Friday, August 22, 2008

15k-1/2 Marathon

This is an eight week training table for a 15k-1/2marathon racer. For a Monday through Sunday running week, if this is started on Monday September first it will work out to race day for the White Mountain Milers 23rd annual half marathon on Sunday the 26th of October. The last three weeks are all setup for peak racing.
This plan can be played with so have fun and take what works for you. The weeks are setup with two workouts a week, except with week five which has a heavy load single track work out and week eight which allows for some rest and exact tapering (this actually starts with planning the workout(s) for week seven earlier in the week). One workout for each week, often A, is on the roads and the other, normally B, is an anearobic threshold (AT) track run or repeat.
If you can only fit one workout in a week try and do the B one that is listed. The other emphasized run is a long run. The table and long run distances are designed for a runner who is doing at least four or five runs a week and 30miles or more. Also they should have been doing this for a minimum of four to six weeks before endeavoring on this training regiment.
A sample week might be an easy Monday seven miler, a hard 5k on Tuesday, a 20minute shake out on Wednesday, one day off, a thirty minute tempo run at the track on Thursday or a ten mile progression run on the roads, an easy five miles on Friday, a day off, and finish with an easy long run on Sunday with a three or four 30 second 5k-10k pace strides afterwards.
Occasionally you can replace a long run with a work out. Examples are a forty minute tempo run with a two mile cool down and two mile warm up or a 10-14 mile progression run. However, it would behoove you to already be comfortable covering 9-15 miles at a conversational pace and then supplement these workouts to the week while maintaining a weekly easy long run.
I do mean easy. All runs that aren’t workouts should be kept to a conversational pace and a long run that isn’t a progression run is an easy run. In fact it helps to think of easy running in terms of time spent doing it. You are trying to elevate the heart rate for a prolonged period of time, so going faster minimizes that amount of time. I know sometimes you just want to get out there and open up after an irritating day, well do it controlled. Go tackle a hilly loop, and hit the up hills hard. The following days we recover from uphill running very quickly and conversely often poorly after downhill running. So run controlled down those hills. In my experience a planned guideline without too much deviation often brings the best success but I’m not trying to tell you to make running boring.
Another thing to be discussed is the pacing. A PR or progression run is what it sounds like it is. Go out over a favorite loop. I’ve done the WMM ½ course, or a ten or 12 mile section of it, for a few progression runs. If you are interested in knowing your pace this is a great way to get mile splits as they are spray painted on West Side road. The PR is started like a normal easy long run. As you get 15-30minutes into it start to pick up the pace. Mile by mile go notch by notch and increase the pace.
A PR workout should be fun, like a race that you’re running all by your self so push yourself as hard as you want, while knowing you can always keep going. You want to try and avoid going out too fast and then slowing down, hence why it should be fun. You want to be rested and relaxed beforehand. During the effort always know you have another gear. The end of a progression run shouldn’t be a kick either but a 10-15 minute slow down. If you want to add some speed then do some 20 or 30 second strides at 5k-10k pace afterwards. Always give yourself two or three easy running or rest days before a PR and three or four afterwards.
As far as AT or anaerobic threshold runs go, they are designed track workouts. If you refer to the 5k training table equations in an earlier posted blog, and apply them here, you will find the proper pacing. If you are reading this and haven’t run at our trail series or have improved fitness, contact me and we will adjust your pacing accordingly. If you are reading this and haven’t already read the 5k training table I suggest doing so. It outlines some things omitted here.
Easy days before a AT w/o are important but not as much as with a PR, and the days afterwards are contingent on how much you tackle during the AT workout. For example, you run a hard 5k at Whitaker Woods on Tuesday. That Thursday you want to do the AT w/o of repeat two miles. This is fine, but there are some points to remember.
First off, the AT pace is in a window so you can always go on the slower paced side for more time running or to get an extra two mile in. Secondly, the repeats are themselves in a window so do the lower end slower if need be. Thirdly, and often the case, your legs will warm up and you will end up doing more two miles than you thought and faster than you believed. Following this rest or easy days are VERY important. If you go hard Tuesday and then baby a Thursday workout you’re good with the regular two or three days. However, if you hit Tuesday and Thursday hard then make sure you get three or four rest or easy days before doing something hard again and for some of you a long run might be considered hard. A long run could be one of the later days, like day three or four but should be given a little time, unless you are a high mileage person, following such a rigorous three day training block.
The other paces listed are H or hard, R or Rest, and GLY or Glycolytic. H running can be done over any terrain and is the intensity on that terrain that you could keep up for about 15minutes. R is walking or running or even standing still. It is recovery time. GLY is the pace that you can keep up for between 60-90 seconds, essentially not quite sprinting, so focus on your running form.
As always please contact me with any questions.

Weeks One - Eight
Long run
A Workout
B Workout

Week One
Long run ~ 9-15miles
A workout ~ 8-10 X 2minH 1minR or a 5k-10k race
B workout ~ 20-40minAT then 5-10minR then 4x400 AT with 2minR in between each 400meter

Week Two
Long run ~ 9-15miles
A Workout ~ 8-14mile PR
B Workout ~ 4-6 X mile AT with 2minR in between each mile OR a 15k-1/2 race

Week Three

Long run ~ 9-15miles
A Workout ~ 6-8 X 3minH 1minE OR a 5k-10k race
B Workout ~ 20-40minAT then 5-10minR then 300meters GLY OR a 15k-1/2 race

Week Four

Long run ~ 9-15miles
A Workout ~ 10-14mile PR
B Workout ~ 2-4 X 2mileAT with 3minR in between each 2mile OR a 15k-1/2 race

Week Five
Long run ~ 11-15miles
A Workout ~ Rest before and after the next one
B Workout ~ 15minAT 3minR 10minAT 2minR 5minAT 1minR 15minAT 5minR 10minAT 3minR 5minAT

Week Six
Long run ~ 9-14miles
A Workout ~ 6-8mile PR
B Workout ~ Race OR 2-4 X 2mileAT with 5minR in between each 2mile

Week Seven
Long run ~ 9-13miles
A Workout ~ 6-8mile PR
B Workout ~ Race OR 4-6 X 1000meterAT with 2minR in between each 1000meter (don't go too fast on these 1000's)

Week Eight
Long run ~ 8-12miles
A Workout ~ Three T Miles then three to five easy running days with no Long Run
B Workout ~ Race the WMM Half Marathon!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Take a Break for Safety's Sake

It used to be, in high school, that I denied every ache and pain during my runs and workouts. Like many young runners (not pertaining to literal age, but instead your “training age” in terms of seasons) I was naive and thought I could run through it all. R&R was not an option to me. I didn’t accept the fact that recovery is a key element to training. Without it your body starts to break down and burn out. I would train for cross-country and straight through indoor and outdoor track. There was the 1-week off in between that coach asked for...but I thought that would only hinder my ability to achieve the goals I set for myself. (I wanted to go to college for free. Not for the education mind you, but instead to be on a Div.1 team and receive all the perks - told you I was naive).

I didn't realize the importance of rest, in the way that my tendons, ligaments and bones could take a beating but also recover, heal and continue to grow. My junior year was full of tendonitis that I just ran through. Eventually I couldn't compete the way I wanted. I was forced to take time off. Senior year I didn't learn from that lesson...I finished that season by dropping out of the 1500m at the Indoor Track NY State Championships with less than a half mile to go and so many watching. Several coaches and athletes expected me to finish at 3rd place or better.

I thought I could redeem myself during my last spring season. I still had that lingering tendonitis in my ankles from the year before. But just thought it was better to run through that. However, tendonitis can put a lot of stress on bones as well as muscles. The tendonitis got so bad in my left ankle that the muscles started to compensate for it until my tibia just hurt to the touch and pain radiated from my ankle to my knee. My solution was to get it taped instead of resting. For those of you who may not know: taping offers stability of the ankle making it less susceptible to sprains/strains, also decreasing the severity of an injury...but I was already injured!!

