Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend Double Dip

This past weekend I loaded the family (myself, wife, 3 year-old & 3 month-old) into the car and headed out for a weekend of fun (and racing) in the sun. The weekend itinerary included: The 43rd Annual Bill Luti 5 Miler, Quechee Gorge, The Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory, The 29th Annual Stowe 8 Miler , lots of pool time, The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory & multiple trips to Dunkin Donuts. The weekend goals included: have fun, help the Team, enjoy the family and not get myself hurt.

The Bill Luti 5m is one of the oldest road races in New England and a fixture on various local road race Series’ including: the NHGP, the CARS and the Summer Swelter Series. Ok, the last one is made up but it’s completely appropriate because, as a mid-July race, this one always seems to be un-bearably hot. And, with temps in the upper 80’s and stifling humidity at the start, this year’s edition was certainly no exception! What made Luti even “hotter” was the competition, as my club (The Gate City Striders) is in a heated battle with the Greater Derry Track Club for supremacy in the 2010 New Hampshire Grand Prix Series. We have held a slim lead over them since the early part of the season and they have been slowly slicing into it ever since. It was for this reason that I chose to do this race as a “warm-up” to Sunday’s NEGP main event. I figured that even at my current low-level of race fitness, I could help out club keep that scrappy GDTC team at bay. 

I’ve run Luti on numerous occasions and have only recently figured out the best way to attack it. Due to a rather sizable hill in mile two, my race-day plan was take the first two miles easy then use my size (and therefore superior descending ability) to roll through the last 3 miles and all the competitors that got in my way. Of course, when I ripped off a 6:09 first mile, the rest of that equation kind of went out the window. I did manage to hold it together long enough to reel in a bunch of runners in the 3rd & 4th miles but after that it was all I could do to maintain my position behind my nearest GDTC rival Tom Varick. I closed on him during a down hill in the 4th mile, but he used his newly-found super powers to pull away in the final stretch to the finish. I crossed the line in 32:22, a little slower than I hoped but not bad considering the extreme heat of the day.

Splits - Luti 5m: 6:09, 6:50 (mostly uphill), 6:08, 6:45 (rolling), 6:27 = 32:22 (6:29). The Final Results showed I was 3rd in my age group, scored 7 points for the team and won the Clydesdale Award. BTW, the prize for that award was a free entrĂ©e to Margaritas. Yeah, good idea, let’s just keep feeding the fat guy!

After the race, my 3 year-old daughter did the kids 400. She ran the whole way and didn’t stop even though she ran “really fast” and was “really tired” at the end. When she finished she got a free t-shirt from the race organizers and a medal I’d brought from home. Afterwards, we loaded up the car again and headed an hour north to Quechee, VT for some breakfast and a sweaty walk around the Quechee Village Shops and adjoining Quechee Gorge. Emily was excited about the train & carousel there. But, we didn’t end up going on either due to the fact that we came in between scheduled departures and the curmudgeonly station master was unaffected by the cries of a 3-year old. So, I bought her a lollipop instead - which seemed to ease her “pain”. 

Later that afternoon, we drove another hour north, checked into the Golden Eagle Resort in Stowe, VT and were pleasantly surprised to hear that our room had been upgraded from a standard room to a deluxe “mini-suite” complete with living area, fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and a balcony with a pond view. Bonus! And, as we we’re unpacking we ran into another GCS runner (Curt Fischer) and his family who ended up in the room just below ours.  From there it was just a nice relaxing evening by the pool (with both families) and yummy take-out from Pie in The Sky pizzeria.

At 29 years (and counting) The Stowe 8m is also one of the older road races around. And, this year, the race was being directed by Loco Running out of Newmarket, NH so that meant we were in store for some great little perks like: A cross-country style start with pre-race team introductions, well organized and evenly spaced water stops, and a fine post race party including craft-beer and home-made ice cream. As with Luti, I’d run this race once before. It was 4 years ago, and was the day after the Ascutney Mountain race - as part of another “double-header weekend”. Unfortunately, that year, I left my heart on the top of Ascutney and my blood and guts all over the searing, hot, roads of Stowe on my way to a putrid 55:17 (7:09 pace). This year I vowed to do better. And, frankly with that sort of debut, I could scarcely do worse.

So, it was with those lowered expectations that I lined up for this years race and prepared to enjoy a nice little run (with reasonable 70 degree temps) around picturesque Stowe, VT. When the gun went off I found a very comfortable early pace which put me in about 200th place. In the first couple miles I was running fairly close to Mike Merra & Len Hall. I kept looking for those guys to pull away (as they had done to me earlier in the year) but I managed to hang on and even felt good enough to push a bit as we headed into a little down hill during mile 4. I gapped them a bit as I pushed the downs hard, knowing full well that they’d probably blow by me on the ups that came later.

It was on one of these ups at the start of mile 6 (near the water stop) that Len did eventually come by me. But, I kept him in sight and reeled him back in on the dirt road section. I ended up passing him again in the 7th mile and from there I pushed as hard as I could, knowing that the final mile was uphill and I could easily be caught. Back onto the main road (and a left up the hill at the center of town) I put the hammer down and picked off as many runners as possible. I caught a couple more guys just before the finish and I crossed the line in 53:04, a little faster than I expected and certainly respectable after the 5 miler the previous day!

Splits - Stowe 8m: 6:39, 6:39, 6:47 (up), 6:09 (dn), 6:39, 6:51 (rolling) 6:39, 6:38. = 53:04 (6:39) The Final Results showed I had a 4 minute course PR, was 5th GCS Master, and still only managed  149th place overall. Man I hate NEGP races. Well, at least I was the1st finisher from Nashua!

After the race I enjoyed about half a cup of craft-beer (but, a full bowl of home-made coffee ice cream) before I headed back to the room for a quick shower and then over to the pool to catch up with the family. Later we drove yet another hour north (4 total from home - if you’re counting) to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne, VT on the shores of Lake Champlain. There we enjoyed a quick factory tour, a brief scare by someone dressed up in a bear suit, and a fun (albeit a bit weird) birth of a purple teddy bear named “Princess”. As we piled back into the car for our long, long ride home. The 3 month-old made his presence known (as only a baby can) and no amount of singing, playing or ignoring would make him stop his gut (and ear) busting screams. 4 hours (and 5 stops) later we pulled into the driveway a tired (but happy) bunch. Well, all except the baby. He was still pissed we decided to skip the Ben and Jerry’s!


  1. Ha, Ha! Fat boy awards! First finisher from Nashua-you are really digging! Anyhow great job doing two races and that is a super race picture at the bottom-you're looking fast!

  2. Jim - At this point, I gotta' take what awards I can get. Thanks to Kristin Wainwright for the finish line picture. Still haven't figured out how to "caption" my blog pix yet.