead again.

I made it into Camp 10 Bear for the weigh in again. Down 7 pounds, not unusual for me but of a little concern to the medical staff. Dr. R came by, had a look at me, and gave me the go ahead. A grabbed my pacer Joe Carrara, (4th year as my pacer), got some supplies and off we went. Just as we were leaving Jason came in. Joe and I quickly left and prepared for the next few miles of uphill slogging. Any time I walked up a hill, Joe would say, "You ran this last year". After a few miles or so, Joe saw someone coming up from behind. It was Jason. He had a good climb out of Camp 10 Bear and didn't have a pacer. So the three of us were off and running. We had no idea where any one else was. That's the problem of being in the lead group. Over the hills and through the woods, viewing some inxcredible real estate, running and walking some as Joe lead us around. At one point I had to pull off the trail and announced I just have to puke. I was a bit nausious from swallowing electrolyte pills. Mostly a mind thing. As soon as I would put take a pill out and put it near my mouth, dry heaves would start. This time I had it in my mouth but it was out in a second with some other contents. I'll wait till later and try again. Luckily the day was getting on and it would be cooling off, hopefully. The three of us kept on going at a good pace although at one point my pacer, Joe, had to visit the woods as a result of too much Red Bull. It was hot, sunny and flat and as soon as Joe was out of site, I stopped running to take a break and so did Jason. Joe would never let me do this so I thought I would take advantage of the situation just for a brief moment, also knowing a big hill up to Bill's was coming shortly. Just before Joe came out of the woods, we started runnng again. The long climb up to Bill's was still long and hot but getting to Bill's is always a good feeling. Between mile 70 and Bill's (mile 88) I always seem to take easy, trying to keep some in reserve for the last blast and big hills to come.

At Bill's, did another weigh in, not bad, only down 4 or 5 pounds. Did a quick sock change as I did blow out my socks this time on some of the downhills, refueled and Joe and I were gone. Jason was still at Bill's getting himself together. Coming out of Bill's is one of my favorite parts. Some great downhill stretches, which if you hadn't trained for could destroy your quads but I was ready. This is why I train, running up and down the Toll Road at Stowe. We cruized in high gear. After the downhill comes some big uphill section. Again Joe was on me, "You ran up this last year!" We were steadily going along on the ups and flying on the downs not knowing if anyone else was around. Coming in to Polly's we grapped headlamps just in case but if all went well wouldn't have to use them. Joe was becoming very chatty at Polly's, wasn't yelling at me to get going so I had to take charge and push Joe out. Only 4 1/2 miles to go and I didn't want to lose it after all this time.

The last 2 1/2 miles is a fun section through the woods, but very muddy this year. We were even runnning up hills, until I hit a huge mucky section, slid and both legs went into cramp mode. Joe looked back and saw me holding on to a tree. I assured him no problem, stiffed legged myself back on the trail and cautiously continued after downing a couple of electrolyte pills. Slowly I worked myself back up to speed. As we were almost to the finish, a group of kids joined us on the trail all excited. They ran with us to the finish, yelling and cheering which was a lot of fun. And there it was, the finish line, what a good feeling, done! A few accomplishments from the race, First Vermonter to ever win this race, new age group record and believed to be the oldest winner of a major 100 miler, ever. It's not bad being a senior!

Special thanks to my pacer and good friend, Joe Carrara who knows how to keep me going. And to Mizuno for the awesome gear including the newest trail shoe for this race, the Wave Cabraken, a real winner. Thanks Colin! And to Amino Vital for fueling me along the way with the Endurance Formula.

Vermont 100 Results:

Ultrarunning Online:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finger Lakes 50's

Finger Lakes Fifties as reported by 2009 Western New York Ultra News:

The weather was a big part of the story this year... the days before race were unusually wet, making the course about as muddy as it ever gets. Race day was cloudy and cool with a strong breeze from the West... about as good as it ever gets for racing on the Fourth of July in Central New York. Indicative of the difficult course conditions, in the 50K there were only 3 runners under 5 hours versus 9 runners last year. In the 50 mile there were only 2 runners under 9 hours versus 8 runners last year.

