Tuesday, October 2, 2007
2007 RTB –
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
The Hand Grenade Award – Mark
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!
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
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
Nobody made it look easier than John
The Attitude Adjustment Award – Denis
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
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
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
The Mr. Consistent Award – Steve
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
The Self Restraint Award – Kevin McIntyre
Monday, September 24, 2007
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
Epilogue – Hampton Beach by Michael W.
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
Leg 11: 6.04 miles – 8:43pm – 39:36 (6:33 pace)
A lot of things were going through my mind waiting for Brian to come in at TA11 (Brass Heart Inn). Most importantly, would I be the one that gets passed by Hello Kitty. Our incredible team had been holding off their runners for the last couple of legs but they were getting closer. I really hoped Brian would be the fall guy and not me (sorry Brian).
I have to admit, my running abilities were a complete unknown even to me. When I committed to this race back in March I was already coming back from one knee surgery and a blood clot a couple months earlier. Then in April I was struck (or run over) by the injury bug (or bus) again…tearing the meniscus in my other knee and having surgery on that one too. Needless to say, I was a little anxious when it was my turn to run.
My handy-dandy spreadsheet said Brian should finish at 8:45pm so I got lit up, did a couple strides and then figured it was pointless and proceeded to the transition area to wait for Brian. At 8:43 I see him racing up the hill with Hello Kitty guy right in front of him. I take the baton and I’m off, with Mr. Kitty right in front of me now. Since he’s the only runner I can see (it is bitch friggin black out) I try to stay with him as best I can. We run together for the 1st mile or so, some small talk and then I think he gets annoyed with me and picks up the pace. I feel pretty good, realize I’m probably running above my means but I keep pushing. It’s still a race and this guys pulling away. The next couple of miles had some killer hills and I seem to gain on him on the ups and that’s encouraging. Now deep down I know this is probably one of there slower runners but I don’t care, it feels good to be racing again. Van 2 is waiting just after ½ way, I think I grab some water and continue on. This is my first relay that I started in the dark, and this road is DARK. No cars, no runners (except HK) no streetlights, nothing. HK now has about 50yds on me and we’re starting to see an occasional runner, which we kill (in a roadkill kind of way). I have no idea what pace I’m running but I’m not holding anything back, applying the Delahunty race rule of go out hard and hold on at the end (note to self, not a good plan for a 3-leg relay). At about 5 miles we hit Rt16 and I know White Lake State Park (the next TA) is not far away. I also note I’m starting to gain on Mr. Kitty. I pick it up some more, getting closer and closer. I see the glow of the transition lights over the next hill and race down to hand off to Molly. She’s easy to spot, a 6+ft blond standing in the middle of the woods of NH. I hand off (or up) and keep on running a bit, having narrowed the HK gap to just a few yds. One down, two to go and I feel good about my run.
Overall time: 39:36 with an average pace of 6:33. Sweet.
It is true there was some disappointment when we got to the next TA and Van 1 was not there, having preferred to stay at another transition to avoid all that fuss that goes along with teams handing off the baton. I was disappointed because we were competing with the team that had won this race last year (even though they actually started a 1/2hr after we did), and we were having a lot of fun with it. It was definitely a mental letdown when we found out van 1 was not there. Yes, I was mad but contrary to what others have said or not said, I was not alone (just more vocal). I did not, as far as I can remember, show this anger with van 1. It was a mistake and I did get over it.
Leg #12 4 miles
Ok, this leg is what caused my disgrace in the 2006 RTB, it could have been the lack of training or Mike's overly ambitious 1/2 marathon pace estimate for me, but what ever the reason the leg sucked.
For all you people in Van #1, this is the "money leg" for Van #2. I was ready, at least I hoped so.
After the Van #1, can't find the VTA fiasco, our team is running a little behind on getting to the rest area. I do have time for a nice sandwich that will serve as my food for the next leg. Steve W. knows a short cut to the VTA and we get there with 3 hours or so before my scheduled run. I walk around a bit stretch the legs, see what they have for food. Its pretty crowded not going to get a quiet place for sleep, seeing they parked us near the road.
I get out my sleeping bag, and lucky yellow pillow. (Owen, thanks for letting me bring it) toss it on the ground and try to rest. There are some annoying people talking, cars and runners going down the road, but I set my alarm for 1am and close my eyes hoping for a little sleep. I wake up, my watch say 12:50ish but I feel a couple of drops of rain. Hmm, a couple more, I pick up my stuff and search for coffee. The rain picks up, I drink my coffee and realize that I am pretty tired, no one should have to get up at 1am. I talk to a couple of the "competition" before making my way to the van.