So after weeks of long runs, workouts, double days, weekends, races, etc., my times eventually suffered and I started limping around the hallways of my school. I still thought I could muscle through the season! It took some time but I finally gave in and got an x-ray. Sure enough there it was; a stress fracture along the base of my tibia. The doctor asked me how I was still walking. I explained that it was more of a hobble. Then I cried. I knew I couldn't complete my very last high school season.

After high school and a few collegiate tribulations I can finally say that I've learned my lesson. IE: Brendan and I ran a 5k race on the 6th of this month and it was terrible for us both. We were experiencing fatigue, muscle soreness, our form was falling apart and our racing strategies went out the window by mile 2. This year was rugged due to switching our training style in the middle of the year and our legs were paying for it. So, afterwards, I did what I never thought I would do. I suggested 2 weeks off. Sure, I have taken the necessary breaks since high school and college, but this was different. This was a realization I discovered on my own without the aid of a mandatory training schedule or a coach. I had to tell Brendan, and myself, that enough was enough. We were going to burn ourselves out if we kept this pace up. He agreed and thought it was the best solution. It’s been 5 days since our first day back from our 2-week break. And we are feeling great.

Sure I believe in muscling through now and again…it all depends on what kind of pain you are experiencing. Is it muscle ache from a workout you haven’t tried before? The burn you feel when you push closer towards the finish? Or is it an acute flash of pain that comes around when you pound on that pavement step after step? There is such a thing as healthy pain. It lets you know that your body is working hard and giving you feedback you need so you don't seriously injure yourself.

Then there is the pain that’s telling you that its time for a break. It has to do with your tolerance and as you know; everyone is different. But the point is that you should learn your own limitations and what your body can handle. I'm not saying that taking 2 weeks off is necessary for every pain you experience. I'm saying to play around with the idea. Take a day or two off. Go for a swim or bike ride instead. Take a light jog on a field of grass rather then going out on those roads or unstable trails.

Change it up before you decide to take a break. But if you are sure that taking an unplanned break would help you with that nagging knee problem then don't be afraid to do so. It would be so much more worth it than it would hobbling across a finish line...if in fact that nagging pain will allow you to reach it at all.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

5k training table

This Blog is for an eight week period of training catered to racing two to four (5k!) miles, ideally over quick courses or track races. I recommend at least 4-6 weeks of easy running beforehand and then a race at Whitaker Woods on Tuesday. Not just because they’re free. Not because of the great terrain. No. You need an effort, to make sense of the pacing which is derived from a race pace effort (real or estimated) at Whitaker Woods. If it is a bad weather day it can be an estimated effort (what you would have done under perfect dry conditions) but be honest. This Blog is for milers who do the trail series and then want to take that great running and get some speed out of it. The fall presents many beautiful training days and perfect racing conditions.

The table is setup so that you can pick a week, or five day period, with two work outs, to be carried out a few days apart, or one larger one depending on time commitment and preference. You can pick A & B or C and racing substitutes, instead of augmenting, one of the work outs for the week. A week with a Friday 5k might have a Tuesday or Monday A work out. I recommend an A (over the B or C) work out between two and three days before an “ok” race and three or four days before an important one.

I suggest flying (running) starts to all your bouts.

I recommend, and science agrees, at least 48hrs between the A&B work outs and races 6k or shorter and at least 72hrs (and more like 5 days if you wanted to do a half marathon) between C work outs or any longer race you may do.

If this is falling on veteran runners, or people who just have a good knack for training theory, you realize that you can do substitutions. Try and look at what is really being emphasized and maintain the general gist of a week or work out. The same idea applies to extending this to a ten or twelve week period or shortening it to three or four. Remember a good Coaching plan has contingency plays all the time.
I can not foresee a turned ankle, friends coming in from out of town, a sick child and all the other setbacks which can happen to a training plan. I would say that for someone running between 4-7 days a week and 25-50 miles and who maintains consistent health and training than this would improve fitness. Is it the best way and to what degree? That depends on the individual. However, these are generally friendly work outs that stick to well developed USATF themes in their nature and periodization.




Peak 5k Training

8to12x400meters (VM) 1min(R)

3to5k(AT) 8to10min(R) 200or400(Gly)

2400to3200meters (AT) 2min(R) 3to5x800(VM) with 2min(R).

Peak 5k Training

3or4x1000(VM) 2min(R)

[Mile(AT) 2x200 (MP)] X 2to4 sets total. 3min(R) in between everything

5or6x1000(VM) with 3min(R)

Peak 5k Training

4or5x800(VM) 2min(R)

20-25min(AT) 8to10(R) 200(Gly)

6to9x800(VM) then one mile(AT) with 2min(R) in between everything

Peak 5k Training

3or4x1000(VM) 3min(R)

6to8x400(MP) 3to6min(R) in between

3000(VM) 12to15min(R) 200or400(Gly)

Peak 5k Racing

4to6 x 800(VM) with 3min(R)


1mile(AT) 2min(R) 5to7x800(VM) with 4min(R)

Peak 5k Racing

6to10 x 400(VM) with 3min(R)

2000(AT) 6to8min (R) 100or200(Gly)

4to5x1000(VM) with 7min(R)

Peak 5k Racing

8to12x200(VM) with 2min(R)


5to7x800(VM) with 5min(R)

Peak 5K Racing

2to3 days easy leading up to this, 2x800(AT) 2x800 (VM) All of this has 5min(R) in between

3to4 days easy


The training, VM, MP and AT are all done within windows of time. The following equations give the faster time for each window.

VM is VO max training and is done within a 4 second window. Take your best Whitaker Woods time and treat it as a real number pr. VM(in total seconds/400meter)=74+(pr-17)*3, so if you run a 20:39, then (20.39-17)*3+74=84to88seconds/400meters or 1:24to1:28 per 400meters.

MP is estimated mile pace. It has a window of three seconds. To get it (seconds/400meters) just take your best Whitaker Woods time, round to the closest whole number pr, and quadruple it. MP(in total seconds/400meters)=pr*4. If you run a 24:43, then it would be 24*4=96to99(second/400meters) or 1:36to1:39 per 400meters.

AT is anaerobic threshold. This has an eight and a half second window. Take your Whitaker Woods time as a real number (22:12=22.12=rn). AT(in total seconds/400)=79+4*(rn-16)

So for 22:12 it is 103.5to112(seconds/400meter) or 1:43.5to1:52 per 400meters.

Gly is Glycolytic training and is the pace you can keep up for 90 seconds. It isn’t a sprint but pretty close. Be honest with your intensity and remember low balling is safer.

R is Rest and can include anything from walking, standing, light stretching or easy running.

From these calculated 400 meter times you can extrapolate windows with acceptable paces for any of these work out distances.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Milers at Mt. Ascutney Challenge

Saturday July 12th at Ascutney State Park was the last of the 6 races in the LaSportiva USATF-NE Mountain Circuit.

I like to refer to Ascutney as either "exactly half of Mt. Washington" or "The 5K of Mountain Races". It's just as steep as Washington, same type of effort, but with it being 3.7 miles, easier to push it a little more and deal with the pain without having to worry about pacing like you do at Washington.

7 Milers made the trek to Ascutney for the race- Kevin Tilton, myself, Gabe Flanders, Max Thomas, Fab Pattison and Frank Hurt and Alexander Rowe. Good to see a nice turnout like that. Kevin finished 2nd, I was 15th, Gabe was 20th. Frank Hurt won his age division. Max was first in his age division. Fab finished 81st and a huge congratulations to her for becoming a Mountain Goat! That means she finished all 6 races in the circuit and gets to bypass the Mt. Washington Lottery next year! It's quite an accomplishment, with a huge time commitment and an impressive feat of strength to do all 6 races in 8 weeks. And one of her down weeks was running Mt. Washington!

Great to see so many Milers out on the Circuit this year, I'm hoping to see Frank Holmes be able to get to more races next year and win his age division.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Loon Mountain Race Video Courtesy of Tim VanOrden

If you wonder how steep the course is at Loon, this pre-race course setup video courtesy of Tim VanOrden shows it pretty well.


Monday, July 7, 2008

No Safeword at the Loon Mountain Race

Race day preparations for this year's Loon Mountain race started the day before the race as they always do, meeting Dave Dunham for a run at Lincoln Woods before heading over to Loon to flag the course and set up registration and the water stops.

