Monday, April 28, 2008

NETT takes 3 of top 7 at Blue Hills, makes strong Masters showing at the James Joyce Ramble

As I was thinking about how to review all of the NETT-related events going on this past weekend, I thought it would be easiest to do it in the first person—as me, Dave, rather than as the third-person reporter I usually cover our events in. With that said…

So, Saturday morning kicked off well with a nice warmup run on the Battle Road trails before meeting up with Frank KJ, Youngstah, Mary Smith and Tina for a long run from the Battle Road Farm condo plex in Lincoln. As always, Frank dazzled us with his internal map function and took us from his house, by the Sandy Pond reservoir, around Walden and a host of other trails until right when we were starting to think we’d never get home again, we “popped right out” at the end of the Battle Road Trail. Don’t ask me how. I can’t explain it. But a great run followed by bagels and coffee, courtesy of the Wang-Kjaarsgaards. Muchas Gracias!

Sunday, it was what will likely be my shortest race commute of the year, driving the 10 miles or so to Milton for the Blue Hills 10 Mile Trail Race . Quite eventful. Before the race, I meet up with Paul Young, Chris Smith and Rob Smith for a nice easy warmup jog. The legs are definitely a little flat from the long run the day before, but other than, ready to mix it up. Just prior to the race, I catch Ben Nephew and Jim Pawlicki hammering down a hill on the trail and I’m thinking “man, that has got to be the fastest warmup I’ve ever seen!”

Okay, time to toe the line. Looking around, Rob points out a guy that we might want to keep an eye on (he was eventual 3-mile winner Aaron Price). False start and we’re off like bats from hell, but it’s hard to keep track of who’s where, since the 3-miler starts with the 10milers. After a half-mile or so, me, Chris, Paul and Rob are grouped nicely (“Geez, Paul, if you wore your white NETT shirt like me and Chris, it would make a great photo!”) and we look up to see Nephew and Pawlicki on the sidelines cheering.

Dave: What the hell are you guys doing?
Ben: We didn’t know you had to pre-register.
Dave: We all just moved up two places, guys!

At the split for the three-milers, it’s impossible to know what places we’re in, but me, Paul and Rob run close for a while. We do an out-and-back section on the course, and it doesn’t look like there’s anyone else in front of us. A bit later we see the CMS twins again cheering us on loudly and I ask what place we’re in. “I think you’re the leaders” comes the reply. “Okay boys…things just got interesting,” I shout over my shoulder to two of the top masters trail runners in New England and crank the pace up a bit.

I really crank it up on a long uphill just before 6 miles and for the first time in about 40 minutes I don’t hear footsteps behind me. But with two very experienced guys keeping chase, I have to keep the foot on the gas.

At about 8 miles, I get the bad news, as I come through a check point and hear one of the volunteers say “Great work. You’re number 2.” Number 2? First off, no one likes to be called “number 2” but secondly, where did number one come from? Well, long story short, it looks like the first-place finisher was so far ahead that maybe a couple folks didn’t even notice him. So me, Paul and Rob finish 2-3-4 and Chris only a bit back in 7th. Talk about a SOLID masters field!

UPDATE: For photos of the Blue Hills race, courtesy of the host Colonial Road Runners, click here.

Okay, fast forward to the drive home. I know the James Joyce Ramble is clogging up the streets of Dedham, which sits smack between Blue Hills and West-Roxbury, so I’m not surprised when I get stuck at a closed street crossing. However, as I watch some of the runners flying past my eyes pop out when I catch that all-too-familiar coyote image on the front of a shirt! It’s Karen Ringheiser blasting through the 10K on her way to a FOURTH MASTER finish in 41:13. And of course if Karen’s there, Dima Feinhaus is there as well and he too battled a tough masters field to finish 41st overall, 12th master in 38:19.

