Friday, August 28, 2015

3+1=hurts: Cross Country and Road Mile (8/22-8/23/15)

Very early in the race
The weekend was spent with not one race but two.  First the New Hampshire Cross Country Championships in Manchester.  Then on Sunday, the Inaugural Fast Mile at Race to the Row.

Cross Country 5K (8/22/15)
Race #1: New Hampshire Cross Country Championships
Distance: 5K
Goal: 20:00
Actual: 20:26

The New Hampshire meet both kicked off the USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix and was race #6 of the ATR series, so there was a lot of interest in the Fast Heat.

You'll notice my official goal time was 20 minutes.  That was calculated based on last year's Mayor's Cup.  I had heard Derryfield Park was harder than Franklin; but with what I thought would be better fitness, I could make up that time and run about the same.  After Scot, Bradley and I did our warm-up on the course, I knew I wouldn't run 20 minutes.

So "cross country" is a strange discipline.  The only uniting force of cross country races is that they are not all on roads.  Some, like Franklin Park or Lehigh run around mostly open areas of parks or athletic fields and may have one or two challenging spots.  Others, like the 4K on the Fourth are laps of athletic facilities on a lot of roads and slight jaunts into trees.

Derryfield Park's 5K is one half the classic cross country course.  It starts with a lap of the baseball diamond and tennis courts and finishes with a zig zag across a big open field.  But the middle half.... The middle half is a double track trail race.  There are two steep hills (the first is steeper; the second is longer), a couple of steep downhills, several large granite blocks and a fallen fence you have to duck under ("Low Bridge!" Amanda Wright yelled back to me as she went under.)

The first mile was a lap around the ball fields of the park. I managed to stay pretty even keeled.

The second mile entered the woods. I have not figured out trail/cross country yet. I always take the hills too fast. After the Antenna hill I was able to catch my breath. This was great as I then was able to run hard up the Ski Lift Hill. I caught up with Bradley and got ready to go down hill and catch my breath again. Bradley went just pulled away from me.  I never caught that breath.

As the third mile zig zagged across the fields near the start, I never regained. Once again, I fell apart at the end.

One day, I'll get Cross Country Races.

Start of the Fast Mile
photo by Tom Cole
Road Mile (8/23/15)
Race #2: Fast Mile at Race to the Row
Distance: 1 Mile
Goal Time: 5:30
Official Time: 5:20
Actual Time: 5:26 (2nd Place, Adult PR)

This was the third running of the Race to the Row 5K but it was the first year of the Fast Mile.  I figured I wouldn't be too tired from the NH XC 5K to run a mile the next day.

There were about 15 of us in the mile.  As Kate sent us off on the start, it was an easy beginning. Nobody initially took off.  But by about 50 yards, one person ran out ahead of us.  Mark said: "There goes our winner."  I was actually less sure because of his running.  He looked more like the end of the race than the beginning.

I spent the first quarter mile closing down his lead with a third guy following me close behind.  I had closed enough ground that I figured I could ease into the next half mile.  We caught up with the leader right around a half mile.  We were still running, what for me was, an untenable pace.

The next quarter was a little slower.  I was in the lead with second now right behind me.  But I felt I could lose him.  Once I put a little move and he felt like a soft pace.  So right before the rotary, I decided when we got to 2/10ths of a mile I would start a sprint and try to win the race.

Unfortunately, with 1/4 mile left the guy on me just took off.  I immediately saw his speed and thought: "That guy is going to win."

While I tried to bring him back, I never could.  He had taken a 30 yard lead and I really only brought about 10 of that back in the last stretch.

My official time was 5:20, but the course was a bit short.  At a mile it would have been 5:26, still an adult PR.

Afterwards I was the bike marshal for the 5K and led as Joe Lamer and Kath respectively won the men and women.

Lead marshalling the race at about half way.  Joe with the second place and Kath.
Photo by Tom Cole  

Mainiacs: Two weekends in Maine (8/7-8/9 and 8/15-8/16/15)

At Frost Mtn Yurts
Weekend #1 - Fryeburg and Brownfield

Friday: Yurting For Certain II

At the Burnt Mtn/StoneMtn junction
Hike: Burnt Meadow and Stone Mountains
Distance: 4.8 miles

We check into our yurt.  While not the same yurt from 2009, it was at the same location in Brownfield, ME.

We had time to make it out to a hike down the road.  It promised two peaks and great views. It also promised strenuous start.  And it was.  We were going steeply up almost immediately. We gained 1000 feet in a little over a mile.

Matt, Eva and Urvi on the hike

South Peak

Urvi Scrambles up the last bit of North Peak

Stone Mtn Summit

Urvi at the Yurt

Saturday: Yaking, Cabining, and Ebenezering

Paddling Trip: Sacooooo Rivahhh!!!
Distance: 7.8 miles

So we were ready for a nice paddle down the lovely Saco River.  We got Daytona Beach at Spring Break.  OMG!!!

Saccoooooo Rivahhh!!!
Drunk teens and twenty-somethings

Matt on the Saco

Urvi on the Saco


Mt Tom Cabin

Matt pumps water from the well

Ebenezer's: Lovell, ME
For dinner we went to what is known as one of if not the best beer bar in the country/world.  Located on the fairway of a small golf course in Lovell, ME, it has some of the best draft selections in the world.

