Thursday, April 24, 2008

Signed up for Mount Washington

I signed up for the Mount Washington road race today. I didn't get in through the lottery though. I applied for a bypass number through GCS and I was granted one. Thank you GCS! Although I might not be so thankful come race day. :) A bypass number allows you to run the race, but you need to either volunteer yourself at the race, or bring along a volunteer. I plan to bring along my son, Dave, who is 13 and who wants to run this race next year. The minimum age to run this race is 14 so I told him he might want to see what this race is all about before actually signing up. :)

So why did I sign up? There are 2 main reasons. One is that I've done 1 or 2 hill workouts in the past 6 months and I'd hate to throw all that training away. The other reason is I'd love to tackle that hill one more time to see if I could run a faster time.

I've run this race twice before. The first time was on June 18, 2005 where I ran a 1:28:07. This was my first time running this race and I didn't know what to expect so I ran conservatively. The second time was on June 17th, 2006 where I ran a 1:23:56. I trained harder this time and I ran an even race. The weather was pretty good on both races which was a benefit to me. I've heard that there have been some years where the weather was a definite factor. :)

I was on the fence about signing up for this race, even after being granted a bypass number. The reason is that I don't feel that I'm in shape enough to run this race. I gained some weight over the winter and I'm having a hard time losing it. There is no mystery for the weight gain. I know exactly how I got it. I was eating and drinking too much, and exercising too little. I gained about 15 pounds during the winter. That is huge, especially if you plan to run up a mountain. The weight is now coming off slowly, and I hope to be back down to race weight by race day.

I know there are a couple of my MFM RTB mates running MW also. First, there's Steve Wolfe who appears to be in great shape these days. And then there's Mark Wimmer who is a fantastic hill runner. Both of these guys have run some impressive times so far such as 1:26/1:27 at the Great Bay 1/2 marathon on April 6th, and 1:09/1:13 at the Merrimack River trail race in Andover, MA on April 12th.

Along with current members, there is an MFM RTB alumni running as well. Rae Coates will be trying to lower her own best time of 1:23:12 which she set on June 18th, 2005. This is 44 seconds better than my PR so it will be interesting when we race this year to see who wins. The year she set this PR is the same year that I ran a 1:28. I remember when she past me early in the race. She was moving at a good clip and I thought she was going to hit the wall and I would scamper past her. But she kept going and ran a great race. I won't make that same mistake this year. If she goes by me, I'm locking on and staying with her for as long as I can.

Now, if I can only shed this extra weight and time travel back to get in 1 more year of hill training, I think I'll feel ready. Otherwise, I don't feel ready at all. But I always feel like that. So I'll just continue doing my meager training and see what happens on race day.

I'll report back after the race and describe what happened. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How about we plug this thing back in?

Is this thing on?
If only we could get the blog lady to update the title to reflect 2008...
I can't wait to find out how fat Delahunty is and how much running Denis isn't doing.
Don't worry, capt Fly is always here to cheer us up and motivate the team!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Captains Awards