I proceed to open and close the back door 30 or 40 times (thats Ryan count not mine), get some running gear on. Try to get warmed up and stay dry. Van #1 pulls up, (please note that Van#2 was at the proper VTA). I am not sure that Steve W and Mike are on talking terms at this point.
Finally John G is coming up the hill to the hand off point. I receive the very sweaty and somewhat gross "baton" and start my run. There is a slight up hill grade for the first 1/2 mile or so and my legs aren't very happy. I crest the hill and it flattens out, I open up my stride and feel pretty good. I figure I can try to give a good hard run since I only have 2 miles tomorrow. Running at night on a back road is pretty cool, I catch a couple of people, say some words of encouragement but I doubt they are happy. I don't really remember the course too much there are a few more turns then I remember and the slight down hill and flat spots seem pretty good. I look at my watch once or twice and notice I don't have my number on me (Oops) and I am wearing my glasses. The van will meet me around 4 miles in, I will give my glasses to them and get my number then.
They come by take my glasses give me some water, no cow bells no threats no comments that were suppose to be humorous they come out wrong. I get to run with it for 3 or 4 minutes while they find my number. They drive by and take the water bottle and give me my number. I put it on while running, trying to maintain my pace. I felt like I was cruising this whole time. Then comes the big steep hill. Ouch, I slow down I keep working it but it doesn't feel quick. I past some more people give them the distance left and keep going. Ah the top of the hill, I open I my stride and continue to the end. I pass about 16 runners, probably more but my counting skills aren't too good.
My time was a little disappointing thought I was clearly faster then 7:00 pace, but it was definitely better then last years run.
Leg 22: Wet and dark but it was fun reeling in all those red blinkies.
This leg started last year as I failed to meet the expectations of the team. In my defense if I don't train, they shouldn't expect big things from me, so it was really their fault.
So I start my training early this year, suffer a few set backs (i.e. motivational black holes), but get myself into decent shape. Then procede to run only twice a week for the last month prior to the race. At least my legs will be rested.
The drive up was uneventful, actually it was pretty painful listening to Ryan, Steve D, and Brian talk about work for an hour. At least it isn't that long of a drive. (This was the only time that Ryan was in the van and wasn't sleeping)
Leg 10: Ouch!!! Where the heck did these hills come from! That elevation map is crap but at least I held kitty off until 10 feet from the finish that is.
Get to the start of the race, get our stuff, learn that some evil person has nicknamed me Chardonnay, this is the same person who made a comment about timing me with a sundail.
The race starts and Van #2 makes our way to T6 where I will be running my first leg. So I am a little nervous, having tapered really well for this, I was beginning to think that maybe my training wasn't where it should be. My I put my running shoes on they feel strangely comfortable, almost light. This has to be from the good vibes from my team.
Finally John G. is in sight and I am ready to run. He hands me the baton (wrist strap), and I realize again how sweaty John gets. I really want to wash it off before I put it on, but this is a race and my team would frown on it. Ok 7 miles to go down the beautiful Kank till N. Conway. My team will meet me at mile 4 with water, all is going to be fine. There is no one near me. I get to set my own pace, and it is down hill so this won't be too hard, unless I blow up and go to fast. I like being on the Kank I think, but there is no shoulder to run on, the road isn't wide, I don't have my glasses so I can't see and it is already getting dark. I wonder how fast I am running probably doesn't feel too fast.
Finally I see our van, I haven't seen anyone for 20 mins so it is good to see someone. Then the $%^# cow bell, who the heck brings a cowbell, and even if one is silly enough to bring, what in God's name would possess them to ring it. I make some threatening comment at Brian, grab the water and keep going.
It is now dark, and I finally see another runner, or at least their blinkers. I am avoiding looking at the watch, don't want to make time slow down. I finally pass him, say some kind words of encouragement, and keep going. Then I keep looking for the turn on to rte.16. Not sure if it is ever going to come. Finally the tell tale blue lights and I am almost done. I keep my pace up turn into N Conway and look for who to pass too. Hmm I forget who is next, finally Steve D shouts to me and I am done. 1 Road Kill in 7 miles not a great start, but I am under my target pace and I felt pretty damn good. Lets see how Leg 19 goes.
