Thursday, October 24, 2013

North Jersey Half Marathon race report

I left work early last Thursday since Gordon was on quad break and headed down with my family to visit Heather's parents for the weekend. On Friday, Heather and I visited our new niece, Maisie, in Lancaster, PA (my brother Alex and his wife Chloe’s first) and Saturday we headed to Pompton Plains, NJ for the 3rd Annual North Jersey Half Marathon.

The race was advertised as flat, and the course drive through looked amazingly so. We arrived at the park where the race began at 7:30 am for the 8:30 start. It was cold, around 40 degrees and I had only brought my CMS singlet and shorts, no hat or gloves. I was confident it would warm up once we got going. Heather also donned the (new) CMS ladies' gear, as we warmed up a bit and made our way over to the starting area.

I noticed one young runner who was answering a lot of questions about what he was hoping to run and how fit he was, etc. and figured he was the local favorite. He mentioned a recent 2:31 marathon and just wanted to run half that time because he had been sick that week.

I had 1:10 in mind and Heather hoped to improve dramatically on her 1:39 best from several years back.

The gun went off and the young guy (Rob Albano) and I went right to the front. We talked quite a bit the first mile and still came through in 5:09. I told him I wanted to run 1:10 and he basically gave me his blessing to go for it. At 2.5 miles, we came to an intersection with a police officer standing in the road and we asked which way to go as we approached. The officer told us to turn right, but Rob thought we were supposed to go straight, so we stopped and talked and deliberated (it was probably only about 5 seconds) and decided to disobey the policeman and continue straight. Fortunately, we made the right call, as did the 223 runners behind us. 

It was a little unsettling to have that happen in the first 3 miles of the race and I was concerned about what other adventures we might have in the final ten miles. After miles 2-5 passed between 5:26 and 5:31 amid much gabbing between Rob and me, I told him I was going to have to pick up the intensity a bit if I wanted to get close to 1:10. He obliged and we ran a 5:22 6th and a 5:21 7th mile.

After that, the miles got a little screwy, but we were really cruising (for me), keeping the (Garmin) pace between 5:00 and 5:15. Mile 8 (little short) was a 4:57, Mile 9 (very short) was a 4:45, Mile 10 (way long) was a 6:05, and had us back where we were supposed to be, with a clock reading 53:32 at 10 miles. At this point, I was losing ground to Rob, but (according to the Garmin) I was keeping the pace pretty consistent. The mile markers were another story. Mile 11 (Garmin measured .82) was a mile PR of 4:18. Mile 12 and 13 + caught me up, but it was hard to know what my time would be or if the course would end up being accurate or not. 

I came through in 1:09:45.3, but more importantly a Garmin-measured distance of 13.26 indicated that the certified course claim was true. Rob won in 1:09:31, quite a bit under his predicted 1:15.

Heather had a similar fate, finishing second by about thirty ticks, but with a huge 12-minute PR. (1:27:01)

Feeling happy about breaking 1:10, but still a little weird about this race, because of the mis-labelled mile markers. With a little better course management, this could be a big-time PR course. It had quite a few turns in one neighborhood, but also a couple long, straight shots down the boulevard on either side, where you could just roll (like New Bedford). Also, no ocean winds to worry about and absolutely nothing resembling an incline.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

tempo miles on the track

Heather and I registered for the North Jersey Half Marathon last night. The race is next Saturday, the 19th, and looks super-flat. This is only the third year they have held the event, and last year's winning time was 1:19, so not sure if I'll have company shooting for 5:20's, but that's ok.

Feeling stiff and sore (from last week's mileage?), I headed to the track on a picture-perfect midday. Temps right around 60 degrees, light breeze, crisp and cool.

Decided on tempo miles, with a goal of seven. Instead of trying to run them all at 5:20-5:24, I thought I would increase the pace as I went, starting out a little slower than 5:20 and ending up a little faster. The goal for the half-marathon will be to improve on my pr of 1:12:13, which I ran at New Bedford in 2007 during my Boston build-up. I remember barely being able to walk afterwards (IT band) and still forcing myself to do a 4-mile cooldown with Andy McCarron. I'd love to be near or potentially under 1:10. With that in mind, I want 5:20's to be pretty comfortable.

.25 miles up to the track, then 2 miles on the track for a warmup.
Started the workout with a relaxed 76-second first quarter, then backed it off too much to run the first mile in 5:31. jogged 100m and back to the start. Mile 2 was a 5:27. Kept the recoveries at ~200m/1:00. Mile 3 = 5:22. Mile 4 = 5:18. Mile 5 = 5:14. Mile 6 = 5:18; decided to forego the recovery jog and just stood near the finish for 1:00 to feel more recovered. Finished up with a 5:11.
2 miles on the track for a cooldown, then jogged back down to my office. Feeling good about next weekend.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

little baby workout

Three days after the Nahant 30k, I was feeling good and decided to take a shot at a workout on the track. Last week, the XC team ran 3 x (2000/1000/500) n the trails in Gordon Woods, so I thought I would do my own version of that workout on the outdoor surface at the Brigham Athletic facility at Gordon.

The goal: 2000m at T-pace (80s/lap); 1000m at I-pace (74s/lap); 500m at R-pace (68s/lap)
Recoveries: 200m after the 2k, 300m after the 1k, 400m after the 1/2k.

What happened:
I warmed up to the track and then ran 8 laps real easy. My legs still had some lingering stiffness/soreness from the long race on Sunday, but I was confident I could run the 2000m pace pretty comfortably. I wasn't sure how it would feel running faster than that, but I wanted to give it a shot. Changed from my adidas boost into the cadence spike for the first 2000m repeat. Came through the first 200 in 35 (a little quick) and then settled in to 40s 200's. First 2k was comfortably done in 6:43 (5:22 for 1600).

Jogged half the track in just under a minute and started the first 1000 at the 200m mark. Worked hard to keep the pace, but ended up in 3:04 which was great. Then easy jogged three-quarters of a lap before the 500. 500m in 85s - right on goal pace.

Set one, done: 6:43/3:04/85.

Starting the second set, the 2000 felt a little harder, but that was partly because I ran it faster. Got ahead of pace and stayed consistently just under 80s per lap for a 6:36 (5:17 for 1600).