2007 RTB – Mine Falls Milers - Captains Awards:

The Degree of Difficulty Award –
Steve Tomasi
Nobody had more obstacles to overcome than Mr. T. First, he was the “New Guy” that only knew the “Fast Guy” (Mark). Second, we put him on the opening leg where he had to actually race “live people” while the whole team watched. Third, he started his second leg only after some Captain induced panic/chaos at the VTA. Finally, he had to run his last leg completely blind since it was the only leg that was not provided with an updated elevation profile after the last minute course changes. Of course, all his pain & suffering was rewarded when he clicked off a sure-to-be RTB record 52 road kills on his journey over Mt. Delight!
The Hand Grenade Award – Mark Wimmer
Our team owes a debt of gratitude to Mark for his leaping on the hand grenade that was Leg #3. Mark really took one for the team on this one as he powered his way 8.0 miles (not 7.7 as originally reported) up the toughest part of the Kangamangnus. For most of us, this one devastating leg would have been enough for us to quit or feign injury. But, not for Mark. Despite this punishing start to his RTB, he pushed through and ran very impressive times on some of the hardest terrain in the state. The overall success of our team was a direct result of Mark’s personal sacrifice!
The Hammer Award – Raelyn Crowell
5:13. Period. There’s really not much more that needs to be added to describe how hard Rae put the hammer down on the race (and her competition) this year. Except to say that her phenomenal first leg was just the beginning as she cranked out a team leading 6:13 average pace on her 16 mile journey through the New Hampshire woods. A few hours before the race began, in true Raelyn fashion, she pulled me aside and said that I shouldn’t expect too much from her this time. Of course, since I’ve captained at least 8 of Rae’s relay teams over the years, I knew that this was just her way of saying she was ready to kick some ass!
The Shadow Award – Kerry Litka
Kerry was put in the unenviable position of having to follow up one of the toughest acts in relay racing. When the teammate that runs immediately before you is putting up some jaw dropping times it can be easy to wilt under the pressure. But, Kerry proved she was up to the challenge as she put it all out there and matched Raelyn step for step. On Leg #2 Kerry followed up Rae’s 6:50 with a 6:46 in the torrential rain. And, when Rae ran a stunning 6:22 on her final leg, Kerry calmly step to the line and cranked off a 6:21. Of course, if she knew that her van mates had committed the winner of their Leg #3 duel to run an extra leg if needed, she may have backed off :02 per mile. Nah, probably not!
The Mr. Cool Award
– John Green
Nobody made it look easier than John Green. He didn’t make a peep all relay long as he quietly ran his appointed legs in a cool sub 6:42 pace. John was relaxed and ready for this year’s RTB and he took a whopping 35 seconds per mile off of his pace from last year. In addition to running some fast times, John unselfishly spent a good portion of time behind the wheel while his captain was in the back seat licking his post-run wounds!
The Attitude Adjustment Award – Denis Tranchemontagne
Despite his well-known penchant for pre, post & mid-race belly-aching, Denis shed his “Chardonnay” moniker and became one of the most useful members of Van #2. Not only did Denis run more miles than any of his van mates (17) he ran them at a very quiet and respectable pace (6:38). In fact, Denis was so accommodating this year, that his overall actual pace was the closest of anyone’s to their pre-race predicted pace. Now that’s a team player!
The Comeback Kid Award – Steve Delahunty
Yeah, Steve was a pain both before and after the race. And, his “Did anyone blow-up yet?” comment after the first leg didn’t win him any fans in Van #1 either. But, you gotta’ give credit where credit is due. After his total meltdown in last weeks ½ marathon, Steve pulled it together and ran the second fastest overall pace on the team with a very impressive 6:24. So, I’ll rephrase my pre-race prediction by saying, “Wow, from 2nd, to 7th, to 12th, and back to 2nd again!?!? Has anyone in RTB team history fell so far, & recovered so fast?” How’s the whiplash treating ya’ Steve?
The Most Improved Award – Ryan O’Hara
While his van mates might credit this award to his inordinate amount of back seat napping and even vote him “most useless”, there is no denying that Ryan was this year’s biggest surprise. Heck, just having him with the team prior to the start of the race was a big surprise. All joking aside however, it was clear to me from the start that Ryan came to this RTB on a mission. And, his 37 second per mile improvement over last years pace certainly proved that!
The Lonely Heart Award - Brian Coates
We know it must have been hard for Brian to see his girl fraternizing with another van. Surely if his Captain had realized that this was the first time in RTB history that the Coates/Crowell combo had been split apart, he would have made some adjustments. But, to Brian’s credit, there was no vengeance in his eyes when he saw Rae and her van mates at the occasional VTA. And, thankfully the only carnage was out on the course as Brian ripped off 6:35’s and accumulated some tasty road kills!
The Mr. Consistent Award – Steve Wolfe
Steve could have easily won a truckload of awards this year. He could have won “Comeback of the Year” after his multiple knee surgeries, months of rehab and slow but sure return to form. He could have won “Sandbagger of the Year” since his overall actual pace was the furthest away from his pre-race predicted pace. And, he could have won “Best Actor” when he showed no signs of wanting to choke me after my VTA debacle. However, this year, Steve has won the “Mr. Consistent” award for running nearly the exact same pace two years in a row. Last year he ran 6:33 pace, and this year he did it one better by running an even 6:32!
The Patient Saint Award – Molly Zahr
Molly is deserving of this award for two reasons. Firstly, as the last runner in the last van she had to wait the most amount of time before her 2007 RTB actually began. Molly had to sit around and hear stories of how everyone’s first leg went before she had her “opportunity” to run at 9:30pm (more than 12 hours after she left her house that morning). Secondly, Molly had to wait the most amount of time after finishing a leg before the next runner showed up to take the baton. I’m sure 5:13 never felt so long. Of course, 24 hours in a van with Delahunty couldn’t have been a bargain either!

