Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snowshoe Karmageddon

Late in December of last year, Eric at Level Renner put out the call for winter running action shots as part of an on-line contest. Tag a few of your favorite Facebook selfies with the #levelrenner hashtag and get a chance to win a brand new pair of Dion #121 Racing Snowshoes. Always being up for a good, healthy competition (and a free pair of anything) I jumped at it. Tagging every running picture of myself that I could find.

A few days later, while picking up my daughter at the airport after her semester abroad, I found out that I’d won. And before I could even finish responding to Eric’s text message I thought, “Crap! What am I going to do with ANOTHER pair of Dions?” So, rather than have them collecting dust in my basement as a back-up pair for the indestructible #121’s I already owned, or selling them to a friend, I decided to do something fun with them. I decided to raffle them off.

I picked up some raffle tickets, made a few posters, grabbed a bunch of Dion brochures and started to advertise. And, by the time the shoes arrived in the mail, we were set and ready to go. I sold tickets at the Gate City Striders awards banquet and at the first two Freeze Your Buns 5k races. With all the proceeds going directly to benefit our club’s Youth Program.

And, let me tell you, it was a very easy sell. Despite the fact that there was ZERO inches of  snow on the ground at the time, people snapped up those tickets like crazy. A $5 chance to win a pair of top-of-the-line snowshoes valued at almost $300?! Why not? Especially when told that fellow strider, and 2-time National Snowshoe Champion, Amber Cullen-Ferreira wore them!

We held the raffle at the second FYB race on January 18th and the winning ticket (drawn by club president Tom Cassetty) ended up belonging to my GCS friend (and current training partner) Stephen Rouleau – who is one of our clubs most active volunteers and who was very excited to receive them.

So what was accomplished by doing all of this?

1.      
I reduced the potential clutter in my basement.
2.     
We got a few more eyeballs onto levelrenner.com
3.     
We gave out a couple dozen Dion Snowshoe brochures.
4.     
We put a spotlight on a great running program for kids.
5.     
We got a few more people to show up to Freeze Your Buns.
6.     
We filled a few more seats at our club’s awards dinner.
7.     
We gave a very deserving person a great pair of snowshoes.
8.    
We inspired a few of the non-winners to buy a pair of their own.
9.    
We unintentionally sparked the best snowshoe season in 20 years.
10.  
And, we raised $840 for the GCS Youth Program.

Not bad for the cost of a couple selfies and a few minutes on Facebook.


Postscript:
   A few people have asked me if I saw any of the raffle money that came in, and my answer is YES. I saw every penny of it…     ...get donated to an awesome (and woefully under-publicized) GCS youth program. The bottom line is not the finish line, people. It’s the beginning of something better. Pay it (and keep moving) forward.

Special thanks to Eric & Kevin at Level Renner for having the contest and to Bob Dion for providing the prize. Running community for the win!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Persistence Hunt

            In his groundbreaking book, “Born to Run”, Christopher McDougall discusses a fascinating, non-weaponized, hunting technique used by pre-historic man. Rather than trying to outrun their much faster prey, hunters would instead attempt to outlast them. Because an animal’s natural instinct is to sprint away if approached, the men would run towards them in an effort to keep them constantly moving.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Winter of Discontent

Winter running sucks!

There, I said it. And I’m glad I did. Someone had to, really. It’s been far too long in coming.

See, there’s this false sense of bravado that tends to manifest itself around these parts (especially amongst people like myself who don’t run on treadmills) which maintains that running through harsh New England winters makes you stronger, tougher, and better prepared for the racing season to come. And, I’m here today to tell you that line of thinking is total B.S.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Unrequited Love


Have you ever been in a relationship where all you do is give, give, give and get nothing in return? You pour your heart out on a regular basis, and receive little more than a cold shoulder for your troubles?  Well, that’s the way it is between me and Boston. I love the Boston Marathon. But it does not love me.

             I’ve participated in more than a few 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons over the years, but the primary focus of my running career has always been marathoning. More specifically, Boston Marathon-ing. Like many other runners who grew up in New England, Boston has always represented the Holy Grail of running goals. Not just an average everyday goal, but an all-out, full-blown obsession!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Delinquent Blogger

Sorry. It’s been a while since I wrote anything in this space.

The problem isn’t because of a lack of ideas. Despite not having raced in over a month, I still have at least a half dozen stories that I want to get out there. At some point. The problem is that life just seems to be getting in the way of me carving out the time required to write them. Between the holidays, preparing for my clubs awards dinner, sick kids, my traveling wife, and the work involved in getting a brand new MARATHON off the ground, it’s been a pretty busy few weeks.


The other thing that’s been taking the majority of my “free” time is the writing and editing of my first book. The working title is: “Never Again – Adventures of a Veteran Dad and Newbie Ultra Marathoner”. I’ve been getting some great feedback on it so far, and I’m very excited about how it’s turning out. That being said, it’s been a bit of a grind and it’s seemingly sucking up all my creative juices.


Anyway, the point of this post is to let everyone (who’s still reading) know that I haven’t forgotten about you, or this blog. And, as soon as things start loosening up, I plan to continue to post regularly. My goal, as always, is one new story per week.