Second Intermission – Laconia to Allenstown
After the completion of our respective second legs it was now well after midnight and time for the team to rest. So, I climbed into the driver’s seat and headed off down the road that would lead us to Rt. 93 and eventually on to our resting place for the evening, Bear Brook State Park. Most of the team members slept for the balance of the one hour trip down the highway. Nearing the park I could see signs for the race, but no runners. We had jumped so far ahead at this point, that no one had even come through yet. We were gaining on them! I pulled into the parking lot and once I confirmed that we were indeed in the right spot, I grabbed my gear and headed out for a couple hours of sleep under the stars. Unfortunately, the rain had picked up again during our drive south and the stars were nowhere to be found. So, I picked as dry a spot as I could find beneath some large pine trees and zipped myself into my own personal sleep cocoon. After an hour and a half of restless tossing and turning with more than a few splashes of cold water on my face from the branches above I decided that the growling in my stomach could no longer be ignored. I ambled over to the van in the dark and grabbed the peanut butter, some bagels, a banana and a diet Pepsi. Mmmm, the breakfast of champions! I settled down at a picnic table at the race pavilion and I started to slather my bagel with some yummy peanut butter. Many of the tables, some with runners still sleeping on them, were starting to become filled with other breakfast eaters. A few of whom sat next to me and we quickly struck up a conversation. Apparently they had begun running at 9:30am the previous morning. When I told them that our team started at 2:30pm their jaws hit the floor. We had made up 5 hours on their team during a mere 15 hours of running. It was then that I realized our team was really doing something very special.
Leg 25 [9.44 miles at 7:14 pace]
I would have preferred sleeping outside but the rain kept me in the van. My scheduled run time was around 6:30am. I had two hours to sleep before I needed to get up. I woke up a few times during the night (open door lights, someone’s watch alarm set to 5am). I woke up to my watch alarm at 5:30. My right calf cramped up while putting on my shoe. (not a good sign). I put my contacts in using my penlight so as not to wake anyone else. I stepped out of the van and saw what seem to be over 300 white vans. What a difference! There were only about 50 vans when we pulled in 2 hours ago. As I warmed up I was hoping it would get light soon so I wouldn’t have to wear the reflective vest, blinking lights, and headlamp. (Don’t need the nuisance while climbing Mt. Delight, especially knowing that I would only need it for a short time.). Molly came in and I was off. I’ve been training on hills with my heart rate monitor and had a plan to not exceed 175 while climbing any hills. Though my calves were on the edge of cramping, the run went pretty well. Since this was the time in the race where we push through many of the slower teams, I started counting my roadkills. This helped me concentrate and motivated me. I even caught a few runners I saw take off before me which looked like they were moving pretty good. It took a while but I finally caught them too. The road kills were coming often. 10, 15, 20 how many could I get? 25, 30, 35, now I’m thinking 50 would be a great number. Mark stopped at the top of Mt. Delight to let me know I was at the top of the highest peak. I continued on, feeling good but knowing at any instance my calves might shut me down. I went though an intersection and a lady said 1.4 miles to go. I hope she was right, my watch agreed. Finally the course flattened out. I was on roadkill 48. Turning onto a busier street I saw more runners ahead. Needed to get to 50. 50, 51, and 52 as I pulled into the school parking lot for the handoff. I had a good run. The calves held up. I was hungry and tired but I was done. What a great feeling. Now to root on the team and enjoy the rest of the adventure.
Thinking in the Rain – Deerfield Community School
The funny thing about a 3-part race like Reach the Beach is that you really don’t know what to expect from one leg to the next. You don’t know what the weather is going to be, you don’t know what the course is going to be like and, most importantly, you don’t know how your body is going to respond after all the pounding and lack of real rest. The physical aspect of the race is sort of akin to a deep well that you can’t see the bottom of. You know that there’s water down there, but after depleting it time and time again, you’re not sure really how much is left. These were the thoughts that ran through my head as I prepared to start my final leg in the rain. This leg was supposed to be a victory lap. A short, easy 4.5 trip from the Deerfield Fairgrounds to nearby Candia. But, some last minute bridge work required the organizers to re-route the course and therefore lengthen this leg to 8 point something miles. I say 8 point something because no one was really that sure how long it truly was. As it turns out, it was 8 point forever.
Leg #26 – 7:32am - 8.3 miles – 59:18 overall time – 7:08 pace
Leg description: typical New Hampshire running - up 1m, down 1m, rolling 1.5m, big climb 2.5m, down 1m, steep up again 1.5m.
First Intermission – Conway to Tamworth
When each of our first legs were completed we headed into Conway for some dinner. The first Pizza Place we came to had closed their doors for a 1 hour break. Apparently all the hungry RTB’ers must have worn them out. So, we had our meal at the next Pizza Place (right next door). It was nice to sit out on the deck and relax with some crispy pie and reflect on the first of our three runs. We didn’t even mind the commotion outside as some Conway kids got into a heated argument. I don’t know what it is about white teenagers and their apparent need to talk like they are black. I mean, here we are in Conway Freaking New Hampshire probably one of the whitest towns in probably one of the whitest states in America and it was like we were watching a scene from “Boys in the Hood”, or something. I just don’t get it. Afterwards we headed out to our next VTA to wait for Van #2 to finish their first runs. On the way we stopped for gas and to get Rae some coffee, which she promptly dumped while trying to re-close the van doors as we drove down Rt. 16. Fortunately, Rae didn’t spill out onto the road like her coffee. Unfortunately, when we went back to re-fill her cup they had closed for the night. Later, we continued down Rt. 16 and over to Rt. 25. We by-passed the race course in an effort to cut down on driving time and to give our runners a chance to rest at the next VTA. Little did we know, a critical error in navigation was about to shake up our relaxing between-run break.