50K - Jack Pilla (4:16:22) / Carrie Lombardo (6:01:03)

Despite the difficult course conditions, there was no home course advantage. Visitors dominated the 50K, taking the top six overall and top two women's places. Jack Pilla (age 51, from Charlotte, VT) had a dominate win. Joe Carrara (also Charlotte, VT) finished second and first in Masters in 4:40:26. Marc Buckwalter (Lititz, PA) was the only other runner to break 5 hours, finishing third and first in the Open category in 4:53:43. Carrie Lombardo (Middletown, CT) was the top woman and winner of the Open category, finishing in 6:01:03. Stephanie Wilson (Oakhill, VA) finished a very close second, wining the Masters category in 6:05:40. Theresa Palmieri (Buffalo) won the Veterans category with a 6:33:17 finish. Theresa was the only category winner from New York.

As reported by Jack:

Yes, it was muddy. It doesn't get much muddier than this or for as long. It made for slower going and each lap around caused the trail to deteriorate further. Oh well, this is trail running. A little more friction, more slip and slide. Luckily for me no falls and I didn't get lost and there were no bugs!

At the start of the race I went out with Joe and Yassine down the road. By the time we hit the trail, it was Yassine and myself. We had a great first loop around in and out of the mud. In the first cow meadow after the Blueberry Patch area we came across our first obstacles, cows and/or bulls and a lot of them. They were starting to get active as we were coming across, with some running across the trail. But dead ahead were two huge butt ends directly on the trail. Yassine and I started yelling and making a lot of noise. Slowly they moved aside watching as we went by and we carefully kept an eye on the rest of the herd moving about. Soon we were back in the trees and out the gate. Don't forget to close the gate, that's the rule. On we went. The rest of the first lap was just more mud and muck with Yassine and myself chatting about. Soon, the first lap was done. One more to go as I was only doing the 50K this year. Yassine was planning on doing the 50 miler which meant one additional lap for him plus another short lap. Going through the start finish, we quickly grabbed any needed supplies and were out of there, on the trail again. Yassine bolted out of there quickly while I followed behind trying to get a shot block out of the wrapper. Those things are tough to get out. After about a 1/2 mile, we crossed a road and started up and in the mud. At that point Yassine told me to go by and get going. Since he was doing the 50 miler I figured he was slowing down the pace a bit but with only one more lap for me, I took off. I was also trying to beat the course masters record of 4:13 but knew it wouldn't be an easy task with all the mud. And the first lap at 2:05 was already slower than my first lap last year so this was really going to be a challenge. The rest of the race, I basically ran alone with the exception of passing some of the 25K runners along the way. The mud was thicker and deeper than the first lap and the best way to go seemed to be directly through the middle. There was no going around the side to avoid it in most cases. I had another cow/bull scare just after the Blueberry Patch meadow where they were coming out of the trees this time. I just kept moving along, trying not to look. By the time I arrived at the Beach, I knew the course record was not obtainable this year as I had to make it back in 10 minutes to get the record. First lap took 12 minutes from the Beach and this lap was slower with the mud. Oh well, there's always next year. So onward I went, thinking about the food at the finish. The last stretch to the finish was only a slight uphill but the mud was so slick, it was hard to get any kind of traction but I just bulled through as best I could. Finally the finish, but also thinking in the back of my mind why not keep going, they give you the option. No, not this year.

So there it is, another 50K down with a first place finish and about 3 minutes off the masters course record. Shortly thereafter Joe Carrara came in for second place. Joe is also from Charlotte, VT and is my pacer at the VT 100 and has been for years where he kicks by butt to keep me moving after mile 70. The new Mizuno Wave Cabrakans were awesome. Thanks Colin! With the new tread design and rubber spikes, it certainly helped as much as possible in the mud and muck. Nutrition for the shorter 50K wasn't an issue either, especially with the cooler temps. I drank the Amino Vital Endurance Formula for the second lap with the added calories, ate some Gu's, a Shot Block and my electrolyte pills.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mt. Washington Weekend June 20-21, 2009


I had a wild two days in NH this past weekend and am still recovering today. Friday night I drove over and car camped at the base of Mt. Washington and did the Mt. Washington Road Race Sat. morning. I did it but just didn't have the energy to really push myself and didn't have anyone to chase after as in years past. For the two previous years I started and ran part of it with Kasie Enman until she took off, but still it was nice to have someone to pace with even only for the first mile. This year I was 4 minutes slower than last year. Not my best performance. I also had 80 miles in for the week before Saturday's race and I felt it. Can I say taper, not very easily. But, just a training run. After the race I felt fine and ran for almost 2 1/2 hours on rough mountain trails. Overall results, I came in 60th place and 5th in my age group. Last year I came in 63 overall and 4th in my age group but with a faster time. I broke out the Mizuno Elixur's which I save for shorter distance road races. A little bit lighter than my Alchemy's but with the same great fit.

