" It's at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys."
- Emil Zatopek

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Connemarathon 1/2 Marathon April 11th 2010

On April 11th Heather and I ran the Connemarathon 1/2 Marathon in the Connemara region of Ireland. This race has a 1/2 marathon, marathon, and an Ultra (39.3 miles) all starting at different spots and finishing at a common finish line in Maam Cross. The Connemara area of Ireland is very desolate, mountainous, yet stunningly beautiful. The course is also very challenging and has a net elevation gain. Before I get to my race report I have to say this was one of the best organized and run events I have ever been to. The race director Ray O'Connor does a fantastic job keeping the whole event organized and running smoothly. I can only imagine the amount of time and energy that is put into this event. Organizing three different race distances, bus transportation, volunteers, post race activities, and all the other details must be a huge undertaking, and everyone involved did a great job!

The night before the race Heather and I stayed in Clifden where we could easily catch the bus to the 1/2 marathon start in the morning. The bus transfer to the start in Leenaun went smoothly and we were at the start about 90 minutes before the 1/2 marathon was to go off. The weather was really nice out, sunny, but getting warm quick, and with a bit of wind. We found a nice place to sit down for a while and relax till it was time to warm up. Soon we were dropping off our bags for transfer to the finish and we were off for a 2 miles warm up. Then it was race time!

After a few words from Ray we were off and running. My initial plan was to just settle in with the lead group and try to figure out what kind of field I was running against. This went out the window when I found myself in the lead and pulling away only 200m into the race. I kind of panicked at first and though maybe I was going out to fast, or that I was really underestimating how hard this course was going to be. So I relaxed a bit and really made sure I was comfortable as we turned away from the bay and started up the first big climb of the race. I passed the first mile in 6:17 and felt really good, and still had a lead. So I just went with it and figured I would worry about those guys behind me when and if they catch me. Still going up hill I passed the 2nd mile in 5:52 and had increased my lead. I finally crested the hill and finally got to do some down hill running. At this point I figured I should press a bit and just try to "disappear" from those behind me, get out of sight and hopefully out of mind. The 3 mile mark passed in 5:16. Then I started hitting the rolling sections of the course. At this point I really felt like I probably had this thing won, as long as I didn't blow up or do anything stupid. It was also at this point I started to relax a bit and take in the scenery which is just incredible. Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 went by in 5:32, 5:48, 5:52, 5:44, and 5:46. All along this section was rolling hills and I was passing some of the marathon and ultra runners that had started much earlier in the day. This was a great help to have people to chase down along the course. Around mile 9 the course starts heading up again for the biggest and longest climb of the race. It was also around this point that I started to worry about getting caught from behind. I was really worried that maybe I had relaxed too much and maybe someone was catching up to me from behind. Of course looking over my shoulder I could see plenty of people behind me, but I could not tell if the were marathoners and ultra folks that I had already passed or 1/2 marathoners catching up to me. So I pressed on up the climb passing miles 9, 10, and 11 in 5:53, 6:25, and 6:37. This climb was brutal and really had me hurting pretty bad. The good news was nobody caught me or passed me and the last 2 miles to the finish were down hill and flat. After cresting the top of the pass I tried to pick it up as much as I could and get to the finish. The downhill 12th mile passed in 5:38 and at this point an official camera car pulled up next to me and I found out that I had pretty large lead and was going to win the race. I was so excited and finished up the 13th mile in 5:49 with a smile on my face. I crossed the line in 1:17:06 (results) good for first place by over 6 minutes and a very nice payday of 500 Euros, plus a very heavy lead crystal vase!

Pictured above are the winners of the 1/2 marathon, ultra, and marathon. Just to give you an idea of how hard this course is, the winner of the marathon was Sergiu Ciobanu, the 2009 Irish National Marathon Champion in 2:22, he ran 2:31 while trying to break the Connemarathon marathon course record. The last half of the marathon course is the 1/2 marathon course, it is the most challenging part.

After the race I was pulled this way and that for pictures, interviews, and awards. I actually missed Heather finishing the race. I found her a few minutes after she finished and received the great news that she had also won!!!! Which made the day as perfect as it could have been. Heather ran a great race in 1:30:59 for a slim 27 second win. I could not have been happier for her.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NHTI Delta Dental 5k Road Race

On Friday April 23rd Heather and I finally made our way back to the states after being stranded in Ireland for an additional 6 days due to the volcanic ash in the air. We also made it back in time for the NHTI Delta Dental 5k Road Race (results), the third race of the CARS series. Heather and I are both in the CARS series and we had to make this race as you can only miss one, and we will be missing one later in the series. So after traveling to Boston from Ireland we made the drive straight to Concord NH from the airport. Being jet lagged and exhausted from travel neither of us were expecting great performances, more or less we just wanted to run respectable races and keep ourselves in the running for end of the series standings.