WHEW! Busy busy. Check back for photos, details.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dave Mingori is half of winning team at Tuckerman's Inferno

Never one to take the easy route, rather than run Boston or du the du at Wrentham, Dave Mingori chose to compete as half of a two-man team at the very challenging Tuckerman's Inferno race this past weekend. For those who don't know about the race, it's an adventure/multisport race that starts with a hilly road run, goes to a kayak and then a bike, then it's a hike up the side of Mt. Washington and then a ski down Tuckerman's Ravine. You can do it as a full team, two-person relay, or individual. Dave was part of a a two-person team, handling the run, hike/climb and ski. Here's his report:

So, I'm alive, and we won the 2-person division of the Inferno (plus some wonderful bonus skiing in Gulf of Slides on Sunday).

Executive summary:

1) Mark and I were 13th overall (1st place in the duo division) out of 90 total teams.
2) I split 53:02 for the 8.4 mile run (8th fastest run).
3) I split 52:30 for the 3.1 mile hike from Pinkham into the bowl (also 8th fastest split; ~2000' elevation gain).
4) I then proceeded to become seriously dehydrated and cramped horribly in the transition to ski, the ski climb and the ski down.

Here's the details for those who are interested:

After our final planning strategy, my teamate and I decided to drive my car to Pinkham Friday night and leave it, which turned out to be a VERY smart move. Out of the condo at 6:15, dropped off Mark's kayak then over to Storyland for the start. I finished the 8.4 mile run just over 53 minutes (either the 7th or 8th fastest run - quite a competitive run field this year). My support vehicle (ie the parents) then drove me to Pinkham to get geared up for the hike. Meanwhile, my sherpa had already started up with boots, skis and pack.

Mark put in an exceptional kayak, ending up with the 5th or 6th fastest time on the water. A solid bike (what we thought would be our weakest section) brought him to Pinkham and we're top 10. I maintained our position on the hike. Made it to Hermit Lake in 35 minutes, putting me right on pace for my goal of 45-47 minutes. Unfortunately the crowds made it REALLY tough on the final narrow stretch and I also got taken down by a dog!

Yes, a dog came out of nowhere, clipped me right below the knee and sent me sliding off the trail down into the bushes. Just a few scrapes, but lost time there. Made it to the base of left gully in 52 minutes (ended up also being the 8th fastest hike). So now for the ugly part. I knew I was getting dehydrated so I took some extra time to down a couple waters. My right quad was beginning to cramp a bit (no thanks to the dog and my fall). I finally get my boots and skis on when a buckle breaks. My first thought is forget it and go, but then I realize I can fix it. Overall though wasted way too much time in the transition. I was figuring on 4-5 minutes but it ended up being over 10. The climb up Left Gully, usually my favorite, was pure torture. The ski down even worse. Quads cramping every other turn. 40 minutes later I cross the finish (last year when I did just the ski I went up and down in 24!)

I crossed the line, fell over and then literally had both quads seize up. I could not bend my knees for the next 5 minutes or so, just laid in the snow guzzling gatorade and water.

But.... it was all worth it as we won the 2-man division in just over 4:30. Interesting in that we had figured a "best case" time of 4:15, and had I not had my issues we'd have been real close.

Rick's take on the Boston Marathon

As always, our roving reporter, Rick Cleary, has provided his own unique take on his 31st--YES 31st Boston Marathon start:

Hi Running Pals:

So here are a collection of thoughts and scenes from my 31st Boston marathon start, 29th same day finish:

The basic question: HOW'D YA DO?
Pretty good! I ran 3:37:02 to crack the top 8500 of almost 22000 finishers. I was 900th male 50 - 59, but one of the first 899 was Fast Eddie Sandier, so call me Fat Ricky for at least another year. The good news was that it was my fastest Boston marathon since 2002 (what a coincidence that my son Eddie was born in March, 2003!), the bad news is that to officially requalify for my age group I needed a 3:35:59 so I missed by 63 seconds. I hope to take advantage of my upcoming sabbatical, actually our upcoming sabbaticals since Ann has one too, to get in slightly better shape and run a good time somewhere in the fall.