Here's a link to the results:


Then Sunday morning I did the annual Presidential Traverse starting at 2:30 am from Rt. 2, car camped again. It rained most of the day and the wind blew on any of the east facing trails, with temps in the mid 40's. After 5 hours and 5 peaks, I finally reached the summit of Washington and was quite hypothermic. I never had it as bad. I was out of control shivering and spent over an hour in a sleeping bag wrapped with a heated blanket thanks to the hospitality of the folks manning the summit. It took that long for the shivering to stop. Wearing running shorts and a light long sleeve tech shirt was not enough for those conditions. I did wear a hat and gloves which I think is why I made it home at all. Lesson learned, once again. Then, after some food in the belly, refilling my hydration bag with Amino Vital Endurance Formula for the extra calories, putting on warm dry clothes and my rain shell, I continued on for 3 more hours in the rain and wind, although not as bad. I wiped out many times on slippery rocks throughout the adventure. The Mizuno Trail Ascends did what they could but water on rocks and roots is not a good combo while running. Even though I was very sore and tired I still needed more miles for the week so I got in another 5 when I returned home. Is that true dedication to training or am I just nuts?

Mt Washington is one of my favorite places to train as after an adventure up there, the races don't seem quite as hard.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Late Spring Report

Vermont City Marathon May 24, 2009

VCM is always a fun event. It's a well organize race and the local crowds couldn't be any better. Although non-local runners get tired of all the cheering I seem to get from friends all along the course. This year seemed like most, cool and overcast in the morning. But just as we started the light rain began. It didn't feel so bad at first but it just continued and came down harder and harder. By mile 10 while running through the puddles on Pine St. I had enough of the water. I felt like I was running with an extra 10 lbs. Other than the rain, I had the pleasure of running the first half of the race with Tony Bates and Allen Mead. Both great master runners. During the second half I was able to run with Todd Archambeault for a bit. Still a younster but getting faster and stronger every year. After the midrace blues I seemed to feel better, maybe because the rain let up and I kicked it in a little on the bike path to try to make up for some lost time. In the end I was about 1 minute slower than last year but at 2:48 I was winner of my age group and 4th master overall. I'll take it. Immediately afterwards, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and went back out to run the second half of the course again. I caught up to the last runners and chatted and then little by little continued upon more runners. I had a blast talking with the runners and tried to help them out if needed. The sun was coming out and it was getting hotter so the runners where starting to feel the heat. I even had to give one runner who was cramping some electrolyte pills. Something I usually have with me.
Thanks to Zeke for having me part of the Elite Runners again, what an honor. And a big thanks to Colin and Mizuno for supplying me with excellent running gear. The Mizuno Alchemy 8's were the perfect shoe again for the 40 miles I did that day and the clothing was top notch as usual. And great timing on the cap, just what was needed for the early rain and the second half sun. And thanks to Amino Vital for their special drink mix, the Endurance Formula, which keeps me going for hours and hours.