Took a little more time on the 200m recovery (1:05), then right into 1000m #2 in 3:05. Jogged the three-quarters of a lap very slowly (1:44) and barely hung on for an 88sec 500m. Feeling like the recent race and the 80-degree weather (don't get me wrong, I'll take 80 degree days in October any time) were getting the best of me, I grabbed a quick drink and decided to run one more 400 at T-pace and call it a workout. Switched back into my trainers and did an 80s 400, then 3+ miles for a cooldown.

Second set: 6:36/3:05/88.

I'd like to re-visit this workout in a couple weeks with fresher legs and a cooler day and see if I can get all three sets done at goal paces. I need to do more of this type of work training at multiple paces; I have always liked to run repeats at the same pace and get comfortable returning to the same pace after each recovery. It is a bit more challenging and more race-like to have to change paces mid-workout.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


September (and the second half of August) have been a busy time with Gordon College XC starting up, hosting an invitational (Pop Crowell on the 21st of September) and back to school, for Ben and me.

Training has continued with fairly consistent weekly mileage in the 50's and 60's, with one lower week leading up to our first meet.

Thankfully, the four races I have been able to do in the last 6 weeks have brought pleasing results.

On August 23, I headed down to Hingham to run for the Mino, and came away with a win in 25:48 over a couple of speedy youngsters that I couldn't shake until the last mile. Breaking 26 always feels nice, especially after failing to do so in my previous two attempts (Carver and Hamilton Firefighter). It certainly helped having company the first four miles. Came away from this one with $100 cash and a $150 gift certificate to Marathon Sports which I used for a pair of Saucony Type A5 racing flats for shorter road races. Got to catch up with former HW and Stonehill star Dianna Chivakos, who works at the Melrose store and recently moved back to the area with her husband Sean.

A little over a week later, I got another win on a steamy Labor Day morning at the Run the Goose 7k. I opted out of the 25k, with plans to race 30k later in the month, and thought this would be the easier option. However, maintaining 5:20's on the hilly path around Goose Cove in Gloucester proved difficult, even with Jordan Kinley lurking in the wings. I won this race last year in 23:05 and had kept the intensity up, as I was targeting the previous course record. This year, I didn't feel like I was as focused or consistent and was pleased to come in at 23:23, with a "W" in my first race as a 37-year-old.

The competitive field got deep on the familiar Back Shore of Gloucester for the Lone Gull 10k on the 15th of last month. I had aspirations of a road PR (32:40 on an uncertified Hamilton course), and running on (mostly) familiar territory helped. A 5:07 first mile got things going in the right direction. 5:18 for the second was a little discouraging. Came back with a 5:10 third, but then a 5:20 4th, winding through the neighborhoods of Eastern Point. Closed with a 5:12, a 5:09 and 1:05 for the last .2+. Came away with a 14th place finish in a competitive race, but more significantly, a 19-second road 10k PR of 32:21. Heather broke 40 minutes for the first time to finish as 2nd among the CMS ladies as they finished 3rd open team.

The CMS men were well-represented with Nate Jenkins and Dan Vassallo going 3-4 overall. Scott Leslie, Greg Putnam and I rounded out the scoring for the first place Open Team. (Above photos of me closing in on a road PR of 32:21 courtesy of Krissy K. - Thanks, Kris!)

Most recently, I laced up the Karhus for the Nahant 30k this past weekend. Not sure of what to expect with limited recent long runs, I let the lead pack go (like I had a choice?) after one mile, hoping some of them (but not Dan V.) would come back to me at some point. Dan was on a mission to win, and he had Brandon Newbould of Whirlaway, Sean Duncan of WMDP (the overall USATF-NE Grand Prix series leader), and a couple of RUN guys (Peter Onea, ??) in tow.

I was trying to stay under 5:40's for as long as I could.

Trying to stay with Justin Freeman on the first trip up the Observatory Hill, in seventh place.
(courtesy of Krissy K.)
Early on (just after 4 miles), I could hear footsteps coming up on me fast and Justin Freeman pulled alongside me. We had already agreed at the starting line that neither one of us was really looking forward to racing 30k, so I tried my best to encourage him with, "We might be able to beat Sean Duncan." Sean was cruising along ahead of us, obviously not racing the leaders. Justin went by Sean quickly into 5th place, and I caught up to him a couple miles later after our first trip up and down the observatory hill. (Quick note: it is amazing what a couple of mountain races will do to your perspective on "hills" during a road race. In 2006, I remember feeling absolutely killed by this climb.) I was keeping the miles in the 5:30's and feeling pretty good as I pulled back alongside Justin and then moved into 5th place. I knew Justin was the 3rd RUN guy (Jim Pawlicki reminded me as he ran past), so I figured the more time I could put on him, the better chance we would have of overtaking them as a team. I was confident Dan would pull away with the win and hoped that Scott Leslie would close on Justin, too.

 Second time up the observatory hill, alone in fifth place. (All photos courtesy of Krissy K.)

To my surprise, I came upon an obviously struggling Tadesse Girma (?) and moved by him into 4th at about 25k. I was hurting the last couple miles (5:49 for 17 and 5:46 for 18), but tried to close hard and nearly broke 1:44, coming through in 1:44:05 with a 2 and a half minute PR, good for fourth overall. Scott had a strong finish for 6th, and we had three men in, good for the win.

Next up, a half marathon?

Thursday, August 15, 2013


met up with Greg K. Wed. pm for some 400's even though he wasn't really that excited about running on the track. Warmed up with 2 and a half miles in the woods, then headed to the track while field hockey camp was going on.

First one was a 68, then a 72 and a 71 which were the two slowest, after that we kept them all between 66 and 69. Greg did the first 6 with me, then ran the last 200 of the last 4 or 5. Ended up doing 13, with full lap recoveries, walking the first 100+m, then jogging the rest. Cooled down a little over 2 miles.

With the morning anniversary run, ended up getting close to 20 miles for the day.

