Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The October Rick Report: Triennial Trail Relay

Our roving reporter, Rick Cleary, has outdone himself in both the roving and reporting categories and files this report from his trip to upstate New York:

Hi running pals:

Below is a report from the 2008 Triennial Trail relay, a bizarre event held every three years. Note that this is a long message even for me. I was very flattered by the fact that a number of people came up to me at the post-triennial party and mentioned that they enjoyed reading my race reports so I may have gotten slightly carried away. (Mathematician's warning about the last sentence: Remember that zero is a number ...) A non-zero number of people also told me that they can't believe I weigh more than 190. I should have made them try to lift me.

On to the report:

The triennial trail relay is the only trail race I do. I am not a very good trail runner. Actually with a moment's reflection I realize that these days I am not a very good road, cross-country or track runner either, but I still look forward to giving those a shot. (I am a good runner/glutton but the Big Man Run is only once a year.)

Trail racing is not a perfect match for me for several reasons:
-I have a very high natural RFG. That's Respect for Gravity, a measure of my unwillingness to fall down steep hills.
-I never did have much of a lift in my stride, and recent marathon photos suggest that neither of my feet ever leave the ground. This makes rooty, rocky, uneven terrain a place where falls are likely. Combined with my high RFG, I tend to shuffle the trail downhills instead of taking advantage of them.
-I am gregarious and enjoy running most in a group. Trail running is by nature solitary; requiring running single file even when one has company. This discourages story telling, or at least telling them in a loud voice so the whole line can hear, but that's hard when you're supposed to be running near aerobic threshold.

But I love the triennial for reasons that outweight those discouraging factors. I like relay/team events. It's a great chance to get back to the Ithaca area. And, while I don't particularly like racing on it, I have to admit that the Finger Lakes Trail is beautiful and the appeal of running in the woods is not lost on me. The post race party is always a great story telling event. And I have stories to tell since I have done five of the 10 triennials, been captain of a dominant winning team in '96, and always admired the score keeping ingenuity of team Atrocious, especially now that I'm on that most excellent and deserving team!

And so it was that I found myself waiting around Ithaca High at 2:45 Saturday afternoon, where I thought I was to meet Joe Daley to get a ride to the start of leg 6E. I had already gotten a haircut from Al at the Community Corners barber shop and had a nice lunch at the Ithaca Bakery with my son Joe, so I was feeling very much back at home in Ithaca. When Joe D. wasn't there at 3:05, I was pretty sure we'd gotten signals crossed so I headed out for greater Cayutaville. I arrived at the start of my leg after some beautiful "seasonal highway" driving at 3:43, giving me four minutes for some chatting and not stretching. Well, maybe six minutes ... I couldn't remember if my handicap was 13 or 11 minutes. When Joe Daley announced "13 minute start now, anybody a 13 handicap?" a guy at the start said, "I'm a 12." Ah, good, information! I asked, "How old are you?" "51," he responded, so, being 52, I took off and was underway.

Now, as I left several thoughts went through my head:
1.) Q: When was the last time I ran as far as 13 miles? A: Boston marathon, April 21. Nothing over 10 since.
2.) Q: How long will this take me? A: 13 miles on trails, maybe 10 minutes a mile, figure 2:10. Actually the real question was, "Can I finish this before dark." and the real answer was, "Maybe."
3.) Q: Where's Jeffrey? Jeff Juran had posted a note saying he was doing this leg, but I didn't see him at the start. In 2005 we had started our legs (Connecticut Hill to Lower Treman) at the same time, and he got way ahead of me, but then passed me several times as he kept getting lost and coming back. The last time was about 100 yards from the finish. Not seeing him at the start meant that I would spend the next two hours anticipating him about to blast by me while saying something perceptively annoying about how my race was going.
4.) Q: How well do I know this stretch of the trail? A: For about 12 of the 13 miles, I last ran this part in 1991 in Ed's Ultra, but going the other way, west to east. So not too well.
5.) Q: How will I get back to my car when my leg is over? A: That always works out somehow, so I didn't sweat it.

