Canadian in Candia

December 21, 2009

Freezing in Buffalo

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , — Miriam @ 10:43 pm

Buffalo Freezer 5k
Since mid-October, I’ve been running. Well at first it was more walking than running. I would go back to a walk as soon as the pain in my feet got bad. And I started being very carful with what I ate too. I was under a lot of stress so I was careful to make sure what I was putting in my body was valuable to my body.

Now two months later, I’m running 6 mile training runs. I still have a lot to go to be even considered a recreational athlete, but I’m making progress.

I’ve even been racing a bit. I never raced other than elementary and middle school track and field and cross country. So I’m finding my goals easier to find. It’s not like rowing where I feel a need to return to personal records. Every distance run is a personal record because I never kept tabs when I ran to cross train in college.

My first 5k that mattered was the sunapee turkey trot on Thanksgiving day. Jes joined me for a killer course. I would like to apologize to Jes yet again for the hill climb within the first 1/4 mile, I had no idea. I managed to run the whole distance and finished in just over 10 minute miles.

So when I wanted to visit my parents in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, I felt a need to find a race and bring my brother along. So I actually planned my trip home on the weekend of the Buffalo Freezer 5k this last Sunday.
Buffalo's Freezer 5k

Costumes were encouraged so my brother wore a set of flannel pajamas with scotty dogs I bought him the day before. And my little brother actually stuck with me while I ran 9 minute miles for more than half the race. I eventually was fed up of a slapfooted runner in front of me so I took off.
Buffalo's Freezer 5k

I was very proud of myself when I finished the race in just under 9 minute miles. I was very proud of Mike for finishing in under 30 minutes on his very first running race ever that he hadn’t even trained for.
Buffalo's Freezer 5k

Buffalo's Freezer 5k

Mike did get a fair bit of attention for his running attire. He kept being recognized and/or cheered on as “pajama man”.

Cooper was so upset with me for having left him behind while I ran, but he was relatively well behaved as a spectator with my parents.
Buffalo's Freezer 5k

After a lunch with my family I drove straight across New York and Massachusetts to find myself back home. But I was certainly glad to have taken the time and energy to get some exercise in before that long trip.

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October 21, 2009

Head of the Charles 2009

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 8:00 pm

The Head of the Charles regatta is one of Rowing’s premier events. In High School we pretty much considered it to be the “Nationals” for the fall season. It’s important enough to have it’s own wikipedia entry.

I first raced the Charles in my first year of rowing in 1998. It was also the only time I was in a crew that won it’s event. I raced two more times in high school, all four years of college and did three stints in the alumni boats for Northeastern. I raced 10 years in a row. I earned 4 medals in that race. And I would have gladly raced another ten years in a row.  But I knew that there was a bigger interest in the Alumni boat this year. So when the e-mail went out asking who wanted to row, I responded that I would love to row but if the interest was great enough, I would gladly bow out and be a cheerleader. And there was enough interest. Two full eights worth of interest. So for the first year ever, I was a spectator.

Being a spectator means that I could take pictures of past teammates heading out to race. It wasn’t bad, but I don’t plan on volunteering to bow out next year just yet.

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Head of the Charles 2009

Head of the Charles 2009

The bow four (people furthest away from the coxwain, the girl who steers, in the boat) and stern four weren’t exactly coordinated in their pictures.

Head of the Charles 2009

Head of the Charles 2009

This is Kelly, she was my double partner for a long time. I once terrified her by calling her “Babe” in a really deep voice in the middle of a race. This was also the race in which we crashed a boat that didn’t belong to us into a men’s boat that we shouldn’t have been able to catch up to.
Head of the Charles 2009

Head of the Charles 2009

August 14, 2009

Cigna 5k Corporate Race

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , — Miriam @ 8:02 am

A couple months ago an e-mail came through at work inviting employees and their families to join in the Corporate Race a group was entering. It was for charity and there was a walking wave so I decided to sign up.

I also talked my hubby, who had never run a race of less than 20 miles into doing the race.

So yesterday, we joined 5000 other people (including a bunch of my coworkers). At the race. I didn’t have a camera after the start until we got back to work so I only have a few pictures of before the race started.

5k Race in Manchester

I’m claustrophobic so the crowd seemed terribly huge to me. It made me realize why I liked rowing so much. In rowing you generally have a 10 foot buffer on either side of you. If someone in within that buffer zone it basically means you have crashed.

Because of the crowds I decided to jog to get somewhere where the crush wasn’t so bad. I was wearing my Vibram FiveFingers so I figured that on pavement I would probably fatigue pretty quickly and get back to the plan of attack, walk the 5k.

