Friday, June 29, 2007

Walk With Me

Come walk with me and be my friend

We’ll hike the path until its end

The primal feat of strolling the wood

Our kindred exchange is pure and good

Who will guide and who will show

We each know much but much to know

A birch from maple, fir from hemlock

Worlds discovered along our walk

Exploring new fields to expand our horizon

Seeking the truth and where it lies in

The real world diverges from being real

Perhaps in nature we can start to feel

The sun is racing our time is at hand

We must share the load to cross the land

There are pieces we’ll find along our way

To take and pass to others someday

The journey begins as a simple act

We join together and make this pact

Though the road is long and the peak is high

Let us promise now to attempt to try

Note: I wrote this poem quite a few years ago as a gift to my Dad. I dragged it out recently to re-read it after my son and I climbed Mt. Washington for the first time together. I think some of the themes apply to our RTB experience as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Competitive RTB team

I've run the RTB relay race a couple of times now, all on recreational teams. My first experience was with a team that had Rae and Brian on it. It was a total blast even though the remnants of some hurricane was coming through and it rained the entire time and Rae talked the entire time. It was actually amazing. Even at 2:00am at some school gymnasium in Tamsworth, she'd be talking and talking and seem have this inifinite supply of energy. She also had the hots for this Asian guy that she kept checking out. At least that's the rumor I tried to spread, but Brian wasn't buying it. :)

The following year I decided to run on another recreational team that consisted of runners from my local town. Again, it was a blast. No one had any expectations of anyone else other than just completing their leg.

My last RTB experience wasn't so good and I think it was because I was more into the race than the other people in the van. So I decided that the next time I run RTB, it will be with a competitive team. Well, I got my wish and now I'm on this team with some incredibly fast runners whom I got to meet the other night at Marthas Exchange. I find it hard not to be a little intimidated around some of these people. Take Molly Zahr for example. She was sitting across from me at the table. Here's a young women who finished first at Ironman USA in Lake Placid last year. After averaging 20.5 MPH on her bike for 112 miles, Molly still managed to run a 3:30 marathon. To my left was Mark Wimmer who is capable of running up Mount Washington in around 1:16 and who has a personal best in the marathon of sub 2:30. To my right was Brian Coates. Brian is one of the best athletes I know who just finished competing at the Philadelphia Triathlon over the past weekend and who averaged an incredible 22.8 MPH on his bike leg and then come back to run a 10K in 42:10 (6:48 pace) and only 5 months after having back surgery! Sitting across from him and diagonal to me was his wife Rae. Rae is one of the toughest runners I know who has been doing nothing but steadily improving her bike, swim and especially her run over the past few years. Rae did the same race as Brian and she almost broke 40 minutes in the 10K with a time of 40:24 (6:31 pace)! Just 2 weeks before this she ran Mt Washington in 1:26 without much preparation, only getting a bypass number in the last few weeks leading up to this race. In the middle of the table was our leader Michael Wade. I've run with Michael on the track and it's like running next to a locomotive. Or rather, it's like running behind a locomotive as he disappears into the distance. Michael is an incredibly strong runner who seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Sitting next to Michael was a women whom I was meeting for the first time. Kerry Litka. I don't know much about this women other than she, like everyone else at that table, is a very fast and strong runner. She recently raced in a biathlon where her 5K run time was in the mid 18 minutes! Sitting at the other end of the table was Denis Tranchemontagne. Denis claims to be out of shape, but I think he's stealth training and is in much better shape than he claims to be. But even if Denis has not been training much, this guy is still capable or running a sub-19 5K without much effort and has the potential of running sub-17. Sitting with Denis was Kevin Mcintyre. I ran some hills with Kevin once and he left behind. I thought I was a strong hill runner but Kevin is even stronger. There were a few other people at that table whom I didn't have time to meet, but I know they are all very strong and competent runners.

As I sat there drinking my beer and waiting for my cheeseburger to arrive, it dawned on me that this is the most talented group of runners that I have ever raced with. I think about this almost everyday and those thoughts motivate me to get out on the road and train as hard as I can. I know that during the race, everyone on the team will be running their best and I don't want to be the weak link in the chain. I can't help but wonder what it's going to be like to actually compete at this race. Will it take the fun out of it or will it add a new, exciting element? Will anyone on this team turn into a whiney, crybaby? I doubt it. This is going to be the best RTB experience yet! :)

While some people ran hard, it was still a recreational team. The idea was simply to cover the distance and to have a lot of fun doing it. I've run this race a few times after that initial experience
Philly was awesome!! Brian (despite back surgery 5 months ago) pulled off a 22.8 mph bike split on a hilly course, and scared me by coming within a minute of my swim. I've noticed him improving over the past year, so I was well aware of him the whole time I was out there. I just don't think I'd survive the gloating if/when he finally beats me on the swim. Wait until you see his victory dance, and you will understand what I'm talking about.... I continue to be amazed by how slow my bike split continues to be despite my bi-monthly workouts. Am excited however, that simply by being on the same team as Molly and Kerry, I will be able to improve this split without ever actually having to ride the thing. I did have a solid swim and run though, and felt good! First tri of the season is over!! I, unlike Delahunty, am a triathlete this year (you lose your triathlete status if a year goes by and you haven't done one). Pictures of Brian will be upcoming. I, however, "lost" my race number. Oops.