My left heel is feeling a little plantastic (I mean fasciistic); anyway, it hurts. Easy today in the heavily cushioned pegasus.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

late summer joys

Monday afternoon I got my long run in that I missed out on this past weekend. 16 miles at 6:03 pace with a few of the middle miles between 5:50 and 5:55. Felt great cruising along the Atlantic coastline on rte. 127 through Beverly.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I finally got up for a morning run and did 6 at 6:00 am at 7:00/pace.

In the pm I ran for an hour on the roads.

Great anniversary dinner last night with Heather at 15 Walnut in Hamilton. Loaded nachos, complimentary pork belly appetizer (so good - wish I took some pictures: house smoked pork belly with barbecue sauce, mandarin oranges and spiced ginger and something green) and a spicy seafood stew with mussels, shrimp, salmon, calamari and chorizo, julienne vegetables. Washed it down with Green Flash IPA, my new favorite.

Heather and I did 9 miles this morning in honor of 9 years of married life/bliss.

Have some 400's planned for about 30 minutes from now...will update afterwards.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekend running

Sorry to all who objected to the departure from running log format.

(Thanks to all who appreciated the departure...)

Saturday I warmed up down to the center of Hamilton for the annual Firefighter "5" Mile Road Race. Not sure why they always have the "5" in quotes. For a small race, they do a nice job organizing, marking and celebrating this event.

Nice to see Dave and EJN from NE Running with a table set up at the start. Did a little pre-race interview with Eric that I guess wouldn't upload (Not sure I said anything too enlightening, anyway.)

Did about 2.6 on the roads and trails for a warmup. It was cool heading down, but it had warmed quite a bit by the 10:00 start gun.

Informed at the start line that the course had changed at that there weren't a lot of volunteers out on the course. Uh-oh. Fortunately, I had a lead vehicle to follow the whole way and the changes were welcome. It was actually really marked, too, and there were people at every critical turn. (Plug for this race.)

The old version of this course, that I've run a handful of times, included a pretty long climb up through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. This year, we cut straight through the campus, eliminating the toughest climb.

I went through the mile in 5:07, hoping to run sub-26:00, but it was hard to keep myself honest with a sizable lead by that point. Mile 2 was a 5:17, and I kept slipping a little each mile. Mile 3 was 5:18, mile 4 was 5:19 and finished in 26:24 (5:23). Gave the LVL RNNR camera a spontaneous "L" gesture on the way into the finish and talked to EJN a little more with Ben after the win.

My dad was 2nd over 60, 22nd overall in 38:47. Keeping the legs moving at 67.

Earned a nice $100 gift certificate to NE Running Co with the victory, which I turned in for a pair of Karhu Flow Lights and 3 Honey Stinger Waffles. Had a good time shoe shopping with the three kids while Heather got a pedicure. (I'm no hero; she leads the troops everyday.)

Sunday morning I got up at 5:30 when the alarm went off, with my new Karhus next to my bed to help me get out of bed. No dice. Didn't even hit snooze, just shut the thing off. I haven't been sleeping great and I think it's because I've gotten so used to the AC, I can't sleep without the noise of it. Bad. Heather got up at 6:30 or so and went, knowing it would be hard for us to both run in the PM. I commend her again, for this, following on the heels of her 5:15 am workout with Layce and Regina of Team Gloucester the day before.

After church and Panera, I laced up the Karhus and cruised for 10 at just over 6:20 pace. Really looking forward to taking the new shoes a little longer as I try to make up my mind about a fall marathon.

Awesome time in the afternoon riding bikes with the whole family (my mom and dad, Heather and all 3 kids) on the Danvers Rail Trail. Dinner at Betty Ann's Subs in Danvers - great little sandwich place we "discovered" on Tuesday. (It's been there since 1952.)

This week: get ready for pre-season (team returns Friday, we leave for the ADK's Saturday AM).

Get some miles and get some fast running in on the track.

Is that better, Joe?

Friday, August 9, 2013

How to start the perfect band (part one)

Decide what instruments you are going to play and who is going to sing. Make these decisions simultaneously; I could have written, “Decide who is going to sing and what instruments you are going to play.” Instrumentation and vocals must be given equal priority if you really want to be the best.

The vocal component of your band is frighteningly crucial.

I can’t think of a better way to say this.

I find myself deleting everything I type even as I try to expound upon this, so I know I must tread tenderly on the subject.

First, there is the two-fold purpose of the human voice in the perfect band. (And again, these should both be numbered “1”, because they are of equal import.)

1. The human voice is an instrument, like the others, but distinctive, that must contribute to the overall artistic, musical, aural, atmospheric (sound-driven?) goals (don’t really like the word “goals” here, but can’t think of a better one, maybe “ambitions”) of the band.

1. The human voice is the vehicle for the lyrical content (message).

(Even as I read these two number ones, I’m not really satisfied with their juxtaposition because I don’t think the lyrical meaning and the lyrical quality of the vocal can really be divorced from one another.)

Here are my suggestions for instruments:

Drums – real, not synthesized; a bass drum, a snare drum and a couple other things to bang on strategically and rhythmically (note: the kit does not need to fly, hover or rotate);

1-2 electric guitars with several sound-changing capabilities; effects pedals are great, but don’t overdo it; and you will need some pretty loud (but not too loud) amplifiers;

bass guitar and amplifier.

That is enough.

If you want to integrate one more non-traditional instrument such as the violin, or a horn, that may be an appropriate option, provided your player does not have extensive classical training. If she/he has a vast theoretical musical knowledge, it may be more of a hindrance than a help if the rest of the band is just regular people.

If the horn player or violinist or cellist is really down to earth and humble and willing to keep it simple everything will probably be fine.

Just understand the risks.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Too much racing to blog

After Cranmore, I took most of the week running easy in an attempt to recover for Carver on Saturday.

Sunday night (race PM) I did a short shakeout and felt pretty good.

Monday I ran twice, easy, and felt worse.

Tuesday I ran twice easy, and felt still worse.

By Wednesday afternoon I was starting to come around, but the backs of my legs (glutes, hamstrings, calves) were still aching and stiff from the downhills at Cranmore.

Thursday I did 11 miles at 6:20 pace, which may have been too much too fast too soon, but I wanted to try going a little faster than I had been able to run earlier in the week. Felt pretty good, it was a cooler cloudy day.