Well jogging turned into just a little further and a little bit further. I stopped to walk a few times but got back into a jogging pace when whatever was hurting eased up a little.

I ended up finishing in 35:17. Which is under 12 minute miles. This was significant for me because I hadn’t really run in 3 years. My feet wouldn’t let me.

I think this is proof that my Vibram FiveFingers are doing their job. I had arch pain when I came in last night, but my heels were doing well. This morning my feet are killing me, but that’s to be expected when you go from walking to jogging a whole race.

I wish I had a picture of the finish. I’m proud of having pushed myself again.

July 31, 2009

Adam’s Race Report

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 2:44 pm

IMGP1609Adam wrote up a report on the Vermont 100 race.  I asked him if he could post it to my blog. But he’s a pretty modest fellow.  So he started his own blog instead. Fine by me.

He wrote the report with intention that it could be useful to both newbies to the sport of Ultrarunning and to people who already ultrarun but wanted a better idea of the course.

Find Adam’s Race Report Here.

July 24, 2009

Vermont 100 – The People Behind the Racers

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , — Miriam @ 12:00 pm

As a handler for a 100 mile race we must drive 120 miles.
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As a pacer you must run/walk 30 miles overnight and be cheerful about it. We’ll talk more about pacers in a later post.

IMGP1405The handlers at least only have to be cheerful for the few minutes the runner comes through the aid station. The rest of the time we can be insane, cranky, bored and anything else we feel like being. We waste time getting lost, we doodle because we are bored, we take pictures of the horsies. Mostly we spend way too much time repeatedly going over what the runner has requested for their next stop off.
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The handlers or crew usually consists of family and friends willing to watch the sunrise if necessary to help the runner reach their goal. They forgoe sleep, food, cleanliness (we do use porta-potties) and their favorite hobbies for the love of their runner. And yet they seem to love it.

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There is no way to truly describe the transformation that occurs when the crew member spots their runner. They go from “wow this is boring” to “how quickly can I perform these actions”. No matter how carefully you plan your runner’s items, they will want something else. They will want a pair of socks they don’t own, or wonder why you didn’t bring them ice cream at 2 am. The best thing to do is to deal with these requests in a cheerful manner. A gentleman told me at one point that crew stands for Cranky Runner Excessive Wants.
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We are the calculators that tell the runners how they are doing pace wise. We are the check points that verify salt, food and liquids intake. We take off smelly socks and help dress blisters. We function as cheerleaders, encouraging runners to keep going when they think they should quit.
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Sometimes the runner really does need to quit, but it’s our job to keep them positive. We encourage them to take a rest if they need to. We give them time to think about it. But we don’t make the decision for them.

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One more reason why handlers are important, we are the keepers of the cameras and layers of clothes. We take those pictures at the end of a race. We encourage our runners to get into something dry and cosy right after the race. I noticed this last point especially when I waiting for Adam in the medical tent. A runner and his pacer showed up at the tent because they were freezing cold. Their handler had their layers and their handler was no where to be seen.

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A good crew can make a huge difference to the runner.

And then you have spectators like Drew. Drew goes driving around cheering for all the young guys he used to hike with who turned into ultrarunners.
IMGP1682(I’ve actually known Drew as long as I’ve known Adam, the three of us were part of the same Presidential Range Traverse almost 4 years ago.)

July 23, 2009

Vermont 100 – The Horses of the Race

Filed under: Horses, Races — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 12:00 pm

The horses run their own event during the run: The Vermont 100 and Moonlight 50/75 endurace ride. I guess the original 100 mile runner started on horseback. For the second year in a row his horse had come up lame the day of the one day event. Rather than miss the race he decided to run it. The horse event had a 24 hour time limit, a requirement to earn the silver belt buckle. The runner Gordon Ainsleigh, ran the rugged Sierra Nevada course and earned that buckle. A tradition was born. There are now 25 ultramathons of 100 miles or more, but I think the Vermont 100 is the only one that continues to combine horses and runners.

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Most of the horses were Arabians or Arabian mixes. This lead to amazing horses with beautifully refined heads. I mean arabians are known for having large intelligent eyes and some of the most chisled heads in horsedom.

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And they are fast, and they have endurance. This is the first horse to make it through the Pretty House handler aid station. The winning horses finish in just over 12 hours. That includes several mandatory holds. Fast, with stamina, smart, loyal, as well as gorgeous I can see why Arabians were so cherished.

