Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Early Days of NETT (part II)

We'll continue our reflective period here with some thoughts from another one of NETT's founders, Paul Miller, about the early days of NETT. (To see part I go here)
"So in my memory, it was Dave and Bruce (not sure which one first) that got fed up of our previous club and decided to leave it. You said you had mulled over for some time the idea of starting your own club. With you and Bruce deciding to leave, I decided I'd rather join whatever you were up to as training with friends was more important. (We got some early flack from former coach about forming "a social club" rather than "racing team".)

In terms of the early name, I know there were suggestions of calling it "Banana" among some of early members and Bruce and I were against that as making the team name an "inside joke" would not be ideal for encouraging outsiders to join, and certainly not for encouraging any serious runners. Various names, including things like "MetroWest" were flung around but NETT became agreed upon. Whether there should be three "T"s or not (the third one being "Tri") was also a matter of debate.

The first track workouts I remember were at the Watertown track, before they shifted to Bentley due to too many "walkers" on the town track. The Weston High School grass intervals were a regular summer + early fall favorite workout as well. I remember my Dad coming to one of those the year Alex was born: 2003 (yikes -- seems like yesterday). He commented on what a nice bunch you were, after we had a meal post-workout. As an aside, seemed like you'd already been dating Doris for a while then ;-)

I'm pretty sure that Jerry was one of the early members as well as Paul Young, Ben Winter and Anthony Chamberas. I think Joe Hardin joined NETT pretty early too -- I think he joined NETT in the first year. Dave Shackelford came to workouts pretty early on too.

The early races I remember were the Mayor's Cup, New England XC Champs, Andover XC and the BU mini-meets in those first years I think. I think my first official non-tri race with NETT was the Marathon Sports 5-miler in Wellesley, a few weeks pre-Ironman when I PR-ed. Later that summer Dave and I both did the Pisgah 50K while I think Anthony and Dave Bartel did the shorter race.

I also did my only ever snowshoe race with Dave the first winter on the team. I would never have even worn snowshoes or done a 50K trail race without the influence of NETT.

The early social events I recall inclued the annual party with "awards" at your apartment on in Newton and "Table football" competitions were a big hit.

For me a great memory was seeing Dave after we all clubbed together to get him a decent bike when he was injured. He was quite overcome and surprised as I recall. (Editor's note: I'm STILL overcome when I think about it and tell people where I got such a kickass bike! I still don't feel like I belong on that thing, but love it nonetheless).

All in all, I think the way the team works is great -- without a strict set of rules or anything, essentially anyone who is willing to put in the effort gets to make something happen. If they are thoughtful of others then what happens will be popular and keep going. So, as it should be, those who put the most in are the ones who get to decide the direction of the club.

For me the ideal club is one within which you can find a training partner/company in any of your regular workouts (hence variety of members is good) and go to races knowing you'll have a team member there to look out for. Pretty much as it is -- no obligations, but the more you put in the more you get out.

If I had any recommendations to new members it would be to take what opportunity you get to try something new (snowshoe/orienteering/trail racing/triathlon?) and don't be shy of suggesting your own "meetups" and races to do."

Thanks for the memories Paul! Great stuff.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Race Roundup

There were a few NETTers out on the roads this Thanksgiving.

Frank KJ headed out to the Stow race. Here's his report:

Returning for the 3rd time to Stow Gobbler 5K I had expected to toe the lines with Jerry but he was MIA for the day. Instead there were a bunch of high school kids including Katherine DZ; Daddy-o Jim was there as well. The high school kids took off like rockets and I was in 15th place. Some of them were good and stayed ahead, some of them faded quickly so around mile 10 I was in 11th place. A guy around my age came alongside at mile 1 and we pushed each other until mile 2 where he decided to make a move and got a gap of about 10 feet. Meanwhile we had passed a couple of guy and I was now running in 9th place. I thought I would not be able to close the gap again but at around 2.5M he started to fade on the slight uphill up to the parking lot while I was able to keep my pace. We ran together for .25M and then at the 3M sign I put whatever I had left into a "sprint" and crossed the line in 17:55; good for eight 8th place and third master. Katherine was sub-24 on a cruise and Daddy-O Jim DZ was just under 28. The course is actually 5.1K (3.16M) so based on that I am very happy the performance. Next up is Walter's Run."