Panic at the Disco – Bennett Corners Community School
Leg 13 [3.94 miles at 6:23 pace]Just chilling out at the transition area was relaxing. This is my short easy leg so all is good. I was happy to hear that our team was keeping pace and I was going to run at the predicted time. I started warming up when I head that Molly would be here for the handoff in 15 minutes. The next thing I heard was Michael telling me to get in the van, “we’re at the wrong transition area”. My heart rate monitor proved I was a bit anxious driving to the transition area and I felt bad for Molly showing up and I wasn’t there. We were in constant contact with the other van and had play-by-play as Molly came into the transition area. We then knew how far behind we were and watched the clock continue to run. Jumping out of a moving van and attaching nighttime flashing lights seemed like it took longer that it did. I finally took off on the run and felt that I had to make up some time but still knew I had the long hilly run in the morning. I did have the advantage of seeing my running course before I ran it.
Leg #14 – 10:16pm - 7.8 miles – 51:15 overall time – 6:34 pace
Leg description: dark & rolling with two big hills at 4.5m & 6m.
Leg1 [6.6 miles at 6:21 pace]
I felt a little pressure starting the team race but I tapped into my 25 years of racing experience to keep calm, “everything will work out fine”. I was interested in were I would place among the other 8 teams starting with us. I started in the back of the pack to watch the race unfold. It was clear after the first mile that I was going to finish in the top group and Olympic marathoner John Tuttle was going to kick everyone’s butt. It took me about 3 miles to catch the guy which was in 2nd place. I noticed that I gained on him on the flats and uphills but he cruised and pulled away on the downhill sections. With about 1 mile to go, I was hoping for another uphill and I got it. I passed him and moved into 2nd place and held it until the last 50 meters. There was a long downhill to the first transition and he came roaring by me. It didn’t really bother me, I was saving my quads for the later stages and I gave my captain his first roadkill. “If I see that guy again on hilly leg 25, I’ll bury him on the hills”.
Leg #2 –3:12pm – 9.5 miles – 1:02:45 overall time – 6:37 pace
Leg description: elongated skate ramp – 3m down, 3m flat, then 3m back up.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Occupation: Unknown (but works with Mark, so its probably weather related)
Leg #’s: 1, 13 & 25
Total Distance of Legs: 19.6 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:36
Little Known Fact: Tom has just received his first issue of “Playboy-Senior” with an “article” on the girls of the AARP, and a nice spread on a couple of sexy GMILF’s.
Nickname: “Captain Fly”
Leg #’s: 2, 14 & 26
Total Distance of Legs: 25.1 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:40
Little Known Fact: The details of Michael’s life are quite inconsequential... His father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from
Leg #’s: 3, 15 & 27
Total Distance of Legs: 24.5 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:42
Little Known Fact: In addition to leaping over tall buildings (and small litkas) in a single bound, Mark enjoys eating mountains like they were candy.
Nickname: “Little Miss (intense) Sunshine”
Occupation: Computer Code Writer
Leg #’s: 4, 16 & 28
Total Distance of Legs: 16.0 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:37
Little Known Fact: Raelyn holds the unofficial state record for most men “chicked” (not what you think) in one racing calendar year.
Runner #5 - Kerry
Nickname: “The Polly Pocket Rocket”
Leg #’s: 5, 17 & 29
Total Distance of Legs: 16.9 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:36
Little Known Fact: Kerry is is shortest member of the Knights who until recently said "Nee", but who now say, "Ecky-ecky-ecky-ecky-pikang-zoom-boing-mumble-mumble".
Occupation: Air Traffic Controller
Leg #’s: 6, 18 & 30
Total Distance of Legs: 14.2 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:58
Little Known Fact: John enjoys creating mid-air close calls just for “shits & giggles”. His words, not mine.
Occupation: Unknown, (probably computers)
Leg #’s: 7, 19 & 31
Total Distance of Legs: 17.0 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:40
Little Known Fact: Denis once ran a 10 mile race in 57 minutes then proceeded to fall off the face of the earth.
Occupation: Another Computer Geek
Leg #’s: 8, 20 & 32
Total Distance of Legs: 14.8 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:38
Little Known Fact: Despite his loud and sometimes arrogant nature Steve has the fragile psyche of a canary with brittle bone disease. Steve also like searching the web for pictures of little boys in compromising positions.
