Monday, December 26, 2011

The 24 Hours of Christmas Adventures Returns for 2011...... Or Not

Christmas 2011 and Looking Back at the Year


Wow, what a year!  Many ups and downs throughout with lots of new experiences.  Two months ago I thought I would be in a different place.  Well, how things change....again.  Life is full of changes and challenges.  So once again, due to unforeseen circumstances, I'm back running to celebrate this Holy Day of Christmas with plenty of time to reflect on the past year and think about all of those special people, family and friends who have been a great help for me for whatever.  Merry Christmas!!

One change on the 24 hour run, since I have signed up to run a 100K two weeks from now I thought it might be a good thing not to run 100+ miles on Christmas.  Instead I've entered The Holiday Marathons in NYC organized by Mike and Mike and will run the marathon plus some more to make it just a 50K or so and then spend time with family in CT.

Just before driving down to CT on Friday I stopped by the post office to get my mail.  On the display board there were sayings from the 1st grade class at CCS.  One of them caught my eye.  It said:

Where there is honesty, there is understanding.
Where there is fairness, there is peace.
Where there is sharing, there is friendship.
Where there is love, there is fulfillment.

Pretty good for a first grader and great not only for the holidays but all year long.  Too bad adults can't always think this way.  This one's for you Kelly.

Mom's tree
Christmas Eve with mom in CT, very nice.  The sun was shining during the day so I got in a pre-dinner easy run on the golf course.  Not always a possibility as usually when there is no snow, they are golfing but not today.  So I got to chase the geese hanging out on the course.  Afterwards, Mom and I had a great Christmas Eve dinner.  We haven't been together on Christmas Eve for 15-20 years??  And since Dad passed away 5 years ago Mom has been on her own.  Myself, the last two Christmas's have been a bust so it was great for mom and I to connect and chat about life over some wine, ending with the traditional Drambuie after hot fudge Sundays.  After dinner I retired to watch one of my all time favorite classics, " A Wonderful Life".
Then is was "The Santa Clause", another movie favorite.  I sometimes wish I could have the job of Santa Claus.  I would do that in a heartbeat!  Then off to bed for some sleep before Santa arrives.

Christmas Marathon/50K Race Report:
Christmas morning, up early and on the road to the Holiday Marathons to be held this year at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers, NY after a waffle and banana breakfast.  Just over an hour drive which isn't bad and sure beats sleeping in the cold at hotel Ford.  I arrived just before 9:00 AM and ran into friend, race director and former pacer for me at the WS 100 years ago, Mike Oliva.  Mike was getting the start area set up and about to head out to mark the course.  The other RD, Mike Arnstein hadn't yet arrived.  There were two trees at the start area designated for gifts.  One was for a grab bag after you were done with your race.  If you brought a gift, you could get one at the end.  The other tree was for Toys for Tots.  It was fun going out Christmas Eve to buy toys for some child who might not have a Christmas.  After the race, the toys were going to be delivered to the children.
Holiday Headsweats
The official start of the event wasn't until 11:00 AM but they encouraged runners who were doing the marathon distance or who needed extra time to start early, especially with sunset around 3:30.  Runners had the choice of doing a 1/8 marathon, 1/4 marathon, 1/2 marathon, 3/4 marathon or full marathon.  Each lap was 3.275 miles on a paved rec path which circled around a lake.  So in an effort to get to my sisters for Christmas dinner at a decent hour, I was ready to go by 9:00 AM.  It was still chilly out, maybe 32 degrees but warm enough for shorts and anticipating that the day would warm up.  I wore my custom Headsweats Holiday Mid Cap for the occasion in holiday red with a white pom pom.  I took no water or gels with me to begin with but had a bag at the start area with some basic provisions which is where you would return after each loop.  The first few loops were quiet as not too many runners were out and I enjoyed the scenery.  In the middle of the lake was a huge swan that just swam around.  All the other birds seemed to have great respect for this big bird and stayed out of it's way.  The way the paved path was, there was enough of a dirt shoulder along much of it so I seemed to gravitate to the dirt to make it a bit softer.  By the fourth lap, more runners were out and I could feel my pace picking up and was starting to warm.  Before heading out for loop # 5, I grabbed my water bottle with GU Brew in it and  some electrolyte tabs.  I could already see the salt accumulating on my skin so I started taking the electrolytes just in case, even thought it was still cool out.  I also grabbed one GU gel and on that loop tried to eat in but it was rather cold and stiff and was a challenge to eat.  Usually I put it in my pocket before to warm up but not today.  Lap 5 and 6 were the fastest yet, averaging around a 7:10 pace, not that this was a "race" but more of an event but I felt good just running along.  Also after I started lap 5, the official start began so there were a lot more runners and some fast ones too so that kept me moving along at a good clip.  I was over the 20 mile mark and on lap 7 cruising along again, when I started getting incredibly hungry.  I knew I hadn't had much to eat and should have had more GU's to start but didn't.  Then the energy was being sucked out of me.  It turned out to be one of my slower laps but as I headed to the turnaround, I grabbed a banana which definitively seemed to help matters.  I finished lap 8, the marathon distance at a comfortable 3:13 and only 2 laps to go.  I seemed to focus more on eating at each turnaround and managed to eat a half a banana each time through.