Once at NHTI we got changed into our running gear and had a short while to relax before it was time to head out for a warm up. Conditions were good for a race, although it was a bit windy in the open spaces. Heather and I headed out to preview the course with Dave Quintal, Mike Quintal, Scott Clark, Rod Viens, and MacKenzie Kilpatrick who caught up to us during the warm up. I felt OK on the warm up, it actually felt good to stretch the legs after sitting in cars and on a plane for the last 10 hours. After three miles of nice easy warm up it was time to put on the racing flats and head for the starting line.

After a few words from Tom Walton the starting gun went off and we were on our way. Scott McGrath and Nathaniel Sans went right to the front followed by MacKenzie, myself and Mike Quintal. The course follows some roads on campus before hitting some of the NHTI XC course. Scott and Nathaniel were holding solid in front followed by Mackenzie and then Mike and myself going back and forth in the 4th and 5th spots. After a bit of trails we hit the first mile mark in about 5:05. Around this point I was in 4th place and felt some space opening up behind me as I got some distance on Mike. I was still trying to hang onto Mackenzie, and Scott and Nathaniel were putting in a little bit of distance on us. I was starting to really hurt at this point, and I knew I would not hang on to MacKenzie for much longer. After leaving the trails and getting back on pavement, and into a head wind, MacKenzie got some distance on me as he pulled away and tried to chase down Scott and Nathaniel. At this point I knew my race was pretty much over, my legs were gone, I was exhausted, and I just wanted to go home. I figured I would just try to minimize the damage at this point and try to hang on to 4th place. As I approached the only real hills (an overpass you go over twice) on the course I heard someone coming up from behind, my fear was that it might be another CARS series runner chasing me down, maybe Tim Cox or Taylor Annett. Much to my relieve it was Mike Quintal, who was looking good and running strong! I knew I would probably not be able to hang with him as he went by, I tried for a few seconds to pick it up, but at this point the body was not having it. This happened at just about the 2 mile mark which went by in about 5:28. For the rest of the race I just tried not to give up too much ground to those in front of me, and keep the rest of the field behind me. With the help on a bit of a tail wind I covered the next mile in about 5:18 and finished up the race in 16:24 in 5th place.

Overall mission accomplished! It was not the greatest race ever but it could have been a lot worse or not happened at all if we did not make it back in time. Despite all the travel, driving, and jet lag I actually ran a bit faster than I expected. I was really thinking anything under 16:45 or so would have been good. Heather also ran a decent race finishing up 3rd in 19:27, again, not the best race but it did the job as we both will maintain our standings in the CARS series. Congrats to Scott McGrath on the win and a new course record.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Still in Ireland 4/19 to 4/25

4/19 Monday: 10 miles in 62 minutes

Went to Charles Fort in the morning, then watched the marathon, then went running. This was not a planned workout. It was just suppose to be a run where if I felt good I could close out the run with some strong miles. But I was pretty motivated after watching the Boston Marathon on a wicked crappy internet feed and seeing all the great performances by a bunch of local runners. Plus I had some frustrations to get out about not getting home and missing work and my daughter. So after a couple miles I started to roll pretty good. Most of the loop was over a pretty hilly section of Kinsale. Mile splits went: 1) 7:40 2) 6:58 3) 6:21 4) 6:59 5) 6:08 6) 5:41 7) 5:28 8) 5:09 9) 5:11 10) 6:53 to cool down. I felt really good and strong during the run. I also felt much better about not only my running, but the whole stranded abroad thing after I was done.

4/20 Tuesday AM: 5 miles in 36 minutes PM: 8 miles in 57 minutes

AM: Easy run around Kinsale before heading off to Kenmare.

PM: Easy running on a rural road in Kenmare. Did the first few miles with Heather then I was off on my own running through farms and woods.

4/21 Wednesday: 8 miles in 59 minutes

Did some hiking and exploring of the Beara peninsula today. Then Heather and I did the same out and back run I did yesterday. I was feeling a little beat up today. Good news it looks like all flights are a go tomorrow in Irish air space. So our flight on friday should be good to go!!