I loved this race -- I'd been warned alot about the water, but it turned out to be clean and gorgeous. And it was the first time I've ever done an open water under a cool arched bridge. There was no congestion at all on the swim, I was able to get in a groove for the whole thing. The day was crystal clear and sunny -- hot but not humid. The bike was fun, lots of rollers (and a couple of hills that people were actually walking up), but the road was entirely open for the race so there was zero problems with draft packs or blocking. The run was mentally tough - flattish and all in the open hot/sun. It had 2 tight turnarounds, it's weird how hard that starts to become after 2 hours of exertion... The race had the exact right amount of aid stations too. Just really, really well run and organized. All-in-all, this is one of my favorite courses, and I'll be back next year with a new improved bike split.

Sounds like Denis is back-in-action!!! Very nice to see.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Lets see after last years dismal season. That included
140 17/247 M3539 6:05 18:55 Denis Tranchemontagne 36 M  5328 Chelmsford MA
RTB pace Denis Tranchemontagne 6:51
and less we forget
"... according to the sundial that they timed him with at last years Mill Cities"

I know I should feel fortunate enough to be allowed on the RTB '07 team. Granted I got demoted to the 11th hardest position, but at least I get to run. I need some redemption

So I decide to start running in April of this year, 3 whole months earlier then my training for RTB '06 . This is according to my less then accurate coolrunning log.

6:24 the alarm clock rings,. Ok don't need to be at the track until 7:45, lets hit the snooze.
6:33 out of bed, start getting ready.
Only one pair of clean running shorts, and they are my least favorite.
Make my lunch, make my coffee.
Owen, the 3 year old, starts crying because he didn't help make the coffee.
Give Owen lots of hugs and tickles, now Nicole needs tickles too.
7:15 I am in the car, look for some up beat music. Choose "Local Nothing"
Remind my self of the sundail comment, holding back the tears.
Remind my self of almost running a 19min 5k WTF
7:45ish get to the track, Frank is doing his work out already.
Warm up.
Start the 400s. 10 in 82-85. The last few we hard. Though not as bad as last week.
Cool down. Can't really cool down in this heat, sweat like a pig for the next half hour.

Get to work; start debugging the code, feel strangely motivated to run this year

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Long Specificity

This past Saturday night, I headed to the track. I live about a mile from a local school with a track. It's not the best track being made out of asphalt, but it's a 1/4 mile oval and it's not crowded so it works just fine. I find that I enjoy doing my track workouts alone because I can run at the pace that I need to run at. When I run with a larger group, I sometimes find myself running either too slow or too fast. The key to doing track workouts on your own is to show up with a plan, and stick to the plan.

The plan for this weekend was to do 3 sets of 2 miles at tempo pace with a 2 minute recovery. So how fast is my tempo pace? Based on information I got out of a very good running book, my tempo pace is 6:15 minutes/mile. That breaks down to about 94 second quarters. So what this means is that I'm going to be running 24 quarter miles at 94 seconds, or faster, with the only breaks being 2 minutes after the 8th and 16th quarter. The rest of the time is going to be cruising around the track at a 6:15 or better pace. I tried not to think about the workout ahead of time because it seemed that it was too hard of a workout. But at the same time, I knew that my training needs to be taken up a notch if I want to continue improving.

I head to track around 5:00pm. I pass my neighbors who are all outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Some are grilling outside and I can smell the food and see them in their chairs relaxing with a wine or beer. I tell myself that I have a few cold ones waiting for me back in my fridge, but I need to get to the track and complete the workout. This is where having a running partner really helps. I can just stop and head home and nobody will care or even know. I can be the one in the chair, grilling burgers, sucking down the suds and just relaxing. But then I'd never know if I'm tough enough to handle the planned workout and my running will continue to be mediocre. The grill and the suds will wait for the 1+ hour it will take to do the deed so I continue along my way to the track.

I arrive at the track and I warmup a little. I've already run a mile+ to the track so I'm not totally cold, but I do some light stretching to prepare. This is not a fast workout so I cut a few corners and I toe the line, ready to start the first interval. I'm nervous about the workout and I just want to get it started.

