Archive for the 'Sport' Category

2015 CompEdge Cyclocross

Today’s CompEdge Cyclocross was a ton of fun. It was the first time in more than 125 cyclocross races that I’ve ever raced in August. Heck, cross used to be an “offseason” sport. Now, it is the main event. With so little going on in the New England road cycling season, and the triathlon season winding down, I opted to race at Blunt Park in Springfield. It was a dust fest.

2015_iPhone Photos 1

After 17 cross races in 2013, I did zero in 2014 after breaking my shoulder in a hard road crash on Labor Day Weekend last year. I’m 95% recovered from that injury and am ready for a full season of cross culminating with the USA National Cyclocross Championships in Asheville, NC in January 2016. My goal is to do 15 races in the next 14 weeks. I’m feeling good and looking forward to the action.

2015_iPhone Photos 12

10 days ago, Horst Engineering launched our revamped lineup of Horst Spikes, so it’s hard not to be pumped. Today, I used my brand new Sidi mountain shoes with Medium Horst Spikes. The course was a screamer with a ton of turns. My racing age is 44, so that means I’m one of the oldest guys in the Masters 35+ field. I would prefer a 40+ race, but today they only had 45+ and 35+. We started with the Elite/1/2/3 men, so the race was a hammerfest. I covered 9.2 miles in 47:16. There were a lot of turns and it was hard to pass. Blunt is one of those urban parks that isn’t pristine. It’s well used, but it was a nice venue and only 40 minutes from home.

2015_iPhone Photos 16

I’ve got work to do to improve my crossresults.com ranking after not racing in 2014. I’m ready for the fun. Today, I had a good ride and was focused on form and getting back in the groove. I was pleased to finish 4th in my age group (I think 19th including the young guns), which scored me $30. That’s $5 short of the entry fee. If I had pre-registered, I would have made a profit. Of course, no one profits from racing amateur cyclocross. Of course, I can claim that I get “paid to ride.” Just don’t tell the IRS! They collect enough tax from our family business.

2015_iPhone Photos 6

Thank you to the Cyclonauts for putting on the event. Team Horst Sports had a nice day. Matt Domnarski took the win in the 45+ race. Ted D’Onofrio joined him for the event. I was joined in the 35’s by my colleague and friend, Arthur Roti. He and I both also ride for Team Seven Cycles. Our Mudhoney’s are dusty, but they worked great! The fact that cyclocross season is underway made up for my awful attempt to make pancakes for breakfast. Every one I cooked stuck to the pan. It was more like scrambled pancakes. I boiled over the maple syrup when warming it on the burner. It was a disaster. Debbie came to the rescue in time for me to head to the race.

2015_iPhone Photos 11

I’m still searching for one more sprint triathlon to wrap up the season, but the options are few and far between now that my schedule is loaded up with travel and of course, cyclocross.

2015 Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race

Today, Debbie completed the MadAthlete Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race in Andover, New Hampshire. This 80 mile trail running race included all of the 75 mile Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsage-Greenway (aka Emerald Necklace) hiking trail in the Lake Sunapee region of central New Hampshire.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-6

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-15

The 80 mile loop course was split into three stages with each stage starting at 7:00 A.M. There was about 13,000 feet of elevation gain and 13,000 feet of elevation loss over the course. The mix of rugged mountain trails, dirt roads, asphalt roads, and rail trail made for a nice mix of terrain. Three major peaks were summited: Ragged Mountain Mount Kearsage, and Mount Sunapee.

  • Stage 1, Friday, 25 miles
  • Stage 2, Saturday, 24 miles
  • Stage 3, Sunday, 32 miles

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-2

This was the second year for the race. The SKRG trail is “blazed,” but the markings were a challenge in 2014. This year, they were better, but the format of this race calls for runners to care maps with them and do a bit of navigating. There weren’t a lot of added course markings. 14 one page maps and descriptions were provided and pre-race meetings the night before each stage covered the details. Debbie thrives on this sort of race. Her first multi-day race was last month’s Speedgoat Mountain Races, though she has done several multi-day adventure races in the past.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race

About 43 runners started the event on Friday. Some did it as two person teams, but most did it solo. Debbie will write her own blog post and likely describe more of the logistics. This was a challenging format to follow, but a very fun format. There wasn’t as much opportunity to crew as traditional ultras, but the race organizers had lots of support. I didn’t arrive with our kids until Saturday mid-day. Debbie had already completed the 25 mile stage on Friday.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-3