As always, setup is an entertaining affair, as was the run, it being one of the few chances I get to run with Dave outside of a race (and then it's more of me running way behind Dave). We were joined by Tim VanOrden, who proved up to the rigorous task of providing as many stupid comments as Dave and I both do while we mark the course. Many know Tim on the Mountain Circuit as the Running Raw guy. He is also currently within a point of Dave for a spot in the top 3 in the spots in the LaSportiva USATF Mountain Circuit, which makes him a pretty great runner too (besides just being a nice guy).

When we got to Loon, we saw the sign announcing the race at the entrance (see photo Dave took, above). Loon always does a great job of publicizing the race. This time, their weekend events made for an interesting listing on the sign, having a Hot Dog Festival (complete with hot dog eating contest) the day before the race. I don't know of anyone who entered both the hot dog contest and the mountain race but if there was, that would make for an impressive double, some would say more impressive than a Pikes Peak double. Dave tried to convince Tim that if he ate the hot dogs raw, it would still count for his raw diet but Tim wasn't giving in.

The three of us loaded the supplies for the water stop on the gondola and then began our marking of the course.

The course at Loon was originally designed to be a European Mountain Race style of course, as the race's inaugural year served as a qualifying race for the US Mountain Running Team. It's a course that gets tougher the higher you go, not because of altitude but just because of plain steepness. The worst section of the course, both mentally and physically, is from about mile 4.5 to a little past mile 5 on the Upper Walking Boss ski trail. It's a black diamond trail that averages about a 30% grade the whole way, with some sections getting as steep as 45%. The majority of the runners in the race end up power walking this part. Mentally, if you are trying to catch someone in front of you, you will quickly realize that 100 meters ahead of you might translate to a few minutes of power walking/running time. Even marking the course, this section seems tremendously steep. The Wandersurface blog has a great course elevation profile here.

Having Tim along on course setup means some great video footage of the course so you can see the steepness . Go here to watch his video.

Race day morning, I left the house at 5:15 to go pick up fellow White Mt. Milers and volunteer, Tim Livingston and then we made the trek across the Kanc to Loon Mountain. I always enjoy that 45 minutes of race morning before registration opens. It's quiet, peaceful, and you know things will get hectic soon so you start going thru all of the Race Director mental notes in your head to make sure nothing was forgotten.

As runners came in to register, I was pleasantly surprised to see New England mountain racing legends Craig Fram and Eric Morse show up on race day. I knew this year's Mt. Washington winner, Eric Blake, was also racing. Combine those 3 with Dave Dunham, Kevin Tilton, Tim Van Orden, Todd Callaghan, Jim Johnson and Justin Fyffe, and I knew it was going to be a very strong mens field. We had a really diverse set of day-of registrations, with people from Illinois, Colorado, Ireland, and all of the Northeast coming in to register for the race. The Loon Race attracts a slightly different crowd than some of the other mountain races in the USATF-NE Circuit. This may because of its location, how well the mountain publicizes it or who knows, but it's always exciting to me to get a whole new group of people exposed to the sport of mountain running.

After the race gun went off, I headed up the gondola to the water stop and finish area at the top and waited for the first racers to come through. Eric Blake came through first, followed by Morse and Fram and others. They all looked strong but also looked like they were beginning to feel the effects of the warm conditions. Standing at the finish line of this race, you get some great visuals of people flying down the Sunset Trail off of North Peak and back to the last hill at the finish line.

The first woman through the 4 Mile point at the water stop was Masters runner and USATF-NE Points leader Nancy Cook. She was followed closely by Jennifer Johnson.

Blake ended up winning the race, setting a new course record formerly held by Paul Low. Eric's time was 46:01. An impressive pace considering the steepness of the course and the heat. He was followed by Eric Morse, Justin Fyffe and Todd Callaghan. Dave Dunham rounded out the top 5, followed by Tilton, Tim Van Orden, David Herr, Jim Johnson and Craig Fram. Incredibly, 5 of the top 10 runners were Masters runners.

On the women's side, Johnson ended up passing Cook to take the win in 64:15, with Cook finishing in 65:15, exactly a minute behind her. They were followed by White Mountain Miler Lynne Zummo of Intervale, NH. The women's course record is held by Vermonter Kasie Enman, who won the 2007 race in a time of 53:36. Enman was unable to race at Loon this year as she was in Mexico helping the US Women's Team win the 2008 NACAC Mountain Running Championships.

The youngest finisher of the day was 13 year old Patrick McDonough of Durham, NH, while the oldest finisher was 76 year old John Parker, who is a regular on the Mountain Circuit.

It's always tough for me to direct races and not get to race myself but, if you have to do that, one of the best places to be on the course is helping out at the finish line, where you get to see everyone's sense of accomplishment for completing a pretty tough mountain race. No matter what the place or the age, everyone who raced at Loon on Sunday knew they had done something pretty impressive to tackle the black diamond slopes without giving up. 170 people in all completed the race.

A big thanks to sponsors Inov8, Fuel Belt, Hammer Nutrition, Julbo and for the Glaceau Water crew for coming out to provide water to everyone before and after the race. An extra big thank you to all of the race volunteers who helped out. A special note of thanks to Tad & Sheri Thomas for cleaning up everything from the top water stop and getting everything down the gondola to the bottom. A race doesn't happen without volunteers and this one is no exception. There was some great high energy cheering at the water stop and the finish line.

For those of you bitten by the Mountain running bug and those looking to become Mountain Goats (finish all 6 races and get that coveted Mt. Washington bypass), it's on to Ascutney in Vermont for the last race of the Circuit. For everyone else, I hope to see you again at Loon next year.

Some great race pictures by Scott Mason are here and Jim Johnson/Kristin Wainwright's are here. Jim Johnson's blog has a great a race report and another good one at Wandersurface as well. Full race results here.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Long Plan

In running what you plan isn’t always what you get. I guess you could substitute a lot of words with running and have that make sense, never the less the statement remains true. This past track season of mine I didn’t get what I planned. An unexpected move and a quad injury, to name two primary setbacks, limited my schedule from a season with six or seven meets to only three 1500’s over four weeks.

My first race of the season, which I approached tentatively for about 700 meters before opening up, was a 4:04. I was excited. The next two kind of went downhill. I took out my second race even easier than the first. Killer humidity (7pm on the Jackson 10k day) and fatigue from exterior stress (I volunteered at the race in the morning and drove to Boston to race that day) were both factors in my pacing. While I finished the last 300meters in 46, that doesn’t change the first 1200. The last race I felt beat and dealt with awkward muscle pain. All in all, they were both 4:06’s, and if that’s the three races from my season, I’ll take them.

I try and look at the track season as a big speed builder for the summer 5k’s. The transition from the shorter to short running takes a few weeks (3-6 I’d say). I wanted to race Bridgeton’s 4th race but that fell through at the last minute. This Sunday is the unplanned debut for a 5K right next door to my new home in Massappequa. That’s where the race is. Not my new home. That’s in Farmingdale. Glad I cleared that up. I guess I feel trepidation as the race approaches.

I was feeling kind of burnt out and the last two weeks I trained on the roads. I dropped my workouts from three (or two if I'm racing) to one or two larger ones a week. I ran for effort or tempoed over established routes. Intensity based training is cool. Instead of 2-5xmile at my 5k race pace (plus or minus 7-10 seconds per mile) with 3-4 min rest, I do 5x 5min hard 3min easy after I get 20min into my run. In the case of 5x5min hard 3min easy, hard is supposed to be the same intensity as its track “doppelganger” and easy is walking for 90 seconds and jog/running for the next 90. Workouts on the roads, except in very certain circumstances like a USATF certified course, fail to offer the reliability of confidence offered by their track counterparts.

I try to elicit the correct intensity associated with the workout through each bout from start to finish. The track offers you reliable splits superior even to a GPS. The track tells you what you cover not a recording of what you have covered. The latter, offered by GPS, could be compared with the former to see how well you can run the shortest distance. Regardless, the roads over the last two week’s point to good feelings but nothing quantitative besides time spent.