The first 1.5 mile stretch was lovely dirt road, not technical though quite steep uphill in spots. I caught the two women in my leg (Becky and Chris) and enjoyed conversation for half a mile or so. Becky and Chris said they had head lamps in case they got lost late, and I had images of my lying by the trail around 7:30 that night waiting for them to go by. Then I pulled away and got lost. The 51year old who had made up the minute on me and I got turned around at the first significant turn in our leg, falling well behind Becky and Chris, who made the right turn. My 51 year old companion turned out to be long time Cornell student and employee Dave Kalb, who has recently resumed his running career, and we kept each other company the rest of the afternoon.

Dave and I 'repassed' Becky and Chris about a mile later, just as we were starting to get overtaken by some of the scratch runners who went by very impressively. Shortly thereafter we began the treacherous, steep, winding, slick, rocky, descent into Texas Hollow. It threatened to be an endless descent as well. Dave has bad knees and kept saying, "I'm going to need a double dose of Naproxen later..." I have really good knees and kept thinking, "Don't fall. Here comes Jeffrey, any second now, I just know it." But it was nice to have the company, and Dave and I could now be each others' biographers as we had plenty of time to share life stories.

After going downhill slowly for what seemed like hours we emerged and saw a few smiling support fans on Texas Hollow Road. They gave us some water and a brief cheer and off we went. The trail follows the pleasant dirt road for maybe 100 meters, and then turns and goes up the section that people mean when they say, "Yeah, there's a part where you'll need to use your hands." It was straight up for a long time, side hill and slick mud. A deer flashed across the trail just a few yards ahead at one point and disappeared into the deep ravine to our left, which I was mostly scared to look into. Finally at the top we resumed some running on fairly tough trails, past the first orienteering control set out for us to punch the tickets that nobody had remembered to bring to the start of this leg. Just after that Dave and I came out on South Hill road in Burdett, right where Ed's Ultra used to start. For the first time I dared to look at my watch. It was 5:18, so we'd been running almost 90 minutes; about 40 minutes to go by my calculations. It had now been a long time since we'd seen another runner and it was pretty clear that barring a major directional screw up Dave and I were done passing or being passed except that I knew Jeffrey was about to go flying by.

There's the old joke about Cleveland where the tourist says, "I spent a week there one day." In similar fashion the last 40 minutes took 65. I was particularly discouraged when we came out off the trail onto Burnt Hill Road just past the next checkpoint, and there was a sign saying "Logan Road, 1.0 miles" It was downhill and I felt like we were running hard, but it took 14 minutes. I hope it's more than a mile.

Crossing Logan Road was disappointing in one sense, in that in 1996 my leg to Watkins Glen had started there and so I sort of felt like I should be done; but encouraging in another as I remember the trail from there to Satterly Hill and our finish pretty well. Dave got a few steps in front and got done before me, I was too concerned waiting for Jeffrey to pop out from behind a tree to put up much of a fight. The views from the top of the hill were spectacular looking south toward Odessa. Lorrie Tily was watching and taking pictures near the end of our leg, she said, "Not far to go now!" Well, that's no help, coming from Lorrie that could mean we still had 50K and she wouldn't think it was far.

And then we were done! Whoo-hoo! Tessa Dumont graciously gave me a gluten-free beer, and I didn't miss the gluten at all. I enjoyed seeing Becky and Chris come in with no need for their head lamps. Herb Engman kindly gave some of us sweaty guys a ride back to the start of leg 6E; and the post race party was a blast as always.

Thanks to the Rossiter brothers for their great efforts in organization, to my Atrocious teammates for their hard work and to the Finger Lakes Trail Council for keeping the trail passable!


NETT goes 1-3 in Maine Duathlon

Here's a short and sweet update from Jerry D on a trip to Maine with Dr. Miller:

"Paul and I raced the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust (CELT) Duathlon yesterday. Here are some results for your viewing pleasure. It was 1.5mile trail/mud run, 14 mile bike and 5k trail/ mud run. See Paul was sandbagging it, he had the 74th fastest run split on the first run! :-) I'd be interested to know who put up the #1 splits.
Nice work Paul!

1 Paul Miller Men 35-39 9:16.6 (74) 35:28.9 (2) 18:28.6 (2) 1:03:14.26
2 Corey boilard Men 30-34 9:05.7 (67) 35:43.0 (3) 18:38.6 (3) 1:03:27.40
3 Jerry De ZutterMen 40-44 9:25.3 (78) 36:31.1 (5) 20:02.9 (4) 1:05:59.46
Nice work guys! To see some great pics of the guys in their new uniforms (and the rain!) go HERE

Monday, September 22, 2008

Toledo Joe does his damage under the radar

For those not keeping track, Toledo Joe Hardin has been posting some very impressive triathlon results this year, in his own humble, under the radar way.

Most recently, he finished fourth overall in the Masters-Dominated Nantasket Triathlon this weekend.

The week before, he was third overall, first master, at the 5 Star Triathlon.

In early August he was fifth overall at the Wild Cat triathlon in Lowell.

And he, along with teammates Paul Miller and Bruce Goode, have been posting some ridiculously fast times at the weekly Charlie Baker Time Trials in Concord.

Nice work Toledo Joe! Keep it up! And remember ladies...he's single...if you can catch him!

New NETT Tri-gear broken in at Firmman

Boy, did NETT look sharp at Firmman in the new NETT uniforms. And NETT delivered some sharp results as well.

In the mixed relay, the team of Al Prescott, Bruce Goode and Mary Smith took 3rd place. Al posted one of the fastest swim splits of the day with a 25:37 for the 1.2 miles, Bruce faced a 56 miles TT for the first time and that on his brand new Triathlon bike. Despite going off course twice and crashing due to a broken aerobar Bruce persevered and handed the baton off to Mary who - reliably as always – ran a solid half-marathon in 1:35. And that just one week after running in Reach The Beach.

In the individual results, Jim de Zutter showed same high spirit in the aqua bike division despite no less than 3 flats. After the 3rd flat he was close to throwing in the towel and jumping in the sag wagon. But with some help from the mechanical van he got back on the road and finished strong.

Frank had promised himself to have a good experience from start to finish and had just that with solid splits in all three legs and energy to smile and say thank you to the volunteers and spectators along the way. In the end, Frank was only two and half minute slower than last year. 4th in age group and 15th overall.

Ali (NETT by affiliation) had a phenomenal race finishing 2nd age-group and 7th overall due to a strong swim, strong bike leg and fast run leg - 1:28 half-marathon off the bike. That is 6:43 min/mile pace – including the infamous finish on the beach.

Monday, September 15, 2008

UPDATED: Wings takes flight at Reach the Beach Relay

Holy crap. That’s about all one can say after participating in their first Reach the Beach Relay. What a bizarre, fun, strange, roller coaster of an event this 200-mile relay from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach is. But let’s back up a bit first.

It all started when NETT’s Karyn Miller-Medzon recruited a few of us NETTers to fill out her usual WINGS team for RTB. After a couple unplanned injuries and absences, WINGS basically became a team very heavy on NETT’s extended family (and we mean family). Here’s the roster we wound up with:
Van 1: Crazy Dave, Karen R, Dima F, Karyn MM, and the two WINGS veterans Peter Evers and Jeannette Voas.
Van 2: Claire Scanlon (courtesy of Tina Wang), Mary Smith, Clare Smith (courtesy of Mary), Tom Dmukauskas (courtesy of Dima), Chrissy Durden and Martin Bures (courtesy of Chrissy).

Getting the picture yet? Lots of courtesy here. A diverse group of loosely connected folks who came together as a team and by the end of it…well we’ll get to that.

For the unitiated, it’s a 200-plus mile relay where teams can have up to 12 people running legs of various distances continuously across the state of New Hampshire. It takes hundreds of volunteers to pull this thing off…350 teams most with 12 people on them…running non-stop. It just seems like such a bad idea on so many levels, but I guess most of the funnest things usually do.

Crazy Dave started off at 2:40 p.m. Friday on the first leg from Cannon Mountain. Chrissy finished up more than 25 hours later in Hampton Beach. In between is a blur of long winding roads, yellow arrows we’ll see in our sleep for months, wet vans full of half-awake runners, headlamps and reflector vests and at least one irate father yelling at his son. There were some really really gutsy performances from all of our runners--nothing makes you dig a bit deeper than knowing your previous and next teammate are going to do the same. We had a lot of that. Karyn MM basically undid months of rehab to get to that last exchange zone of hers with Dima and Karen's help...Martin could barely walk after crushing his legs (pun intended-snore)...Peter produced more sweat than any single mammal should be allowed on his last leg...Tom defied the laws of physics and basically ran downhill on a steep steep uphill grade...the list goes on and on and on..every time someone did something great, the next person matched it and raised, right down to Chrissy's finishing kick that left us all in the dirt. It was great to see.

The end result? We finished in 25:36 which put us 26th out of 355 total teams. We were 9th in the mixed open category which accounted for 166 teams. That’s an average of 7:21/mile.
See full results here.

A huge thanks to Karyn MM for the work in organizing. The list of thanks goes a mile long, as these kinds of things don't just happen, but everyone knows who they are.

NOTE: For a slideshow of GREAT PICS from the Reach The Beach relay, check out Karyn's site here.

Passing time has no surprise
When pleasure found is my resource
I start to drift with the tide
Maybe I'll reach, I'll reach the beach
The Fixx

(With apologies to Talking Heads for ripping off their perhaps most overused lyrics in the history of music...just seemed to fit)

Monday, September 08, 2008

NETT takes to the trails at Wrentham, Fitchburg and Carlisle

Well it was a busy weekend out on the trails for the Mini Ponies, with NETT Men going 1-2 at both the Wrentham Forest Challenge and the NMC Overlook 7 Mile trail race in Fitchburg while the ladies mucked it up at the Run Like a Girl 8K.

In Fitchburg Sunday, it was Dave Mingori topping the results list a mere 9 seconds in front of Young John Kinnee for the win in 45:31. Dave reports: "It was a VERY wet with some rock ledge sections on a descent around mile 5 that were downright dangerous. I actually walked around a couple of them. 2 stream crossings that were calf deep. Real nice trails that I'd like to go back and explore more. John and I ran together for the first couple miles when I pulled away and gapped him by probably 30-40 seconds. He hung very tough, got a 2nd wind and began closing, forcing me to really push that last hill."

At the Wrentham Forest Challenge 20K Trail Race on Saturday, it was Crazy Dave and Chris Smith working together to finish 1-2 flying the NETT flag all the way. (Results not available yet). The course was well marked and a bit more rugged than expected which equated to a lot of fun running. It was so fun, in fact, that Marshall Randolph decided to run nearly an extra mile out there.

Rather than go cherry picking like the rest of us, Mr. Young took on the well stacked Run to Fall 5K XC Race up in NH, finishing 16th in 18:28.

Not to be outdone, the NETT Ponyettes showed up in force at Jennifer Shultis' Montrail Run Like a Girl 8K trail race in Carlisle. I'm sure I'll miss someone, but Karen Ringheiser was fifth overall in 37:51, Chrissy Durden 29th, Deb Robertson 31st. Congrats to the ladies on these fine performances and congrats to Jennifer for pulling off a great race in its first year.

The Rick Report: Big Man 2008

Our roaving reporter, Rick Cleary took to the streets of Somerville for the Big Man race again this year. For those not in the know, this weight-graded race involves running, drinking beer and eating hot dogs. Here's Rick's report:

My favorite event of the year, the Big Man Run in Somerville, was held Saturday 9/6 under hot and humid conditions, with slower finishers getting soaked by the first lashes of the hard rains of Hurricane Hanna. This was my third year in the event, which you'll recall is limited to men 190 pounds and over (and a few 'skinnies' who are friends of the organizer or don't make the weight or sneak in somehow...) The race starts at a bar, and along the slightly longer than 5 mile course (about 5.2 by my gmap measurement) it goes into three bars where competitors have to consume a hot dog (and bun) and a beer (about 12 ounces.)