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-5

We got there just in time and saw her finish the 24 mile stage 2. We had a blast hanging out at the finish yesterday, which was at the Sunapee Middle High School. The school also served as a base camp, where starting on Thursday night, the runners slept in their tents set-up on the Little League field. Runners were required to camp at the venue after each stage. The runners were also required to carry a pack and other mandatory gear.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-12

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-14

On Friday morning, they drove their cars to the start on Friday, for stage 1, which was also the finish for stage 3. They were bused back to the base camp after the finish of State 1. On Saturday, they were taken by bus to the start and then finished at the school where their tents were set-up. Today, they started at the base camp and ran to the finish at Potter Place Railroad Station.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-13

This race had a real community atmosphere. It was a small field, which was probably the result of a lack of marketing, the entry fee ($400), and the three-day format requiring at least one day off from work. Our home in Connecticut is 2.5 hours from the SRKG, so Debbie as able to leave on Thursday afternoon and get there in time for the first meeting. I got help from both sets of grandparents to watch our kids on Friday.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-17

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-18

I collected them on Saturday morning, spent a little time at work, and then drove up to catch Debbie. As I mentioned, we were fortunate to catch her. Stage 2 turned out to be her toughest day. She won the first stage in 5:54:56 and was 5th overall. I don’t have much detail on the race because I wasn’t there. I know that she had about an eight minute gap to Allyson Koenig. I also know that it rained most of the day on Friday. Ally got the better of Debbie on stage 2, but only by 23 seconds. They were together for quite some time, but Ally pulled ahead in the last mile. Debbie finished in 5:19:49. She ran out of water with three miles to go and faded in the mid-day heat. The weather was much warmer and dry on Saturday. She admitted that not having the proper hydration was a mistake, but it didn’t cost her badly.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-11

Our longtime family friend, Marjorie, joined us at the finish. There were some fun things to do for family members. At the finish of stage 2, there were “kiddie pools” and a dunk tank, which drew a crowd. Marjorie and her husband, Len, moved from Connecticut to New Hampshire several years ago, and they were happy to host us. We were happy to stay with them. The kids and I stayed at their home and Debbie joined us for some afternoon fun on Little Lake Sunapee. I brought her back to the school for the meeting (it was 10 minutes away), then back to the house for dinner, and then back to the school for bedtime. We got to visit our friend’s farm, the Bucklin Farm, which is historic. The farm has not been a “working farm” for years, so it will be interesting to watch its transformation.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-8

Today, the 32 mile stage passed very close to the house. The weather was fine. It was mixed sun and clouds, with a cooler temperature compared to yesterday. I attempted to catch her at Aid Station 1 (11 mile mark), but missed her by eight minutes. She was ahead of schedule. I was able to see her at Aid Station 2 (19 mile mark) and walked with her for a little ways before returning to the house to pack up our gear and grab the kids.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-9

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-23

We got to the finish at Potter Place in time to have some fun and hang out. The old train depot was a neat venue for the race. We were surprised and thrilled to be joined by Debbie’s coach, Al Lyman, and his friend Terry. We love spending time with them. We were last at a big race together in May at the Miwok 100K. There was a caboose right at the finish line, which made for great scenery. The kids had a blast playing on and around the tracks.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-10

The last two miles of the race were on the unpaved rail trail that passes through the depot. It may have actually stopped there, but I didn’t notice. Debbie finished strongly in 6:29:38. Her total time for the three stages was 17:44:23, which was faster than last year’s first woman. She felt great today. When I saw her at mile 19, she was pumped to be feeling so good and she picked it up a notch in the last 13 miles. She loved the trails. She got to run with a variety of guys over the three days.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-19

Ally finished the final stage with Kristie Clark, who was third on stages 1 and 2. Ally ended up 2nd overall and Kristie was third. I didn’t get the last names of all the men, but will update their results when posted online.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-20