Crazy Dave and DOris headed to the Donohue's 5K Turkey Trot in Watertown for a great pre-Turkey Day run. Well organized, and the best part was the post-race food! Eggs, bacon, sausage and home fries for all runners! Doris ran great at 29:21 on a very long 5K course while Dave was 18:20.

If you have other results to add, send them along to Crazy Dave.

Nice work Frank!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Early Days of NETT (part I)

This time of year, I always get a little nostalgic because NETT really took shape during the fall of 2002 (the Andover XC Race was our first official NETT race).

A lot of runners have come and gone in the past eight years, but a few folks have asked recently about the history of NETT. So I decided to check in with my co-founders Paul Miller, Dave Bartel and Bruce Goode about those early days and see if they remember things the way I do (none of us are getting any younger).

In this, the first installment, we'll have a Q&A with Dave Bartel about the early days. I've known Dave since the 7th grade and while he's not all that active in NETT these days, he was an important player in those early days and continues to do a VERY good job of reminding us all not to take ourselves too seriously.

In your memory, how was NETT formed? Who played what role?

The idea of forming a running club was first brought up by Dave Hannon. He had run with other running clubs in the past and wanted to branch out on with his own club with the idea to create a more laid back, let's have fun and win some races idea. This idea of a running club was one of the many topics we would discuss while running. It should be noted that Dave and I originally met while growing up and running at Chelmsford High. Having more like minded people to run and ultimately train with was very refreshing for me. It almost made the running aspect take a back seat to the comraderie of everyone and we ran with.

Was there any mission statement or overarching plan or goals to it all or was it more of a less structured thing?

In the beginning it was less structured, getting together for runs and going from there. It worked out for me and Dave that we both lived and worked in the Waltham/Newton area. This afforded us the opportunity to meet up for runs more often than not. Dave introduced me to the Lincoln Woods and was one of my favorite places to run. (The other being the Carlisle State Forest.) As I (we) started meeting up with more people, Bruce, Paul Miller, random one off's, Ben, Anthony, Dave Shackelford, workouts and races became more structured (planned) with time.

What were the early runs and workouts like? Where did we meet?

The early runs were divided between Lincoln Woods and runs from Brandeis into the Weston area. I recall participating in a majority of the causal runs and especially the Sunday monring long run at Lincoln Woods. Eventually I began participating in the specific workouts, tempo runs, hill workouts and track workouts. The fondest memories that stuck with me are the long runs in Lincoln and the Prospect Hill hill workouts (that mother effer is appox .9 miles gate to top!!)

Beyond the four founders, who do you recall as being the earliest members of NETT?

Anthony Chamberas. Anthony was like the fifth Beatle. He had the right mindset, participated in runs when his time allowed and could be considered and original 'silent' founder. And Ben Winther. Why? Exactly. Paul Young was also involved in those days.

How about races? Do you remember doing any races in the early days of NETT?

In the early days I really enjoyed the training more than the races. On training runs we all ran as fast as the the slowest person there. No one was there to 'win' the training run. Well, maybe Big Ben sometimes, but that's why we love him! When Dave did coax me into a race it was a Thanksgiving day race or the Yankee Homecoming. On a personal note, the Falmouth Road Race was one that I looked forward to each and every year.

Do you remember any early social events? Where were they what were they?

I do not recall many social events. Rumor has it I was at one particular event from what I was told. Apparently I horrified a friend's girlfriend (now wife) when I relieved myself on the sidewalk outside their apartment. Dave and Doris drove me home. The next day I saw Anthony and his girlfriend (now wife) when I went back the next morning to pick up my car. Pictures of this event never surfaced so it may not have ever happened!!

Overall what is your favorite memory/memories with NETT?

Favorite memories are of the Lincoln Woods training runs. One in particular was with Dave, Ben and Cindy. After crossing the MBTA train bridge re-entering the woods into the rocky, curvy downhill Dave stumbled and fell banging his knee on a rock. We were unaware that something like this would cause him to pass out, or as I like to call it, taking a "dirt nap." As we suddenly stopped and stood over Dave lying on the ground barely breathing, Ben's first response was, "Should we poke him with a stick?"

