Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Life since Traprock 50k

  Back on April 14th , we made the second trip to CT in as many weekends to run the Traprock 50k. This would be another training race on the road to Wapack. Temps that morning were in the high 30's but warmed very quickly into the 70's.
  During the first lap I got caught up in the chase and lost track of my hydration which resulted in a fluid deficit I could not recover from.. Cramps came on towards the end of lap two and I battled through them to finish in third place and a hair faster than last years time.
  In the following weeks I stayed on track with my training and got some quality long runs in on the Belknap range, Wapack course and finally a 22 miler in the Whites this past weekend. I'm in full taper mode and all I can hope is that on Saturday I can focus my mind and that my legs will follow...

Photo courtesy: Scott Livingston

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Northern Nipmuck Race Report

   This weekend Kristina and I made the trek down to Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union CT, home of the Northern Nipmuck trail race.

   This race signifies, to most, the beginning of the trail race season in New England. This would be my third attempt at the race and hopefully my second finish. My training has been going very well since the New Year and this was to be a good test to see how things were going before my first goal race of the season, Wapack 50 miler May, 12.
   My legs had felt quite heavy all week after a series of three hard runs last weekend including the Gilmanton 5k road race. But at the end of my run on Wednesday which included hill repeats I was thinking I should be able to put in a hard effort come race day.
   We piled into the Subaru at 6:30 to make our way down for the 10 o'clock start. It was in the low 40's when we arrived at Bigelow Hollow and we scuffled our way over towards the registration tent to collect our numbers. On our way over we saw many familiar faces and chatted a bit while we shivered off the cold. After some catching up with friends we got our kits on and did an easy jog down the park road to find a good spot for a nature break and get warmed up.
   I had heard rumors that there was a change to the start of the course and was curious if it would thwart my chances of running 2:10 which would be 7 minutes faster than last years time. We made our way across rt 191 and gathered at the race start area, Soon after RD Jim Campiformio gave us the low down on the new start And I positioned my self a couple rows back behind Gregg Hammet and Ross Krause who I knew would most likely take 1st and 2nd.
   In years past the course turns off the forest road immediately and heads straight up the hill attacking the end of the ridge that the out and back course runs along. But, not this year, we'd be heading down the double track a ways and climbing up to the ridge on forest road and rejoining the Nipmuck trail at about mile two.
   We took off at a quick pace I looked down at my Garmin a few hundred yards down the road and it confirmed the pace was quick (6:12). I tried to settle into a rhythm and not get caught up in the excitement. About a mile in we started to climb up to the ridge and I could see I was starting to slowly reel in a few runners and I locked my focus onto Ultra star and owner of some 2:10 Nipmuck finishes Jack Pilla. As the grade steepened I was careful not to push too hard this early on the race but I wanted to be with Jack as we made the turn onto the single track. I caught him as we crested the last steeps and we exchanged a few words and on one nice downhill I pulled ahead and BANG there was the right turn onto the Nipmuck trail.
  I was feeling strong and settled into a rhythm again making sure to take some fluids in on a regular basis. The descents were sweet, I was flying and having a blast! about a mile down the trail I caught up to Justin Contois and settled in behind him as he picked up the pace as I caught up to him. I felt like I was drafting and knew it was still early in the race and I should conserve myself. Shortly after as the we came upon a technical section I caught a glimpse of 4th, 5th and 6th place runners Derek Jokobski, Godrey Bergen and Mike Mazotta. I knew as we descended down towards the edge of the lake we were approaching the aid station at the midpoint of the course. I quickly took a few slurps from my handheld and stopped to refill it with Gatorade as the 4 others continued on.
  After the aid station the course continues down the road for a tenth of a mile or so then turns up into the woods to climb back up onto the ridge. It wasn't too long until I caught back up to the four who'd left me at the aid station and we carried on for a bit that way with me trailing. I was happy with the pace, it was comfortable, but soon after Justin started to lose contact so I passed him and ran at Mikes heels but soon he too was struggling to hang with Derek and Godrey.
  When I had a chance on a downhill I passed Mike and reeled the two others in. I had noticed that these two weren't as strong in the technical stuff so I formulated a rough strategy to overtake them when we reached the most technical section of the course near the turn around try to force them out of their comfort zone and wear them down, Let me say I have never felt so strong and collected at a race where I could actually think up a strategy! So I did just that and they hooked on.At the turnaround I filled my bottle with more Gatorade and headed back up the steep hill to regain the ridge and Derek and Godrey were right on my heels. I started to second guess my decision to lead and asked them a couple times if they wanted to pass, they declined.
   About three quarters of a mile before returning to the midpoint aid station they blew by me like I was standing still on a steep climb. There was nothing I could do, I leaned into the hill and tried to accelerate to stay with them but all I got in return was some serious leg burn. So, I let them go and settled into a strong rhythm hoping that they would blow themselves up.
   A quick stop to fill my bottle and I was off in pursuit! The last four miles at this race are HELL, somehow you forget all those fast descents you'd enjoyed on the way out were now turned into brutal quad burning climbs. I hunkered down and got to work, only throwing in a few walking strides on the steepest of the climbs. where it was level I was still moving fast and could still let myself fly on the descents. Soon I saw the logged area which I remembered marked the beginning of the descent down the finish, As I rounded the corner on the last of the climbing there was 6th place leaking oil all over the trail. I motored by him and yelled for him to stay with me. He picked it up and was on my heels and I wondered if I should have kept my mouth shut. I leaned down the hill and really strided out. After looking down at my Garmin to see my pace was sub 6 I saw 5th place coming into view and decided i wouldn't be happy with 5th. We motored by him and ran the last tenth down the hill into the finish chute. My plan had worked, I was ecstatic!