The race directors, Tom Flummerfelt (who recently set the FKT on the SRKG) and Mike Sarnowski,  got strong support from a cadre of volunteers. The post-race spread after each stage was high quality with lots of options for the runners. The aid stations were also well stocked. Proceeds from the race benefitted the Chad Denning Memorial Fund. Chat was a friend and fellow endurance athlete. Along with Tom, he was a co-founder of the event, and tragically died in 2014 after the inaugural race. This year’s event was held in his honor.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-21

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-26

Runners got some nice gear prizes. Debbie got some nice items and a cool trophy platter with the map of the course. While I was watching and taking photos, I was wishing I was out there running. It looked like a fun event. One of the only downers was that we had two cars and both had to drive home. That wasn’t as bad for me, but for Debbie, after three days of running, I’m sure she wasn’t happy to drive herself. Regardless, we ended another great weekend in the mountains.

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-24

2015_Emerald Necklace 3-Day Stage Race-22

Race Results

2015 Winding Trails Off-Road Summer Tri Series

Last year was a tough sporting year, but thanks to the challenges I faced, 2015 has been a fantastic comeback year and the results have been even sweeter than imagined. I haven’t “gone long” but the short sprint triathlons and other local races I’ve done have been so much fun. Of all the races I missed in 2014, the Winding Trails Summer Triathlon Series races were the ones I missed the most.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-2

The 10 race series celebrated its 15th year and 150th event tonight at the season finale. That is an amazing accomplishment. I have more than 30 of them on my palmares. The format, a 1/4 mile swim/5 mile mountain bike/3.1 mile trail run is tried and true. I raced 9 of the 10 events this summer. I skipped the race that was the day before the Pat Griskus Triathlon.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-7

The epic “tempest” race didn’t count towards the results, so rather than scoring on your best eight finishes, the overall results were scored on your best seven finishes. I was fortunate to win five of the nine races I entered and was second in the other four (behind four different competitors) which secured me the overall win. I had an insurmountable lead going into tonight’s race, but I was focused on finishing with a very strong result. Last week, Jon Arellano out kicked me in the final meters and that stung a bit. I was proud of his victory, his first in many years trying.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-6

I didn’t have the best preparation for tonight’s race, but that is out it goes. If you choose to “go hard” on the weekends, then you aren’t always fresh for Tuesday night. That is one of the things that makes the series so challenging. You have to bring your best effort every week and remain consistent all summer long. Climbing Mt. Washington twice in a weekend (once on my bike and once on my feet) left my legs heavy and sore, but I was determined to push through the discomfort. I had a decent swim and a strong bike. Ken Schulz is my usual benchmark, and he held me off until the start of the run, so I knew that A) he was having a good ride and B) I was going to have to suffer on the run.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-8

I knew that Jon would be breathing down my neck. I passed him, Roberto Diniro, and Joel Emmendorfer, all serious rivals, earlier on the mountain bike leg. It was a warm night, but a very pleasant night. After passing Ken, I set the pace as hard as I could, going through the first mile in 6:34 and then the second mile in 6:25. The trail was a bit rougher than usual with wood chips and eroded sand making for some challenging footing. I decided to not look back until I could feel Jon breathing down my neck. I knew he was coming. His running has been getting stronger all summer. Coming in to tonight, we have had two fierce sprint finishes and I felt that we were in for a third.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-3

I punched it on the last few uphill sections hoping to stave him off, but he closed in on me on the final descent before the bridge. I chose to glance back twice to get a sense of where he was and to ensure that he wouldn’t jump me. I was throughly beaten in the sprint last week, but felt that I had better legs despite the biking and hiking in New Hampshire. I surged with 100 meters to go, but he passed me on the left. I didn’t let go, didn’t give up, and pulled even again before unleashing a furious kick up the right side. He had worked very hard to close the gap and I knew that if I sustained my sprint, that he would break. He had nothing left to give and in a role reversal, eased just before the finish, giving me a well fought victory. That made me smile.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-5

I was absolutely cooked. We have been pushing each other all summer long and for a couple of 40+ year-old athletes, that is very cool. That intensity and competition is why we race. In the overall standings, I was followed by Jon (who leapt from 4th) and then Roberto.  Debbie came into the series sitting in third a mere two points out of first. She needed to pick up a couple of minutes on her rival, Lizz Weiler, who took over the lead last week. She moved up one spot and came oh so close to making it a husband/wife top step of the podium, but Lizz prevailed. Debbie was 2nd and Alison Masopust was third overall.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-4