20 " Candy Cane
It was fun watching the other runners too with about 450 runners signed up to run on this Christmas Day!  Some in full Santa attire, others with Grinch like green outfits and most in some kind of Santa hat.  All kinds of runners, young and old, fast and slow but they all seemed to be having fun!  By the time I was doing my last lap # 10 it was getting quiet out there again as most had done the shorter distances and were done.  When you did finish, you had to hit the gong with the hammer and Mike was there to supervise.  For finishing each runner was awarded a candy cane, the more laps you did, the bigger the candy cane.  For me, I got the 20" candy cane.  In the end I ran just over a 50K; 32.75 miles averaging a 7:30 pace rather comfortably.  I thought if I could keep it under 8 min. miles it would be good so I figured this was a good trainer for the 100k in two weeks.

More pics of the Christmas Marathon .

RD and friend Mike Oliva and Jack at the finish by the finishing Gong

After the race it was just over an hour's drive to spend Christmas with my mom and sister and two nieces.  Dinner, more champagne and to end it all watching "National Lampoon's Christmas".  Another one of my movie favorites.

So ends the race season for 2011, I think??

As I end the year, I sit back and think of the year gone by.  It had some great moments and it had some not so good times.  I had a great trip to Europe, my first ever while competing in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.  The scenery was like I've never seen before.  That was definitely a high point. Throughout the year I had some good races and some not so good races but it's always a great day on the trails.  Besides my trip to Europe, I traveled around to places like Texas, Virginia, NY and Washington state.  I had some great times running with new and old friends throughout the year and have met some wonderful folks from all around the world.  I had some foot issues mid year that slowed me down and even a DNF at the Finger Lakes 50K, not good, but I was able to work through it with the help of Doc Rinaldi and changed my work schedule and bounced back.  Energy levels were up and down.  So as an experiment this meat and potatoes guy, has now gone without meat for three months.  So far so good.  I changed my residence and purchased some real estate this spring and hope to build a new home on the land this coming year.  I thought I was to be married in October, (a high point) only to find out that the person who I thought I knew for eight years has totally different values and beliefs than me about commitment, honesty, fidelity and trust, values which I believe are key to any successful relationship.  So no marriage.  A sad ending to the year and the end of another chapter of life.  But to finish on a positive note it is a New Year ahead and another chapter begins!  I have a lot to look forward to and a lot of great friends to be thankful for :)  Now it's time to plan out the race schedule for 2012.  So far on the horizon, it's the Bandera 100K in two weeks in Texas and the MMT 100 in Virginia in May.  The rest of the schedule to be determined.  Just last week I did receive my new passport, so who knows where in the world I may end up :)

A little Karma to end the year and to start the new year with, one of my favorites.  (I have one of these happy Buddhas and rub his belly at least once a day):

The decisions you make and the way you treat people will someday come back to stare you in the face.  If you are good and kind to people they will treat you kind. If you are cruel to people and make bad decisions then life will not be so kind to you.