Friday I did 7 and a half on the roads at 7:08 pace.

Saturday drove down to Carver with the whole family plus Aaron B. (babysitter). Nice morning that got pretty warm just before the start. I don't know if it was residual Cranmore or not being used to being on the roadds with this many fast guys, or what, but the result was not what I had hoped.
5:15 pace for 5 miles wasn't bad, but I had really hoped to be somewhere in the mid-25's. 26:15 was only good for 25th place overall. Heather ran a 5 or 6 second PR with a 31:36 and was 2nd CMS woman, 16th or 17th overall, helping them to a 3rd place finish.

From there I launched into a vicious cycle of recovering and racing which yielded some pleasant results:

I also worked Monday-Friday at Gordon College Basketball Camp. My Celtics were the NBA (age 12-14) Champs!

Sunday - 7 miles at 6:47 pace;

Monday - 6 miles at 6:31 pace;

Tuesday - 53:39 for 12th overall on a perfect night at Newburyport. I came through 5 miles in 26:30 (only 15 seconds slower than my 5-mile time on Saturday), and felt like I might be able to maintain. Slowed a little in the second half with a couple cramps which resulted in two miles in the 5:30's, but closed well the last two miles, catching Justin Freeman and almost catching Jose Ortiz (kind of).

Splits: (5:10/5:14/5:17/5:23/5:26/5:33/5:36/5:25/5:22/5:13)

Wednesday - 8.19 miles at 7:04 pace

Thursday AM - 5.72 miles at 8:00 pace with Kevin Roberts;

decided around 4 pm to run the Beverly Homecoming 5k.

Brief history at Beverly Homecoming:
1999 - 17:48 (8th)
2000 - 16:29 (2nd)
2002 - 17:22 (8th)
2003 - 17:22 (5th)
2005 - 15:44 (1st)
2006 - 15:27 (1st)
2008 - 16:05 (4th)
2009 - 15:27 (1st)
2010 - 15:25 (2nd)

The 2010 race has stood as my road PR, when I finished 2nd to Tim Richard, who I had beaten the year before. In 2011, we were in Texas, and last year I'm not sure why I didn't run, but I made it over to Lynch Park on a beautifully cool August night for this year's edition.

I warmed up with Jordan Kinley, who I always expect can beat me in a 5k, and saw Tim Richard at the start. He looked fit and I asked him what kind of shape he was in.

"Not very good, " he said.

"Sub-15:30?" I asked.

"Not even close." he answered.

The gun went off and Tim, Jordan and I went to the front, with one other guy for the first three quarters of a mile. It felt like we were moving right along, so I just tried to stay relaxed as we took turns fronting the group or running two and three abreast in the street.

We came through the fast first mile in 4:51. I know the second mile is always 10-20 seconds slower here because of the rolling hills, so that sounded about right for a 15:30-ish finish, which was what I was hoping for. Just before two miles is the biggest hill on the course (which isn't saying much), and I tried to put a little distance on Tim and Jordan here. I came through two miles in 9:59 (5:08 2nd mile) and for all intents and purposes, started my kick. I could hear Tim's footsteps for a stretch on Neptune/Pickman and knew if I could hear him on the driveway into the park that I wouldn't stand a chance, so I just continued to push myself into that discomfort and hope that I was back under 5 minute pace.

I made the turn into Lynch Park and resisted the urge to look back (which is a good thing, because I probably would have slowed if I knew that I was 10-15 seconds up on Tim by that point). Instead, I pounded down the hill and wound my way to the finish in a new road PR of 15:23! Tim was close behind in 15:34 (which is pretty close to sub-15:30 - see comments above), and Jordan was third in 15:45.

I definitely wasn't expecting to run quite so fast, so I was pleased with the outcome. What a difference it made to have company through 2, and then to have their pressure behind me the rest of the way.

Cooled down on the course with Tim and women's winner Larissa Park, who ran 17:14!

Congrats to Team Gloucester ladies (and my wife's new training buddies) Layce Alves and Jenn Brooks, 17:59 and 18:08!

Next up: Hamilton Firefighter "5" Mile this Saturday and then Labor Day: Around Cape Ann 25k or the Goose 7k (haven't decided yet).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

USA Mountain Running Championship at Mt. Cranmore (part two: the race)

After waking up at 5:22 Sunday morning at the Days Inn in Campton, NH, my dad and I quickly packed our stuff into bags and got into the car for the hour and a half ride back to North Conway. I had a number to pick up, and plans to meet my CMS teammate Kevin Tilton for a pair of Inov-8 X-Talon’s to use for the race. My dad had decided he would run up on his own (not race) and find some good spots along the loop to yell encouragement.

We stopped in Lincoln at Dunkin’s for a quality pre-race breakfast: everything bagel with cream cheese, large French vanilla hot coffee with milk and one sugar. The morning was much cooler than the previous day (and week), with temps hovering around 60 on our way to the mountain. This was welcome and awesome, but I was still drinking plenty of water nonetheless. We enjoyed another beautiful ride along the Kancamagus Highway, noting the many trailheads and campgrounds, familiar and unfamiliar.

We arrived at the base of Mt. Cranmore a little before 7:30 am, after gassing up in North Conway. (My dad put about 450 miles on his car on Sat. and Sun. for a trip that is only about 120 miles each way. Oh well.) My dad spotted Kevin Tilton while I was in the bathroom in Zip’s Pub and Grill at the base, and I met up with him to grab shoes and then did a nice, easy warmup for about 15 minutes on the trails around the base of the mountain. When I told Kevin I’d try not to get his shoes too dirty during the race, he told me I could keep them if I liked them. Wow! Thanks, Kevin! I promised him a gift for the little Tilton he and his wife Jess are expecting later this year.