Our children both did the kids race and had a blast. My parents and Debbie’s parents came to watch. The post-race festivities were fantastic and full of good cheer. Race Director, Sharon McHale, was honored for her 15 years of service. She said she is “retiring,” so we will see what 2015 brings. The best and worst award that I received was a free entry into next year’s series. The 10 races take a serious commitment. It isn’t easy to work all day, fight the Hartford and Farmington traffic, and push yourself week in and week out. I haven’t set any goals for next year, so I’ll give it some time before deciding if I’m gunning for the series title again. This was my first after being runner-up in the past, so it is a nice accomplishment and one that I’m proud of. I love the Winding Trails community. Sharon, Tiny Tri Race Director Jimena Florit, the staff, and volunteers do a great job. The race has many great sponsors including Fleet Feet, Collinsville Canoe & Kayak, CT Outdoor Guide, CCAP, Timex, Biker’s Edge, Central Wheel, Newington Bicycle, Berlin Bicycle,  and Team Horst Engineering’s shop sponsor, Benidorm Bikes. There were some fine results from my teammates on the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes. The race has introduced hundreds of athletes to the sport of triathlon. The kids race, Tiny Tri, and main event have a high status in my ranking of well-run events.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale-9

I’m hoping to do one more road sprint triathlon before hanging up the wetsuit and triathlon bike for the season. Cyclocross season is coming and I’m planning to translate my sprint fitness into good cross results. I won’t get too far ahead of myself. Right now, I’m ready for a shower bedtime because the Wednesday after Winding Trails always brings one sure thing…work, and I’m on the road again.

2015_Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Finale

Race #10 Results

Series Results (will be posted when available)

2015 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb

Yesterday’s Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb was a fun event. It was the sixth time that I’ve ridden the race. I returned in 2014 after a 13 year hiatus, and wanted to do it again this year. Two weeks after I rode the race last August, I crashed and fractured my scapula. It took a while to heal, but figured this race would be part of my comeback. I’ve now raced it in 2015, 2014, 2001, 2000, 1999, and 1997. My best time was 15 years ago in 2000. I was in my late 20’s and at the peak of my road cycling fitness. My 2015 time was almost the same as my 2014 time, though I don’t know the exact time because the official results have not been posted. I rode 1:17 or so for the second year in a row, which is not bad considering I rode my commuter bike, worked all day on Friday, and we drove up late, arriving around 11:00 P.M. My Seven Axiom SL is my favorite bike, a great bike, and my best option with  a 39 x 27 gear ratio. I rode within my limits for the entire 7.6 miles, choosing not to throttle myself. The race is hard enough without blowing a gasket. Before the start, I knew I was going to hike the mountain again on Sunday with  my son, and that the final Winding Trails Summer Tri Series race is Tuesday. I couldn’t afford to be hammered for the last race of the season because I’ve got a lot on the line.

2015_Mt. Washington Bicycle Hill Climb 5

In the end, the few images that professional photographer, Joe Viger, captured say it all. The race is sheer suffering and the final 22% pitch is one of my favorite stretches of road on Earth. I was happy to pay for a few of Joe’s photos. He was in the right spot at the right time and I couldn’t take pictures of myself. I had this idea that I was going to ring my handlebar bell on that final pitch, but with the noise from the assembled crowd, no one would hear a thing. Plus, I was pulling on the bars so hard, they could have snapped right off. I totally forgot to try. I’m not sure if I could have even got my thumb into position. The road is that steep.

We had the best weather of my six races on the rock pile. It was mild and partly sunny on the summit, which was a far cry from last year’s cold and damp weather. There was a light breeze and that cooled things off a bit, but it was very tolerable. On the lower slopes, it was warm. Debbie and the kids opted to stay in the valley. I got a ride down from Bill Houle, a fellow I met at the “need a ride” board before the race. After the finish, I hung out on the summit, remaining in my shorts and short sleeves for quite some time. I didn’t even bother going in to the visitors center. I carried my vest and arm warmers up with me, but after the finish, I only put them on to be a bit more comfortable. My teammate, Tim Wern, had a fine ride. We were briefly together after a mile or so, and then he was gone. I also saw Bolton friends, Kevin Glenn and Andy Chambers. They had their own Bolton fan club, including: Laurie Brooks, Bruce Christensen, and the rest of the Chambers Family. Laurie was joined by her sister, Jane Chauvin, and her husband Marc. I saw a bunch of other friends from the New England cycling community.