The Self Restraint Award – Kevin McIntyre
As the teams first alternate, Kevin took his "Last Kid Picked" status in stride. Despite the fact that Kevin trained with most of the runners on the team leading up to RTB, he never once tried to trip any of us during a group run, or poison our water bottles, or even casually mention that we'd "lost a step" in hopes that we'd lose heart and drop out of the race allowing him to jump in and save the day. Stuck on the outside looking in, Kevin had to endure countless emails from excited runners looking forward to an awesome team event that he knew he had no chance in hell of participating in. Of course, it was probably a wash since the team did have to endure Kevin inviting himself to the various group outings. Fortunately for the team, no one got injured and everyone got to run. Well, everyone but Kevin, that is. Better luck next year Pal!

Monday, September 24, 2007

RTB 2007: The Movie

Here is a little trailer of our soon to be released feature length film on our racing odyssey.

Leg 35 and 36: Molly Brings it Home and the Epilogue

Leg 35: 2.90 miles – 12:46pm – 18:02 (6:13 pace)

We’ve driven ahead to the final VTA at the new Sandown HS. We are so far ahead that the VTA is nearly empty. No runners will come through for a couple of hours and the porta-potties are still clean. This is really cool. The sun is now up but it’s still raining a bit so we all stay in the van, me crammed into the front passenger seat again. I curse Ryan to myself for snagging the back seat…again. He runs hard, he sleeps harder.

We all try to sleep, most don’t but we do have some quiet time for a couple of hours. Denis is antsy, I think he wants to run. My legs are killing me and it hurts to run. I start to worry about how I’ll be able to run my last leg. Trent stops by our van and we all have some small talk. He is not worthy of our van and he is shooed away. Suddenly the winds pick up and the rains come again. We check our watches, 11am, just like Mark said. Maybe he should do the spreadsheet for next year…

We get to TA35 and I start to get ready. Again, no vans and clean bathrooms at the North Hampton School. This is really weird but kind of nice. My legs are really sore and I lather them up with Ironman Pain Relief Cream hoping for a miracle. I decide not to warm up and try to run, opting for the ‘give me the baton and let’s see what happens’ approach.

I take the baton and head out for what at the time was listed as a 3 mile run. It hurts but I know it’s only 3 miles. I feel like I’m running fast and I pass a few more runners but they are few and far between at this point. I LOVE this run though, a nice flat to gentle downhill run on mostly quiet streets. The transition comes up faster than I thought but I’m glad to see Molly waiting on the sidewalk. Transition goes well and I’m done and feel good about my run. I check my watch: 18:02. Holy crap I think, I nearly ran 6 minute miles on my 3rd leg! Very happy indeed. Later I find the leg is a little short but I’m still happy, having made up (in my mind) for my less than stellar run on leg 2.