Runner #9 - Ryan
Nickname: “Agent Zero”
Leg #’s: 9, 21 & 33
Total Distance of Legs: 13.9 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 6:53
Little Known Fact: Ryan is a current member of the
Occupation: Professional Tri-athlete
Leg #’s: 12, 24 & 36
Total Distance of Legs: 15.2 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: 7:02
Little Known Fact: Molly likes to ride 100 miles on her bike before any (and all) of her races. Needless to say, we had her bikes confiscated prior to RTB.
Non Runner # 1 - Kevin
Occupation: General Contractor
Leg #’s: None (Alternate)
Total Distance of Legs: 0.0 Miles
Estimated Average Pace per Mile: N/A
Little Known Fact: Kevin's fondness for riding the pine has left him with a chronic case of "gluteus maximus splinterus". Which is self-evident if you've ever seen him run.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I admit that I began to pick up the pace too. I felt like a tiger chasing down a sickly doe. I was just loping along while the doomed doe struggled. The guys pace began to fade in a few minutes and I quickly caught up to him. As I was running next to him I said hello and introduced myself. I asked if he wanted to join me on my 10K. He said he had a different 10K course, but he was willing to join me. I don't run with people often and I was not planning on going fast so I welcomed the company.
The road we were on went up a hill, through a 4-way stop, and then down a hill. I could tell by this guys respiration that he was out of his zone. He was breathing too hard when going up hill this early in the run. But what amazed me was that he took off down the hill. Why would he do that? I think he wanted to drop me. To show me what a great runner he was. I let him get a little ahead of me as we went down the hill. Tigers do that once in a while so that their prey would get more tired and the kill would be easier.
At the bottom of the hill we made a left. He was ahead of me and I called forward to tell him to make a left. He didn't know where he was and I wondered what he was thinking. When you're running with someone on roads you don't know, you don't run ahead and try to drop the person you just agreed to run with. I decided not to kill him right there on the spot. Instead, I decided to drag him down the road and leave him for dead in the bushes. I picked up the pace, just a little so that he could stay with me. At this point, I'm not really running that hard. My legs are using impulse engines, but I was soon to switch over to warp engines. We rounded a corner and I could hear his breathing getting labored. I tweaked the pace a little more, but he was hanging on. I began to switch over to warp drive, but he started falling off too quickly. Mustn't kill the prey yet. It's no fun unless this game goes on for a while. I throttle back a little to let him catch up. He calls back saying not to wait for him. Alrightythen. Helm? Warp 1. Make it so!
I switched to real running mode and attacked the hills with vigor. I didn't need to look back to know my prey was in trouble. One minute I heard his wheezing and whimpering, the next I heard nothing. I kept the pace at a moderate level, maybe at 80% effort. I knew the poor bastard was going to struggle up the hills, but I decided this guy needed to be taught a lesson. Arrogant? You betcha. But I was annoyed he tried to drop me.
I kept the pace until the end of the road. At this point, I turned around expecting to see him. The road was fairly straight and I could see a long way, but no prey. He was gone! I know her was lost and didn't know which way to turn. But I was still annoyed and I was having such a good run that I decided to leave the carcass for the vultures. I headed back to work and completed the run in record time. :)
I wonder what will happen when he sees me out on the roads next time? :)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
As a runner, when you're injured it's almost as if you don't exist. You're not there for your daily run through the neighborhood, you can't participate in the weekly track workouts with your running club, and you're most definitely not able to race with (or against) your friends at the local 5k. You feel like you're invisible. Instead of being outside where you want to be, you're stuck inside getting physical therapy, or having a deep tissue massage, or on the couch with an ice pack on your injury.
The reason that I've been contemplating the existence of the injured runner is because I currently am one. I have a calf injury. I stupidly did an early morning 8-mile tempo run two weeks ago without being properly hydrated. Being short on time (before work) I just bolted out the door with very little fluid intake. I hammered the run (6:08 pace) and finished feeling good, but my calf tightened up in the last 1/2 mile of the cool down. And, I haven't been able to loosen it up.
Since then, I have been doing precious little running, a lot of biking, and once a week I have been getting my calf worked on by my sadistic massage therapist. I'm not kidding. After each session my calf throbs like it's got its own heartbeat. She's tough. So, to recap, I went from running 70 miles a week and biking 20, to running 20 miles a week and biking 140 (Including a 50+ mile odyssey last Sunday). It's sort of like the Kerry Litka method of transition training, only in reverse. Hopefully, with sufficient time, I'll be able to tip the scales back in favor of running.
Until then, I'll be pounding the pavement with my mountain bike that has a chain that grinds against the derailleur with each pedal stroke. It's not ideal, but, it's the best I can do for now. And, even though I despise my bike, I'm actually starting to get good at riding it. I've averaged almost 19 mph for each of my rides. I've also had a couple of close calls with some cars. But, I can't really blame them. I am invisible after all!