2015_Mt. Washington Bicycle Hill Climb 1

After we drove down, I rode the 3.5 miles back to our campsite at Dolly Copp. I had ridden to the start early in the morning. The whole round trip with the hill climb sandwiched in the middle of my warmup and warm down was loads of fun. I’ll have to think about returning in 2016. It’s hard to imagine not doing it. I love the road. Maybe I’ll have to get a larger contingent of Horst Engineering Cycling Team mates to join me. Of course, I’ve always wanted to do the Wildman Biathlon, and I think it is the week before Mt. Washington. If I don’t return for the bicycle hill climb next year, I’ll do it again in the future.

I missed having Debbie and the kids on the top this year, but it was great to have the support from these friends. Bruce was particularly fun to be with. About two turns before the finish, he ran alongside me screaming encouragement at the top of his lungs. I felt like a pro for a moment. Of course, that is the point of riding Mt. Washington. It is a glorious hill and an amazing road. Proceeds benefit Tin Mountain Conservation Center, which is a noble cause.

Race Results

2015 Niantic Bay Triathlon

Today, I returned to the Niantic Bay Triathlon for the first time since 2013. Sadly, I missed last year’s race. The course is one of my favorites. It was the 6th time that I’ve done the event. Today was the 17th edition. My first was back in 2002.

IMG_1175

The course is 10 minutes from my parents place in Old Lyme, and where I spent the summers of my youth at Old Colony Beach. I enjoy the 1/2 mile ocean swim, though its more like a bay swim with a nuclear power plant warming the water! The 12 mile bike course is also a favorite with its undulating roads and several tight turns. The fun 3.2 mile run no longer includes the scenic Bluff (Superstorm Sandy’s damage caused serious erosion), but the twisting course winds its way around the beach community before finishing on the beach.

IMG_1164

I had heavy legs today, and knew it before the start. I was in the second wave and had to deal with a lot of traffic on the swim. It was shallow and the water was dirty, but everyone dealt with the same conditions. I was just slow. The current wasn’t bad as the tide was low. I made up a lot of ground on the bike. I did a lot of passing and didn’t get passed. I moved up, but was limited in how much I could improve my position. I felt good on the run, but the time was nothing special.

IMG_1167

I finished strong, but know that my time was about three minutes slower than 2013 and my 2nd slowest time ever. I still managed 5th overall and 1st in 40-44, so I’m pleased.

IMG_1178

Spencer Ralston crushed us again. I love his exuberance. He lives less than 10 minutes from us in Hebron, so I’m really rooting for him. He has major upside. Debbie and I were joking with him after the race. She rode her bike from Old Lyme to cheer me on. When we finished, he was asking me about Debbie’s insane Speedgoat race in Utah last weekend. I said that he ought to talk to her himself and pointed her out on the other side of transition. He ran over yelling to get her attention, “Mrs. Livingston!”

IMG_1171

I loved that moment. I quizzed him about his goals. He has the XTERRA World Championships on tap plus several ITU style road triathlons this fall. He is working towards a spot on the USA Triathlon Olympic training squad. His swimming and running are his strengths. If he improves his bike skills, gets in to some regular group rides, builds his cycling strength, then he has a shot. I think he said that he has to be able to swim a mile in less than 18 minutes and run a mile in less than 4:37, which is nuts. Go Spencer!

IMG_1179

He made us laugh when to further highlight his upside, he said that he “grew an inch last year.” He further noted that his Mom isn’t happy because he no longer fits any of his pants. Oh, to be 20 again! All kidding aside, he really put the smack down today and had the only sub-60 minute time of the 412 finishers. He was followed by Brendan Atkins and Gilles Benjabauer. Special note that fellow Hartford Extended Area Triathletes clubmate, William Schumann, was in front of me. He is a very strong 50+ triathlete. He put more than three minutes into me on the swim and I only eroded a minute of that gap between the bike and run.

IMG_1174

Leading the women was Elise Vonhousen. She was followed by Caroline Pierce and Meghan Pagliuco. Niantic is also known for beginners and first timers. There were a lot of great performances. Nice beach road courses like Niantic take work to put on, and with the HMF staff, volunteers, and local police, there were more than 100 people supporting the racers. There were lots of marshals and even though I know the course by heart, I appreciated all the help.