After the warmup, I said bye to my dad and hopped on the triple chair with some time to spare and enjoyed the quiet ride to the summit by myself. I was feeling pretty confident and optimistic about the uphills and the Inov-8 X-Talon 212’s felt great on the warmup, so I hoped I would be liberated to cut loose more on the downhills than I had the day before. At the top, I noted the recognizable US mountain running superstars and legends (Joe Gray, Max King, Tommy Manning, Dave Dunham, etc.) as well as several of the “new” guys (Brandon Birdsong, Zach Ornelas – go blue!, Andy Wacker) I ran around a bit more on the short down/up between the summit and the course and got ready to go. Because the women were still running, the men stayed off to the side of the Kandahar Trail until it was time to go. Even as we got lined up and awaited the command, we left a path open to our left for finishing women to run through.

At 9:15, RD Paul Kirsch said, “Go!” and we were off. I wanted to heed the advice of wiser mountain runners (Thanks, TiVO!) to take it easy on the first downhill and make up ground as I went. I also knew my downhill running has been limited, and I didn’t want to beat myself up too badly in the first few minutes. I felt mostly in control, although at times, I caught myself braking a little too much and I was behind more than 50 people early on in the first descent. As I got comfortable, I started working hard on the flatter sections of the downhill to get by people. I had some split times in the back of my mind, but the unique thing about this event (for me, at least) was that place was going to mean a lot more than time. I think I came through the first mile in 5:34 (I didn’t do a very good job getting splits, mostly because I was more concerned about chasing and catching the vast multitude of people ahead of me.)

I hit the water station at the bottom in about 8 minutes, and figured that was pretty good, since it had taken me ten on Saturday. I think I was around 45th-50th place at this point. Talking to JJ and Eric MacKnight on the cooldown, I think their first mile was around 4:55, so the leaders were probably already a minute or so ahead of me by then. I had passed a few people near the end of the first descent, and powered into the first uphill, determined to catch as many as I could. In hindsight, I probably worked a bit too hard at the beginning of the first climb, but I was feeling inspired at the time.

I caught Todd Callaghan about halfway up and grunted a barely audible greeting. I settled in behind Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson in their fashionable Inov-8 uniforms (I want one!) and eventually drew near each of them and passed them both before the summit. The sections that had seemed steep but runnable on Saturday’s easy one-loop run-through were more challenging after a hard descent. Also, it was difficult to think about having to cover those same stretches a second and third time. So I didn’t think about it.

My dad cheered just below the glades on the first loop and I tossed him my Native sunglasses, which weren’t necessary, and were just providing an extra sweat point. Mostly I was just looking at the ground or the guy in front of me anyway. The top of the first steep section after we came out of the glade we made a left onto a runnable stretch before climbing a little more, but that section became harder to run each time, because my calves and thighs were so spent from ascending. The downhill before the last climb on Kandahar was welcome every time. The first time up Kandahar was hot, with the sun beating down on us. I was content to tuck in behind the runners in front of me and push by them as we neared the top and the end of the first loop. I think I was around 20:30 for the first 4k loop, and I had moved to around 25th-30th place. 

JJ came screaming by me on the second downhill, and I tried to hold the gap he put on me to help me pass some other people. By the time I caught up with him back in the glades on the second climb, I think I had moved into the top 20. He muttered something about not having the mileage, but I know what a ferocious racer and competitor he is, so I take anything he says during a race with a grain of salt. The second time up Kandahar was rough, but the sun was behind the clouds and I was thanking God for that.

The third descent was my fastest of the day. Whether that was because my legs were too tired to slow me down, or because I was learning how to run it a little better each time, I don’t know. I did feel more relaxed that third time.

The third climb was a real grind and I caught myself slipping into a walk on the two steep sections. Pumping the arms rather than resting the hands on the knees turns a power walk back into a run and as I crested Kandahar someone warned, “There’s two guys coming for you!” I kicked it into whatever gear I had left and closed on the finish line.

Crossing the finish line at Mt. Cranmore felt as good as almost any finish line I’ve ever crossed. My dad greeted me, and we walked (limped and huffed) over to the summit lodge and I dripped sweat profusely. He told me he thought I was 14th overall (turned out I was 15th) and that sounded just great. I also knew I had finished ahead of a number of guys I didn't expect to, like former US Team members, Matt Byrne, Tommy Manning (he fell) and Shiloh Mielke. A lot of experienced mountain runners didn't finish the race. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to race well on that day.

Monday, July 22, 2013

USA Mountain Running Championship at Mt. Cranmore (part one)

Friday and Saturday I more or less stuck to my plan of continuing to run twice a day, while keeping the mileage low.

Friday morning I got out early for four miles out and back on the roads, before it got hot. After it hit 90 degrees again, I did four miles in the woods at Gordon College, over hilly terrain, sweating profusely, but very under control.

Saturday morning at 7:45 I did 3 miles on the road after Heather got back from her early morning run/workout/ocean swim with the Team Gloucester ladies. Then she and our three kids headed down to visit her family in northern New Jersey. I packed a few things up and headed up to NH with my dad around 2:00 pm.

We had booked a room in Campton, not realizing how far it was from North Conway. We drove to the mountain first and each ran a loop of the course in light rain. I was about 14 minutes up and about ten minutes down, trying to take it very easy. The uphills felt manageable with two steep sections, the longer of which was on the Kandahar Trail just before the end of each loop. My dad was beginning to question if he was up for the whole effort, or if he would rather spectate and cheer.

We cleaned off a little and hopped in the Volvo for the hour and a half jaunt back to the Days Inn in Campton. Along the Kanc we stopped off for dinner at the Darby Field Inn. I got creole onion soup (very good and spicy hot), a Mt. Washington burger (bacon, cheese, veggies) and a salad plus a couple of Tuckerman IPA's. Afterwards, we enjoyed the beautiful ride along the Kancamagus and arrived at our lodging just as it was getting dark. After a quick shower, I was ready to turn in, but the rest of the world had other ideas...

First off, my dad and I disagree slightly on the issue of Air Conditioning. I would rather have the AC on, no matter the volume of it, because at least the noise is consistent and the room stays cool. My dad, on the other hand, cannot stand loud air conditioning (and the one in our room was pretty ancient and had two volumes - "fairly loud" and "locomotive"). Since he had paid for the room, I decided to defer to his preference, so we left the window of our second floor room open.