Happy New Year to All !!

And remember "Impossible is Nothing!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships

and USA Masters Men's 10 km Championships

December 10, 2011
Jefferson Park Golf Course - Seattle, WA

2011 GMAA National XC Team

As a GMAA Team we were finally somewhat organized and ready to head to Seattle for the Nationals.  It was not easy to get a full team together this year with injuries and conflicting activities but in the end we brought over 6 runners for our 50’s age group team.  Our captain, Norm Larson along with Tony Bates, Kevin McMahon, Lyman Clark, Keith Woodward and myself.  You need 5 to officially score as a team.  More than 100 clubs and 1,100 competitors were to compete at Jefferson Park Golf Course in the Emerald City, Seattle. USATF Pacific Northwest, Club Northwest, the Seattle Sports Commission, the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department, and ProMotion Events worked hard to provide a complete championship experience with a Northwest flavor!

Snow Covered Ground at BTV

On Thursday morning five of us flew together from Burlington to Seattle with a short layover in Chicago.  It was a cold and snowy morning in VT.

Kevin enjoying some Dakin Farm munchies in Chicago.

Thanks to Sam at Dakin Farm for sponsoring our trip with lots of goodies to munch on throughout the weekend.  Waiting in Chicago we broke out the incredible cheese, beef sausage, maple kabanos, crackers and more.  We also ran into Christine Reaser, an awesome women’s master runner from Maine.  She kindly offered to give us a ride to the hotel once we landed in Seattle instead of us taking a train.  Sounded like a good idea.  Once we landed in Seattle we were joined by Lyman Clark at the airport.  I’m not sure Christine knew what she was getting into when she first offered us a ride.  There were six of us plus Christine.  She was confident that her full size rental would work.  So 7 of us jammed into a Chevy Impala plus luggage that would not all fit in the trunk.  Not a pretty sight!

In the Chevy

Friday was an easy day, a morning run with Norm and Kevin touring Seattle, heading down towards the waterfront and the famous Pikes St. area including the throwing fish market.  It was still early so things were quiet at the market.  On our way back to the hotel we found a coffee shop as Norm and Kevin were craving coffee.  I had a great cup of hot chocolate.  After that Norm and Kevin headed back to the hotel but I still needed some more miles and headed this time a little bit north to see other parts of the city.  

Downtown Seattle

As usual I have a hard time going to someplace new without exploring and this was no different.  I was in search for the “Needle” and thought I could keep running north to find it but no luck.  Finally I headed back to the hotel but not before stopping in at a waffle shop for some breakfast.  Awesome strawberry topped homemade waffle!  Later that day we took the shuttle over to the race course to pre-run part of the course, which on race day would be a five loop run along a golf course.  And a great sunny day it was which allowed great views all around including the snow capped mountains not far away.

Full Moon in Seattle

Saturday Race Report and more by Kevin McMahon, GMAA Masters Runner:

The race was on a golf course, most of the energy we wanted to spread across it was going into the softening ground. By the 5th 2K lap, the course was ragged and muddy on several curves and took down several runners trying to take the tight high line. The 40 degrees was a mist by the time we started. It didn't bother as much as expected, but I also took the precaution of finding a community center down the street in which I laid warm and low until race time. I had planned on sneaking into the enormous VA hospital across the street, but was scared off by the idea of possibly being profiled as a TB patient and then detained.  On the jog to start, I felt like the race season should have ended weeks ago, perhaps in June. Dull, twanging, tight and tired. But damn thankful to be healthy enough to line-up one more Nat time with the VT M50's. I thought of Jim our #2, still injured, and Tony our #3, with us but too injured to go under the gun. Doesn't get better than running free of anything that could stop you. And how great to have both Lyman and Woody step up for the run! So tough.