The first quarter of a workout is always the hardest to gauge. You're fresh, but the legs aren't totally ready to run yet so it's difficult to tell how fast you're running. In the back of my head I know that I'm going to be running about a 10K over the next 40 minutes at a strong pace so I don't want to go too fast. But I also need to hit 94 seconds if I plan to finisht the file in 6:15. I come through the first quarter in 95 seconds. Damn! Too slow! I pick it up a little on the second quarter and come through in 3:10. That's a bit better, but that first 1/2 should have been around a 3:08. I've clearly made up some time though so I just hold it. I come through the first mile in 6:11. I'm pleased with that because it's under my projected 6:15 pace but not by a lot, and I'm not working terribly hard to maintain this pace. That's one of the most important aspects of this workout. The idea is not to kill myself to hit the numbers. The idea is to run smoothly and efficiently and to hit a specific pace. I continue along the first interval, coming through the second mile in 6:13 for a combined time of 12:24. I might have been overly cautious on this first one, but I've always believed that the last interval in a set should always be equal or faster than the first interval.

Instead of taking a 440 rest, I take a measured 2 minute. At exactly 2 minutes, I begin the first interval. My legs are now primed and ready to run. I'm trying to control the pace, but my legs want to go. I come through the first mile in 88 seconds. Woah! Too fast! I still have 4 miles of fast running to do and it's way too early to be going at this pace. I back off and come throught the 1/2 at 3:02. That means my second quarter was right on at 94. I'm feeling smooth as I come through the next mile in 6:08. A little fast, but I'm feeling pretty good and the workout is not 1/2 over. Only 3 more miles to go, but this is where I usually start falling apart. I came through the 4th mile in 6:09 for a combined time of 12:17. But I'm beginning to fatigue now. My legs are heavy and I can begin to fail a faint ache in my quads. The first signs of doubt are creeping in.

I take the prescribed 2 minute rest, and I'm second guessing myself as to weather I should be doing this 3rd and final set. I'm thinking this is where a coach comes into play. Instead of me thinking about things, the coach does the thinking. I look to the coach and if he says I should go, then that's what I will do. An athlete puts that level of trust in a coach. The coach is watching you run and will know if you're exceeding the parameters of the workout and will make adjustments. Well, a good coach will anyway. I don't have that today. It's just me, the track and my lazy streak. I know I can handle the final interval so I try not to think as I begin the final set.

My legs are dead. They feel like I'm wearing heavy boots rather than running shoes. My quads are tight and the ache is getting more pronounced. I feel like I'm barely running and I consider dropping out. But I make a deal with myself. I tell myself to wait until the first quarter and see how I'm doing. If I'm on pace, then I'll continue. If I'm off the pace, then it's a sign that I've exceeded the purpose of this run and I'll stop. The time is 90 seconds! Isn't that amazing? Regardless of how bad these feel, or what kind of tricks my mind tries to play on me, my body does it's own thing. Not only was I on pace, I was running faster than my projected pace. But that final 2 miles was a difficult. An interesting thing that I noticed was that as I tire, my form goes to h*ll and that makes me run even slower. I start to feel uncoordinated, not smooth at all. Whenever I feel like that it reminds me of one of my favorite Star Trek movies; "Star Trek 4 - The Voyage Home". They have just beamed up the hump back whale and are ready to sling shot around the planet. Scotty's voice calls from Engineering "We're having a power fall off!". The ship is shaking and Scotty is pressing buttongs trying to stabilize things. Well, that's how I feel. :) So I concentrate on my form and I can feel my stride smoothing out and I'm running efficiently again.

My final 2 miles are 6:13 and 6:14 for a combined time of 12:27. That was my slowest interval which is not how I like end my workouts. But that final time wasn't way out of whack and I had beaten my planned pace of 12:30 so I was happy.

I ran home as a cooldown and enjoyed a couple of cold ones in my chair as I finally was able to relax. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Sketchy Restaurant Story

Note: for reasons that will become inreasingly clear, the author wishes the name of said restaurant to remain anonymous.

Last night our RTB team met for dinner and beer at a restaurant. I once had the pleasure of working at that restaurant, many many years ago. I only worked there for about 2 months, and I ended up quitting on some rather uncertain terms.

I saw one of the owners literally throw a guy out of the restaurant.The guy was a vendor trying to sell him frozen fishtsticks or something. I also saw them hire illegal immigrants who spoke no English, and then they would yell at them and shove them around and hit them when they didn't understand what anyone was saying.

I sliced my finger damn near off on my shift one day and they wouldn't let me go to the ER for stitches. They ducktaped my finger back on and told me to go back to work. I ended up walking out later and going to the ER and when I brought them the workman's comp papers they started threatening me, I quit on the spot and they started leaving me threatening messages on my answering machine. I finally had to send them a letter promising that I wouldn't pursue any legal action against them if they would just pay the workman's comp and leave me alone.
The owners 'office' in the basement had a 5 ton lead door with a series of high security electronic locks and pass codes on it.

It was like an episode of the fucking Sopranoes, I tell you.

Reach the Beach 2007: In The Beginning...

Last night I finally got to meet everyone on my RTB team. We did a track workout at Nashua HS and then headed over to a sketchy restaurant for dinner. More on that later.
The track workout was 5x1000m at 5k pace with 400m rest.
The workout went well, although it was only my 3rd run since taking a 3 week break, so the legs were feeling it by the end. My splits were as follows:
3:42 (oh yeah, that one was bad).

Stay tuned for more updates...