My only question is: Does this one count? :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Ends

January Hike
I started 2014, with a January 1st sunrise summit of Mount Monadnock. It was dark - about 6:00am. It was cold – about zero degrees. It was windy – about 40 mph at the summit. And, it was snowy – about 1 to 2 feet of fluffy base to trudge through. It took me about 4 hours to summit and return via the 4.5 mile long Pumpelly Trail off Lake Road in Dublin.

So, when I signed up for a Presentation at Keene State College for the last weekend of 2014 (and my travel plans took me right past the ‘Nock) I figured why not end the year the way I began it? With another Pumpelly trip to the summit. A "bookend" hike, if you will. Well, as it turns out, the conditions couldn’t have been more different!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Drifting Away

With all my goals pretty much met for 2014, the TARC Winter Classic 32m was all about having fun. The 8 mile Skyline Trail in the Middlesex Fells is no joke, even for just one lap. So, 4 laps would be a pretty sizable challenge. But one which, given my results from this year, looked like something I could handle with ease.

Then the rain came …






Friday, December 12, 2014

Mill City Madness

The Mill Cities Relay is a 5-leg, 27.1 mile foot race from Nashua, New Hampshire to Lawrence, Massachusetts. But, that information alone doesn’t even begin to convey what MCR really is. The Mill Cities Relay is quite possibly the biggest, single-day team event in the country!

 
MCR began in 1984 as a way of celebrating the end of the local road racing season and determines bragging rights among 21 participating Merrimack Valley area running clubs. The race kicks off not with a starting gun, but with the drop of a ceremonial mill city brick. The mileage for the five leg distances are 5.6, 4.8, 2.5, 9.4 & 4.8. And, points are awarded to teams in each of 18 different divisions – male and female aged 18 to 80. Teams finishing in the top 3 in their respective division get a trophy brick with a small plaque on it. 

However, the trophy that everyone covets is the one they bestow upon the running club that scores the most overall points in the race. This amazing trophy was painstakingly assembled with a working gear from an old mill building, set upon a finely crafted four-sided wooden base and crowned with a “winged-victory” trophy top. The base of the trophy has engraved upon it the very history of the race! With a running list of the first, second, and third place clubs for each of the 31 years it’s been run. It’s a sight to behold and hold. And, it’s quite possibly the heaviest trophy in all of sports, weighing in at just over 40 pounds! Yes, more than 6 pounds heavier than the Stanley Cup!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rough Draft

Hi there! Sorry, it’s been a little while since I posted anything. I’ve been kind of busy.

Part of what’s been distracting me is the 50k trail race I ran at the Middlesex Fells last weekend. My TARC Winter Ultra race report will be coming soon, but the reader’s digest version is: It was cold, it was rainy, it was slippery, but I survived!

Another thing that’s been on my plate as of late is that I’m in charge of putting together (and keeping together) the Gate City Strider teams for the Mill Cities Relay race. And with 39 teams (and 181 runners) it was a lot more like herding wild cats, than anything else. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now and it’s without a doubt the most fun/stressful job I have with the club. My synopsis of this year’s race is also coming soon (I promise) but long story short: It was cold, it was windy, it was slippery, but we survived! …Actually, we did a little more than survive. We won our 7th straight team title. Setting new point and margin of victory totals in the process!



Finally, what’s been taking the majority of my time lately is my book. Yup, I’m writing my
first book! I know. Crazy, right? Well, it’s going to be a collection of stories that I’m stringing together in (hopefully) a cohesive manner. It’s about friends, family and ultra-running. In short, all the things that currently make my life worth living!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turn the Page

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four weeks since my 100 Miler and even harder to believe that it’s been one full year since I decided to make it my Goal Race for 2014.

Looking back, it’s been a truly incredible year! And, I can’t really think of anything that I would have changed. My first attempt at a 100 mile training plan exceeded even my wildest expectations. I went the whole year without losing any time to injury. My races, turned out great - with only a couple minor exceptions! I spent a bunch of time having fun in the mountains. And, I was able to add meaning to my miles by helping raise money for a very worthy cause! In fact, the season went so well, I very much doubt that I could ever replicate it. So, I’m not going to.

Instead, for 2015, I’m going to do things just a little bit differently.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lessons Learned

The incredible journey that I was fortunate enough to take, in both training for and running a 100 mile race, taught me many valuable lessons.

Here are 20 of them, in no particular order:


Friday, November 7, 2014

One Hundred









Shit! ….this can’t be happening!

…I said while rolling down the windows of my car, desperately hoping the fresh air would keep me from falling asleep at the wheel while driving to my first 100 mile race. I took another swig of Pepsi while wiping back the tears that had already started to come. All that hard work wasted because of my stupid pre-race anxiety. Anxiety that saw fit to keep me tossing and turning for three straight nights before my 24 hour adventure in the New Hampshire woods. Damn. This is not going to end well.

A mile, and a few more swigs, later. I began to formulate a plan, because that’s what I do! I would start the race, as scheduled. Then, when I got too tired to run any further, I would just nap in the car for a little while before finishing up. I had expected to finish in around 22 hours, and the race had a 30 hour cut-off, so I could literally take a 6 hour nap right in the middle of it and still finish this thing with time to spare! And now, with my new plan in place, I resumed feeling good about my chances at the Ghost Train 100 Miler.

Turns out, this “plan” was just the first of many tricks I’d have to play on myself that day (and night) to keep moving forward.