At the 5K mark, I wondering how I could possibly run that distance again without stopping. By 8K, the run became be a sideways climb into the black hole. Kept repeating Norm's instructions to 'be in the moment' and when any moment sucked too much, I repeated his suggestion to 'embrace the pain'. Finally, it was just shameless pleading to not pass out before crossing the line or be passed by too many M55's. 

Jack and Kevin

Didn't pass out but got passed like I was.  My eyes were still crossed 40 minutes later but the lips were no longer purple. I ran 60 secs slower than last year, but so did Norm. But he won the M55 gold and I ended up 12th place in the M55's. Pilla ran fast and faster than last year, Woody chased in Bill Dixon! another reminder that Keith is truly a legend among us Vermonters. Lyman finished his first XC Nats running the critical 5th slot for our injured engine. Tony managed every support detail and I'm sure he ran at least 10K, cheering, reporting and taking pictures. Results.



The best part of the day was joining Pilla and Kasie Enman for a 10 mile run back to the hotel along the shore of Lake Washington. I figured I'd remember better running with two of the world's best, than running ho hum in the nationals. And I was right. By the time we returned to the hotel, we had seen spectacular neighborhoods and houses. The gardens with palm trees reminded us Vermonters that the growing zone in Seattle is the same as their running zone: no ice, no snow, no slow. The downside of the run was the upside: once we turned away from the Lake Washington and headed a straight 3 miles back into the city, the roads became hills. Big ass hills, like running up the length of Main Street in Burlington.  On the second climb, Kasie and I shouldered up together behind Pilla the Goat. Since Kasie was on my shoulder and not with Jack, I was sure she was casting a pity line to drag me up. This really helped, I was feeling the team and after the 3rd hill, she was still there. But when I began to whine against Jack his hill-hell tour, her pity turned off. She started to describe racing up Mt. Washington and began swapping details with Pilla. I folded into a shuffling whimper and she scooted ahead. Alone, things got tougher still. I even tried to regurgitate the Snickers bar I had eaten an hour ago, hoping to recycle some sugar. Looked out for bus stops and started to finger the coins in my pocket. When I began to badger Jack with the question: 'Where the hell is the hotel?”, those two seemed to get a second wind and surged.

Kasie running in the Women's Open

Anyhow, the brutal straight line delivered us exactly into the lobby, setting for me a single day record of running a total of 20 miles, 6 of it at race pace. I turned to hug and high-five my mates, but they were heading back out the door, Jack to shop for Tequila and Kasie to put in more miles. So much for my new spot on the mountain running team.


Dakin Farm goodies and more for post race
After a little post race celebrating we headed over to the official award ceremony.  The post race awards featured our very own Norm Larson receiving the gold for the 55-59 age group.  Way to go Norm!  And in the end our team ended up 9th out of 17 teams from across the nation.  

National Champ Norm!!

At the post race party I had a great chat with Max King, the World Mountain Running Champion this year.  
Max and Jack

Afterwards, the team went for a late night hot tub and swim.  Our big kid, Kevin, was having a little too much fun showing off his breast stroke and scared off some other younger kids.

Kevin having fun in the pool.

Special thanks again to Dakin Farm for sponsoring us with fabulous snacks that got us through the entire weekend.  Also thanks to Headsweats for supplying us with the bright red midcap which was perfect for the cool Seattle weather.  It was very easy to spot us running on course chasing Norm.  And thanks to GMAA for helping us out as well.

If you want to see the video of the master's race, click here.

And to the USATFNE Board of Directors,

On behalf of the entire Green Mountain Athletic Association, let us express our sincere appreciation for the USATFNE grant that enabled us to compete in the 2011 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships last weekend in Seattle.

As you know, most running clubs in New England are small, with limited funds to send their athletes to Championship events.  The GMAA is one of those clubs.  Your grant enabled our 50-59 team, (the 2009 National Champions) to represent New England on a national stage.

With each individual member responsible for his own flight, room, meals, entry fee, and ground transportation, your $1,000.00 grant eased the burden on working/training men with families and allowed us to take the trip.

Thank you once again.


Norm. Larson
Tony Bates
Kevin McMahon
Jack Pilla
Keith Woodward
Lyman Clark

Next up for me, who knows?  Will it be the 2nd Annual 24 Hours of Christmas or some other Adventure?  Time will tell.

