Archive for the 'Sport' Category

2015 TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Trail Race

Today we returned to the TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Trail Race for the first time since 2012 when Debbie ran it in glorious conditions. Today’s conditions were far from glorious and there was no sign of thawing. Now, that wasn’t a surprise. The fierce New England winter is not over yet and spring may officially start next week, but spring weather is likely weeks away. So why were the conditions so rough for this Trail Animals Running Club event?

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The main reason was that the trails were covered in snow…lots of snow. This part of Massachusetts has seen more than 110 inches of snow since November. Sections of the course still had 24 soaking wet, partially compacted, inches remaining. It was ugly. There really aren’t DNF’s in a race based on time, but some of the runners were stopping after one lap, and I don’t blame them. Some took to the roads of Andover, which is ironic because the town is known for its great trails, including the Bay Circuit Trail, which was part of the course.

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Well, those trails are buried right now. The best way to walk or run on this kind of snow is with snowshoes, but from what I heard, USA Track & Field rules didn’t permit the use of snowshoes today. Micro-spikes and similar shoe spikes were a common site. Horst Spikes might have worked! Debbie’s small Kahtoola spikes weren’t small enough and they wouldn’t stay on her feet, so she ditched them after one lap, which was too bad. The first lap was the worst for everyone. Most people ran their second lap faster. After the 100 or so starters compressed the snow a bit, the conditions improve, but only a little.

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I couldn’t get any traction when I was walking on the trails. They were slippery and treacherous. A few spots where there were stream crossings were actually muddy, which made it even worse. Cold and dry snow (if that makes sense) would have been better conditions. We have had some melting in the past week and it was 37 degrees Fahrenheit during the race with constant rain and intermittent downpours. So, the snow was waterlogged and icy. Conditions really couldn’t have been worse.

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Everyone out there, including the volunteers (many from TARC), deserve credit for spending time in the woods on this March day. I brought my bicycle and rode out and back on the roads near the course. It’s worth noting that the roads of New England have been hammered. I’ve ridden in both Connecticut and Massachusetts in the past week and the potholes, cracks, and sand are atrocious. I rode back to see Debbie complete each lap, which was 40-50 minutes for 3.5 miles. The first lap had an extra .5 mile of road added in an attempt to spread out the runners before they entered the single track. Even in dry conditions, other than the first/last 50 meters from the woods to the aid station, this race is all single-track. Today, it was more like half-track. You had to step out of the groove to let another runner pass. After my ride, I did a short road run, and then I went out on the course with my camera to get a closer look at the carnage.

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Race Director Emily Trespas got a lot of help from her TARC mates. Yesterday, she hosted volunteers on the trails for a “stomping party” in an effort to improve the conditions. They really had no impact. Runners were constantly “post-holing” which is no fun. If you got off the compacted snow by even a foot, you risked plunging up to thigh deep.

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Gregory Soutiea completed eight full laps and the official two-mile out and back for a total of 30.5 +/- miles. Amy Rusiecki wasn’t far behind him at the end of her eighth lap, but she didn’t have a whole lot of time left on the clock and stopped at 28.5. Debbie ran much of the race with Sonja Glaser, including all of the final two laps. Their seventh and final lap was their fastest, which proved that you really couldn’t run as fast as you wanted because the conditions were so bad. Kudos to them for getting seven done in 5:56, just under the six-hour cutoff. It would have been a real bummer if they didn’t finish and lost the mileage. That’s the game you play with a timed race. So, they finished with 25 miles. In the perfect 2012 conditions, she did 34.5 miles. What a difference three years and all that snow makes!

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Speaking of thawing, Debbie didn’t thaw out until the end of our two-hour drive home. It is nice that some race proceeds benefit several trail organizations including A.V.I.S., the Andover Trails Committee, and The Bay Circuit Alliance.

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Next year, if conditions are similar, let’s skip this ridiculous race and go to the Caribbean instead!

Race Results

2015 Bolton Road Race

This year’s Bolton Road Race was bigger than ever. It’s a great hometown race that has grown dramatically during the past three years under the stewardship of Dani and Ned Kennedy. The Kennedy’s with support from Bolton High School Track & Field, the Bolton Booster Club, and a cadre of volunteers have done a great job reviving this classic 5-miler.

Horst Engineering is proud to be a repeat sponsor of the race. All four Livingston’s competed. Debbie pushed our daughter in our Chariot CX-1 jog stroller while I ran with our son. It was his second year doing this race. Five miles are a bit far for him, but he toughed it out.

We are going to miss the stroller when it is retired for good. Fortunately our daughter is “petite” and we still get to push her on occasion. Over the past eight years, we have loved the use of these strollers/trailers. They are awesome inventions and kept us active despite having young children.

I took the day off from photography, so I don’t have much to show. I just wanted to enjoy the camaraderie of the running community on a great day. The weather was forecast to be mild, but we ended up having three seasons spread out over five miles. It was cool and cloudy before the start. With two minutes to gun time, it was snowing like crazy. We got hit with a wild and windy squall that was just perfect. That last two miles (all headwind and crosswind) and then it started to clear. By the finish, the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds and the weather warmed up considerably.