Well, the obvious place would have been to reach down and run the last couple of miles hard. At 24 miles I was 3:16:05 on my watch with 2.2 miles to go, and my recent miles had been about 9:30 each. A modest pick-up to under nines would do the trick. But I'm just not a reach down kind of guy. I like to think that the same failure to stress myself to make up those 63 seconds accounts for the fact that I've been running for 35 years without injury.

Related story #1: I saw two guys earlier in the race wearing t-shirts that said, "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever!" I didn't want to waste energy in a debate but I immediately thought to myself, "No, no, no! Quit and try again next year; but hurt yourself seriously and you might never run again." This will all be explained in my upcoming book, "The Mediocrity Manifesto: How Doing Your Best is Killing You."

Related story #2: Two weeks before the marathon I went Marathon Sports in Wellesley and bought a new pair of shoes for the race. The eager twenty-something waiting on me said, "If you go outside and run along the sidewalk we'll do a stride analysis and we'll know if you need a stability shoe and..." I said, "I've been running for 35 years, never been hurt, and I almost always buy the second cheapest Asics. Get me a pair of these in 11."

Some other places I might have made up that 63 seconds to requalify:
-I did need to stop briefly in the woods by the railroad tracks near the 15K mark in Natick, and in my modesty I probably went farther off Route 135 than was really necessary given the circumstances. Let's call that 30 seconds lost.
-Mugging for a picture taken by Sunday AM running pal Jeff Dosdall at the Natick/Wellesley line. Maybe five seconds.
-High fiving the family and friends at Wellesley College ... another 15 seconds.
-Shouting to spectators with radios on to get Red Sox score updates ... maybe three times at five seconds each time.
There, that's 65 seconds. OK, I've convinced myself and I'm strong enough to run the time I need if I focus better!

Experienced runners would ask: DID YOU RUN EVEN SPLITS?
Well, no. Fast Eddie ran impressively negative splits, running the second half faster which is something I've managed only twice 78 marathons. I ran the first half in a little over 1:42; (7:50/mile) the second half a little under 1:55 (8:45/mile) so a minute per mile slower the second half. So should have I gone out slower? I'm not so sure. I know as a coach and as a rational math professor that everything in the literature would suggest even pacing is better. But I get really tired of running after two hours or so. I did my 20 mile training run in March at about 8:30 pace for the first 14 and I was still so tired I slowed way down and was well over 10 minute pace the last couple of miles. I think picking it up can work if you're generally fit but for those of us living on the margin getting time in the bank might not be a crazy strategy. Steady splits also require great mental focus and toughness, which (as previously noted) is not my long suit. At least this year the decline in splits was linear, not exponential!

And everybody asks: HOW WAS THE WEATHER?
Close to ideal. Sixty or so, sun came out just as we started. I'm glad I wore a tee shirt under my BAA singlet, as I saw a lot of badly sunburned shoulders after the race! I got slightly burned on the right (south facing) arm.

Other little moments from the day:

-My number of 14024 (the zip code of Bliss, NY, near Geneseo) put me in the first corral, right near the starting line, in the second wave. This was great, as it only took about 30 seconds to get across the line and I was running comfortably within the first mile. The earlier start and two wave starts are both huge improvements in the whole process.

-There's always those people you keep trading back and forth with ... For me this year the most memorable was a women whose entire uniform was an ad for Aquaphor ointment. I spent more time than usual worried about chafing.

-It's astonishing to me that in a race with water and Gatorade every mile there are people carrying enormous amounts of their favorite foods and beverages in various tummy packs, fanny packs, camelbacks ... I expect to soon see people pulling small carts with their preferred refreshments. This is especially annoying for those of us who weigh a little more than we'd like to and would run better if we were a bit lighter; seeing these people deciding to carry a few extra pounds just seems crazy to me!