Happy Holidays and stay tuned.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa Claus 5K Run and final training race for Seattle

Burlington, VT Dec. 4, 2011

Who would have thought over 1200 runners would have signed up for this first ever festive race on the first weekend in December!!

Well, it turned out to be an awesome day to start.  The sun was out, the temps in the high 30's and warming, a bit windy, but what the heck.  It wasn't raining!  The race started at 9:30 AM but by 8:30 AM there were mobs of Santa's cruising around Church St. in Burlington.

Church St. in Burlington, VT

I arrived shortly after 8:00 AM, got my race number and went out to preview the course, without the Santa outfit.  About halfway through Santa Bob drove by who then tried to catch up but we must have crossed paths and didn't find each other til the start.  I finished the loop and then suited up in full Santa attire to get ready for the run.  Once I had the suit on I noticed it was rather long and baggie.  I headed over to the host site, Ri Ra's and found some pins to customize the suit.  I folded up the pant legs, as every pair of pants that I own were too long to begin with, so this was no different.  And then attached a safety pin to keep them together.  I cinched up the waist with the attached string but made sure I hit the bathroom before and good thing as it took a good 5 minutes to untie myself after the race.  And the jacket, I attached numerous pins across the chest to keep it from flopping open.  The belt set up was marginal but held on with a simple tied bow.  Good to go.  Back out on Church St. the Santa's were everywhere and singing Christmas Carols.  The Holiday spirit was definitely alive.  It was hard to recognize anyone you knew as obviously, we all were wearing the same outfit.  Finally it was time to get to the start line.  I did see some folks I knew and hooked back up with Santa Bob.   Bob and I do a lot of
Santa Bob Ayers
running together.  And then we were off and running.  A quick run along lower Church St and then down on Main St. towards the lake.  And yes, the winds were blowing pretty good but no worries.  The front pack of Santa's took off rather quickly.  I wasn't too far behind and noticed I was having trouble breathing.  The beard and mustache was getting sucked up my nose and into my mouth.  Finally for survival I had to pull it down just enough to get some oxygen in.  And this was no flat and easy 5K run, once you got down to Battery St. it was a good up hill for the next mile and a half and into the strong headwinds on South Willard.  But after that, it finished up with the wind at your back on a downhill which was great.  In the end I believe it was Ray Webster and Jason Baer tying for the win.  Full results are here:

Afterwards we were all treated to an awesome breakfast hosted by Ri Ra's with plenty of food to go around.  Then with belly's full, Santa Bob and I went out to run the course again, in our Santa attire of course.  It was fun and relaxing.  We had numerous folks honking the horn at us and waving.  In all, a great day and an event that should grow over the years.  An event you won't want to miss!

Here's a story from the Burlington Free Press with video: .

Next up, the USATF National Club XC 10K Championships in Seattle, Washington.

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!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

POST UTMB: Training Continues and so do the races

The Dolomites of Italy and the Return to Home

Dolomite Mountains of Italy
Immediately after the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc I hit the road and ventured to the Dolomites of Italy to check out some areas that I had always seen in magazines.  It involved a lot of driving which included an all night drive but that was ok as a little sitting after running UTMB was ok.  I had a 6 speed on the floor Mitsubishi Lancer that made the mountain passes a blast to drive on.  I felt like Mario until I was passed by not only motorcycles but also some impatient Italian drivers who knew the roads better than me.  My first destination was Agordo, Italy.

Agordo, Italy
This was a rather rural older village in the foothills of the Dolomites.  The Alta Via Trail went right through the high peaks which is where I would attempt to go after feasting on some Italian morning pastries and grabbing a loaf of fresh bread to bring along on the trail.  I found a small road that lead up into a mountain pass.  It got rather steep, narrow and rough so I found a parking area down lower and walked up the road a ways in search of some new trails.  As I was walking up the dirt mountain road, I noticed a lot of signs with numbers on them.  They seemed to be in numeric order so I assumed they were address numbers as most were next to small mountain villas.  Later I realized that those signs were more trails that went through these mountain villas and into the hills above.