Friday, August 3, 2007
I need new running shoes. I discovered that after 10+ years, the people in charge of R&D over at Adidas decided to change the shape/fit/form of my preferred Trail Response and the new shoe is not the same shoe that I trained in exclusively back in the college days.
Which is too bad since I really liked that shoe. A few years back (2004, I believe) when I casually started running again in the off season, I picked up a pair of Adidas Precision trail and really liked those. They fit well and they were cheap... unfortunately they don't seem to make those anymore.
So here I am in search of a new shoe that will serve my needs - semi curved last, not too much cusioning, trail friendliness, and under $90.
A careful dissection of the latest Eastbay catalog revealed that shoe names have evolved quite a bit in the years since my absence from the sport commenced. And the marketing people are in a desperate attempt to give the shoe a name the reflects what it's made for, but also has a sense of glamour, speed, or flash. Somewhere they went a little off track with their names. Back in the day I ran in Nike Air Icarus (what a fiasco that was), Nike Air Verona (nice shoe, didn't work for me), Adidas Response Trail (my one and only true love), Nike Air Structure Triax (bad, bad bad) and one pair of Saucony Grid something or other as lightweight trainers/road racing flats. Today I run in Mizuno Wave Riders in road races, but I need new trainers since I realized my most recent pair of Adidas trail shoes were causing me problems (namely, they are too wide for my feet). Here's a sample of what is available out there:
I remember when Nike premiered the Air Max running shoe. They have since expanded the line to include the Air Max 180, Air Max 360, and the Air Turbulence.
Air Turbulence? Is anybody home over there? And while we're on the subject, how about an Air 90, or an Air 45? Or perhaps an Air Meridian or an Air Latitude or something...
Then we have shoes like the Asics family: the Cumulous, the Nimbus, the Stratus...
umm, why are they all named after clouds?
Adidas has the ClimaCool Rotterdam IV...that is way too many words for 1 shoe...almost as bad as having a name like Thomas C. Mapother IV.
Brooks has the Beast and the Ariel. Spare me the Disney character names, please. They also have the Glycerine...glycerine? Isn't that a Bush song?
New Balance has always stuck with numbers - that is safe. But boring. Number tell me nothing about the shoe.
Saucony: the Grid Omni, Grid Hurricane (her we go again with the weather references), Grid Tangent (oh look, geometry..that's never been done before..) Saucony needs some originality. I do give them credit for simply adding the word "Pro" to the shoe name (ProGrid Triumph, ProGrid Hurricane) and charging roughly $25 more for the extra syllable.
Speaking of originality, there is a lot of overlap in shoe names. Adidas had a Precision Trail (this I know because I own a pair, even though the fact laden world of the Internet appears to have no prior evidence of such a shoe), Mizuno has a Wave Precision. Most trail runners have the word "trail" in them - Response Trail, Trailfox (Puma... apparently they didn't realize that a Puma already kind of implies mountainous terrain, so they figured changing species wouldn't further confuse the consumer); Excursion TR2 (oh, we're going on an excursion. Good thing you added the TR on there so I knew what type of excursion it would be - why, that of the off road variety).
I wish I were in charge of naming running shoes. Here is my list of tentative model names:
Nike Air America - they retail for $300 because unlike every other Nike shoe, they are not assembled overseas in some third world Southeast Asian sweatshop by a 6 year old who earns 37 cents a day in wages
The Asics Gel Cumulonimbus - dark, puffy, shoots water out at you
Saucony GridLock - I don't really have anything to say about this one, except that gridlock implies not moving...so this one if for those posers who buy the shoes and then leave them on a shelf in the closet
Brooks Glycogenesis - this one makes sense. I'm getting an intellectual property patent on that one...got it, punk?
New Balance - the DNF and the DFL. Maybe a DNS as well. The track spike could be The Scratch.
Adidas Don'tFuckWithMe - the ultimate in off road trail running
Monday, July 30, 2007
Saturday: raced the Bill Luti 5mile road race, total of 7 miles for the day with warmup and cooldown. I finished in 5th place among women in 31:28. I was happy, since 6:30 pace was my goal and I hit 6:20s.
Monday: 3miles AM, 3miles PM
Tuesday: 4miles at 6AM, 3.5 more miles at 7:15AM, then 3.5 miles PM
Wednesday: 6miles at 6AM, 3miles at 7:15AM, 4 miles PM with fartlek on cross country course
Thursday: 6miles at 6AM, 2miles at 7:15Am, 5.5miles PM with 1xDeath Hill
Friday: 7mile at 6:30AM, 1.5miles with sprint work at 9AM
I typically don't calculate a weekly training block to run from Saturday to Friday, but since I hadn't been running in, like, 6 weeks and I did my first run in the race on Saturday, I decided to add up the miles for the week starting with the race. So I ran 100k in 7 days. That impressed me since the highest mileage week I ever did in college was maybe 45.