Nipmuck Trail Marathon, June 7, 2009

This was the 26th running and my third consecutive running of the Nipmuck Trail Marathon and as always I had a great time. I drove over the night before and found a nice spot along the back roads to car camp. The Nissan motel works wonderful especially when I can fit a large foam mattress inside. As the sun came up, I awoke and drove to the race start, only 1/4 mile from my motel landing and got a great parking spot since only a handful of volunteers where there at 6:30 AM. The weather was overcast but not bad at all. By race start at 8:00 am we all were gathered for the race director's meeting. Dave this year surprised us all with a warm up song. As we started out on the race, a small group of runners immediately took charge. Ben Nephew was leading and never looked back. I was in a small group for a short time and then settled in behind Jim Thompson. After about a mile, I passed Jim in an effort to try to catch Ben. I was feeling good until I came to a 4 way intersection with no idea where to go. Lost again, it happens every time. I went left, then right, then straight ahead and finally saw a trail marker on a downed tree. A minute or so lost but on track again. I ran the rest of the race by myself. During the second half I got lost again. I recognized the spot but couldn't remember where to go and had to backtrack a bit until I found the trail again. Just another day in the woods. The last few miles, I had no idea how far I was from the finish. I misjudged where I was and was thinking my time would be slower than the last two but suddenly I saw the road up ahead and the finish line. Done! And it was actually my best time for this race. I finished at 3:25: 49, almost three minutes ahead of last year came in second place overall, first for masters but the biggy, I set a new age group course record by almost 15 minutes! Not bad for an old guy. There were some funny comments from the other runners, one being Jim Thompson:
"One mile in, I had someone on my back and close. I pulled aside and let them pass. Judging by the sound of their voice and the look of their body (from behind), I was sure this runner was in the sub Masters category and so I let him go without too much of a care. My goal afterall was to win the Masters. But right before the first turnaround at six something miles, I got a look at the two people ahead of me. The leader was a baldheaded rock star hammering like a diesel engine through the Connecticut woods and not too far behind him was the man in second place. He was blasting it too but to my bitter frustration, I found him to be not some young Turk but a gray haired guy with a few wrinkles and clearly over 100,000 miles on his engine. It was Jack Pilla, 51 years of age and a total running stud. I knew right then I was in it for third or worse".
And another by Scott Livingston:
I glanced at the results and was really pleased to see that two age group records were set. Jack Pilla, who is 50, had an incredible 3:25:49, good for 2nd place overall. His Grand Tree percentage was 93.35%, which is amazing considering that the winner, Ben Nephew, is 17 years younger. At about the five mile mark, I chatted up 55 year old Rob Higley, who is no slouch. We talked about Jack and how darn fast he is. Rob called him a “real runner.” Rob finished 4th, so no one is crying for him. Heck, compared to Rob, Jack is a puppy. They are both real runners in my book!
So another day, another race. Thanks to Mizuno, the Trail Ascend 4's were great! And the rest of the Mizuno Gear worked equally as well as always. And thanks to Amino Vital for the Endurance Formula drink mix to keep me going for hours again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge

The race, it was such a crazed week leading up to this race and I don't think I was ever so unprepared for a race, mentally and physically. I had not planned for anything and I made motel reservations just before I hit the road at 5:00 PM Friday night. I ate pasta salad as I was driving down on I87 as I didn't have time to stop anywhere. I finally got in to some motel at 10:00 PM, about 30 minutes from the race. To bed by 11:00 PM only to be awakened by someone next door at 2:00 am looking for some chick in the "white dress". So sleep was not plentiful either. I blew out of the motel at 4:30 am and barely made it to the race start in time. Luckily someone saw me at a light heading in the wrong direction at the entrace to Bear Mtn. and redirected us to the start or I would have missed the start. In a fog at the start, I just followed in a crowd of a dozen or so. Blew through the first aid station. By the second aid station at mile 8.9 or so, I was still with the first pack of 12 or so but took my time and decided to do my own thing and got out behind everyone. Finally was running more comfortably and just going along. Then one by one I was picking off runners throughout the race. At mile 28 I couldn't believe it was only 28 miles. I thought we were well over 30 miles at that point and had to conserve on the fluids I was carrying and electrolyte pills as I was getting low. Meanwhile, I passed the 4th place runner who was cramping. Then there were three more, Leigh, Brian and Ben. It seemed like the three were at least 15 minutes ahead. Not much hope unless they bonked. These were the same three who were ahead of me at Seven Sisters and I knew they were running strong. On I went, then had some bad stomach cramps, visited the woods and on again. Oh well, I kept going through the mud and muck. Finally finished in fourth place behind Leigh, Brian and Ben, in that order. I felt ok during the race but not very energized. I hadn't slept good for weeks and usually I find sleep is critical the week before for me. I have to figure out how to sleep more. Maybe if I have more closings, sleep would not be such a problem. Anyway, another 50 done, fair performance on my part. I still feel like I haven't had enough good trail running yet this year. But hey, at 50 I won my age group and set a new master's and age group record. So what if this was only the second running of the race. Won some good Northface bootie but no $$ as only the top 3 got that. And got a picture with Dean Karnazas. Body feels fine and I ran a nice 10 miler two nights later and 20 miles the next night. I guess I didn't push hard enough during the race. Ankle is still swollen from 7 Sisters and I did wear a brace for the entire 50 miles which helped hold it together with only minor pain and difficulties. And thanks to Mizuno for the terrific shoes and gear and to Amino Vital for the Enurance Formula drink that keeps me going.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April 2009 Report

How things change in just a months time. A month ago we were running in snow and cold, Tuesday was near 90 degrees, yesterday ran in frost. Got to love this New England weather!