Either way the long runs of the winter and the speed of the spring will come around for the August and early September races. I look forward to Cigna on the 14th of August. This upcoming Sunday’s 5k will come and go, as well as Cigna and the rest of my later races. Maybe they will go as planned maybe not. In both cases several things will happen. They will become the wrap up of my 5k season, this year’s racing, and the foundation for the next year. No new revelation here. However, when you dwell upon that, unplanned becomes a word that doesn’t really fit anymore.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cranmore Hill Climb - Mudfest 2008

(Photo courtesy Kristin Wainwright, Copyright 2008)

The course for the 2007 Cranmore Hill Climb it seems has become legendary among runners who had the strength and stamina to finish it. I still get people telling me about their memories of that ridiculously steep downhill.

When it came time to make up a course for the 2008 race, I wanted to go exact opposite, making a steeper uphill, longer flatter downhill, but also add in some new trails and singletrack that people hadn't been on. I hoped the course would still be memorable and hopefully a fun change to the 2007 sufferfest. Little did I know that mother nature would add yet another twist into the 2008 edition, by adding in some torrential downpours and a little thunder and lightning.

Race morning for me started out a little different than last year. Since I was blessed with so many great volunteers and no Mountain Team qualifying race responsibilities, I was able to run in the race myself. That meant the morning of I had to remember to pack clothes to race in and not be stupid about what I ate. When I got to Cranmore with volunteer Mike Davis at about 6:30, we finished setting up race registration and gave out assignments to volunteers to help set up the finish line etc. The sky was pretty foggy and a light drizzle started around 8 am. Around 8:30 the drizzle became a pretty heavy rain with thunder. Fellow White Mountain Miler, Tim Livingston, had mentioned to me on Friday "wouldn't it be crazy if it rained race day?" Well, yes, it was.

By the time 9 AM got there, we all ran out to the starting area, I gave some quick pre-race instructions and off we went up the mountain. As soon as we got out on the grass slope past the first single track, the course was already drenched. That continued all the way up, with a little thunder in the distance, and we were running in and out of fog. Once we got up to the upper section on the Hurricane Trail (which the racers came down last year), I noticed the stream of water just running down the course. It was at that point that I heard a yell from behind me from Todd Brown saying "Nice Course, Paul!". Todd is probably the most talkative runner in mid-race I have ever run with. No matter how steep the course is or how much he's hurting, he always has enough time to make a comment. It helps to keep things light in the middle of a tough uphill. And anymore in these mountain races, I seem to measure my placement by where Todd and Abby Woods are. At Wachusett we were all together, At Washington, Todd left us both in his wake, and here I hoped to finish ahead of him, since I had the home course advantage and knew what was coming next. On the last push up Hurricane, fellow Miler Max Thomas said "look strawberries!" and picked a wild strawberry from the course and popped it in his mouth. You tend to notice a lot of things in the grass as you are power walking up a steep incline.

As we crested the top of the mountain at the Meister Hut, I took a swig of water and started the descent. I used to hate downhill running until about 3 years ago, when I began to fall in love with that uncontrollable feeling as you motor down a mountain trail. I had to remind myself to not go all out on the first lap as one thing that really kills me is the transition from down back to up. I kept the push down, and, just as I thought, slowed to a crawl as soon as we hit the uphill. I kept doing a combination of running and power walking on the way up, knowing if I could just gut it out until I got to the top I could push it more on the downhill. The second downhill finally came and I was able to go pretty well. I found I can catch people better on the steepest sections of the downhill so I did well on the initial descent down the Easy Street trail but then when we opened up more on the flatter sections of Gibson, I gained no more ground. The rest of the way down was a blast. I did a nice face plant in the Beechwood Glades when the mud just gave out under me as I turned but that made for a good war story as I then came down Beginner's Luck to the finish line with mud all over my shirt and legs. On my way down Gibson, 14 year old White Mountain Miler Peter Haine passed me like I was standing still. I was a little confused by this as he had also passed me on the uphill until I found out that he and Max Thomas got off course a bit on their 2nd uphill lap. I can only imagine what Peter's time might have been if had stayed on the course. Pretty impressive for a 14 year old.

In the front of the race, Justin Fyffe had a tremendous day, flying down the second down hill to beat Kevin Tilton in a time of 52:51. Just on Kevin's heels was Jim Johnson, who really gutted it out to the finish with a badly rolled ankle he took on the second downhill. The men's Master's race was a battle between Tim Van Orden and Dave Dunham. Dave got ahead of Tim on the second uphill but not by enough before Tim was able to overtake him on the last downhill. If you haven't had a chance to see Tim's video from last year's Cranmore race, go here. It's pretty entertaining and gives you an idea of how steep it was.

On the women's side, current LaSportiva USATF-NE Mountain Circuit Leader Abby Woods, took home the win, followed by local White Mountain Miler, Lynne Zummo. The Master's race was won by Kat Fiske who just turned 40 a few days before the race.

Thanks so much to all of the volunteers who made this race possible. It's somewhat of a logistics challenge to get the water stop manned at the top, the food all prepared, results in and finish line and water stops covered. A lot of people made that seem really easy and it's a sign of great volunteers when you can run in the race yourself. I'm sure I will forget a few names (my apologies) but a special thanks to Bernie and Eileen Livingston, Tim Livingston, Peter Haine, Dave and Nancy Drach, Donna Cormier, Candy Armstrong, Richard and Joanne Fedion, Lesbia Haine, Tad & Sheri Thomas, Dave McDermott, Anne Mellor, Brendan Dagan, Jen Campbell, Mike Davis and everyone else who helped out. The day could not have happened without you.

Another special thanks to all of the race sponsors, especially Inov8, who provided shoe prizes and great tshirts, Julbo, FuelBelt, EMS, and Hammer Nutrition for the rest of the prizes and product donations. As I was going up and down the mountain I kept thinking to myself how you couldn't make a race better suited to show off Inov8 shoes. I saw lots of people out in their 280s and 285s and 310s, all navigating the mud, roots and rocks pretty well.

And if the weather and mud wasn't enough, three people got off course on their second lap. As they mad their way back over to the course, they encountered 2 bears mating. Nothing like that site to make you want to pass the bears cautiously.

Thanks to all of the runners who came out and did the race. To see some great race photos, check out Kristin Wainwright's or Scott Mason's. A great race report by Jim Johnson here. If you have any other photos to share or a race story I can post please let me know.

See Tim Van Orden's Race Video report.

Next year, the course will change (like it does every year) to match whatever the WMRT Trophy course will be as it will serve as the 2009 USA Mountain Champs again. I don't know what it will be like yet but I'm sure it will have interesting twists of its own, just like every year.

On to Loon Mountain! That is, after I am walking normally again after Cranmore.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Periodization and Organization

Many runners I know, do it just to do it. They go out and run, each day or every other day, and sometimes if they feel good they will push hard during a run. They will show up at the summer series and other races, race hard and be happy when they pr. But if you start to talk to them about a season plan or a lay out for the running year they shy away from it as a child does a difficult school subject.
I am not trying to compare an adult seeking to enrich their lives through a community athletic event to a pouting child. Rather, I point out that just like the child is nervous about the subject because they don't get the concept so too do runners shy away from long term and grander thinking because they are unfamiliar with the theories.
Other runners I know try to repeat the same week or two week period over and over again because some point in the past these workouts precursed a great race. What both of these fail to do is look beyond a kind of acute 5 - 15 day period to the larger frame of fitness.
USATF breaks the season into a preparatory phase, a pre-competitive phase and a competition phase with smaller training cycle's within. They use some pretty fancy USATF vernacular which I wont try to use, but rather condensed and in a laymen way it goes as follows.
1)Running to get ready to train : just easy running and one long run a week with an emphasis on establishing a good routine and getting mileage up.
2)Early quality training : easy running, a long run a week, and 2 or 3 w/o's a week gearing you for the next training with some emphasis on mileage still and perhaps a low key race to replace a w/o
3)High quality training : easy running, a long run a week and 2 or 3 w/o's a week that prepare you for the races to come and the occasional higher quality race
4)Racing : easy running, shorter long runs and 2 or 3 w/o's a week that are of less volume (not necasarilly intensity) with a clear emphasis on racing

A well organized season takes advantage of what was done before to accomplish the races and goals ahead. W/o's (workouts) can be done on hills, trails, roads and the track. Besides w/o's there is numerous supplemental training that can often make or break a season's goals if for nothing else prevent injury.
With this all being said you should remember that you get stronger the 24-72 hours after races and w/o's because your body has overcompensated for the damage that was done. This is an acute example of loading (the w/o or race) and unloading (the rest and easy runs over the next 24-72 hours). So if the body is subjected to a larger scale stress, set w/o's for a 3 or 4 week period, you will reap the benefits the weeks following.
If you are interested in this please check and look under the coaching education section for related work, Jack Daniel's Running Formula is another great source, and as always my ears are open.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

INOV8's Summer Series Starts

Kudos to the large turnout of racers and volunteer (thanks Kim) that came out in the rumored 100plus degree weather to run the first of INOV8's nine summer trail series. Many of the smiling, and sweaty, faces I recognized from Jackson. I guess some people are just gluttons for punishment. Well keep up the work and enjoy the "cool" break in heat to sneak out to the track or for an extra long run. I know I will.