I found some awesome trails and a never ending system of trails.  Being rather sleep deprived from the night drive, I made it an easy day and came back into Agordo after 4 hours or so to enjoy a real Italian pizza.  What a treat!!  I never had a pizza like this.  Light, almost pastry like crust with tomato and Gorgonzola topping.  I ate the entire pizza while enjoying an ice cold beer :)  Afterwards, I headed out to find another trail head to run the Alta Via the following day.  I wasn't quite sure where I was going except through more mountain passes.  I took a wrong turn and was on unfamiliar territory which brought me to the Pellegrino Pass.  I had to stop there as part of my Italian heritage is Pellegrino.  I soon discovered, this was also part of the Alta Via trail network.  Excellent, a place to hang for the night and a starting point to venture into the mountains in the morning.

A night of car camping after enjoying some fine Italian wines at the local wine bar and then up early the next morning to head into the hills.  There were cable cars and lifts to take you up a ways but I was out before they were operating, not that I would have ridden a lift up when I could run up instead.  I discovered a whole network of trails again and found the Alta Via # 637 which I followed.  After about 45 minutes passing cows with bells and nice rolling terrain, I arrived at the rocky section of the

trail.  This got rather interesting with steep rock faces with ladders and cables to hook onto.  Only problem, I didn't have the speed harness to hook on as was recommended.  Not a problem.  The magazine ads showed nice rolling high mountain trail running in the Dolomites but never mentioned the technical sections that one would have to go through.  Some sections contained caves where the trail would go through in total darkness.  I would carefully walk with my hands up hoping I wouldn't fall through some hole into eternity.  This section was also part of the Italian front line from World War One and remnants of the line still existed on the trail along with war memorials.  Other sections were so steep I was hoping I wouldn't have to go back down.  Luckily I found a way to loop through and kept going.  In the end, I did find some incredible parts of the trail system just like in the magazine ads with rolling high elevation trails among the steep Dolomite peaks.  Some day I would like to return to do the complete Alta Via trail going hut to hut and fully enjoying the Dolomites of Italy.

Incredible high elevation trail runs!
After day 2 in the Dolomites it was time to drive back to Courmayeur, Italy for the night and get ready to fly back to the states the following morning.  The drive back was long but at least it was still daylight so I could enjoy the Italian scenery.  Italian Villas everywhere!  Looking for a castle or a villa, call Jack Pilla!  That's all I kept hearing.  In Courmayeur I enjoyed another fine Italian dinner, lasagna.  Another incredible treat!  And
Cable route along the Alta Via
enjoyed the company of Bryan Powell and Meghan on the outdoor patio of some fine Italian establishment.  Up early the next morning to fly out of Geneva, Switzerland and back to the states.

It was nice to get back home, sort of.   I had an unforgettable journey in Europe but now it was business as usual.  And of course back to the local race schedule.  First up was the GMAA Archie Post 5 miler.  It's is a point to point FAST race.   Usually I run it at about a 6 mile pace. This year, after UTMB, I was hoping I could run near a 7 minute mile pace.  I figured this would be a good way to get the lead out and fire up the fast twitch muscles.  Oh, did it hurt but I was amazed.  Coming across the 1 mile mark I saw a 5:53.  I didn't think I had that in me.  I did slow down later on, especially where the second half of the course is up hill but I managed to average around a 6:10 pace.  I did pay the price the next day as I was extremely sore.

Next up the following weekend was the GMAA Common to Common 30K.  Another test of the fitness and energy level.  A fast rolling course on the back roads of Essex and Westford.  I just signed up for a mid October marathon so I figured this would be a good training run.  And it hurt too.  But I was able to average a 6:30 or so pace on rolling hills so hopefully I can hold that for a flat road marathon in a month, we'll see.

So back to the local running schedule and recovery from UTMB although not much time to recover.

Next Up for 2011:

The Vermont 50 Mile Race; September 25, 2011
Another 100 Miler ? ?