The other memory was always having a steady, reliable running partner in Crazy Dave.

Any words of advice for new members? What you, as a founder, would like to see happen with it all?

Know about and understand the banana. If that makes sense to you, you certainly belong with NETT!!

Thanks Dave! Stay tuned for interviews with our other co-founders.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

UPDATED: Mini Ponies run Wild in the streets of Manchester

Yes, the herd of Mini Ponies took to the roads this weekend at the Manchester City Marathon with some great results. But why not let some of the herd tell the story themselves.

First off, Eri "Muscles" Verter's report:

"This was my first official half marathon. My goal was to break my Derry performance which was 7:16 m/h avg. I don't know if it was waking up to an adrenaline rush from Dave's phone call of "Are you almost here Eri?" or was my hard training with you guys, but I shattered it with a 7:02 pace (according to official results and 6:59 according to my watch). I was a bit faster on the second half which tells me that I was efficient in my energy conservation. It was a lot of fun to do it with so many people that I knew. Doris's signs and shouts of "Go Eri" and Ben's "Go Muscles" shouts definitely helped me a lot mentally while I was running. Thanks to some competitive people at the end I finished my last mile with 6:22 m/h and kept my impassibility since mile1-2. The next challenge will be this year's Derry 16 miler at the end of Jan."

Oh yeah. We got tickets to the GUN SHOW. Muscles finished 44th overall in 1:32 for the mathematically challenged.

Next up, let's get Chris Smith's take on the day:

"My day started off with a little adrenaline rush. I rolled over in bed looked
at the clock to see how much more time I had to sleep and to my surprise the
alarm should have gone off twenty minutes prior. I jumped up but figured I still had plenty of time to get to Manchester by 8:00 to meet Ben with my number. Had breakfast and was on the road by 6:40. I had already made up ten minutes. Got to Manchester, no trouble finding parking, to the hotel, find Dave, Doris and Mary. Eri… woke up more than twenty minutes late. Ben and Cindy show up then Eri(followed by the NH state police). Dave, Cindy, Mary, Eri and I head to the start as Ben and Doris tactically plan out their viewing/support route.

Being a smallish race I am able to line up near the front Dave a couple rows back. I don’t know where everyone else ended up. The first mile was mostly downhill but a little bit of a head wind to contend with, I still think it was a little short though, I had a ~5:40 split. I settled into my pace. The course was littered with these annoying hills, up and down. Some of the down hills where so steep they were tougher than going up. Overall I felt good throughout the race. My time does not reflect it though but it was one of the more difficult half’s I have run.

After it was quickly back to the car for some warm clothes then some hot soup and hot chocolate and hot chocolate and. … ok maybe I had more than my share but did I mention it was cold. I then find Cindy and Eri and we then spot the familiar pink hat of Mary. She looks like she has not even gone for an easy jog. I’m starting to suspect that she may have just gone back to the car and taken a nap. Now we wait for Dave. The only one crazy enough to do the full marathon. The clock ticks 2:54 and here he comes with a smooth stride but looking a little rough around the edges. Dave was bloody with a dazed look on his face as he finished. Crazy may have beat the hills of Manchester but they didn’t go down with out a fight."

Thanks Chris. For the record, Chris was 11th overall in the half in 1:24 (sixth master--stacked field eh?)

Now let's get Big Ben's unique take on the day.

Some folks know that I scratched from the Marathon, after pulling a calf muscle during a track workout on the Tuesday before the race. I’m a moron. I know most of the team was all worked up about oversleeping and whatnot, but I woke up on time. I ate a leisurely English breakfast of blood sausage and grilled tomato, dry white toast, and tea. I quit coffee the previous Friday.I might start up again, I’m not sure.

At 7:15am my beautiful wife Cindy told me to get in the car, and we flew down to meet the team for our 8am rendezvous. I wasn’t worried about anything until 7:45 when I looked at my phone, which was set to silent, and noticed that I’d missed a call from Crazy. I was immediately worried something was wrong, so I handed the phone to Cindy. Cin’ called Crazy, he was in our designated meeting spot, we caught up with the group about 5 minutes later. No big problems.