Scott Mindel took the win in a blistering fast 26:47 on a hilly course with a rough road surface. Melissa Stellato was first woman and 9th overall in a equally fast 30:14. She was following up on her impressive third (overall) at the Colchester Half Marathon last week.

I love conditions like we had at Bolton. Everyone else appeared to like it too. It was fitting that after a viscous winter, we were still getting hammered by bad weather in mid-March. Thank you to Dani, Ned, the volunteers, and fellow sponsors for supporting the event.

Race Results

Bolton Notch State Park Hike

We are fortunate to have traveled to some amazing destinations, but sometimes a close to home adventure is the most enjoyable trip of all. Yesterday, made the five minute drive to Bolton Notch State Park for some snowshoe fun. We can walk, bike, or run to the park from the house, but with three feet of accumulated snow on the Hop River State Park Trail that connects our neighborhood to the notch, we opted for the short drive.

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We hiked the 3 mile Mohegan Trail, which is marked by yellow blazes on the trees. The first half of the loop climbs sharply up to a ridge. The second half includes the descent down to the junction of Railroad Brook on the rail trail. To complete the loop, you walk on the old rail bed through some amazingly steep cliffs that were cut through when they built the railroad.

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With all of the snow, it was an awesome walk. Our kids did great. This loop is known for abundant mountain laurel, which retains its leaves during winter.

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We had a fabulous walk.

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2015 Colchester Half Marathon

Today, Debbie and I returned to the Colchester Half Marathon for the first time since 201o. We ran it once before that in 2007. We like this course. It’s 13.1 miles of undulating roads in a really nice rural town in eastern Connecticut. It was a cold but sunny day. The temperature at the start was in the teens (Fahrenheit), though it warmed up to 20F by the finish.

This race is very important for local runners with cabin fever and 473 finished! This wicked winter had its impact on the course. The asphalt roads were clear, but the two sections of dirt road (a couple of miles worth) were ice and snow-covered. They were quite slippery. I wore my trail running shoes and opted to run on the far right side of the dirt roads to get some traction where there was more snow and less ice.

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The race has really grown. It’s very popular and it is very runner friendly. It seemed like all of our friends from the Silk City Striders were there. Several other friends from the Shenipsit Striders also ran. Even some of my friends from the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes awoke from their winter slumber to run today. “Rivals,” the Hartford Track Club and the energetic Race Director, Rick Konon, tout the event as “no frills” and are proud of its reputation. It’s a true value at $14 for pre-registration. There are no race goodie bags, no t-shirts, and no awards. What you get is a fantastic post-race spread of food prepared by the culinary students at Bacon Academy, where the race starts/finishes.

The school’s cafeteria was packed after today’s race with hundreds of happy runners. They even had a dedicated vegetarian line. The food was good and the conversation was even better. It was a great day for a run. I hadn’t done a race since the first week of June last year. 2014 was quite an “off-year” for me on the athletic front.

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I was thrilled to run hard today though I faded badly in the second half of the race. That was expected. My pace slackened and heart rate rose as the hills and slow roads took their toll. Even the asphalt was rough. I saw two runners take spills right in front of me. One rolled his ankle on a frost heave and hit the deck. Another got tangled up with other runners at the first aid station and took a hard fall. I had to leap out-of-the-way to avoid him.

I took it as easy as I could on my injured left foot (plantar fasciitis) and was happy that the pain in my arch and heel was the same after the race as it was before. In the past 60 days, after months of therapy and stretching, the tightness in my foot and calf have noticeably improved. With a four mile warmup, this was the longest I’ve run in nine months since last year’s Wapack and Back 50 Mile Trail Race that pretty much did my 2014 season in.

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The time away from running was good for my body, though my Labor Day bicycle crash was quite a setback and resulted in me doing nothing for several months at the end of last year. I started spinning and swimming again in December and then started running last month. I’ve run a dozen or so times so I knew that I wouldn’t match my 2010 time. I’m five years older and I ran six minutes slower. I took advantage of the free post-race massage to loosen up my legs, but I know that tomorrow they are going to really hurt.

This year’s plan is to get back to the level I was in prior years, but it is going to take some work and a bit more training. I’ve got modest goals for 2015 that include comebacks at some of my favorite (short) local races, but with less running and no ultras. Debbie has some fun stuff planned this year with travel involved, so she was also pleased with her Colchester. It is a necessary part of her buildup as she adds mileage and intensity.

We missed the Colchester Half Marathon four years in a row due to various trips, so it was fun to stick around and experience this fun race again.

Race Results

The Harlem Globetrotters

Last week, Debbie and I got to host an event at the Harlem Globetrotters game in Springfield, Massachusetts. We are members of YPO Connecticut River Valley, a leadership organization, and we lead the chapter’s Youth & Family initiatives.

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The Globies are fantastic family entertainment. We could have also attended the show with the Cub Scouts, but through connections we gained access to a pre-game meet and greet with the team. The players were the ultimate professionals. They are talented showmen and show-women.