1 Greg Hammett M 34 Chesterfield NH 07:50 2:05:11 100.00%
2 Ross Krause M 32 Easthampton MA 08:00 2:07:52 97.90%
3 John Kinnee M 33 Ayer MA 08:15 2:11:51 94.94%
4 Ryan Welts M 31 Goffstown NH 08:35 2:17:07 91.30%
5 Derek Jakoboski M 25 Exeter RI 08:35 2:17:10 91.26%
6 Godrey Bergen M 31 Ellington CT 08:35 2:17:13 91.23%

   So 4th place it was for me, but not by much.My time was two seconds faster than last year on the new course which is .9 longer so thats a big improvement and I think equates to a 2:10ish finish on the old course.
     I hung around at the finish cheering people across the finish line and waiting for Kristina to finish.
   Well, 14 minutes later, there she was ! First Woman! and 16th place overall. This was a break through race for her and I'm so excited to see how her season unrolls as she hones her new found Super Powers!!

Photos courtesy Scott Livingston.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reflections... On a real mess...the abridged version

Looking back on the past few years of my life I've experienced many changes. Some good, some bad.
I've been contemplating writing another blog post for some time now. I feel strongly that people air their dirty laundry too often via social media and It's been tough for me to bring myself to write a personal post instead of just a race report or blurb about a cool run or hike.
I've heard many rumors of what people "think" or "know" about me. Let me make it clear I do not care if you do or do not like me. I would just prefer that you make a decision based on the truth. So here it is to the best of my recollection:
Contrary to popular belief I am not independently wealthy, I do come from a privileged background and attended private and boarding schools growing up. I was a real handful growing up and made my parents lives a living hell! I didn't do this because I was a bad kid, I realize now I did it because I despise authority and would do everything in my powers to rebel. I was expelled from multiple schools and ended up dropping out of high school my senior year because I wanted to be a farmer.
Farming( hay farming specifically) was something I had grown to love since acquiring a summer job on the farm next door to my home when I was fourteen. But there was another reason, farming was exactly the opposite direction in life my parents had hoped that I would head.
Fast forward..... After a failed attempt at UNH to earn a Forestry degree I found myself a partner in an LLC called Silver Maple Farm where I managed to carve out a life for myself far different than my education and sports background had presumably dictated. I was well overweight, smoking cigarettes, driving truck and struggling to find "who I was". So I did what I thought at the time was a good idea, I found a girl that seemed to be able to stand my many idiosyncrasies dated her for a few years and we got married.
With the stresses of being self employed and constantly battle with bouts of severe depression our relationship struggled, to say the least. So we did what we thought was the right move, we had our first child, a beautiful baby girl we called Zoe.(sensing a pattern here?)
Things were great for a while. I really enjoyed my new role as dad and had a blast taking care of my family.
In November 07' I had grown tired of being very overweight and simply reminiscing about the Varsity soccer days and fast Super Giant Slalom races just wasn't enough to keep me happy, I wanted to move again. I talked my new wife at the time , Corinne, into heading up to my fathers condo at Waterville Valley for the weekend after going to the Sandwich Fair and watch Zoe while I went and hiked the Osceolas. These were the mountains I'd told her so many stories about climbing when I was a kid summering in WV.