IMG_2959

I’ve got a quick turnaround to Winding Trails on Tuesday night where I got beat last week. I wasn’t happy about that, but also had dead legs and didn’t feel good in the heat. I’m hoping to avenge that (unless Spencer shows up!) but in the end, I’m just happy that I’m racing near the front again.

Race Results

Winding Trails–Triathlon in a Tempest

I had to document the events of this week’s Winding Trails Summer Tri Series race. I don’t often write about individual weekly training races, but last Tuesday’s race was amazing. Over the years, I have used the various weekly series races including Winding Trails, the Lake Terramuggus Triathlon Series, the Bolton Summer XC Series, Wickham Park Summer XC Series, Rentschler Field Criterium, and Wompatuck State Park Circuit Race to build fitness and hone skills while “shaking out the legs” after a long day of work.

2015_Winding Trails Triathlon Tempest

The big races are usually on the weekends, but I’ve found the weeknight series races to be just as competitive and even more enjoyable. The entry fees are lower and the camaraderie level is high. The Winding Trails series has become one of my favorites. Since 2009, I’ve done it 27 times. I have that course dialed in.

Each year, there are 10 races in the series. In 2014, I did the first race and then had to stop because of my foot injury. If I were still a hockey player, I would only say, “a lower body injury.” I missed the remaining nine events, but Debbie got the off-road triathlon bug and did five of them. So, coming in to 2015, I made the series one of my main objectives. I finished tied for second in 2013 and wanted to have a strong 2015 comeback with the overall title in mind. The scoring is based on eight races, so to finish in the top three, you can only afford to miss two. I skipped the race two weeks ago when I did the Pat Griskus Triathlon on Wednesday night instead. I needed to save my legs for that A race.

In the end, it is just a Tuesday night “scrimmage,” but I take them seriously. The competition is solid for a local event and I like seeing the same folks every week. The staff and volunteers are excellent. This week was race number six. Debbie had done all five, but skipped this week because she is at the Speedgoat Trail Running Festival this weekend, and like Griskus was for me, Speedgoat is an important race for her. Our son was at camp and our daughter stayed with Debbie, so I went alone.

I drove straight from Sterling Machine in Lynn, Massachusetts, arriving in Farmington at 5:50 P.M., only 25 minutes before the start. I was stuck in the usual nasty Route 4 traffic. With all the stop and go, I was able change in the car. After registration, I placed my gear in transition, and did a short warm-up.

The weather looked to be the best of the year. Every Tuesday has been marked by heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. It was warm and a bit muggy, but I thought it would be a dry race. Wow, I was wrong. We started at 6:15 in Lake Dunning. I didn’t see it, but after the race, several people told me that as we were diving into the water, a bolt of lightning appeared in the distance. I didn’t have the best swim. I wandered to the right towards the buoy line and wasted some valuable strokes. Then, when I was working my way back to the left, I kept bumping into another guy. Thankfully, I was disguised in my wetsuit and goggles. I was frustrated but also embarrassed. I eventually got past him.

I had trouble removing my wetsuit. I always remove it in the water because I put my mountain bike shoes on at the beach and then run the ¼ mile to transition. It got hung up on my timing chip, which was comical. Photographer Chris Moore caught the moment perfectly. Even he admitted that he was scared off by what was to come!

I picked up some spots on the way to transition and started the mountain bike leg with about eight guys in front of me. I quickly passed three of them, and then picked up a couple more. I was locked in after a week without racing and hammered the first few miles. We were in thick woods, but I did notice that the sky had darkened. I was wearing dark lenses and wished I had worn clear instead.

I worked my way up to fourth by the third mile, with a strong rider tailing me the whole time. I couldn’t tell who he was. The top three of Jon Arellano, Roberto Diniro, and Ken Schulz were in a group riding close together. Jon and Roberto, the two “Yaleies” were slightly ahead of Ken. I know that because they have “Yale” on the back of their shorts. As I passed, Ken confirmed that there was no one ahead of them, but I still had this other guy hot on my tail.