4/22 Thursday: 5 miles in 37 minutes

Made the drive back to Ennis again for another try at heading home. Looks good this time as all planes flew roday, so we should fly tomorrow. Heather and I did some easy running out at the local Ennis sports park again, I really wish we had a facility like this in the states. Heather and I both went easy today as we actually hope to race on Friday back in NH. The race is part of the CARS series and we both need to run it or we will be out of the series as we are already going to miss another one of the races. So we are supposed to land at 2:35 PM in Boston then make the drive to Concord for a 6 PM start. We will see if it happens, we just can't have any extended delays along the way!

4/23 Friday: 9 miles in 65 minutes

Flew home from Ireland today!!! Heather and I drove straight from the airport to Concord NH for the NHTI Delta Dental 5k Road Race. Its the third race in the CARS series. Did 3 miles of warm up on the course, raced 5k in 16:24 good for 5th place (results) and then did another 3 miles of cool down around the course. See full race report for all the details!

4/24 Saturday: Off

A day to rest up and recover from both running and traveling.

4/25 Sunday: 13 miles in 93 minutes

I only wanted to run 10 miles, but Heather went for 12, so I did 13, because I am a guy and I have to do more. Ran out to Lake Kenoza and did some running on the trails before heading back home. Felt pretty slow and heavy, even after a day off.

Total miles: 58

Ireland Training 4/12 to 4/18

4/12 Monday: Off

A day of rest. Did a very long drive from Lisdoonvarna to Dingle. We saw lots of great sites along the way including the Cliffs of Moher.

4/13 Tuesday: 7 miles in 54 minutes

Ran along Dingle Bay out to a look out where we saw Dingle's most famous resident, Fungi the dolphin swimming around. We also drove Slea Head Drive around the peninsula. It was beautiful.

4/14 Wednesday: AM: 4.5 miles in 35 minutes PM: 7 miles in 55 minutes

AM: Run along dingle bay before leaving Dingle. Visited Minard Castle along the way to Killarney.

PM: Ran in Killarney National Park. Ran out past Ross Castle with Heather. Park is beautiful!

4/15 Thursday: Off

A long day in the car driving the Ring of Kerry. Stopped by some ring forts and took in some awesome sites from some of the mountain passes. Even caught a glimpse of the Skellig's off the coast.

4/16 Friday: 8 miles in 60 minutes

Ran in Killarney National Park, saw a ton of deer this morning. The park was really pretty in the early morning light. Thank god Heather dragged me out of bed! Drove north to Ennis today before flying out tomorrow. We are on Volcano watch!

4/17 Saturday: 8.5 miles in 61 minutes

Well after finding out our flight home was cancelled it was time to get in some extra sleep..... then some running. We found a great little place just outside of downtown Ennis. It is called the Lees Road Sport and Amenity Park. It has a ton of fields, a cross country course, and a track facility. So Heather and I went over to check it out. It has about 3 miles of trails (set up for XC races) and it was a great place for running. I got in some good running and did 6 x 1 minute pickups very hard with 1 minute recovery. Now we are on volcano watch!!! We will make it home someday.

4/18 Sunday: 7 miles in 52 minutes

Long travel day to Kinsale on the southern coast of Ireland. Heather and I did some running on the surrounding hills. Lots of ups and downs on this course.

Total Miles: 42 miles

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Training 4/5 to 4/11 (Off to Ireland)

4/5 Monday: 7 miles in 54 minutes

Very easy running in Winnekenni with Heather. Still very muddy, but it was nice to be off the roads.

4/6 Tuesday: 10 miles in 70 minutes

Easy 4 miles of warm up, then 6 x 800 at half marathon pace with one lap rest. Went 2:45, 2:43, 2:42, 2:41, 2:37, 2:39. Got a bit to quick on the last couple but the workout went well and I felt comfortable the whole time as I should at this pace. Did another 1.5 miles of cool down.

4/7 Wednesday: 7 miles in 53 minutes

Easy running from work. Great day to be outside!

Tonight I am off to Ireland. I will be running the Connemara Half Marathon on Sunday April 11th. If I get the chance I will update the blog with pictures and such, both running and non running related. I will have a full trip and racing report when I get home next weekend. See you all when I get back!

4/8 Thursday: OFF

Landed in Shannon at 6:00 am. Feeling very tired. Made the drive to Galway. Took the scenic route through the Burren and along the coast. Roads here in Ireland are crazy!!! Very narrow and the people drive like nuts! Took a long nap and then went out for dinner and checked out a couple pubs and some traditional music. So far Galway is a pretty cool place.

4/9 Friday: 6 miles in 46 minutes

Heather and I ran along Galway Bay out and back on recommendation of the front desk girl. It was a good recommendation. It was a very beautiful run all along the bay and coast and all off the crazy roads of Ireland. Most of it was bike path and nice wide sidewalk. Felt OK, but had a few tight spots probably still due to all the crazy positions I tried to sleep in on the plane. Heading out into Galway now for some lunch and exploring.