At around 10:30, before I had dozed off, I heard a banging in the hallway. It sounded pretty distant, but after about five minutes, it was getting louder, so I decided to investigate. Turns out our room was right next to the washer and dryer and something was in the dryer making a racket. It sounded like someone had thrown their rock collection in there. I went down to the front desk and talked to a Days Inn employee who said he would put a sign up asking people not to do laundry after 10 pm. Ok.

On my way back to the room, I decided I would turn the machine off on my own. As I walked into the laundry room, I saw two other men, neither of whom was the owner of the laundry, with the machine open, pulling out multiple belts with buckles that were going around inside the dryer. I trusted that the issue was resolved and quietly crept back to bed. I lay down and tossed a bit, uncomfortable in our warm room. Convinced my dad was asleep, I closed the window to our room and cranked the AC. For about five minutes, it ran fairly quietly, and then it hit high volume and I heard my dad start to grumble. Somewhere around this point in the night, he made his decision not to run the race the next day. Eventually, as the temperature in the room dropped into the low 70's, I nodded off.

Around 12:30, my dad got up, unable to take the noise of the air conditioner, shut it off and opened the window back up. By this point, the room had cooled sufficiently, so I figured I was ok. About an hour later a few people returning to the hotel decided to hang out underneath our window and talk and smoke a few butts before calling it a night. Of course, our room (which was probably the only one there with the window open), sucked the smoke and the noise right in. My dad was up again to shut the window and we were pretty good until 5:22, when my alarm went off and it was race day morning.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

today's playlist + tomorrow's agenda

01. "Cath..." - Death Cab for Cutie
02. "Ceremony" - New Order
03. "Automatic (LP Version)" - Rainer Maria
04. "The Ditching Boy" - Solas
05. "Golden Brown" - The Stranglers
06. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - Taylor Swift
07. "Blue Boy" - Texas is the Reason
08. "Baby Missiles" - The War On Drugs
09. "Four Provinces" - The Walkmen
10. "Hysteric" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
11. "Our Way to Fall" - Yo La Tengo

Tracks 2,3,5,7,8,9,10 all on regular play while running when listening to music.

Just about perfect mix for today. (I originally created it, in a slightly different order, to accompany a 6 x 1200m workout, which came off without a hitch last Tuesday but without the music.) 6-mile seminary loop. Felt relaxed and somewhat fast. The temps were a bit cooler than yesterday and it felt drier and breezier and much more comfortable. Got to test my "new" pink ipod from the Evans family twice today.

5.63 in 40:09 out and back on the morning loop this AM.

Tomorrow's agenda:
Easy 4 on the roads in the AM
Easy 4 in the woods in the PM in the extreme heat

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

moderately epic trail run

So Cranmore is 4 days out and I have been following the coverage of who is going to be there. Not that I'm intimidated, but there are probably a legitimate 25 (or more) people going who can beat me down and up the mountain 3 times. With that in mind, I headed out into the heat today to maintain fitness, boost confidence and explore some new territory. I skipped out on the morning run today with the race this weekend, (although I'll probably try to run twice tomorrow) and delayed getting out this afternoon until after 2:00. It was in the upper 80's, sunny with a little breeze and I got into the woods and stayed on the same rocky rooty hilly single tracks I've run a few times in the past few weeks. I was on the spruce swamp trail and the cheever commons loop; the pulpit rock and the grassy ridge trails in the manchester-essex woods as well as some of the more technical trails through Gordon Woods. I turned around at 6 miles (52:20) and tried to back track, but made one wrong turn which the Garmin helped me correct (first time I've used it for that). Wound up covering 12.55 in 1:51:58, with lots of ups and downs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hot Tuesday

6:00 am - met Pastor Derek for a 5.5 mile jaunt through Appleton Farms to get the day started

10:58 am - headed up to the track to try some 1000 meter repeats in the heat. The track was pretty warm when I got up there, and had just been vacated by the kids' soccer camp using the turf infield this week. (they must have been dying up there all morning!) I did two miles for a warmup, ditched the singlet a couple laps in and got ready for the all out sweat bath. First 1000 was 3:04 which was okay, given the conditions. I jogged a 600 at about 6:40 pace (2:33) and headed into 1000 #2 - 3:09. Number 3 was the same. The fourth was a 3:10 and the fifth a sobering 3:15 with an 80 second last quarter. The conditions were tough, so I was just glad to get through some kind of a hard effort with three big races coming up in a nine day span (Cranmore, Carver, Yankee Homecoming). I trust that the next time I get up there and conditions are cooler, things will be easier.

Now I need to figure out how much to back off before the weekend without feeling like a total bum.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Update


7:17 am - After Heather returned from her third Saturday early, early, early morning run with the Team Gloucester ladies, I ran 10 on the roads at 6:40 pace. Soaked as usual. 101 miles for the week, most so far in 2013.
Checked out the NE Running Company Tent Sale with Heather as the first half of our afternoon date. I grabbed a pair of Nike Lunarflys for $20, plus a singlet and a pair of shorts. Heather got two pairs of shoes, two pairs of shorts and a singlet. Grand total = $135 - $50 gift certificate = $85. Not bad. Green tea peach lemonade from Starbucks after standing in the hot parking lot for an hour or so hit the spot. Full NERC crew working the sale - Dave, Wes, Derek, EJN, etc. Also saw CMS teammate Dan Vassallo and his wife arriving as we were leaving.


6:06 am - a lot of internal dialogue going on between the time my alarm went off at 5:15 and the time I got out of bed at 5:57 (yes I should, no I shouldn't kind of stuff). Ended up being a pretty good run on the fourteen mile loop through Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich. Threw in a Sagamore Hill for good measure. Total 14.56 in 1:36:10. Started around 6:45's finished with some 6:20's and faster. Soaked again. Enjoyed running in the lunarflys and other new gear from the tent sale.

Monday morning

5:59 am - full morning loop to kick off the working week. 8.2 miles in 56:28. Ben's first day of Gordon College Little Scots' Soccer Camp started at 8:30, so he came into work with me which was awesome.

Checked out some of entrants for this Sunday's Cranmore race here. With the 18 guys mentioned in the article, plus the best New England mountain runners, it will be a stacked field. Looking forward to trying out the Inov-8 X-Talons thanks to Kevin Tilton!