Overall time: 18:02 with an average pace of 6:13.

Leg #36 4.3 miles
This was it. I was finally about to be finished. I spent the morning thinking about how nice it must've been for van 1 to pass off to us and then go out and have a nice breakfast, while we were still eating bagels in the van and trying to grab a faint hint of sleep in the transition area. The rain had rolled in once again, but seemed to pass by pretty quickly. One by one, my team mates finished up their last legs and I still waited and waited... At least by then I wasn't tired anymore and I wasn't dreading my last run. I knew I could make it 4.3 miles. We had passed most of the teams by then, and there was hardly anyone left. I took the bracelet from Steve 1 last time and took off. I spent the better part of the first mile trying to get the bracelet to stay on my wrist. Which one of you broke it so it didn't wrap all the way around? Once I determined that it wasn't going to fall off, I set my sights on the only runner in front of me. It took me until we got to the ocean to get past him, just after the two of us almost got hit by a truck crossing route 1. There was a cop blocking traffic at the first intersection, but not the second one. I passed him right on the coast but only stayed in front for 2 or 3 minutes. He came back up to my side and I asked him what time his team started the day before. When I heard 11:30, 3 hours after we had started, I knew I wasn't going to have to race him. So I didn't fight too hard when he started to pull away. I just kept my eyes up the beach, searching for the finish line festivities. I got to pass plenty of old people out for their Saturday strolls, wondering what the heck we were doing running down the sidewalk there with numbers on. My legs were hurting, but not as much as I expected them to. I finally came around a corner and had a race official ask for my number and then was handed a baton to carry in to the finish as they pointed me to run along the sand. All of that running and sleeping in a van and I had to run the last quarter mile on soft sand. That wasn't fun. But I just kept running and made it towards the finish line where there were 2 separate chutes: 1 for the runner (that would be me) and 1 for the rest of the team. I was so fixated on finishing that I didn't even see my team, but apparently at least some of them crossed the line with me. Our 5th place finish was secure, although we didn't find out until later. I was thrilled to be done, and also humbled by being on a team with such incredible runners. Thanks to everyone. I had a blast!

Epilogue – Hampton Beach by Michael W.

Looking back at our eventful 24 hours over a plate of eggs, hash browns and wheat toast with my van mates at a diner in Kingston, and later with the full team in Hampton, I realized how fortunate we were. We were able to come together to run what is quickly becoming one of the most popular Relay races in North America. We ran from Cannon Mountain in beautiful Franconia Notch, through some of the most scenic (and hilly) roads that our state has to offer, before finishing 203 miles later at Hampton Beach. Even with the foul up at the VTA, we ended up completing the race in 23:08:01, at an average pace of 6:44 per mile and finished in 5th place overall (out of 350+ teams). However, far more important than the time we ran, was the time we had. We had a blast running this race and truly enjoyed the camaraderie that can only be achieved during the ups and downs of this type of team adventure. As it turned out, I didn’t need to “atone” for my mistake. My teammates did that for me. Everyone ran their hearts out and brought us in well below our expected time. Our unofficial team motto was "200 miles, 24 hours, 12 people, 2 vans and unlimited insults". But, after having shared this year’s RTB with our team of friends I'd have to add "A lifetime of memories" as well!

Leg 23 and 24

Leg 23: 6.25 miles – 4:52am – 41:48 (6:41 pace)

We got to the 2nd VTA at Laconia Tech around 11:30pm or midnight and it was packed. Bodies (sleeping bags) covering most of the grassy areas (for some reason I thought of Jim Jones and his cool aid drinking cult). Anyways, Steve Delahunty went inside for some nice warm food, I opted for turkey soup, Steve D picking Chili. Chili? This is not good, especially for his van mates.