This past month brought on more training miles and finally included some trail running. The back dirt roads softened up to mud for a short time but have dried up since. A lot of the trails are now runnable but still offer some great mud and muck. See the attached pic for some good muddy Ascends. Race season is underway with races to be found every weekend if needed.

April 11 brought on the first trail race of the season in Union, CT. The Northern Nipmuck is a 16 miler all trail run with a lot of technical slippery rocks, especially with the rain that day. It was a real good trail tester for me as I rediscovered the joys of trail running on fun single track. I got lost after the first few miles and then tripped and wiped out. I blame it on being up at 4:30 am to drive down to the race. The second half of the race I finally woke up and almost caught the third place finisher. In the end I came in 4th behind three 30 year old youngens. The Mizuno Ascends 4's worked great for the race.

Next up was the Rollin Irish 1/2 Marathon on April 18th put on by the GMAA here in VT. A hilly, dirt road course on the back roads of Westford and Essex. A cool day with a bit of a head wind for the first half kept the times down a little but for the most part all went well. I met up with Mike Oliva from NY and my pacer from the Western States 100 in 2006. We ran together for the first 2 miles. He then pulled ahead until after all the hills. By mile 9 I reconnected with Mike and we chatted. He was trying to get in under 1:23 as a qualifyier for the NYC Marathon. Mike, without a watch, was clueless as to the time. I did a quick calculation and told him it would be close. By mile 11 I told him to get going if he wanted to make it so off he went. Mike did get in under 1:23. I came in 6th overall, first master and first in my age group. But the bigger accomplishment for me was setting a new age group record for this 31 year old race. This race was also part of a 30 mile training run for me that day. And the Mizuno Inspires did a great job.

Next up could be the Seven Sisters in Amherst, Mass this weekend. A bony, rocky 12 miler along the Mt. Holyoke Range. Then the following weekend is the Northface 50 miler at Bear Mtn. in NY. The entrants list is filling up with some big dogs from all around, I think because of $$$ being offered for prizes. Team runners from North Face and Inov-8 will be there. Should be fun! Then two weeks later is the Vermont City Marathon. I've been "invited" to VCM again so I'll get some special treatment. I like that, especially being able to have my own water bottles at the aid stations.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Early Spring Update

The snow is almost gone now in the lower elevations except for an occasional mound of snow or ice in the shady areas. And with the disappearing snow comes the emergence of MUD. Yes, tripped and went hands first into some nice wet, cold and squishy mud tody. Spring is here!

Up til now, the winter training has been happening with cold, wind, snow and ice. I don't use the treadmill or belong to a club so all running has been outside, every day. No major falls on the ice for me this winter but many friends have gone down. One treat this year has been the use of the UVM indoor track for one hour each week for 12 weeks thanks to the Green Mountain Athletic Club. Doing speedwork in the middle of winter is new to me as is the use of an indoor track. And running with the shorter distance fast guys is a motivator if you can avoid injury. In the end, it should help in my longer training.

The race season officially started in February with the Amherst 10 miler. We lucked out with weather as we drove down in snow but it stopped about half way down. For the race, temps were in the 30's which is balmy for us northerners, some even wore shorts. But I held out and wore tights and was glad I did as around mile 7, the cold damp air returned with a light drizzle. This was part of the USTAF Grand Prix Series so all the New England fast guys were there. I was there with 30 or so members of the GMAA team. In the end, I was ok for my "training run" as I call all of these races and finished 3rd in my age group but did get a * which I never had before. (time met the USATF guidelines for national ranking). I always wanted one of those. One the way back it snowed the whole way and a long ride it was.

The second race of the season was two weeks ago, the New Bedford Half Marathon which was also a New England Grand Prix race with close to 2000 runners. We had about 24 of us representing the GMAA. Another "training run" for me. It was shorts weather for sure with temps nearing 50, almost hot for us notherners. Very little wind too so great race conditions. My goal was to keep it around 6 minute miles and be consistent. And that I did. In the end I ended up 3rd in my age group and received another * for my efforts. I finished 7 seconds slower than last year but was still my second fastest 1/2 marathon. Not too bad for a 50 year old.

Now with those two road races done and trails opening up, I can focus on what I really enjoy, the longer distance trail runs. I've been getting in 80 to 100 miles each week and feel good.