And the thank yous:

-Ann, Eddie and Tommy for training encouragement, race day logistics and excellent cheering.

-My Wellesley College fan club, whose support really encouraged me to get into this year's race using my membership in the Quarter Century Club. One of the reasons I run the first half faster is to get to see everybody there!

-Martha and Bob Collins for the super service ride to Hopkinton; and the rest of the Sunday morning training group for their encouragement.

-My colleagues Dave Carhart and Erl Sorensen for their excellent cheering by Dave's house near mile 2, and the traditional complicated math sign with a code for my goal time. (This year's sign: 3^3+4^3+5^3-(Sum n=1 to infinity of 1/2^n)
Note that's 215, and 3:35 is 215 minutes.)

OK, time to rest up and get 63 seconds faster... I'd love to speed up enough to get my qualifying time back toward an Eastern NY zip code ...


Monday, April 21, 2008

NETT puts its best feet forward at Boston, Wrentham

Well if you were a runner, running fan or just a sports fan in Boston, this might have been your dream weekend.

While many of us were out watching Deena Kastor provide a tutorial on how to stalk like a Big Cat at the Women's U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday, a few NETTers were out multisporting it up at the annual multisport kickoff event, the Wrentham Duathlon. Always a perrenial favorite at this event (spring or fall), Paul Miller had his work cut out for him this year, as he threw down a very solid 55-minute time for a third-place overall finish, behind two professional (or semi-pro) athletes. Most of us could only hope for such results.

And true to form, NETT had a couple of the top masters in Frank KJ notching a PR at Wrentham to slip in the top 10 overall (second master) in 59 minutes, while Toledo Joe pulled out the old Ganges Surprise to finish 1:01 and fourth in his age group. As always, great work.

And of course, Monday was the big day for that Fun Run from Hopkinton to Boston. As a specator home watching on TV, it was one of the most exciting races I can remember. Women's race right down to the wire and men's race was yet another clinic by a man possesed.
(Note the NETT on the back of the shirt which says "Congratulations! You've just been chicked by a Mini Pony!")

There were more than a few of the extended NETT family taking part. We'll be getting more details in dribs and drabs, but here's a roundup of folks' times that I can dig up:

Frank White 2:50:05
Tina Wang 3:32:22
Karen Mahoney-Ringheiser 3:20:32
Dima Feinhaus 2:58:39 (PR?)
Rick Cleary 3:37:02
Vlad Luppov 3:06:24
Ben Spiess 2:57:59
Chrissy Durden 4:24:27

For Dima Feinhaus, it was a marathon PR by over a minute and a 9-minute improvement over Boston last year. “I might have overhydrated on Sunday, because in the morning I was 3 lbs over my usual weight and I don't recall ever being so nervous before a race,” Dima reports. (Some of the overhydrated are executing their plan at mile 1--photo courtesy of

For Karen Ringheiser, it was a PR on the Boston course even though she felt the sun was a bit hotter than she expected.

“I had so much fun!” exclaims Chrissy Durden about her run. “I had a bit of a rocky start due to some stomach issues, so once I realized I wouldn’t be able to make up enough time I decided to just have fun with it; and as strange as that may sound, I had a blast!”

Okay, I'm sure I missed a few, but that's a start....if you've got some pics or personal stories out on the course, send them along and I'm happy to post. Or if anyone has a picture of a Montreal Candiens shirt in flames, we can post that too.

(Tina says: "Uh oh...the Coke isn't that bad, but I think I should have skipped the burrito at mile 18!")

Also, for those running geeks that JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH of it all, I recommend checking out the Flocasts site for post-race interviews with elite athletes from the women's Olympic trials including Deena Kastor and Crazy Dave's pal Yolanda Flamino. Very cool stuff.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NETT runs the Rivah!

Despite some gloomy-looking skies early on, NETT was out in force at the 17th Annual Merrimack River Trail Race (the RIVAH) in Andover, Mass on Saturday.