Monday afternoon

1:34 pm - 85 degrees, mostly sunny; 9.63 miles, mostly in Gordon Woods in 1:14:06

Friday, July 12, 2013

PC/CP (Pastoral Care / Cranmore Prep)

7:00 am - nice run and conversation with Pastor Derek at Appleton Farms. A little stiff at the outset and headed out across the Farms then back through the Grass Rides. (5.68/44:51)

12:26 pm - Tried to stick to the most technical trails, single track, rocks, roots, steep hills, etc. in Gordon Woods to get ready for next weekend's Mt. Cranmore race. I already have much love for the mountain circuit after the gracious treatment RD Paul Kirsch has shown me. If I can procure some X-Talons in time, I will be golden. Did the run today in my Saucony Fastwitch, which will probably be the default shoe if I don't find something better soon.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"the best pair of legs on the north shore"

Maybe it was just because I had extra short shorts on today.

Or maybe I was really looking that good, that someone was inspired, with window down, to yell as they passed that "those (mine) are the best pair of legs on the North Shore!"

So it was a man in his 50's (who I know), whose son used to beat me in 5k's 10 years ago. He isn't a blood relation, so I'll take it. I definitely kicked it in with a little extra vigor.

Sometimes that's all it takes.

12 miles out and back in 1:20 from Gordon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


6:36 am - out the door slowly this morning, still feeling some residual effects from yesterday's track workout. Had an hour to run before the life insurance woman came to draw our blood at the kitchen table over breakfast plus Heather was deferring to the afternoon run since my mom would be able to watch the kids. did the full 8-mile (8.19) morning loop, just holding 7's. Came back and showered, had breakfast and went to work.

2:27 pm - Pretty warm and humid, though nothing like last week. A little bit of an ocean breeze. Decided the woods were the place to be, so headed into Gordon Woods and tried to take a few roads less travelled, especially where they involved steep inclines and declines. Trying to get used to letting go on the downhills and just giving gravity a chance to make me go faster. Stayed in for 10+ in 1:35. Feeling good.

Next steps: sign up for Cranmore, get some shoes to run it in. Any suggestions for footwear would be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two-fer Tuesday

Heather (my wife) took the early time slot for the AM run and was back from 10 by 7:20. I headed out and back for 6 miles in just under 40 minutes, with plans for a track workout a little later on.

At 11:30 I jogged up to the outdoor track and warmed up with 2 miles.

The plan was 6 x 1200m @ 3:45 (or faster) with 800m recoveries. I wanted the recoveries longer (relatively) than last week's mile repeats so the quality of the 1200's would be better. The first was 3:45 and that would be the slowest. Followed with a 3:42, 3:41, 3:39, 3:38 and finished with a 3:34. Cooled down for two miles on the track plus the third of a mile back to my office down the hill.

What a difference a week (and 15 degrees cooler, and longer recovery) makes!

I think I got Heather's blessing to head to Cranmore in 2 weeks, so everything will be prep for that now. I would love to get into the mountains early next week...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday pm (coachpphunk 1, flying insects 0)

Nice run in the woods of Gordon this afternoon. Close to 10 miles in 1:15 or so. Swallowed some kind of flying bug (probably a deer fly, based on the abundance of them that were following me most of the time) and did the reflexive gag/hack cough without any success. 10 minutes later it felt like the thing was trying to crawl out my throat. I was just hoping it wasn't a bee, waiting for my air passage ways to close up.

Still warm, still completely soaked, but much more comfortable than last week.

man, I love my wife

Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I had planned to get up early and run before church and the heat, but I wanted the extra rest and recovery, so I stayed in bed until 8, while Heather did her miles for the day. I spent the rest of the morning grumbling and yelling at small children who crossed my path. At my wife's insistence, I packed my running things when we left for church, and (after an especially penitent morning listening to Pastor Greg's sermon) I did 10 miles of the fourteen-mile loop through Ipswich and Hamilton, from church back to our house.

Felt so much better after getting out. Relaxed most of the rest of the day and read about Loon results as the reports trickled in. Nice to see Kevin Tilton pleased with his fifth place finish and writing about it on his long-since-updated blog. I am really thinking about Cranmore now...

This morning, I got in 8.2 miles on my normal morning road loop through Beverly and Wenham. Headed to the woods this afternoon, God willing...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday morning

10 miles at 7:30 am after Heather returned from her second EARLY Saturday am workout with Team Gloucester. Felt better than yesterday, temps around 80 with high humidity. Most miles in the 6:40's.

86 miles for the week, and feeling good. A couple more good weeks and some speed (and a little cooler weather), and I'll be feeling good about Carver and Newburyport..

Excited to hear about how Loon goes this weekend; maybe next year I'll get up there.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Running in the heat

Left Gordon at about noon; it was getting pretty close to ninety degrees, although there was a little breeze. In the sun it was pretty hot, so I tried to find the shady side of the street where there was one. I hoped to do twelve miles, and have been feeling pretty good the last few days with longer single runs (read: too lazy to get out of bed when the alarm went off this morning, so stuck trying to get the days miles in one run). I kept it conservative heading out, knowing I would be out for an hour and twenty minutes or more. Headed down Hull St. to Centerville, then Standley Street over 128, onto the Beverly Homecoming course at Boyles, out to 127. I ran north on 127, which follows the coast through Endicott College and up to Beverly Farms. A couple stretches along here I was treated to an arctic-feeling breeze off the water, which helped delay the overheating. Turned around right by West Beach and slogged my way back. I was more comfortable than yesterday morning, but still got that squishy soaked-foot of sweat the last couple miles.

Just over 12 miles at 6:50 pace.

It looks like tomorrow and Sunday are going to hit ninety, then maybe a little milder next week, which will be nice. I trust that getting out and getting the miles these hot days is going to help during those hot races later this month.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

14 on the 4th

got up early (5:35) and out the door just before 6 to get some miles in for the day. I knew it was going to be hot later and I wanted to spend some time with family, so Heather and I both wanted to be done by breakfast.