Hope to see you all again, and many more, this Tuesday and/or Thursday!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


hey fellow milers!

sorry for this last minute blog, but i just wanted to let you know that brendan and i will be at the track, thursday the 5th, for anyone who is interested in getting started with workouts or just talking shop.

we also plan on being at the fun runs on tuesdays, and once again the track on thursdays, through the 4 on the 4th race. during track days we will be doing an easy 1-2 mile warm-up followed by drills/strides. we will also be available for anyone who wants ideas on workouts/race strategies/etc and either a workout of our own or to share ideas and support you. (+1-2 mile cool-down).

if you would like to talk about anything from aches and pains to other tips on training please know that you are welcome and that we hope to point you in the right direction (left turns only).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Running in New Orleans and Katrina

As I sit in the New Orleans Airport waiting for my flight back to Boston, I thought I'd drop a few notes about running down here in the Crescent City.

I've never been to New Orleans before and know little about it past a big party spot on Bourbon Street for Mardi Gras, Super Bowls and Hurricane Katrina. I always like to go for runs when I am traveling for work, as I feel like I get to see the real part of a city instead of just an airport and a hotel. If I am not familiar with the city I'll post a message on to find out about good running routes. The recomendation for New Orleans was to get to St. Charles Street and run on the grass strips along the Trolley tracks.

This was a very cool running route. I was running through the Garden District part of the city and felt fortunate to find grass to run on right smack in the middle of the city. At first I wondered was it ok to run right down the trolley tracks (i.e. on the tracks) but then soon discovered that everyone runs there. You just keep your eyes out for trolleys and move to the other tracks if one is coming.

The French architecture in the Garden District was beautiful, lots of historic buildings and houses to see. I wondered how bad the heat would be and learned the hard way that 87 degrees and 60 percent humidity was not the best conditions to do a long run in, but I managed, my body longing for the nice cool temps back in NH. When I went to run in the mornings at 6AM, it was "only 75" but still incredibly humid. I realize I could never live down here, I would wilt from this humidity.

The rest of my time in New Orleans was enjoyable, I got to sample all of the local foods, giving me plenty of reasons to get out and run to burn off the calories. The people I have met here have all been super friendly, lots of Southern hospitality.

OK, on to the memories that will stick in my brain forever-- As I was running along, I saw signs along the streettes that said "Evacuation Route" which made me think of Katrina and all of the damage it did down here. Things looked pretty good where I was and I was glad to see how much the city had rebuilt.

The next day, at the end of the conference I was at for work, I got to go for a ride with some colleagues down to the 9th Ward to see the real damage from Katrina. It's images I will never forget. Entire neighborhoods are gone, nothing but foundations left in many of them, old street lights ripped off their posts, utility lines sticking out of the sidewalk. Some have bravely rebuilt, leaving kind of a surreal image of new housing in the middle of a block of overgrown foundations. You still see houses that are nothing but piles of rubble, with condemned signs on them waiting to be torn down. A lot of the houses and buildings still have the spray painted codes on them from when the search crews went through the neighborhoods- you see the "TFW', meaning te building contained Toxic Flood Water, signs indicating how many dead animals and people inside the houses and what room the bodies are in.

It really struck me how damage the whole area still looks, especially when you consider that it was almost 3 years ago that the hurricane occurred.

We also drove along the levees and when you see them, you are left with thoughts that they still look woefully low and inadequate to hold back a hurricane. Katrina recovery is still all over the news down here- new engineering reviews of rebuilt levees and concerns that they are no better than they were before and that all of it could happen again with one bad storm. Watching the weather on TV, you see hurricane coverage like you see snow storm coverage near us, you get the feeling people will always be lookng over their shoulder waiting for the next big storm. This isn't news that makes its way on the National scene anymore but you can tell its very much on people's minds here.

As I leave New Orleans, I can only hope that people who lost everything will continue to persevere and rebuild. Parts of the city are incredibly beautiful but you also get the impression that large chunks of the worst hit areas will never completely recover, both from their losses and from the feeling that when they needed their government's help the most, they felt abandoned- and many still do. Those destroyed neighborhoods are an image that will never leave me memory.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1/2 to 2/3rds tactic

This past Saturday was my first race since a 5k this past thanksgiving. It was a 1500meter race hosted at the High Performance meet in Boston. I was a bit nervous before hand so i executed what i call the 1/2 to 2/3rds racing tactic. Succinctly speaking, you cruise through the first half or a little more of the race and then you turn it from a workout to a race. So heres how it went

This is a great strategy for anyone early on in the season. It removes some of the pressure from the race and lets you focus on your surging not your stamina or race day shape.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Challenge Met

One day back in March, as my wife and I were perusing the race schedule for the upcoming year, she gently goaded me about doing a long run. “You seem to be better at endurance races” was here comment, a gently way of saying “your too slow to do short races.” Well for anyone who knows me once a challenge like that has been laid at me feet action must be taken! Soon after I began my search a long race, luckily (and I use that term loosely), I found one near by it was the aptly named Pineland Farms Trail Challenge. Double luckily they were beginning a new division this year, a 50-mile trail race in addition to their 50 and 25K races. Damn, why run only 50K (31 miles) when for only $15 more you can run an extra 19 miles. That was all I needed to hear, I was in.

Doing mostly triathlons this year left little training time for a long trail race, the time to do a long training run plus having to taking the next day off just didn’t fit into my schedule. So my only major training run for the 50-miler was to do the Boston Marathon dressed as Elvis (a blog for another day). Upon picking up my registration I heard a lot of stories of epic trail runs done in preparation for the race and believe you me it left me feeling a little queasy about being ill prepared for the race. In addition I had no idea what to expect after mile 26, is there a second wall you hit? Does everything just stop working? Would I become delusional and think Bush was really our president….

The race was extremely well organized, not Kirsch organized, but close. The 50-mile race started at 6:00 under a clear sky but with the omen of some heat coming later in the day. Omen is say because a good portion of the race was run across fields, exposed to the sun, which would be fine for the first hour but I wasn’t too sure about hour number 7.

I had asked many people about strategies they employ for a race of this length and got several answers, start out slow and build (hogwash to this strategy I say, there is no “building” after mile 30). Some suggested a warm-up the first few miles then just go with how you feel (this is the one I chose). Then there was the start out strong while you feel good and then hang on (this is the one I wish I picked) and lastly your doomed just run till you drop.

They rang a cowbell to signal the start and we were off. First there was a short 3+ mile loop followed by 3, 25K loops. I started out slow, 28:27 for first 3 miles, in retrospect too slow because no matter how slow I would have started (except for never getting out of the car in the first place) I would be suffering the last 10 miles. Therefore I should have made time while I could. I chatted it up with some dudes, all who had done this before. Even met the husband of the woman who runs Innov8 (he said to say hi to Kevin “Hi” and I thanked him for sponsoring our series). After the 3-mile loop I felt like I was wasting time and opened it up a little, it felt good to get moving. This also moved me away from a crowd of shufflers and into some faster company.