I hadn't really been back to Keene since I moved out in 1999, and I hadn't run there since I graduated. There is something about being back on campus, being back on my old training loops, that stirred my love of running. These were the trails where I became a serious athlete. This was where it all began. Running with my college coach, racking up the miles... nostalgic doesn't even begin to describe it. I never planned on adding the morning runs, in fact, I had my bike with me with the intention of getting an hour or so in every morning before the kids' first run.
But even though I began my cycling career there, I equate Keene with running. And living on campus in the dorms made me feel like I was back in college again. So I ran. I had to get up every morning at 4:45, stumble two blocks down the street to Cumby's for coffee, then back to the dorm. Pete and I would head out for 4-6 miles on the trails at 6, before the campers got up. We'd be back by 6:45, ready to wake them and head our on run number 2. After morning session, lunch, and afternoon session, we did our afternoon workout. Then back to the dorm for a quick change and some easy swimming to relax the legs. Then on to dinner, then evening games like volleyball or capture the flag...then back to the dorm for movies (Showdown, Run Like Hell), then bed. I basically immersed myself in running for the past 6 days
I think I may have inadvertently cancelled the rest of my cycling season. The bike doesn't really interest me at the moment.
100K weeks, however, seems damn appealing.
I should be ready for Reach the Beach. And a fall marathon is starting to seem more like a reality than a dream.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
In Steve’s blog entry a few weeks back he referred to me as a locomotive on the track. And, while I appreciate his compliment, I know that there was only one “Locomotive”. He is my running idol and his name was Emil Zatopek.
Emil Zatopek was born in 1922 in
In 1952, at the
Zatopek was not known for his gracefulness. His running form was not considered to be a very efficient style at the time. His head would roll, face contorted with effort, while his torso swung from side to side. He often wheezed and panted audibly while running, which earned him his nickname.
But, what Emil lacked in style he more than made up for in heart and courage. He just plain trained (and raced) harder than anyone else was willing (or able) to do. In the winter he would run through the snow in heavy army boots. And, when the snow melted, he was known to do as many as 80 - 400 meter repeats in one track session.
Here are a few of my favorite Zatopek quotes:
"Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast.”
"If you want to win something, run the 100 meters. If you want to experience another life, run a marathon."
"I was not talented enough to run and smile at the same time."
"It's at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys."
Sometimes, when I'm having a difficult time getting motivated for a run, I just think of how hard he worked at becoming such a great runner. And, that run usually ends up being my best workout of the week. If I could be one iota of the runner that Emil Zatopek was, I’d be pretty happy.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The first event was the 400. And, to say I was psyched up wouldn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. I used to run track in high school, and since I was the slowest runner on my team, track meets were not my favorite places to be. Being lapped repeatedly in the mile will do that to a person. However, we were 20 years removed from that time & place. And, this was my first track meet since I graduated. Let's just say I was slightly eager for a bit of personal redemption.
So, the race starts and I bolt to the front. Up on my toes and leaning into the first turn. Down the back stretch I feel like I'm flying. This is why I run. This feeling right now. I take the far turn and I can't hear anyone behind me. In fact I can't hear anything at all. I'm all alone. I start down the front stretch and I can just make out the clock at the finish. 45 ... 46 ... 47. My legs are starting to get heavy as I race toward the line. It is at this point that I start to feel like I'm floating above the track watching the race unfold before me. The clock gets blurry as I get closer. What does it say?!?! I dig down for one more moment and then it's all over. I collapse on the curve and look down at my watch. 1:00.9 - a personal best 400 by 5 seconds. So much for not going all out.
Five minutes later they announce it's time for the 800. What?!?! My heart rate isn't even close to normal levels. It feels like I'm still running, for crying out loud! So I reluctantly amble up to the line. And, as the race starts I think to myself, "this is going to be a long night".
I survived the 800 in 2:31. And, started to feel a little more like myself during the mile which I finished in 5:32. For the two mile I chased the lead runner as hard as I could but never closed the gap. My time of 12:03 would have easily surpassed my best high school mark. But, as I crossed the line, all I could think about was lying down. I got to the infield and proceeded to get violently ill. Oh yeah. I remember this feeling. This sucks.
After I recovered, I sat back (in a different spot) and reflected on my evening. One first, two seconds, a third and one exorcism. Not bad for a nights work. As I staggered back to my car preparing to head on home, I thanked God that this "Ultimate Workout" was finally over.