The hike was the most uncomfortable and humiliating physical experience I ever had and I wanted more! I declared I was going to continue hiking through the winter and make the effort to get in shape. She hesitantly agreed and I was heading up to the whites just about every Saturday all winter. By mid winter Corinne was pregnant with our second child Hannah and my absence one day per week was becoming a problem. (you get the idea)
Fast forward.... The following August, Hannah was born and I had been attempting to run now for about a month. I did not know how to run easy I only knew how I used to run when I was a teen before i put the weight on and started smoking cigarettes. I started on a short loop that was mostly on a private road so people in cars couldn't see my extra 80 lbs of flab jiggling as they drove by.
After getting some nasty shin splints sorted out I was looking to run further (2 or 3 miles) I discovered Beaver Brook which had over 30 miles of trails right close by to the house and I also chose what everyone said was an unreasonable goal for myself. Racing in the Wapack 21 miler the following May. So, I became obsessed, training, hiking, dieting. By Christmas I weighed in at 190 lbs down 40 lbs altogether and by race day I toed the line at 166 lbs and with a couple nagging overuse injuries. During the winter Corinne and I had grown apart and I really struggled balancing family and training, But I was determined that I would NEVER return to my former state and forged on. By this time I had been doing some running in the Whites and Found myself at home there.(everyone knows this part of the story)
Corinne and I had grown apart and struggled to keep the marriage together and in July 09' one month before Hannahs first birthday I told Corrine I was leaving. I moved in with a group of guys, some of which were my employees, and really lived it up with my new found freedom. I stayed the course with my training and still continued to see the girls regularly.
I was lost and did not know what I was going to do with my life from that point forward I ended up selling Silver Maple Farm and its equipment that fall and Moving up to a apartment in Campton while working as a snowmaker at Waterville the hours were tough and corinne was very upset with me and I struggled to get down and visit with the girls regularly. I was truly running from my problems.
Soon I was to make one of the worst decisions of my adult life, one I'm sure I will regret for my entire life. I gave up my parental rights and agreed to monthly phone calls being my only contact with the girls. Even then I struggled to make regular contact and Corinne was becoming very frustrated with me. I was searching for something just not sure what. I moved around, working different jobs and always paying my child support on time.
It was at the Virgil Crest Ultra in September 10' that I met somebody that would change my life forever. Kristina and I were both at the tail end of relationships and to make a long story short we ended up moving in together down in CT where she lived in December. Come spring I ha convinced her to move back to NH with me Because I had realized I desperately wanted to become a part of my daughters lives again. We both found jobs, made the move and I've resumed my monthly phone calls.
The calls are tough, it's been so long since I've seen the girls and I barely even know since she was only a year and a half old the last time I saw her. As you might guess, talking to 4 and 5 year old girls you barely know and who don't really know you except for what their mother tells them, tends to be a very short one sided phone conversation. I'm going to continue to be persistent and hopefully someday their mother will see that I'm serious about being a father again and slowly let me back into their lives. I'm truly excited about that..