4/10 Saturday: 4 mile in 32 minutes

Heather and I ran along Galaway Bay again this morning before heading off to Clifden. We took the scenic route and got to see some awesome sights. There are a few pictures below to check out. Its the day before our race so we are hanging low tonight (No Guinness for Heather). We traveled along some of the course today and it looks both challenging and beautiful. We are very excited to be racing in the morning!

4/11 Sunday: 15.1 miles in 1 hour 33 minutes

Ran the Connemara Half Marathon. Did 2 miles of warm up with Heather. Then raced 13.1 in 1:17:06 good for first place and 500 Euros! Results. Full race report when I get back to the states.

Total Miles: 49.1

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SEA 5k Road Race

On April 4th Heather and I went up to Concord, NH for the SEA 5k Road Race. The second race in the CARS series. This course is very flat and fast, the only thing slowing this course is the abundance of sharp turns along the course. It was also getting pretty warm out, something we haven't adjusted to yet. A very different experience from last weeks cold and challenging race experience at Gilmanton. Being that this was the 2nd race of the CARS series there were lots of familiar faces and I knew most of those who would be in contention. In addition to the usual crowd the Concord High XC team showed up. They always have a few Kenyans on the team....not sure how that works but I knew there may be a few of them up a the front of this race. Mackenzie Kilpatrick was also there and he leads the CARS series after the first race, followed my myself in second and then Taylor Annett in 3rd and Tim Cox in 4th. The goal today would be to try to stay with Mackenzie and minimize the damage. He is in good shape and I came into the series sick and not in top form, so at this point I am trying to stay close to him and then try to get some time back in the later races this season. Just to note, Mackenzie beat me pretty good last week, getting me by 31 seconds. After Heather and I went out for a warm up around the course it was time to line up for the start.

Right off the start Taylor Annett shot to the lead and pulled away at what looked like a suicidal pace. Of course the entire Concord High XC team also shot out quick, as young runners always do. So there was a pack led by Mackenzie, myself, and five or six Concord high kids (including 3 Kenyans), and numorus others right behind us including Tim Van Orden and Tim Cox. We were all following Taylor who had put a bit of a lead on us. Nobdy really seemed concerned about it, and neitehr was I. I knew he would come back to us pretty quickly. Not too long into the race a chase pack had established itself with Mackenzie, myself, and two of the Kenyan high schoolers. Just before the one mile mark we caught Taylor and went through the mile in 5:00 flat. The next mile has some very tight turns including a box shape around a parking area. The 90 degree turns made things interesting as we kept bunching up pretty good resulting in some contact and maybe a couple elbows around one corner. Taylor was hanging in with us but soon after the tight corners he was out the back of the pack. Not long before the 2 mile mark Mackenzie, Steven Ndisabiye (one of the Kenyan high schoolers), and myself broke away from everyone else and were making our way back towards the finish. We hit the 2 mile mark with a 5:16 mile. I was still feeling pretty solid at this point and happy with how the race was going. But I was also getting concerned with the finish. I knew if it came down to a sprint I was dead against both these guys. So I really started pushing the pace and trying to break Mackenzie and Steven, but I was not having much luck. Both these guys were very strong and it became evident this one was going to come down to a sprint. It was also around this point that I heard Dave Dunham cheering on Tim Van Orden who was not that far behind us at all. Just before the three mile mark Steven made a push and got a small gap on me and Mackenzie. I tried to go, but the legs weren't having it. Mackenzie also made a move and I said "Go get him" as he went by. I hit 3 miles with a 5:07 mile split and was doing my best to push to the finish line. But third place in 15:55 was all that was in the cards for me today. Mackenzie ended up catching and passing Steven. Mackenzie finished in 15:48, Steven in 15:53, I just could not get him in the end. Tim Van Orden was 4th in 16:12. Taylor, the early leader finished a distant 10th in 16:46.

Overall I was pretty happy with how the race went. I was 2 seconds faster than I was last year at this race and got $25 for my efforts. I also felt really solid the whole race and really got a chance to race some good runners. I just need to get to the track and get in some workouts so I can close out my races a bit better. Heather also ran a very nice race finishing in 1st place ($100) in 18:56, her little sister Emily finished in 2nd place ($75) in 19:52. Heather leads the CARS Series after 2 races, with Emily in second place.