My goal was 14, and I had to average 6:40's with an empty stomach to make it happen. I felt surprisingly good, given the humidity and higher recent mileage, which I think I'm starting to adjust to. After a 7:18 opener, I kept them all between 6:20 and 6:45, with some definite focus required to hold on the last few. Glad to have the rest of the day to relax.

Looks like the next few days are going to be hot.

I'm trying to put together the ultimate ipod mix for some 1200's early next week.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


11:12 am - How thankful I am for the freedom to run midday (even when it is hot and humid). Headed out across Wenham and into Topsfield, 8 miles out and back mostly on the roads in 1:51.

Had the best tasting 20 ounces of Sunkist on earth when I got back.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A couple Tuesday runs

6:20 am - just over 8 with about a mile and a half in the woods

10:00 am - coffee with Crystal Anthony; always inspiring to talk with someone who competes on the world stage - she will be competing in the CRAFT bike Transalp - over 600km with 18000 vertical meters later this month!!

1:15 pm - just over 9 with about a mile and a half in the woods - beautiful breeze and much cooler air temps made this one very enjoyable.

(If I could just do this everyday for the rest of my life I would have a running log like DD's.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

4 x mile - BOOOooo.....m (little m).

After figuring out at least part of the reason I have been feeling less than my best the last few days (see previous post), I headed out into the teeth of the heat at 12:30 this afternoon, unafraid of the steam rising off the track and ready to take on all-comers.

I was the only one up there.

I decided on some repeat miles, which are one of my favorite workouts (3-6 of them) on the track. Generally, when I am fit, I can run them right around 5:00. I usually take a longer rest (1200m @ 6:40-7:00 pace, which is just over 4 min.). Today I decided to see if I could do 4 at 4:56 (or faster?) with 800m recoveries (3:30-4:00). It was definitely warm and humid, but I embraced it today, in the spirit of the Yankee Homecoming 10-mile, which is coming up later this summer.

2011 finish pic from Peter McLelland

2012 finish pic from Peter McLelland

Note the completely saturated shorts in both pictures.

Actually, today was a little more like this "fuzzy" shot from the '06 Melody Miles in Hamilton.

Unfortunately, today's workout results don't deserve the full "Boom." of the John Madden / Level Renner vernacular, but were more like:

Mile 1 - 5:02 ("Boom?")
Mile 2 - 5:02 ("Boo..?")
Mile 3 - 5:08 ("Bo..")
Mile 4 - 5:11 ("B-b-b")

(For an appropriate usage of the term, see Mr. MacKnight's workout from last Thursday)

A little disheartening, but then again, I went up there expecting to run 4 miles by myself on the track faster than I ever had before. I will probably try to re-visit this workout in a couple weeks.

figured out the problem, no problem (or maybe there is)

Yesterday's afternoon run was one of the worst/toughest of my life. For no visible reason, I struggled mightily for 4+ miles in the humidity, then took a left turn to shorten my misery from 10 miles to eight. After I turned off the main road, I took off my shirt and started to walk. The four miles home or so, I alternated walking and running, hanging my head and thinking about retiring from the sport completely. No enjoyment at all, which is a rare thing for me on a run. This was the third or fourth day in a row where the humidity seemed to be almost too much for me, even though it hasn't really been that hot. Also had kind of a drag week at work last week, but I had attributed that to travel back from NJ, plus a pretty significant mileage increase the week before.

So, this morning, I slept in a little - Heather did 10 miles before I got up - and then I got up to get going and get breakfast ready. Started to make coffee, and realized that the Caribou Coffee I've been drinking (trusting, relying upon) for the past five days is DECAF!!! I quickly switched the bag with another bag of Caribou from the cupboard, triumphant! Even with the first few sips, I felt like my life was being restored to me. This morning, in my office, I have sent a half dozen emails that I couldn't get together last week. Glad to feel like everything is back in its right place. I'm only slightly concerned about the way my life collapsed into a shambles with five days of decaf... (I did get to enjoy a latte on Saturday afternoon, or I don't want to think what might have happened.)

Today: look out track, here I come!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Friday, Saturday

10.23 this morning in 1:06:42. Third day in a row that I have been completely soaked by the end of the run, like jumped in a pool soaked. I can't stand still without leaving a puddle where I'm standing soaked. And the temps are only in the 70's.  I just need to get used to it, I guess.

Yesterday I did 5 and a quarter in the morning out and back with a little loop in the woods. In the afternoon I was d-r-a-g-ging, but I convinced myself it would be better to do something than nothing. I decided I would do six, and ended up doing 10, so that was good.

I need to get on the track soon and get my legs going a little bit.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

back to MA

Tuesday morning did the 9-mile loop with Heather before leaving New Jersey; a nice bookend to our trip down there.

Yesterday I met up with Derek B. in the afternoon for 6 or so in the woods (Garmin was dead) of Gordon.

Today I got after a 12 and a half mile loop averaging 6:25's for the whole deal after starting out just under 7's. I was 39:56 for 6 miles, so I came back around 6:15's for the last 6. Felt good; completely drenched even though it was only in the 60's. 96% humidity or something like that.

Fiesta 5k in Gloucester tonight will be cooler than most years - I won't be making it out for that one. Hopefully find something to race around or on the 4th of July.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Jersey report

Headed down to my inlaws on Thursday morning for some time with my wife's family. I got out early on Thursday for 8 miles before we left. Dropped our friend Aaron off in Nyack on the way down so he could propose to his girlfriend (she said yes!), and arrived in the middle of the afternoon.

My wife's parents live on the side of a pretty big mountain, and the end of their driveway is about half way up it, so every time you head out for a run, you have to decide if you want to start out uphill or start out downhill.

Friday morning Heather and I headed uphill at the start for a 9:02 first mile en route to 9 miles at 7:45 pace.

Saturday I did a hilly 17 and a half miles with Heather's brother Andrew in just over 2 hours. Longest run in a while.

Sunday I did the same 9-mile loop that Heather and I did on Friday in a little over an hour.

Today (Monday) I did 9 out and back in the midday heat in just under an hour.

Good week last week - close to 78 miles, which is my most since January. The 17+ on Saturday was my longest run since February or March.

Next races are likely to be Carver and Newburyport in late July. Hope to get a couple good track workouts in beforehand.