I was hoping to get some rest/sleep so I grabbed my sleeping bag and found some nice quiet grass about 100yds from the transition area….NOT. Apparently this is not a quiet zone. After enduring constant screaming from the runners at the TA station I finally started to doze off and then the rains came. Thankfully, just sprinkles to start to make sure you were awake, then the downpours. All the body bags came to life and headed for cover, I headed for the front passenger seat of our van, and making sure I kept the light on as long as possible so that no one else was able to sleep. At the time, I thought it was fair. It is now 1am, I have no sleep and will run again in less than 4 hours. Oooh, I can’t wait.

The second leg starts in my hometown of Pittsfield. As we pull into the TA, I spot my younger brother volunteering, Denis yells something like ‘we’ve got your brother’ and we go and park. I walk up and chat with him for a while and then decide to get ready for my run. It is raining….still.

Brian is cranking and comes in early but I’m ready. Again, he’s racing someone in and I take off with another runner, heading for the Epsom traffic circle roughly a 10k away. I’m hoping this will be an easier run, no real hills, mostly flat. I run hard for the 1st mile finding someone to race with. Good, I like competition, this should be fun. However, after a mile, he fades back….never to be seen again. I know start to focus on the seemingly endless line of red blinkie lights all along Rt28. I feel like I’m working hard but again I have no idea of my pace. I start passing runners, lots of runners, 5, 10, 15. I remember Ryan’s phenomenal roadkill total of 33 from his last leg and I keep that number in my head. 20, 25, 30. It’s a killing field. I start counting ahead to see how many kills are still available. 35, 36, 37 and finally 38. I really want to hit 40 but I have less than a mile to go and I can’t see anyone or at least anyone within range of catching. 38 roadkills it is (a personal record) and once again I see a tall blond runner standing at the TA. I’m running hard and I overshoot the transition…still with the baton in my hand. Whoops, sorry Molly. Leg number 2 is done.

Overall time: 41:48 with an average pace of 6:41. I’m disappointed with my time. The effort felt faster than that. Crap.

Leg #24 6.9 miles
My second leg was the hardest one for me to mentally prepare myself for. It was my longest leg, and I knew I wanted to do it fast enough to be respectable, but not so hard that I wasn't going to be able to run my last leg. It was also hard knowing that very soon after I was only finished with my second leg, many of my team mates would be done with their races entirely. After lying down for a while but not sleeping at all, I watched my van mates do their runs in the rain and wasn't particularly excited for when it would be my turn. But inevitably, it was. The transition area had become a lot more crowded as we caught up to some of the later starters, but I saw Steve coming in and I was off once again. It was about 5:40 in the morning, which is a common time for me to train. The faintest hint of daylight was starting to show, although the sun was hidden by the clouds. I lucked out and didn't have to run in the torrential rain that I'd heard earlier from the safety of the van, but it was still sprinkling and wet out. I'll admit that I didn't have high hopes for running a good pace on that leg. I really didn't think I was capable of it. But having seen how fast my team mates were going, I had to at least try to hit my projected pace. I decided that lungs burning = ok, legs hurting = not ok. It was a series of rolling hills as I made my way to Bear Brook State Park. Many other runners were lined up in front of me, primed for the road killing. It began early, and I racked them up pretty quickly. At least 4 of them were walking, so I'm not sure if that counts, but I'll take it. This was the only one of my legs that was long enough that I asked my van to stop and give me water at about mile 4. I started to get worried when I didn't see them until about 30 minutes in, but they were beyond 4, so that made me feel a bit better. It was getting brighter and I didn't need the light of my head lamp anymore. The normal people were waking up and cars that weren't part of the race were on the road once again. I turned the corner and headed towards Bear Brook State Park, still trying to reel in as many runners in front of me as I could. I passed a member of the Google team, which made me feel good because I had heard that they were fast. By the end of my leg I had amassed 24 road kills and didn't get passed once. I ran down the final hill and was thrilled to see that I actually had a team mate to hand off to. My second leg was done. Most of the team would be done racing in a few short hours, but I still had a long time to wait.