After 2 races the CARS Standings look like this: (Average Points)

1) MacKenzie Kilpatrick 1000

2) Chris Mahoney 980.5

3) Tim Cox 953.5

4) Taylor Annett 951

5) Rod Viens 949.5

Monday, April 5, 2010

Training 3/29 to 4/4

3/29 Monday: Off

Another day off, trying to get healthy again.

3/30 Tuesday: 7 miles in 54 minutes

Easy treadmill running at work

3/31 Wednesday: 10 miles in 68 minutes

Did 10 x 1 minute pickups hard with 1 minute rests on the Rattlesnake Hill loop. Felt pretty good.

4/1 Thursday: 8 miles in 58 minutes

Easy running from work. Did the cemetery out and back.

4/2 Friday: 5 miles in 37 minutes

Very easy running from work.

4/3 Saturday: 9.5 miles in 69 minutes

SEA road Race, the 2nd race of the CARS series. Ran 15:55 for 3rd place. Full race report to follow soon!

4/4 Sunday: 11 miles in 82 minutes

Did 5 on the treadmill then 6 outside. Had to start inside due to time constraints and having my daughter for the weekend. Then it was off to Dover NH for Easter dinner!

Total Miles: 50.5

This week I was still recovering from being sick and was still wicked congested. I was not happy with the mileage and another day off. I was happy with the race result, well at least the time I ran, which was just a bit faster than I ran last year on the same course. It was a nice confidence booster to know that I am really as slow or out of shape as I felt I was.

Gilmanton 5k Road Race

On Saturday March 27th Heather and I went up to Gilmanton, NH for the Gilmanton 5k Road Race. The race is directed by CMS runner Scott Clark, who always does a great job with this race. The race is also the first race of CARS (Concord Area Race Series). This course is always a tough one, it is generally downhill for the first 3k, then up a huge hill for about 1.2k, then the last half mile is down to flat. This race also has cash prizes to the top 3 finishers, so it always draws a fast crowd.

Heather and I did a short warm up on the last part of the course and then it was time to head for the start. Conditions were pretty cold with temps in the upper twenty's, of course the cold weather made my nose run even more than it already was from being sick. I was pretty sure I was going to look like a disaster before this race was over. Soon after getting to the starting line we were off and running.

Right off the start Mark Miller (pictured to the left) shot out to the lead with a high schooler in tow. A bit back from them was Mackenzie Kilpatrick and myself. This race always goes out fast as the first mile is flat and then down. Soon the high schooler faded and it was Mark with a good lead followed by Mackenzie and myself. We went through the mile in 4:57 which was a bit slower than I expected. I pulled by Mackenzie just after the mile and pushed on down the hill. Soon we made our turn onto the dirt road and up the hill. This is where my race went in the crapper. As we hit the hill I felt like I weighed about 300 pounds. I could not get any oxygen in the system and my legs felt like cement. I went backwards real quick and Mackenzie left me in the dust. At this point I went into survival mode and was just trying to keep myself in third place. I knew there was a pack of runners behind me and catching up quick. I figured if I could make it to the top of the hill with a lead I might be OK. After much suffering I crested the hill with a very small lead and made the push for home. I felt quite a bit better on the flats and downs but I was running scared. In the end I managed to hold on and finish in 17:10 good for 3rd place and $75. I ended up 10 seconds in front of 4th place. This was 46 seconds slower than I ran last year.

Heather ran her best ever Gilmanton Road Race finishing as the 2nd woman in 19:46! Also good for $100. Nice run Heather!

Training 3/22 to 3/28

3/22 Monday: 7 miles in 55 minutes

Very easy treadmill run at work.

3/23 Tuesday: 7 miles in 55 minutes

Very easy treadmill run at work.

3/24 Wednesday: AM: 10 miles in 74 minutes PM: 4 miles in 32 minutes

AM: Rattlesnake hill loop from work, legs feeling better today.
PM: Easy Treadmill running at home. Feeling sick later.

3/25 Thursday: OFF (Sick)

3/26 Friday: Off (Sick)

3/27 Saturday: 9 miles in 65 minutes

Did the Gilmanton 5k road race in 17:10. Did warm up and cool down with Heather. Race report to come.

3/28 Sunday: 16 miles in 1 hour 54 minutes.

Ran the Windham/Derry rail trail with Heather. Started off real easy and finished up the last 8 miles pretty hard. Picking it up as I went, running around 6 minute pace overall for the last 3-4 miles

Total Miles: 52

Not a great week. I got pretty sick with some kind of respiratory infection that left my lungs full of crap which made it pretty hard to breathe. Took two days off then tried to race at Gilmanton. It did not go very well and really left me thinking about my conditioning.