Overall, NETT was third in team scoring. On the men’s side, Paul Young ran a rare PR on the wet course to finish 12th overall in 1:05:30. John Kinnee (although registered to CMS—BOO!!!) finished in 1:08, and the pair of Big Ben Winther and Crazy Dave Hannon chugged in together in 1:17. Also out on the course were NETT pals Pat Dwyer completing his first trail race in an impressive 1:07 and Brodie Miles clocking a 1:11.

The ladies had a fine showing with trail expert Adrienne Cyrulik finishing fifth woman in 1:25. Karyn Miller-Medzon (Eminem) slim-shadied her way to a 1:36 and Laura Wieland was just behind in 1:38, both running in their first longer trail race.

As usual, the race was well-organized by Dave Dunham and Steve Peterson, and Petey gets the most enthusiastic race director award! (“He gets a t-shirt and SKITTTLES!!!”) Funds raised by the race support the Thomas Chamberas Memorial Runners Scholarship.

To see a video of the race CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 06, 2008

NETT goes South at Northern Nipmuck, Ringheiser tops at Crowleys, Frank KJ at Upton

Some days you feel great. Some days you feel crappy. Some days your feel so crappy that 1/4 into the race you pull the plug and turn it into a training run. And SOME DAYS, you find out your teammate did the same!

Such was the case for the Daves (Hannon and Mingori) at the Northern Nipmuck trail race this weekend. DaveH felt the woes of a hefty training schedule early on and by the first aid station had shifted gears from race pace to training pace, thinking when Dave M caught up with him, he'd try to push it up again. But Dave M never came, having his own troubles, struggling through what he called a general lack of zip.

End result: Dave H a personal worst 2:23 and Dave M in at 2:39. And just to add insult to injury, NETT's Dmitry Drozdov's former course record was smashed as well, with race winner Josh Ferenc running a blistering 1:59.

But all was not lost for NETT this weekend and several other members rallied to save our reputation. Karen Ringheiser won the women's division at the RJ Crowley's 3 mile race in Newton. Karen finished 16th overall in 3-mile race in 19:08, a mere 10 seconds in front of the the second place woman (16 years her junior!). Congrats Karen. Honorable mention goes to Dima Feinhaus' son, Isaac, who took second in the males 0-19 age group in 22:56.

And our other Karyn (Miller-Medzon, or Eminem, as she's known on the streets of Belmont), took a top 30 and FOURTH MASTERS women's place at the Marathon Sports City Run 5 Miler in Cambridge. Rumor has it she danced around after her 38:30, singing "I'm the real Shady, all you other Miller-Medzons are just imitateys" (okay, I'm not up on my hip hop lyrics).

Also, in the "Saving our Face" category, Frank KJ put in a strong run at the Upton 15K on Saturday, finishing 14th overall in 58:53. If you can believe it, he was 8th master with that finish--a very competitive master's field!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

APRIL FOOLS!!! Meb Keflezighi to run for NETT


Yes, it’s true! Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi is moving to Boston for the summer to train and plans train regularly with NETT, so get in shape!

After running the Boston Marathon in 2006, Meb found he really liked the area, especially the Newton/Wellesely and Metrowest area of Boston. And he has two siblings that go to Boston-area schools. So he wanted to move here for a summer and train and began looking for a running club that focuses on trail running in the area who could show him the best off-road spots to run. Plus, his sponsor, Nike, has no ties to any local clubs here. Hence, NETT!

Now, we’ve been very clear that we’re not runners near his caliber but he is fully aware of that but says, “I really am looking to do some very easy long runs (7 mpm) on soft trails in the area, and you guys are the only group that seem to specialize in that around Boston.”

And yes, he said he’s open to running a couple races for us wearing the NETT colors!

While he’s still working out the details of his arrival and housing, plan on being in tip-top shape in the beginning of June!