I caught up to Jon and Roberto and surged past on the sandy hill before the four mile mark. I still didn’t hear thunder, but it was dark and breezy. I never looked back. Recently, I’ve purposely avoided looking back. I wasn’t worried if they were hanging on. I just went as hard as I could, taking every corner with as much speed as possible. I nearly crashed in the sandy right hand corner before the left over the bridge. I’m pretty sure that the guy who tailed me the entire time was the one who stuck with me all the way to transition. He was pressing me hard when I took that corner hot. After I recovered, he said, “Whoa, I’m good” or something like that to signify that he wasn’t trying to pass me. I got a look at him in the last 100 meters of the course as I reached down to undo the Velcro straps and get out of my shoes. He opted to keep his while I chose to dismount barefoot. I would have to drop him on the run.

I was a little confused coming out of transition. We were rubbing elbows and I quickly pushed ahead. I thought I had a good gap, but never bothered to look back. I was startled when 1,200 meters into the run, I had company. It was Jon. He closed the distance that I built up in the last mile of the bike leg.  He and I went stride for stride for a while. He sat on me until the steep downhill. At that point, he blew by me. I never let him get more than two seconds ahead.

The wind picked up, leaves and branches were falling on the ground, and I swear I saw hail. Then, it started to pour. It was so dark that I put my sunglasses on my head. Then the rain got heavier and the thunder and lightning went crazy. It was right over our head. I didn’t have a second to worry about all the other racers. I was in a dogfight on this run. As the rain got heavier and heavier, it was as if buckets were being poured on our heads. My sunglasses were going to blow off, so I held them in my hand.

Jon doggedly pushed the pace and all I could do was hang on. My contacts were starting to wash out of my eyes, so I pulled my ball cap down tightly to keep the rain out. When we got to the last big hill with less than a mile to go, I figured I would jump him and see if he could hang on. I knew that if I couldn’t break him, that I would be forced to wait for a sprint. The trail was flooded with inches of water eroding the soil. It was ankle-deep in spots.

I pulled up along side and he wouldn’t let me pass. He wanted it as badly as I did. I love this kind of racing, and even better, it was Tuesday night! I backed off and tucked in behind him again. He led me all the way over the footbridge and around the final bend. Normally there are folks watching, but it was deserted. I passed him on the left, kicked it hard, and thought I had it. I couldn’t see a thing. It was raining so hard. I saw the line and someone (maybe Sharon McHale like usual) was holding the ropes to separate those transitioning from bike to run from the finish. I went for the wrong timing mat before making a jerky last second adjustment to get across the right finish line. I got him just before the line.

Usually, there is a big crowd, but all the people were huddled under the pavilion. Everyone was soaked to the bone. It was unbelievable how hard the rain was coming down. Jon  paced me to my fastest run of the year and second fastest total time, but the results were wasted. The organizers made the right call. Less than 1/3rd of the competitors were able to finish, so they are not counting the results. I heard that only your best seven races will count towards the overall results. I learned after the race that the second wave was delayed by 15 minutes and combined with the third wave. That bolt of lightning as we entered the water was real. The delay and the timing of the storm hitting during the wave two/three bike leg made for a mess. Most of them were stopped after the bike and never started the run. As far as I know, everyone was safe. We were just wet. Those conditions can be dangerous, especially when they catch you by surprise, but when it works out OK, it makes for a great story.

I was happy to finish. I grabbed my bike and also huddled under one of the pavilions. I was wild-eyed as if I had seen a ghost. Those were some of the most intense weather conditions I’ve ever competed in and to top it off, with a fierce battle raging while the storm was raging. I loved every moment of it. The results are a little messed up, or I’m confused. Kudos to Dave Arnold and his team for hanging in there. Their timing gear got drenched. I don’t think Joel Emmendorfer was between us. He and I had a battle the week before, but I’m pretty certain that it was Jon and me fighting it out on the run. Who knows? With the weather the way it was, the whole thing could have been a dream.

Race Results

Scott Is Done

This past Sunday afternoon, Scott Jurek broke Jennifer Pharr Davis’ Appalachian Trail speed record. Both were supported, but she went North to South. He went the harder, but more romantic way, South to North. I wrote about the attempt two weeks ago when Debbie and our kids found him on the trail in Massachusetts. A lot has been written about the attempt and success. Just Google it.