Matt, me, Eva and Urvi

Sunday: Moating and Gaming

Urvi and Eva as we're about half way into Thurn and Taxis

Moat Mountain

One From the Vault
That time we went Yurting in the Winter

Weekend #2 - Otter Forest
The next weekend Urvi and I went up to my parents' cabin in Harmony - Otter Forest.

Hike: Pleasant Pond Mountain
Distance: 2.5 miles

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

DU IT!:Whaling City Duathlon (8/2/15)

Top of the Podium
Race: Whaling City Duathlon
Distances: 1.1 mile run / 12 mile bike / 3.1 mile run
Goal Time: 1:10:00
Actual Time: 1:01:47 (1st Overall)

I was running along the beach on the second run.  And up ahead I could make out a guy in blue and orange. "That can't be the leader of the duathlon," I thought.  But it must be.  Only two people have passed me on the run and they both clearly the leaders of the triathlon.  I also knew Billy was probably closing on me to be the third to pass - but once again he was in the tri.  "Hmmm... Maybe I can catch him before mile 2 and then hang with him and then blow past him with a half mile left." But for now he was just blue and orange in the distance.

Run 1 - 1.1 mile (6:34)

The first run was my biggest concern.  Like the Miami Half Iron in 2011, that first run is weird.  Sure, I could run a 5:35 mile and have a big lead, but then there's still the bike and the 5k left.  So, I decided not to be too warmed up and use it as another mile warm up.

When the race started, This turned out to not be a good plan. Quickly four guys jumped out to the front. I had wanted to take it easy, but I didn't want to lose too much time.

Additionally, I'm not an experienced enough multi-sport athlete to properly know pacing.  I figured, It's only an hour-long race; I'll stay in sight of leaders and hope I can pass everyone on the 5k at the end.

I passed one guy on the run to stay in sight of the top 2 and finished the first run in 4th overall.

Bike - 12 miles (33:30 - 21.5mph)

I was fourth out of transition.  I was ready to hop on my bike at the mount point but the second and third place guys were slowly mounting and blocking the way...  There was still an hour of racing ahead of us, so I just waited a second for them to clear the way.

Since we started at the same time as the tri, we were the first people on the road.  With the clear road in front I was able to keep on eye on 2nd and 3rd place.  (1st place was well ahead and had quickly disappeared.)  I knew most of the bike course since it's on the same stretch as miles 8-11 of the New Bedford Half Marathon.

It was two laps of a sort of figure 8.  The first lap I was just trying to catch a rhythm.  I kept looking down at the computer and trying to make sure I was in the 19-20 mph range.  Around mile one you turn off the coast road and go up a small hill to two sharp lefts and then down the hill to a sweeping right back onto the coastal road.  The first half was rougher pavement than the second half with lots of tar repairs on the asphalt.  I had been able to hold position in the first half, since I passed on guy in the duathlon and then was passed by another (the man in orange and blue above).

When we started the second loop, I noticed that I had closed a bit on third place.  Also we hit traffic for the first time.  There were lots of cyclists from the tri pouring out onto Rodney French Boulevard and I spent the next mile just on the left passing them all.

As we made the first left to the hill, I realized my cyclocross bike had better handling skills than his tri bike.  If I could get him on one of the turns and then sprint away until we took the left to go on the other side of the peninsula, I could move myself comfortably into third before the run started.  So I tried to pass at the first left and that wasn't happening.  But, at the second left, he slowed for the turn and I took it as Gabe always reminds me from NASCAR: "low-in; high-out."

With the slight lead, I started to accelerate out of the saddle on the bumpy boulevard.  It wasn't until the end of the 9th mile that I sat back into my seat.  (Mile 9 was 23.4 mph). By the last turnaround at mile 10.5, I figured I'd just keep the steady pace back into transition.  As I saw where fourth place was, I was calmed to know I could reach transition in third.

Run 2 - 3.1 Miles (20:38)

As soon as I left transition, second place was 50 yards in front of me.  I wanted to sprint out and catch him; but...

I played it smart and I closed the gap slowly over the first third of a mile.  After making some small talk, I went on ahead.  At this point there were only two people ahead of me, the triathlete who passed me on the bike and the leader of the duathlon.  (Pretty soon the guy would go onto win the tri came blowing by me like I was standing still.) 

I think it was Joe who said a sprint tri is like a 15k run.  Sure enough, now I felt like I was just finishing up a 10 mile race (and running about that speed, too.) With noone in my sight ahead of me, I had nothing to do but race in my head.  I just fought through that first bit of post bike stiffness. Now I was just in end of race pain.

At the turn-around, I saw that the leader had a bit of distance on me.  I din't think I could make it up. But, by mile 2, I was right behind him.  The plan to stay with him and then try to beat him at the end seemed risky once I got to him.  After all I was running 6:40 miles and he was running 7:15s.  I determined to just try to keep running that speed.

I spent the next mile keeping up the pace and looking back at every slight bend in the path.  Surely, someone is catching up, right?  It wasn't until there was about a quarter mile left and you run up and down a pier that I relaxed.  The first person on my way back down I saw was Billy in the tri.  I was actually going to win.

I ran in.  I hit the finish straight, stopping the clock just a minute over an hour!  Winner, winner!

Urvi had a Sprint Triathlon PR
Bill Hafferty took 3rd overall in the triathlon
Susannah Ford was 2nd in her age group