I can't wait until the next one!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
One of my favorite routes is something I call the Fryer Tuck route. It's a 7.7 mile route that includes 3 good hills and some nice, quiet neighborhoods. It's a far cry from the isolated trails in Greenville, but at least I'm out running and not being run off the road too many times by a Soccer mom balancing a phone in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. Right smack in the middle of this course is a Francsiscan Monestary. Attached to the monestary is a very large and old Retreat house. The monestery is a modest building with a large fence surrounding the compound. The larger Retreat house is surrounded by wide open fields. Once in a while I see Fryer Tuck walking around the grounds. Actually, I don't know if it really is Fryer Tuck. I don't even know if the person is a male or female. It's a human (I assume) in a brown robe with a rope tied around the middle and they sometimes have their hood on. They remind me of those sand people in the original Star Wars, but much, much larger. And fatter.
Running gives me plenty of time to think and I think a lot about this place. I wonder what God must think of these people, walling themselves off from the rest of society, not contributing to the common good by not paying taxes, living off the donations of hard working people, not facing the stresses and challenges of life like the rest of us. They don't need to deal with job deadlines, nasty bosses, kids issues like drugs, s*x and rebellion. I'm not sure if this is what God intended for us. I believe that humans grow, both physically and spiritually, through hardship and struggle. From what I can see of the Fransiscan Monestery, these people don't have much hardship. The Retreat house makes me laugh every time. What do these people have to retreat from? My retreat is usually 10 minutes alone in the bathroom reading my Runners World. I can't imagine putting life on hold to retreat away. It's just not possible. Do I want to? Sure! I want to do a lot of things that just aren't possible. I think everyone does.
So I run past the Monestery and the little gift shop and the beautiful grounds as I continue on my run. I soon forget all about Fryer Tuck, until the next time I run this route.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Last week was the Fourth of July holiday and a few of us on the team decided to run the Sparkler 5K in Merrimack. The day before the race I went out for an easy 5 miler and it was a total disaster. I couldn't run for more than 5 minutes without my legs burning and my body feeling just terrible. I decided to do a walk/run instead. But what a horrible feeling. I've always taken great pride in my ability to run and it's totally demoralizing to be walking like that. There wasn't much else to do other than ponder why my body felt like it did. There are 2 likely reasons. The first, and least likely, is that something very bad is going on in my body. The second, and more likely reason, is that I'm beating up my body and not giving it sufficient time to recover.
For the past year I've studied as much as I can about training and how to do it properly. I know the importance of rest. I know that the body does not get stronger during hard workouts. It gets stronger during recovery. Proper training is based on the simple principle that improvement is gained from repeated cycles of stress/recover, stress/recover. Too much stress leads to burnout and/or injury. Too much rest leads to an erosion of fitness. Finding that balance is the key to a successful training program.
After the Sparkler, I decided to take 2 complete rest days. No biking, no swimming and no running. On the 3rd day I ran an easy 5 miles and I felt great! I've since run 5 miles on the tmill and I successfully ran my 7.7 mile Fryer Tuck route (I'll describe the Fryer Tuck route in another post) on a very hot day and I felt strong. I forced myself to go slow, but still averaged 7:30 pace. That's a good sign. I plan to give myself a little more time to recover, then I'll reintroduce the more intense workouts, but with sufficient rest to avoid the downward spiral of overtraining this time.
Monday, July 9, 2007
The training program called for these to be done at my current 5m pace(1:30/400, or 4:30/1200) with 1/2 rest (2:15). It looked to be the perfect workout to help me prepare for my next race in 2 weeks (Bill Luti - 5 Miler - July 21st). So, my goal for this workout was to target 1:28/400 with no lap higher than 1:30 (or lower than 1:26) and see if I could make it through without falling on my face.
It was about 85 degrees with what felt like 100% humidity as I started my warm-up. 2 easy miles then right into the workout. First set: 1:29, 1:27, 1:27 - 4:23 (felt OK, boy it's hot). Second Set: 1:27, 1:29, 1:27 - 4:23 (sweating profusely, shirt comes off). Third Set: 1:27, 1:27, 1:29 - 4:23 (well, at least I'm consistent). Fourth Set: 1:31 (damn) 1:26, 1:27 - 4:24 (oops, spoke too soon). Fifth Set: 1:30, 1:30, 1:25 - 4:25 (that one was all over the place) Sixth & Final Set: 1:30, 1:28, 1:28 - 4:26 (that one was a grinder). 2 miles cool-down and I set off to sweat in my car for the ride back to the office. AC is a wonderful thing.
74 miles for this week and the heat is definitely getting the better of me. It's only July 6th and I'm already looking forward to the end of summer and the cooler weather. What's wrong with me?!?! I guess I must be a runner.