This video interview is candid and entertaining. It also touches on the important reasons why endurance athletes take on challenges like the AT speed record. I get it. I’m inspired by it. Jurek mentions his connection to the land and the importance of trails. Enough said.

The social media craze around this attempt was amazing. Jurek is a well-known name. Jennifer Pharr Davis’ attempt was much lower key. As was Karl Meltzer’s first attempt in 2007. Karl is planning an attempt on the record (though North to South) in 2016. I wrote about Karl’s 2007 attempt back then, and followed up with a post when he finished the trail, but missed the record several weeks later.

I’m thrilled that the AT got this much attention but concerned about overuse. I’m also thrilled that east coast trails were tested by a west coast trail runner/ultrarunner/super-hiker who admitted that he didn’t do any reconnaissance in advance of the attempt. He suffered dearly for that decision and nearly missed the record as a result. The White Mountains are not to be taken lightly! And Maine, it just gets harder when you get there. I’ve railed against a west coast bias for years. The running media just doesn’t give east coast trails and east coast runners nearly the respect that they deserve. Scott Jurek, a man with Seattle and Boulder roots, who came out of the mid-west, but made a name for himself by winning a major race in California a record seven times in a row, suffered for 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes. That proves that our trails, east coast trails, and especially New England trails, are incredibly challenging.

KTAADN


Horst Engineering

Thread Rolling Inc.

Sterling Machine

Horst Spikes

Instagram

Cleaning a batch of #titanium tie rods in the @horsteng aqueous ultrasonic parts washer. These #aerospace components went through #precisionmachining #centerlessgrinding and #threadrolling #manufacturing #machining #cncmachining #cnc #instamachinist #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #madeintheusa #horstengineering I had some time to walk through the @horsteng Cedar Street plants this morning. I never tire of seeing the cool things we do. Our customers are "king," our parts are what it's about, our equipment is critical, but our people are the real difference makers. Go to the #gemba #manufacturing  #precisionmachining #aerospace #machining #instamachinist #cncmachining #cnc #threadrolling #horstengineering #sterlingmachine #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #madeintheusa #madeinusa #eatmydust was the mantra at the CompEdge #Cyclocross in #springfield First #CX race of the year and first time in 125+ races that I've done cross in August. Ran my new Sidi's with Medium @horsteng #HorstSpikes on the fast track. Rough start to the day with burnt pancakes but $30 for 4th Masters 35+ nearly covered the $35 fee. If I pre-registered I would have turned a profit. Of course the depreciation expense for my @seven_cycles #sevencycles Mudhoney and other gear wipes out any long term gains! Bring on cross season and the mud! #teamhorstsports #precisionmachining a stainless steel #aerospace fitting from solid round bar stock on our Citizen M32 #swissscrewmachine complete with threads, hex, and wire holes. #machining #instamachinist #cncmachining #cnc @horsteng #horstengineering #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #madeinusa This is a stout rod end body made from #Inconel 718. We did the #centerlessgrinding and #threadrolling on our big machine. #manufacturing #instamachinist #machining #cncmachining #machining #aerospace #madeinusa #madeintheusa #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #horstengineering @horsteng #centerlessgrinding a #titanium tie rod to prepare it for #threadrolling #aerospace #manufacturing #precisionmachining #machining #instamachinist #horstengineering #madeintheusa #madeinusa #madeinnewengland #madeinconnecticut @horsteng After work at #sterlingmachine today, I took a spin up to #Marblehead and went out on the Neck for the first time in 15 years. I raced the spring classic circuit race out there in 2000, 1996, and 1993. The race was a favorite. All I remember from those days was rain, wind, and sand in my teeth. Cool neighborhood. #sevencycles @trailrunningmom took the stage three win and overall title at the #EmeraldNecklace 3-Day Stage Race. 6:29:38 for the 32 mile course. Overall was 17:44:23 for the 80 +/- mike event. Great day! @ultraspire #ultraspire #pursuitstrong #teamhorstsports Thanks to Coach Al and Terry for coming! This will be a fun race report and blog post....later. The race is on between the #kayak and the #SUP Thanks to Marjorie for taking our kids on #LittleSunapee while I chased @trailrunningmom Now, we all head for the finish at Potter Place. #newhampshire

Follow me on Twitter

Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 216 other followers


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers