Monday, May 24, 2010

NETT takes two podium spots at Black Bear duathlon

Some great multisport results from up North this weekend. Here's Frank's report:

Martin took 1st place in the Black Bear short-course duathlon and Frank repeated his 2nd place finish from last year in the long course. And NETT friend and fellow Minuteman swimmer Keri Boyle won the women’s long course. And thanks to Chrissy for coming along to cheer.

This year the short-course and long-course were on the same day. The short-course started at 8am and Martin took the lead right from the start – so much that he actually overshot a turn and had to backtrack. Martin had great bike leg and held the lead into T2 and he could then pretty much cruise the last 5K to victory. To be things in perspective he matched the time of Patrick Dwyer from last year and Pat is a very good duathlete by my standards. Congratulations to Martin and I am sure he will be at the top of the podium many more times.

I had to work hard for my second place this year as I had another guy chase me the entire last 7.5K. In fact so hard that I ended up with the fastest run split for the 2nd run leg. My first run was a repeat of last year and put me in 3rd place going into the bike leg. On the final uphill section of the bike leg l I passed the guy and second and was able to put some time between him and me. But another guy had also passed him and he closed in on me a little more than I liked forcing me to run beyond my comfort zone on the second run. Buy hey “pain is temporary, pride is forever”.

Unlike last year, we had beautiful weather this year and I have the sun burn and red neck to prove it.

Black Bear duathlon is a great race but unless more people show up it likely won’t stick around. Hopefully more NETT’ers will be able to put this race into their calendar next year. Even if it means I will drop from 2nd place to my place in the pecking order."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DimaD becomes DimaDad!

Great news from across the pond. Our pal Dmitry Drozdov and wife Venus had a son! Yes, Dima's fast genes and Venus' good looks were passed on to Baby Drozdov (name is still being decided).

"We’re really happy with this occasion," Dmitry said. "Look, he has long legs and big feet. He’s 6.9 lbs and 54 cm long. He’s gonna be a runner or a mountain biker for sure. We’re ecstatic to have this baby."

Big Congrats to them from all of us back here in the Boston area, still waiting for their return to the states. "Hey when can we head out for a run dad?"

A day of surprises for NETT at Soapstone Mountain Trail Race

It was a day of surprises at the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race this weekend for NETTers. Mostly pleasant surprises, but at least one mini pony got an unwanted surprise, to say the least.

Soapstone is a fan favorite among the trail running faithful in New England. You don't stick around for 26 years without doing something right. In fact, it looked like this year might have seen a record number of entries. Getting better with age.

But without a doubt, the MOST pleasant suprirse of the day came from BIG LEO FAHEY! It was a surprise when Leo said he was going to run this race. He's never done a trail race this long and has been in semi-seclusion for much of the past year, so his fitness level was a real unknown. But Leo's a guy full of surprises and quieted the skeptics when he came galloping up the grassy hill to the finish on Sunday, completing probably one of the toughest races of his career. Big Congrats Leo. Despite his raving about the veggie burgers after the race, Leo treated himself and Shereen to dinner at the Capital Grille later that night. He certainly earned it! BIG CONGRATS to BIG LEO. This might top his performance at the Skyline Trail race a couple years back....the legend grows.

Unfortunately for Chris Smith, it was a less-than-pleasant surprise when, well into the race, he came into the second aid station for the second time! It seems he and a couple other runners went off-course and, after wandering for a bit, found their way back onto the course, but at a much EARLIER portion, so they had to re-run a pretty lengthy section. Testament to Chris' toughness, when they did get to aid station two, the second time, the other two guys with Chris chose to drop out and hitch a ride back to the finish. Chris, however, sucked it up and continued running and was one of the last runners into the finish.

As he trotted toward the finish line, more than three and a half hours after he started, Crazy Dave asked him..."Are you okay? What happened?" To which Chris replied, "I got a little bit lost" making that "little bit" sign with his fingers. Gotta love this guy's attitude. No tantrums. No blame game. Take it as life brings it and keep on running.

It was a small but very pleasant surprise when Doris said she was interested in running the Soapstone Sampler, a 6K handicap race they hold in conjunction with the 24K race. And it was a surprise to Doris when she found out that she had to run a massive sand hill as part of the Sampler. But, no surprise, she tackled it without much effort and was all smiles by the end of the race (in fact she was in such good shape, she was mugging for the cameras here).

It was also a pleasant surprise to have Mary Smith come along to Soapstone as well. She's a kickass trail runner and this is a kickass trail race, so it was a perfect match. And no big shocker that Mary handled Soapstone's steep climbs, rocky descents and long stretches of streambed running perfectly in stride, finishing as the 7th woman overall in 2:27. While there's just a hint of strain on her face at the finish, clearly we still haven't found anything that will break Mary. Heck, she barely even got her new shoes muddy!

Crazy Dave had a less-than-surprising race, finishing 6th overall in 1:49, the exact same finish he had last time he ran this race in 2006. And he ran much of the race with trail running cronie Keith Schmitt, two veterans of the trail running circuit putting in another race. "It's just like the days of old," Keith yelled over his shoulder as he pulled away in the last mile. Yup, just like the days of old, Dave thought to himself.

It was also no surprise that the Shenipsit Strider crew put on a great event with tons--I mean tons--of volunteers involved. After years of successfully guiding this race through some choppy waters, trail legend Jerry Stage missed his first Soapstone this year, but it's in the capable hands of Deb Livingston full-time now, so Jerry can rest easy with that knowledge. Thanks for the years of service, Jerry and keep up the good work Deb.

To see more photos go here.

FULL RESULTS OF THE 24K posted here.

Photos courtesy O'Shannon/McGillicuddy Productions.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

NETT Male Dominance at Sudbury Sprint Triathlon

The NETT male relay team of Nicholas, Dave and Frank battled the horrendous winds Sunday morning at the Sudbury Sprint Triathlon and took home relay gold in convincing style. With an overall time of 36:46 the team was light years ahead of all other teams. Here's Frank's report:

Since it was a pool swim, Nicholas luckily did not have to deal with the wind; if this had been an ocean swim the waves would have been 6-9ft! Nicholas continues to make big improvements in the water and chopped 15 seconds off from last year’s time in the 400m. His time of 5:17 was roughly the 25th best time out of almost 500 participants!

After a quick and cold transition (Nicholas had to run out of the pool into about 40 degree temps), I set out on the bike course. The bike course is fairly sheltered so the wind was not as big a factor as feared. But just 0.5 mile into the bike course, an elderly driver got nervous about the all the cyclists on the road and decided to stay behind a slow cyclists resulting in me being boxed in for 300 yards. Just bad luck and probably a loss of 15 seconds. In the end I ended up being a bit slower than last year.

Crazy was ready in T2 to unleash a massive attack on anyone still ahead of us on the course. He blasted through the 2.18 mile course in about 12 minutes – likely the fastest the run split of the day. We started as number 39 but thanks to Dave’s high cadence he crossed the line as the 10th person. Nice work.

Also racing were Big Al and his wife Judy. Despite being haunted by back pain recently, Big Al cranked out a great race and finished fifth in his category, 31st overall. Attaboy! Judy was immensely patient waiting for her start time in the pool and finished 12th in her category!

Finally special thanks to Tina for spending her mother's day morning cheering us on, giving Dave a guided tour of the run course, making sure we were all where we needed to be and taking pictures.

Results at

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

NETT chips in at A Cure is Coming

Race Director Jerry De Zutter put on another successful event on Saturday at the A Cure is Coming 5K with the help of a long list of Mini Ponies.

The race and walk are fundraisers for the ALS Therapy Development Institute and together raised $40,000.

Among the NETT volunteers out on the course included Youngstah, Sister Mary, Crazy Dave, Doris, Frank, Tina and Nicholas, Paul Miller, Toledo Joe, Rod and I'm sure a few others I can't remember. ANd there were plenty of NETTers racing as well: Chris Smith (3rd), Marshall Randolph (9th), Adrienne Cyrulik (2nd female!), Katherine De Zutter (3rd female), Jim Dezutter and a host of new and old friends like Cecile, John Kinnee, Steve Peckinonis and a bunch of others we're forgetting. Heck, there was even a Sean "Hannan" out there.

All in all, it was a very good day for running, fundraising and hockey (Go Bruins!!).

Jail Break! Martin successfully Escapes from Alcatraz

Martin lived out a dream of his this weekend and kicked some major arse in the process at the Alcatraz triathlon. Here's his report:

Escape From Alcatraz has been a race that I have wanted to do for a long time. I remember seeing it on television years ago and thinking "What is that?" It was not until later that I started doing triathlons that I remembered the race, realized it was a triathlon, and signed up. I entered the lottery last season and got selected on the first round. That was when I figured out how much the entry was - $400.

We got into San Francisco on Friday and had a rental car. Hindsight 20/20, I would take a van to and from the hotel next time. We thought that we were going to sightsee a bit but we didn't have the time. Parking was very expensive at all of the hotels. Saturday was the triathlon expo, sign-in, marking, orientation extravaganza. The expo was mainly food and unrelated services - no real gear booths or clothing booths - kind of surprising. We got our goodie bag - for the price of the entry I thought that we would have been given more gear but it was reflective of the expo. No socks or hat or anything like that and no advertisements for other races either - oh well. The day was absolutely beautiful - Chrissy and I actually got a bit sunburnt. A speaker gave us an overview of the course - what to expect and some strategies. The trick with the ocean swim is that there is a strong current out to sea - so you have to travel to cross the current before directly heading to the transition. I was a little upset that during his presentation he kept saying that unless you were a pro that you have no chance and should just not even try in the race. For the amount that I spent to get there and enter the race and whatnot - just keep your mouth shut and perpetuate the fantasy of the race.

We went back to the hotel, prepped my gear and laid low. I had to be at the transition area for 4:30am the next morning. i had two bags to pack and place plus set up transition area. One bag was handed off that contained gear for the transition from swim to bike. Between the swim and bike was a 1/2+ mile run. When you get out of the bay, you take off your wet suit, cap and goggles and place them in the transisiton bag. you then take out the shoes in there and run to the bike transition, leaving behind the swim gear in the bag. From there you take another bag with your wetsuit in it and whatever you want on the ferry and get on a shuttle - when we jump off the boat this second bag is left behind and collected. We were driven down to pier 3 several miles away where the ferry was that would take us to alcatraz and from where we would jump into the bay. We got there about 5:30 and hung out until 6am when we got on the boat. At around 7 we left the dock and started heading to the start. At 8 the pros went off with helicopter over head. We were all divided by age group and were supposed to go off in that order but the second the pros jumped, everyone crushed to the 3 jump spots and it was a mad dash to get into the water. It was a crush of people on the way to the jump spot - with the neoprene cap and goggles and wet suit on it was a quiet sensory-depravation calm. Suddenly the guy in front of me disappeared and there was the water. I jumped and was suddenly confronted with 55 degree salt water. Wet suit + salt water = super-buoyant. It took me a few minutes to get used to the cold water but finally I really put my head in the water and dug in for the swim. For the first 1/3 of the race, the water was glass - totally calm. After that there was a mild but steady chop. You could feel the current taking you as you sighted for shore. I was steadily passing people but it was unclear where the finish for the swim leg was so I was a little timid in my angle of attack to avoid overshooting the finish. They did not have the swim exit marked the previous day and just kind of pointed and said that the exit was "over there" during the orientation. The swim was so amazing. out in the middle of the bay with the golden gate on the right and land coming up in front and to the left. I paused a few times to take it in.

Finally we started funneling and the finish became obvious. I made a final surge for land and stumbled onto shore. Up a set of stairs was the swim-to-bike run transition area with bags. My bag was not in the row that it was supposed to be and it took me a while to locate it. I then stripped my wetsuit and put on my shoes. I was so disoriented and didn't want to waste time stuffing my swim gear into the bag that I just grabbed everything and ran. That was a mistake. It was a 1/2+ mile run and that stuff was heavy in my arms. I got to the bike transition, dropped the gear and put on my bike gear. The sun had come up by now and the day was perfectly clear and very sunny. I took of on the bike and as having a good ride. I was attacking the climbs and battling. The scenery was varied and hilly and stunning. Around the turn around point at mile 9 I suddenly realized that my pedal stroke was feeling shorter and that I wasn't getting power. I discovered that in reassembling my bike, I had not tightened the seatpost bolts sufficiently and the seat had begun slipping - spectacular. With 9 miles remaining and the most substantial section of hills, I gave up in total ~4" of seatpost height. Lots of standing going up hills. Burning quads.

Despite the difficulty, the bike was not terrible and I came into the transition. I had a quick transition and was out on the run. I had my best leg on the run. I had nobody pass me and was able to claw back many places. The run was 8 miles, very hilly and very tough - it wound its way along the shore, in the cliffs and down on the beach - going under the golden gate bridge. There was also a substantial sand section followed by a brutal set of sand stairs. After this was another uphill section and then it was mostly downhill and flat back to the finish.

The race was really amazing. It was an intensely-challenging course. It was a great way to start the season and I think that I have a lot of impovement ahead of me.

Of 1800+ entries, 1492 people finished. I was 75/1492 and 16/208 for my age group with a time of 2:30.32. Here are the full results.

The winner was an animal. He finished in 1:58.21. The top age grouper finished in 2:04.20 - he was in my age group.