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Our kids and the other 75 kids enjoyed every moment of the evening. The great thing about the Harlem Globetrotters is that the comedy is just as fun for the adults as for the children.

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Personally, I love the choreographed athleticism more than anything, but I have to say that the humor was surprisingly enjoyable. I recall seeing the Globetrotters when I was in elementary school nearly 35 years ago.

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I won’t wait another 35 years to see them again.

Some of the photos are mine and some are courtesy of Alan Grant (Digital Creations).

2015 Shenipsit Striders Moonlight Run

It had been several years since I made the Shenipsit Striders Moonlight Run. The tradition has lasted 29 years. The fun run is always held on the Saturday night closest to the February full moon.

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Tonight, 14 runners and two dogs showed up on a starry night to run on the snowy trails of Shenipsit State Forest. The temperature was hovering around 12F. The run started at 11:30 A.M., so I’m blogging at 1:40 A.M. on the 1st of February. Rabbit, rabbit.

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It was a great way to start end January and start February. The huge snowstorm earlier in the week dumped 20 inches of snow on the forest. The single track had been tramped on by snowshoers. The dirt roads had been driven on by snowmobiles. We did a four mile loop that included a trip to the fire tower at the top of Soapstone Mountain.

 

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It was glorious.

5 Day Black & White Challenge

Earlier this month, ultra running friend and fellow photographer, Geoff Baker, nominated me to participate in the 5 Day Black and White Challenge. There are variations the theme, but the general premise is that you post one black and white photograph a day for five days. You can shoot fresh images or go to your archives and get old ones or make new versions of old color photos.

I don’t shoot B&W much, so I opted to grab some favorite color images that would look good covered. It was a fun process and I thank Geoff for challenging me to give it a shot. I have yet to pay it forward by nominating someone else, but I will in due time. I posted these five images on social media including my Facebook page.

Day 1

First up is a photo from our March 2006 hiking excursion to the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Debbie was 4.5 months pregnant with our first child, but that didn’t stop her from running. This photo shot with my Leica M6 TTL/Tri-Elmar lens on Fuji Velvia and then scanned. That’s Cathedral Peak in the background. Along with the Dawson-Middelman clan, we tried for the top, but were short on gear and guts, but we came close!

Deb, South Africa, Drakensberg, 2006, Mar-06 - Version 2

Day 2

This image taken at the market in Ubud on 22 February 2012. We had a fantastic family trip to Maya Ubud Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia; and walked to town from the hotel. Taken with my Leica M9 and Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH Lens.

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Day 3

This is a black and white image of a black and white outfit. Our son’s first tuxedo was rented in Bismarck, North Dakota for Brian and Heather Nelson’s wedding. Shot with my Leica M9 and my “go to” lens, the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH.

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Day 4

This photo was taken at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona; the “winter home” of Frank Lloyd Wright. I had a chance to visit and take a tour back in November 2010. This is another image made with my Leica M9 and Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens. There isn’t much to this image of a sculpture at the home, but I have always loved it.

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Day 5

This image of the Knife Edge on Mt. Kathadin in Baxter State Park.I shot it using my Leica V-LUX 30 pocket camera on the last day of my 30’s in October 2012. Sometimes you need to go light and fast and it isn’t practical to carry a bigger/better camera.

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I’m already working on five more.


Livingston Photo & Word

Horst Engineering

Thread Rolling Inc.

Sterling Machine

Horst Spikes

Instagram

The #bicycle mechanic wouldn't accept #dollars #bitcoin or #wampum but #thealchemist #headytopper worked. Now we wait for the snow to melt. #teamhorstsports @trailrunningmom left her footprints in the snow. Sunday morning obstacle course race training session. #teamhorstsports #teamlivingston #deburring this flange for an #aerospace motor application. Hand work is still an important part of our finishing processes and #buffing like this takes skill. #precisionmachining #instamachinist #machining #cnc #cncmachining #horstengineering #manufacturing @horsteng #madeintheusa Shep starring as Kermit the Frog in the Bolton Center School Variety Show. Enjoy my high tech cinematography. #kermit #muppetshow Shep helped me out @horsteng this afternoon. We checked out the new Okuma lathes and then Chinh showed us what you can do with a block of #aluminum #precisionmachining #horstengineering #instamachinist #cncmachining #cnc #manufacturing #madeintheusa Breaking the sharp edges on this tricky little #aerospace part. #precisionmachining #instamachinist #cnc #cncmachining #manufacturing #horstengineering @horsteng #madeintheusa Old school #precisionmachining on a #Bridgeport knee mill, but still effective. Secondary milling a screwdriver slot in the face of an Inconel 718 cam pin. This is another #aerospace jet engine part. It has three eccentric diameters, a spline, and a rolled thread. Out of 6,000 active SKU's, it's one of my favorites. #instamachinist #cnc #cncmachining #threadrolling #sterlingmachine #horstengineering #manufacturing #madeintheusa Touring the #TrashMuseum with our @thecubscouts den. Our family is good about #reducereuserecycle but have so much more to learn. #recycle #recycling #cubscouts #trashmuseum

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