Two years ago I won the 50 and over division by 13 minutes, but last year some ringer from Texas showed up and edged me out. Order was restored in the universe this time around as he stayed home minding the Longhorns, and I managed to run just over 43 minutes. I finished 12th overall ... three straight years I've been 12th ... although three of the 11 ahead of me were skinnies so I was ninth Clydesdale. I won the 50 and up by about 11 minutes, so I really should have enjoyed a second beer in the bars.

A few highlights of this year's event:

-The weigh in took longer than usual as they went from a cheap floor scale with a needle to real balance scale. They let you weigh in with shoes and shirt on, so I weighed in at 201. That big first digit always makes me feel a little slow but it's nice to be safely over, the guy behind me was just 186 and was hooted at by the crowd.

-The course starts with a huge climb, and you finish right where you start, but I don't know when we go downhill. It's another example of an Escher loop, one that seems up all the way to me.

-Conditions were miserably hot and humid with a misty rain at the start. The pavement was slippery and the long climb over the first mile or so was sort of suffocating. I started slow and got to the first bar at about 1.3 miles in about 20th place. I always pick up a few spots in the bars, and the next running section was short ... the second bar is only about 0.3 mles further ... so I had emerged into about 15th for the long run to the last bar. There I passed a lot of guys who were having trouble with that third beer or dog; but a couple of young bucks passed me during the run from there to the finish.

-Two years ago there were four bars; too bad we're down to three now as I know more eating and drinking works to my advantage.

-The post race music was a two man Irish band. I have a lot of Irish heritage but why anyone likes Irish music is a mystery to me. There only seems to be two songs, "Ol' Murphy died and we all went drinkin'" and "Colleen left me so let's all go drinkin'" (Actually four songs, there are fast and slow versions of each of those.) I waited around a long time in the steamy bar for the awards, since I saw that I'd won my age group, but finally I just couldn't wait any longer or hear one more chorus about Ol' Colleen Murphy and I got the organizer to hand me my championship mug and tee shirt. I think I won some money but I told him to use it to buy drinks for the volunteers; not that he could possibly have heard me above the over-amplified Irish crooning.

-Last year the family came along and enjoyed the spectacle; but they were wise to stay home this time. The post race choices of either being outside in driving rain or inside listening to the Irish crooners did not seem family freindly

Full results HERE... though it doesn't include weights so it's not too much fun yet.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fashion Show! Mini Ponies get new gear!

Well the new cycling/triathlon uniforms are in and a BIG thanks go to Jerry D for his work on these. Jerry put in a lot of time and pulled a few strings to have a real graphic designer put together logos and designs. Our model, Frank, is wearing some of the new coture here. Note the web URL on the shorts (great touch!) and the coyote howling above the skyline. Many, many thanks Jerry! Really kicked things up a notch.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Meet the Olympians at Spellman Museum in Weston

A group of local Olympians including the recently returned Olympic triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker of Sudbury will be speaking Thursday night at the Spellman Museum of Postal History in Weston, Mass.(on the campus of Regis College)Also speakding will be Josephine Warren Madden, a member of the USA Olympic track team that competed in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. Other Olympic athletes will also be attending. Thursday, September 11, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

For more info:


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

NETTers Labor hard on Labor Day weekend

MiniPonies were out hoofing it up all over the place this weekend. Here's a report from Paul Young:

On Sunday I returned to Wapack after a 9 year absence and ended up in a very tight race for first place. Garry Harrington, Keith Schmitt, Peter Keeney and yours truly all reached the turnaround in close order. I pushed the pace on the fire roads heading back and managed to gap those guys and make it to top of the last big climb in first place only to get turned around on the ridges and blow my cushion. Garry managed a kamikazee down hill on the final single track hill and gapped me by around 20-25 seconds. Final result was a PR in 2:39:05 but second place. Garry, Peter and I all broke 2:40."

Also note, Dima Feinhaus and Karen Ringheiser were at Wapack, with Dima finishing in 3:08 and Karen second woman in 3:40.