Speaking of strategies one that a lot of people were employing was “walking the hills,” now this being a cross-country ski trails there were constantly hills! In fact it is considered a hard 50-miler (like there is an easy one?) because of those hills. I tried it for awhile until one of the other runners said that’s there weren’t many people out here in the kind of shape to run through all the hills and it was a good idea if I walked them. Well now that sounds to me like another challenge to me (if you remember that’s how I got in this mess in the first place). So I proceeded not to walk any more hills, I believe this helped a lot in my final placing.

The first 15 mi loop went relatively easy, 2:12 or 9:15 miles. I had some company on and off but, even though they were running 4 races on the course this day, after this first loop I ran the race mostly by myself. I also quickly came to hate (I know hate is a strong word but I am justified in using it here) the fields part of the course. They were mostly hay fields and we ran around there perimeters, up one side down the other. They were a bit mushy, had plenty of ditches, were all slanted, were fully exposed to the sun and had the occasional snake underfoot. Other than that they were, you know, OK.

The second loop was a bit more difficult 15 miles in 2:30 or 10:00 miles ; this one went from mile 19 to mile 34+. Before this race I thought this would be the hardest part of the race, far enough into it that you began to feel tired but still a long way to go (I was wrong about that). Due to the hills it was impossible to put it into cruise control but I was feeling OK. Eating at the aid stations, my favorite was the boiled potatoes dipped in salt and the Pringles, and drinking my Sustained Energy HEED at the drop bag area and generally just running.

The last 10 miles of the 3rd loop was the worst, I completed this15 mile section in 2:40 or 10:40 miles. I was told I was in the top 10 so walking or even slowing down now was not an option, but I sure felt like it. The thirties went by pretty fast and without anything remarkable (except for those fields!) but by the time I got to mile 40 the sufferfest was on. The heat had started to take its toll and I was becoming dehydrated, even though I was drinking at every aid station. I just can’t drink more than about 24 ounces an hour and run without my stomach shutting down. I was still eating, and taking some Rolaids now and then (which really helped) as well as Endurolyte tablets.

In the 50-mile crowd their benchmark times are: under 10 hours, which is considered a solid effort, under 9, better effort and under 8 (I wasn't even considering that!) Once I saw the hills and heard the weather report I thought I would never get under 9 so I was planning on doing it about 10 hours. But along the way things went well and now, with 10 miles to go, I only need to do a little more than 10-minute miles to get in less than 8 hours. Problem was that right now 10-minute miles seemed near impossible. That’s when I switched to drinking coke and mountain dew at the aid stations. On long bike rides I would often switch near the end to soda, but with an hour and a half to go till the end I wasn’t sure I could make it just on soda (and Pringles) but it really did the trick. I instantly felt better and my pace become easier, although not all that much faster.

At the second to last aid station, with 3 miles to go, the volunteer said if I hustled I could make it under 8 hours. I found that a little funny, like the last thing I could do after 47 miles was do a dance from the 70’s, but I thanked him for his encouragement and tried to hustle. I skipped the last aid station and did my best impersonation of someone sprinting to the finish and got in at 07:56:13 !!!! I have to admit I was quite stunned with my time. It was good enough for 8th overall and second in my age group, my age group winner came in 4 minutes ahead of me (ah, if I didn’t go so slow at the start), my fastest mile was a 8:14 the slowest 12:03, ugh.

The post race BBQ was great and they had free beer! For finishing I got a gold cowbell, a commemorative glass, a pair of Innov8 socks and in the near future some new toenails!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Online Coaching

Hello my fellow milers. From the avid health walker to the aspiring marathoner, we all pick our feet up in succession for our own reasons. For myself, and my better half Jen Campbell, running is as much a part of us as any other optional (arguably) part of our lives. From different theories on training, to the importance of form in the longevity of a runner career or even the transcendence of a well placed trail run during a busy daily schedule we love to talk about it.

With that being said, there is one saying that comes to mind "THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT WAYS TO SKIN A CAT" and while that platitude seems a little out of place after the first paragraph it does have a point when you refer to the title of the Blog.

So, Jen Campbell and I are offering our services in the capacity of online coaching. We have open minds and want to work with people of all abilities. There is no such thing as too modest of a goal. From walking to running, please contact us, and we will do our best to cater a personalized week by week (and day by day) running plan.

We have both gone through the USATF level 1 course and competed at the collegiate level. We compete under New Balance Boston and can be reached at and

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Miler Clothing is Here!

New Miler clothing will be available at our fun runs, starting in June. We have blue wicking shirts in both mens and womens sizes, some mens sleeveless Ts in L & XL along with some white wicking shirts in kids sizes. Prices will be $20 for adults, $10 for kids shirts.

We will also be putting in an order for racing singlets sometime soon so let us know if you are interested.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fast (and not so fast) times at the rivah

Hey Milers,

Gabe Flanders here- a lapsed Miler returning to the fold. On April 12th, I had occasion to participate in the XTerra Merrimack River Run (more commonly known as, "The Rivah!") in Andover, Mass. This was my first time on the 10 mile, out and back course, and it was a blast.

Forecasts for heavy rains gave way to overcast skies that cleared by the end of the run. Luckily, there was still knee-deep water and plenty of mud on the course. After an entertaining speech from the RD, 183 people took off along the Merrimack. The course is mostly flat, with some short but steep hills to sting you out at 3 miles or so.  

I was barely out of sight of the starting line when Kevin Tilton came hurtling back toward it. He  turned in a blazing time of 57:46, over four minutes faster than his nearest rival.  The Milers' own Dawn Heinrich (the only other Miler in attendance, as far as I could tell) prevailed in the Women's Masters, with a 1:17 margin of victory.  Well done!

Personally, my achievements included following another runner off course and passing an 11 year old-  twice.  Still, I know I'll be heading back to "Run the Rivah" next spring.  How about you?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bill Murphy's Memorial Service Eulogy

For those of you who didn't have the pleasure of hearing it in person, here is the Eulogy for Bill Murphy that was given by his son, Bill Murphy Jr. at his celebration of life today in Jackson. A great tribute to a man who obviously touched a lot of people...


Eulogy for Bill Murphy

“You are what you love, not what loves you”: That is a line from Susan Orlean’s 1998 novel The Orchid Thief, which became the film Adaptation, 2002. When I first read that line, I thought a lot about it, about how unhappy we sometimes allow ourselves to become when the person whom we love does not love us in return. Donald Kaufman, the character in the film who speaks that line, who expresses that philosophy—and it is a philosophy, a fonn of wisdom—loved a woman who did not love him, yet he is untroubled, perhaps even content. It is enough, he says, to love; it will suffice. To ask for or to expect any more than that is to be selfish, greedy, a sort of emotional glutton.
When my sister asked me to speak today about our father, I soon realized that the best way to recall and honor his life would be to talk briefly about some of the things my Dad loved. We are, after all, what we love, not what loves us.

My Dad loved the sea. He was born in 1929 and grew up in East Boston, swimming and fishing in Boston Harbor. When I was born in 1948, he was working cutting fish at the Boston Fish Pier; weekends he spent fishing or island exploring in Boston Harbor. Some of my earliest memories involve the East Boston Yacht Club down on the end of Jeffrey’s Point, where my Dad kept his boat and had a locker for his gear and a bunk. Because he knew so much about the sea, and especially commercial fishing, my Dad was able to acquire in 1956 a j oh with the federal government, a job that became his career. Until he retired, he work for the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, at first in Maine and then in Rhode Island and Connecticut, visiting seaports, fishing vessels, and various seafood dealerships, gathering and compiling statistics for the government. I remember how all the fishermen liked and respected him, trusting that he would not tell the government anything that the government did not need to know. Many of the boat captains would often put aside for my Dad an especially nice Pollock or Flounder or Lobster; therefore, we always had fresh fish at home. All his life my Dad loved nothing so well as good seafood: steamed clams, fish chowder, boiled lobster, blue crabs, little necks on the half shall, conch salad, fried smelts and flounder, and stuffed quahogs. If you knew my Dad, you knew the delight he took in catching, filleting, shucking, cooking, and eating such food.