After we handed out the number bags it became apparent I hadn’t made sure there were pins for the numbers. My bad. It was stressful time for me. Chris had a whole bunch of pins. I felt a lot better.

We took some photos. We all checked out Mary’s new ring. It’s pretty impressive. I have a picture. The gun went off and Doris and I drove out to the 7 mile mark. It was really cool. Everyone looked awesome. I almost missed Cindy running by because I went to take a wiz. Doris had me driving her car through Manchester, because I knew the area. She’s a great new car. It’s a stick shift. I learned how to drive on a stick shift…in 1985. It still works.

We drove around some more, saw those guys at the half finish, then drove back out to get some Powerbars to Crazy. We saw him at 23 and 24, then back at the finish.
We had a great conversation with the volunteer at mile 23. He was stationed right next to a fresh dead squirrel, I covered it with leaves so Doris wouldn’t have to look at it. A group of spectators showed up a little later and stepped in it. I apologized, but I thought it was really funny.

Doris got really mad at me because I farted while we were outside waiting for Dave at mile 24, and the wind blew it at her. I felt bad, but I thought that was really funny too. Then we saw everyone back at finish. Doris probably won’t hang out with me any time soon, but I think she still likes me.

I’m really impressed with everyone’s performance. The half marathoners all exceeded THEIR own expectations and they all looked fantastic coming through. Crazy Dave ran a ballsy race, it’s a hard course, it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, and he ran all by himself for the last half."

Thanks Benny. In terms of numbers, the orignal ponyette Cindy Winther busted out a 1:49, obviously unflusterd by the fact that her husband sat the race out with a genital injury.

As brother Chris alluded to, Sister Mary Smith sailed through a 1:42, unphased by the extra piece of equipment she carried on race day (I'll let her tell you that one!). Congrats to her!

HUUUGGE thanks to Big Ben and Little Doris for their support on the course. Afterwards it was time for Mexican food and the biggest glass of beer you ever saw a bloodied marathoner drink!

And in the full marathon, Crazy Dave made his less-than-triumphant return to the road marathon after a LLLOOONGGG layoff to post a 2:54, clearly paying the price for adopting the "Ricky Bobby" race strategy. If you ain't FIRST YOU'RE LAST!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Getting Down with a Crowd at Busa Bushwhack

"There's a lot leaves and acorns out on the course, so remember, there's only one winner, so the rest of you can be careful."

The words of our esteemed host Rich Busa was more than just Richie being his jovial self, it was a fair warning. There was more blood at this race than most but the great vibes are always unbeatable at this race.

First off, big thanks to the Greater Framingham folks for hosting and putting on such a great race. They brought a ton of folks out to the Chamberas race this year and we did our best to return the favor and bring a lot of NETT folks to this race as well, in both the 10 miler and the 5 miler.

Okay, onto the results. In the 10 miler Chris Smith continued to show his fitness with a 1:08 to walk away with the master's title. And then back in the 1:16 to 1:18 range, there were a few members of the NETT family. Not-yet dad Frank KJ got in his last race before the big day and cranked out a 1:16 (It was great to see our old pal Andy Illidge one spot behind Frank looking fit and half his age!) Marshall Randolph was 1:17 [insert generic comment of disbelief about a guy his age, etc.], and the Turkish Twist Eri Verter was just a few ticks behind in 1:18. Mr. Consistency Jack Burke ran 1:24.

Mary Smith celebrated her "NETT anniversary race" by hula hooping her way to a 1:28. Katherine De Zutter took the long way home to finish in 1:45 while dad Jim finished the 10 miler in 2:01.

In the short race, Crazy Dave and Doris ran 1:04 and were greeted by our host, Richie, who gave every finisher their own dog tags. I really like the fact that Rich greets everyone at the finish personally. Always a class guy.

Post-race fare provided a special surprise: Pancakes! In all the years I've been doing races, never had pancakes. That was great. And there were donuts, pastries, and all kinds of other great stuff. DEFINITELY, a good feast at this race.

All in all, it's a great race and a favorite for the NETT gang--definitely the biggest group we've had at any race this year, with a LOT of NETT shirts out there too, which is great to see.

Pics posted here.