Mizuno has been treating me with some excellent gear including fantastic clothing that has gotten me through the winter running season being as warm and comfortable as is possible. And the shoes have been a long time favorite. I prefer the Mizuno Alchemy on hard surfaces such as pavement and frozen dirt roads for the extra stability. For the dirt and running in snow, the Mizuno Ascend is great. Light weight, quick drying yet grippy and stable enough to handle even the rockiest of terrain. The Ascend 4, the newest of the series features a more aggressive grip for the rocks and rough terrain. Thanks Colin from Mizuno & Emily from The SkiRack! :)

For nutrition/sport drinks I have been using the Amino Vital products. Thanks Amino Vital! Being a former member of the Amino Vital Team two years ago, I learned the advantage of their products. They have an endurance formula for runs over 2 hours with added calories. Excellent to use, especially if you are having a hard time getting calories in from other food. I also find with the amino acids in their products, recovery periods are shorter therefore I can train harder with less recovery time. And one of my favorites would be the Fast Charge Powder. I'm not sure what it is but it keeps me going.

Next blog, a tentative race schedule.

Friday, January 30, 2009

2008 Wrap Up

2008 ended up to be a very busy year in many respects yet slow in others. Life as usual was busy but work was slow which is probably why I was able to get in some extra miles. In the running world, I was very pleased with my year. I can't even remember all the races but logged in over 4200 miles. I set many new PRs for myself and hit a new age category in June, 50 years old! And for my birthday I celebrated by running 50 miles that day except for the last mile which I saved for a night run on trails in the buff. I had a lot of fun races this year. Some of the highlights:
Finger Lakes 50 Mile in July. Ran my first 50 miler in under 7 hours while chasing Leigh Schmitt. Came in 2nd overall, just a few minutes behind Leigh and set a new master's record and age group record.
Vermont 100 Mile in July. Had a fun race running with Andy Jones-Wilkins, Glen Redpath, Kevin Sullivan and Joe Kulak. Warm and humid as usual with some lightning and downpours to add to the fun. Joe Carrara was again my pacer, kicking my butt along the way. Thanks Joe! Overall came in 3rd behind Andy and Kevin and set a new age group record.
Wasatch Front 100 Mile in September. Now this was fun! Unbelievable views and trails. Nothing like this in the East. Met some new friends and saw some old ones. I wasn't sure what to expect running with the big dogs out West but overall it went well. I ran the first 5o miles with Andy Jones-Wilkins, Geoff Roes and Larry O'Neil. Dehydrated myself a bit mid-race and fell back some but drank and ate to get back. Great aid stations and course. Ran through the night by myself with a dim headlamp. Not too good on the steep backside of Brighton but still had a blast. Overall came in third, not far behind Andy again. Geoff had an awesome race winning in 20 hours. I set a new age group record. Not bad for some Easterner.
Vermont 50 Mile in Septemeber. Ran with a bunch of friends again and met some new faces. Leigh Schmitt, Todd Walker, Joe Carrara, Justin Keeney, Sherpa John, Todd Archembault and others. Poured the night before but stopped for the race which helped keep the mud down. Had a good race and with only three weeks away from finishing at Wasatch. Chased Leigh again throughout the race. Snuck up on him at one point which I think made him go harder. Overall was pleased. Ran my best VT 50 and got in under 7 hours and finished 2nd overall and again just a few minutes behind Leigh.
Boston Marathon in April. This was just a training run but posted my best marathon time ever with a 2:43. I had to run this again after a horrible race in 2004 or so when the temps were in the 80's with full sunshine and I fried and bonked.
Vermont City Marathon in May. Always a fun race but again a training run. Posted my fasted VCM time yet with a 2:47. Thanks Zeke!
Some other races were the Northern Nipmuck Trail Race and the Nipmuck Marathon and others. Ended the year on a good note. Decided at the last minute to run a 5K race on New Years Eve day, the Shelburne Field House Athletic Club End of the Year Race. I don't usually run 5K road races but the weather was looking like it could be a challenge. Cold and windy with temps in the single digits and snowing. With a snow covered course, I put on my Mizuno Ascend Trail shoes for extra grip. Right from the start there were a couple of youngsters going out fast. I stayed right behind but by a half mile or so it felt like a casual Sunday run so I took off and never looked back. I won this race by a minute. Not bad for some old guy and a good way to end the year.

So that's it, my recap of 2008. And thanks to Mizuno for the great gear and running shoes.