My Dad loved to run. When we still lived in East Boston, he took up the sport of long distance running. Running was a lot different back then in the Fifties than it is now: the sight of someone running in trunks on the street was very strange, even suspicious. Anyone seen running on the streets back then was perceived as somehow un-American, no doubt either a criminal on the lam or a Communist. Even the Boston Marathon in those days would be lucky to field a hundred runners, all male. But still, my Dad pursued the sport with a sort of monomania, training twice a day, before and after work, and on the weekends. During racing season, which lasted from early spring to fall, we would travel to races throughout New England and he would race against the same guys week after week, winning a toaster in Athol, Mass. one Saturday or a waffle iron in Westerly, Rhode Island the next.
My Dad ran for a team called the B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Association) whose members sported yellow and blue uniforms with a unicorn on the jersey; but there was a number of other teams as well, the whole constituting a sort of amateur multiethnic fraternity, Irishmen, Italians, Franco-Americans, Native Americans, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and blacks who all ran long distance because they loved to run long distances. They loved to push themselves against themselves, to see how far they could expand their own physical and psychological perimeters, to discover the limits of endurance. On some level, the competition was not so much other men, other runners, as it was the self that inner voice that kept clamoring for attention, for rest, for oxygen, for surcease of aching gut, bruised bone, and burning muscle. That voice was what my Dad sought to beat, back then in the Fifties and Sixties and right up to the end.

Why anyone should love such a struggle, I do not know, but my Dad did love it. It was his personal battlefield, his private heroism. He never won a major race, but that really did not matter: what did matter in the world of long distance running was whether or not one finished. That was the question I heard over and over again when I was a boy: did you finish? To finish was grounds for satisfaction, not to finish was grounds for dismay. Still, at the top of his game, my Dad did more than just finish: he once came in third at the Canadian National Marathon in Quebec and in the early Sixties placed twenty-fourth at Boston one year. I remember other boys talking about Mickey Mantle, Jimmy Piersall, and Roger Maris. My Dad’s heroes were Jim Peters, Emil Zatopek, Abebe Bikila, and the great Irish-American hope, Johnny Kelly.

This love of running led to his love of other sports and activities as well. It was his love of hiking and mountain climbing that first brought us to New Hampshire and these White Mountains. It led to his love of tennis and bicycling and skiing. It led him and Maggie to Nepal and to New Zealand, and to an epic coast-to-coast bicycle tour.

But my Dad was not just an athlete; he was an intellectual, too. He loved to read, and many of his favorite books were about endurance. Endurance, I think, was in his mind the best of virtues. Kenneth Roberts’ Benedict Arnold, the Henry David Thoreau who climbed Mt. Katahdin, Jack London in the Kiondike, Sergeant Alvin York, Ernest Shackleton, FridtjofNansen, Justice William 0. Douglass, Sir Edmund Hillary, Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea, and the legendary Gloucesterman Howard Blackburn. My Dad was always giving me books about some brave individual trudging or rowing across some wilderness of swamp or ice or ocean water, struggling to survive, to take one more step or one more pull at the oars. Literature, for my Dad, was a source of inspiration; it taught him (and me) the meaning of courage and endurance. My Dad was one of the bravest men I have ever known, from his earliest days as a fatherless boy during the Great Depression in East Boston right up to his final battle against disease. Like the displaced farmers in The Grapes of Wrath, like the blessed poor in the Sermon on the Mount, the working people, the salt of the earth, the beaten but undefeated, my Dad endured.

And finally, my Dad loved his family and his friends: Nana and Pa, Bob and Irene, Ann and Jane, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. When he and my mother were married, and we were all much younger, my Dad worked hard and steadily to provide us all with a good home, a strong religious and moral foundation, a respect for public education, and a love of our native land. These lessons that my Dad taught us were not always received in the same spirit or form with which they were initially given, but the lessons were, nonetheless, received. My brother Tom, my sister Karen, my brother Shawn are kind and thoughtful people, the sort who work hard, take their small pleasures where they find them, with their spouses, their children, their pets, and their friends, and they do it quietly, without pushing other people around, without stepping on other people’s toes. They, we, are my father’s most enduring legacy; I know how proud he was of each of them, of us. And I am sure that I speak for all here when I say, as did Horatio at the end of Shakespeare’s great tragedy Hamlet, “Good night, sweet prince, I And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

--William J. Murphy, Jr. (3/7/08)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Bedford Half Marathon Race Report

Photo from
1:10:20, 17th place

Good race overall. Going into the race I felt I could run anywhere between 1:10-1:12. My recent races were pointing towards a 1:12. Last year I ran a PR of 1:10:00 after running pretty well all winter. The first couple of miles felt pretty good, but the I was laboring on the hill before 3 miles. When we made the hard left towards the downhill stretch at 3.5 miles I was hanging off the back of the lead pack. I ran with Ethan Hemphill for a mile as we tried to reel in the stragglers ahead of us. I felt strong but I just didn't have the leg speed to go with Ethan when he made a break. I kept the hammer down and caught my former UNH teammate Steve Meinelt around 5 miles. I said "Tempo day Steve?" He replied with "Yeah". Not sure what that meant but I never saw him after that. I was starting to feel a little sluggish at 8. Two BAA guys caught me at 9 which was a blessing in disguise. We worked together for a couple of miles in the brutal wind that always shows up on this section of the course. At 11 miles Mark LaRosa gapped me, but I kept the hammer down. At this point I knew that I only had 2 miles left and that I could still possibly PR. Oh yeah, I forgot about the nasty long hill from 12-13. On the hill I passed a laboring Eric Blake. From there I worked it hard to the finish. It was probably the best sprint I've had in a while. I am pretty happy with my race considering that most of the guys I was racing are in the middle of their Boston Marathon prep. I'm just now starting my real base phase for Mt. Washington. I was also happy with the way I raced. It was the most focused I have felt in a race in a while.

5=5:02 26:26
10=5:29 53:04

While my winter races were decent this year, I didn't enjoy getting my butt kicked. I followed the Foxboro 10 Miler with weeks of 75 miles, 53 miles plus skiing, and a 17 mile week to prep for Ski to the Clouds. This week I was shot out of a canon and managed to get in 103 miles. This week was the first time I've ever hit the century mark and my first time over 90 miles since March of 2006. So far I'm feeling pretty good. I'm planning on getting 5 more weeks of 100 miles before I start focusing on workouts for Mt. Washington.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bob's Marathon Report

Contributed by Miler Bob Seaman

At the end of last year’s triathlon season I had no plans to do a marathon during our February vacation in Florida. But the idea came to me after a website I frequent, (no not that kind of website “Slowtwitch” a website made up of triathletes), began a “running challenge.” One of the triathletes from Ottawa suggested that we should challenge each other to do 100 runs in 100 days. If we had to take a day off, like I did after the Nordic 300, then the next day we had to double up and run twice (not easy after Skate skiing for 5 hours the day before let me tell you).

The sound of this challenge intrigued me: 1) I was just numb enough to take on such a dare and b) I wanted to be faster next year, not Tilton or Brown faster mind you, but Bob faster (otherwise loosely translated to “faster enough to catch Shauna Ross in the ½ next year”). So on Dec 1 we started the challenge, there were close to 200 people participating in it, some from Europe, Canada and even New Zealand.

A quick look at the calendar showed we would finish said insanity on March 10, so I began to look for something to test my new fitness out on. Luckily were had plans to go to Florida at the end of February, but there really not many races to choose from during the time we would be there. Being more of endurance guy, not really a speed guy (keep your comments to yourselves), I noted that Gainesville was holding a small sized marathon. 2 problems immediately saw was it was a marathon (my longest run in the 100 days was 18 miles, I have done no speed work and of course I couldn’t taper or rest after the race lest my streak would end). The second problem was that Gainesville was a 4-hour drive from Naples, were we were staying. One the pro side of the ledger, it being a marathon meant I could qualify for Boston if I did well. Besides that during our vacation we would be holed up with my wife’s parents (the greatest in-laws in the world! And no I am under no duress as I write that), her sister’s family of 4 and our family of 4 all 10 of us in a 2 bedroom condo. Suddenly the idea of driving 4 hours, running a marathon, then driving back actually started to sound enticing!