Karen and Dima also headed down to the Walpole Road Race, where they bumped into Karyn Miller-Medzon. Here's Karen's report:

"Karen came in second in her age group in the 10k and Dima finished 4th overall (I think).That, despite having run a very difficult race the day before (GREAT training for RTB!!!) I tried an "inaugural" attempt at 5k post-surgery in Walpole, wasn't sure I'd finish at all, and ended up with 25:06 (slowest since the first race I ran in 2002....but a milestone nonetheless). My boys also ran (Daniel in 20 flat and Noah in 22:50). That's our Labor Day update!"

Congrats to all!

Monday, September 01, 2008

NETT's Taiwan Training Trip a FULL Success

Frank KJ and Tina just returned from a visit to Taiwan and Frank was kind enough to provide us with a detailed account of a couple runs he did while he was there. Here's his report:

I just returned from our vacation in Taiwan to visit Tina’s family I wanted to share my experience of running in Taiwan. Since the tropic of Cancer cuts right through Taiwan it is hot and humid 24/7. And since two-thirds of the island is mountains steep climbing is hard to avoid.

Tina’s parents lives in northern Taipei at the foothills of the Yangmingshan mountain range. The mountains were created 2 million years by volcanic activity and it is still possible to see and smell the sulfur. My long run up to Yangmingshan started 6AM and right from the start it goes uphill. The first 2.2 miles covers 750 ft of climbing on a small road where the density of Taipei is quickly replaced by small farms, restaurants and hot springs overlooking Taipei. There are also plenty of stray dogs; they are so common all over Taiwan that I quickly accept their presence. Or maybe it is simply just too hot for them to chase me. The fact is that by 6AM the temperature is already 86F and the humidity is around 70% so my NETT singlet is already drenched in sweat.

Once I turn into the main road the grade lets up a bit and becomes more gradual so I can find a rhythm. The next 1.5 miles takes me up to Yangmingshan village. I am pleased to see that the Taiwanese have started to embrace cycling because I see a lot of cyclists taking on the climb on road bikes, mountain bikes and believe or not folding bikes. It is quite a sight to see someone ride up a 6% road on a folding bike with its small wheels. Since most people live in apartments in Taipei folding bikes are more practical and typically in higher demand than other bike types. They all politely say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Zao’ as they pass me and curiously look at my NETT singlet and fuel belt. So far I haven’t met other runners. (Frank's altitude data pretty much tells the story of his climb up to 2400 feet or 800 meters)

In the village I see another common morning ritual – senior citizens practicing Tai Chi or other forms of exercise. I plod on upwards and the grade kicks up a notch again as I exit the village. The next 3 miles are brutal but the view down into the valley is my reward. In the last mile there is no shade but I am lucky clouds cover the sun and there is a breeze. I can see some of the sulfur pits from the road and the hot water is sending up steam. Once I reach the pass I can actually feel that the temperature is a bit lower at 2600 ft above sea level.

I don’t have the exact distance but I estimate it to 12.5K making the average grade just shy of 6%. Well, 2400 ft up means 2400 ft down. Downhill, I earn some blisters since I am lousy at running downhill and ‘brake’ too hard on the steep sections. It is now past 8AM and the temperature is 92F.

My ‘short’ run is a repeat of a run I did on my first visit to Taiwan in 2003. It is a 4.5K run up a steep road to the Chinese Cultural University from where there is a great view over Taipei and the mountains south of Taipei. Via a series of hairpin turns it climbs 1200 ft resulting in an average grade near 8%. On this run I actually pass another runner on the way up and see him again on the way down. I have no idea how he survives without bringing any drinks. I am so happy I have my fuel belt. With the hairpin turns the scary thing about this run is the scooters which come fast around the corners; no sidewalks and barely any shoulders on this hill that makes Bentley and Brandeis look speed bumps.

I have added a photo sporting the NETT singlet from Kaohsiung with the fish dragon statue and a couple of photos of crickets and diverse intestines on sticks. Bon App├ętit.