The drive to the race was the night before, I originally planned just to sleep in the rental car (yeah I am cheap so what) but while scouting out the registration area some told me there were still some rooms set aside for runners at a local hotel, and at a cheap rate, so I jumped on that! I got up way early because I was unable to pick up my packet the night before. I registered and had over an hour to kill so I decided to drive some of the course some. To may shock, horror and dismay even, Gainesville had hills! Not long unrelenting Kanc kind of hills, but short steep nasty little ones that like to bite you in the legs and laugh at you as you stumble over their crest. While driving I also heard the latest weather report, temps approaching 90 with 80 to 90% humidity, damn it whose idea was it to drive some of the course! Usually I blame such foolish things on Curtis Cote but he was in Cali and I was alone, I shouldered the complete blame.

The race began on time, one side of the divided highway had ½ marathoners and the other side had the full boaters. The announcer said there were 900 doing the short course and about 400 registered to do the long, but it didn’t seem like that many. I always get a bit intimidated at the start of a running race; after all I am a triathlete, meaning I am not good enough in any one sport to do well so I try them all and hope for the best. Surrounding me are all those freaking skinny running type people, with race shirts saying the completed every race ever organized south of the Mason Dixon line, ready to make me pay for my foolish decision to run a marathon while on vacation.

The cannon went off without any warning; it made such a racket that someone said they thought Sherman was marching on Gainesville, no one found that comment especially funny so I later apologized for it. The ½ marathoners were all little rabbits for the first 13 miles, while a group of about 10 of us marathoners hung pretty closely together. I tend to start in the front these days; I find it takes a lot less energy to be passed (well none at all in fact) than to pass slower people, that is how I found myself among the leaders. After about 5 miles the two fast guys were warmed up and bolted. I really wasn’t aware of my overall position in the marathon until the ½‘ers broke off. That’s when I found out I was battling it out for 3 place! Later investigation has shown that Fort Lauderdale had a big marathon the week before, the A1A Marathon, which many of the good marathoners went to, but who really needs to know that.

My half marathon time was 134:15 by my Garmin, 1:35:xx by their clock. Let just say Bernie Livingston was not timing this race and I felt distance and times were a little off, that’s why I note the time differences. Now 1:34 and change is a PR for me in the half so I was going a little faster than normal, well ever actually, and now I find out I am among the leaders. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly I might add, my legs decided to pick up the pace. They threw down a 7-minute mile, sprinkled in a few 6:50 miles and generally acted irresponsibly. The second tier pack I was in stayed pretty close to each other for the next few miles. I even commented once “I just came here to qualify for Boston not race a marathon”, another runner quickly retorted, “Well your racing now!” followed by “don’t you ever shut up?”

As I approached mile 20 it became apparent that my lack of long runs, the 85-degree heat (after running a few months in nothing warmer than 40) the near 90% humidity and the hills were taking their toll. Luckily for me we had put some distance between the groups of runners behind us that it seemed like I wouldn’t be caught before the finish.

I came across the line 7th overall, 6th male and first in my age division at 3:14:14. The time was good enough to qualify me for Boston (although I later found out Boston was closed and therefore I will be banditting it dressed as Elvis, picture an older, in shape Elvis, with a one piece rhinestone outfit, mirror glasses …but I digress). It was certainly the best I could have done under the conditions and I felt great about my effort and a PR by over 2 minutes I might add.

By the way I lied before, I did run once in the heat. I ran at the Eastern Slope Inn on a treadmill next to the pool, while Maury was giving the kids a swimming lesson, it was like running in a freaking sauna, I nearly died! I would also like to thank MJ for selling us her treadmill at a ridiculously low price, and then delivering to our house by herself and my wife for putting up with all the noise from said treadmill for 100 days. With all that said, watch out Shauna! I will shut up now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Video of 2007 Cranmore Hill Climb

Tim VanOrden recorded his experiences of running the 2007 USA Mountain Running Championships. Pretty neat stuff and gives you a good idea of what the course was like in 2007.

Click here for the link

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reminder - Mt. Washington Lottery Entry coming soon

March 1st - March 15 is the window to register for the Mt. Washington Lottery. Even if you received a lottery bypass from last year because you were a scoring member of a Milers team that won an award, you still need to register for the lottery. for complete details.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snowshoe Magazine article on the Sidehiller 4 Miler Race

Blog entry from a newbie

A couple of years ago, I signed up for a 5K race. Having never trained other than a couple of unproductive runs, I showed up on a cold fall morning. I promptly saw about 50 runners who knew what they were doing. I got back in my car and left. Didn’t even try to start the race.

Flash forward to 2007. I had been running quite a bit, which translated means 2 jogs per week each lasting about 20 minutes or so. I desperately wanted to participate in a trail running race. So I happened on the site and thought, “I’m going to run in the Cranmore Hill Climb”. I later found out from Paul that I was the first registrant. That should have been the first sign that I was too eager. My wife and I showed up at Cranmore and I saw the big sign: “US Trail-running Championships.” My first race. I wasn’t going to be dismayed this time. We decided to hike the course just to see what I’d be in for the next morning. We went up the steep part and down the not-so-steep part. Everything else was backwards, why not that? As we climbed up the black diamond, we happened by Paul Kirsch dropping flags. He had the audacity to tell us that one of the top runners was from Europe- as in the continent. I think I laughed at myself until I fell asleep that night. Well, I participated and finished in two hours two minutes. I got looped twice by the winners. But I did it and the seed was planted. And so was a scar on my knee from my third lap digger that will never go away. I’ve never been so proud of a scar in my life. But that’s only because it is one of two scars I have(the other being one because I fell out of a tree as a kid). I also still have my running shorts with a gaping hole in the ass.

I could barely move after Cranmore but the sense of accomplishment was what boosted me all the way home to sign up for Loon. Loved it. Now I’m hooked and, while I have no dreams of competing for wins, I enjoy every event. I even enjoyed the Sidehiller snowshoe race even though my snowshoes were about 10 times bigger than anyone else.

I have a fairly stressful job, I’m trying to finish a dissertation, my wife and I are expecting our first child in three weeks, we’re buying a house. My sanity comes from running and looking forward to more races.


Jim Vander Hooven

Monday, February 11, 2008

Upcoming Club Meetings

The Exec committe just had a recent meeting and we decided rather than have two winter club meetings, we would like to have the regular April meeting and then another one right before or right after the Half Marathon. It seemed to make more sense.

Annual Club Meeting - Monday April 28th, 6 PM
The annual club meeting will be on Monday April 28th at the meeting room next to Flatbread's at Eastern Slope Inn. Start Time of 6:00 PM.

Alternative Scholarship for Adult Continuing Ed Meeting & Miler Coaching Opportunities- Monday March 3rd, 6 PM
There is also going to be a special meeting coming up on Monday March 3rd at the meeting room next to Flatbread;s at eastern Slope Inn. This meeting will be to discuss two issues:

Item One: Having a second Milers scholarship for adult continuing-ed scholarships.
This was discussed briefly last year on the Yahoo Newsgroup and also at our Annual Meeting. At the annual meeting the Exec Committee was asked to hold a separate meeting to discuss our options about this adult continuing ed scholarship. This is that meeting.

At this meeting we will be looking from input from you, the club members about the following:
  • Whether we should take on another scholarship fund
  • If yes to 1, how we will fund it and what the rules of application and voting on scholarship awards will be
  • If yes to 1, be looking for a member or members who will head this up and bring a proposal to the General Meeting in April to be voted on.
Even if you would not want to head up a second scholarship fund but you have thoughts on whether we should or should not take this task on as a club, pros, cons etc., please attend this meeting.

Item Two: Funding of coaching certification class for Milers Jen Campbell and Brendan Dagan
Brendan and Jen have submitted a proposal to the Milers to have the club pay for them to both attend USATF Level 1 Coaching Class. In return they would commit to being available at 90% of Thursday Club Track Workouts for coaching for Year 2008 and also be available for Email coaching and advice thru March of 2009. At this meeting we will vote on the funding of this certification, which costs approoximately $600 total for both of them.