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As a kid I usually got stuck with the Arabians in riding class. I was a giant as a kid, I wanted to ride the biggest horse. Instead I got put on the beautiful but moody Arabian that needed a strong rider. I think they were usually just so smart that they were fed up of dealing with kids that didn’t know what they were doing.

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Looking back I wish I had taken advantage of riding a horse that needed a good rider. I just wanted to be on a 16 hander instead of the barely 14.2 arabian.

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I did however love a gray horse when I was a kid. I didn’t care that every bit of mud showed.

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So many of the horses were grays. I guess grays are common in long distance arabians or something but we did occasionally see stunning bays, chestnuts and blacks.

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Of course the riders look like they are having a blast too. Although all the jarring must become very tiring after a while. Did I mention that the riders can change out but the horse must remain the same.  This drew some comparisons in our conversations to the riders being more like the pacer, with the main athlete being the horse. But the riders are quite the athletes too.

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My husband tells me that the combined event is enjoyed by both the horsepeople and the runners. Well a lot of the horsepeople didn’t seem to be bothered by our constant photography of them (aka their horses, I doubt they realize how many of their heads I chopped off trying to get the perfect shot of an amazing arabian facial structure.)

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See you would think I could care less about the rider. But with a horse that pretty how could I notice there was someone on the back.

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I think all the spectators stood in awe every time a horse would come through.

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Some of the horses almost seem to find the event relaxing… or I just caught him as he was blinking. Someone asked a horse trainer if the horses enjoy doing this.  The trainer responded that if the horses didn’t enjoy it the event would kill them. They need to enjoy it to have the heart to keep going.

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Some of the riders were obviously out there for the ride and not the race, so they took their time to cool off their horses in a brook.

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As a spectator (who loves photography), I have to say that the horses definately add an enjoyable aspect to the race. As for the runners, I wonder if the horse errosion of the trail and occasional poop causes additional challenges. But Adam didn’t seem to mind.

July 22, 2009

Vermont 100 – Race Report/Runners

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 2:19 pm

Warning: This post promises to be much much too long!

So this weekend my husband did something truly amazing, he raced in the Vermont 100 Endurance Race. That’s 100 miles of running. On two legs and two feet, no swapping those out. But he did it. And I helped out by driving around and providing him with fresh shoes, socks, Vaseline, food, beverages and moral support.

I have to say that as far as ultramarathons go, it was actually a very enjoyable experience for me. My husband has started making friends in the ultramarathon world. So I made friends with their wives, girlfriends and crews. So over the course of 24 hours, I had a great time hanging out with my father-in-law, Sarah, Allison, Nicole, Mike, Steve, Keith and others.

I took way too many pictures. Well if you consider 700 to be too many. At one point I figured that random strangers might like to find free pictures of themselves on my flickr account. And I have this new 50-200 mm lens that I really wanted to play with. So I took pictures of people and horses I didn’t know. Well perhaps I took pictures of the horses because the horses were simply amazing.

So in order to spread out this blog post over multiple days (and reduce my guilt if I don’t get to post later this week), I’m dividing this post into several posts. I hope you enjoy a glace at what the race is like.

1.) Race report/results (this post)
2.) The horses in the race
3.) The people behind the racer
4.) The importance of a pacer

Race report from my perspective

The night before did not provide a restful sleep. It rained with sounded like popcorn popping on the roofs of our tents. Someone’s car alarm went off in the middle of the night. Wake up for most was before 3am. As the start of the race approached most runners joked about stretching as Chariots of Fire blared on the stereo.

At 4am the runners were off, it was more like the start of a large hike as most runners pace themselves instead of sprinting out of the gate. It was still dark and damp and we decided to wait to watch the horse start before heading to the first Aid station.

The scenery was gorgeous at the first Handler Aid station. The mist hung at the edge of the woods.
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It took a long time for the runners to reach that first Handler station, and at that point they had already run 20 miles. This was also probably the only Aid station were we really got to see all the front runners of humans and horses. All our runners looked great as they came in. They did quick shoe changes grabbed a bite to eat and ran off again.

The weather improved as we traveled from one Aid station to the other. We started a handler caravan with 3 to 4 cars traveling to find the Aid stations. Our runners continued to come in and we continued to have a good time hanging out with each other. I doodled on occasion to keep from getting bored. More often I would take hundreds of pictures to pass the time. Later when Keith was around with his family I took way too many pictures of his 2 1/2 year old boy. He was way too adorable.

I was actually grateful for the long distance drives between stations because it gave us something to do.

Adam would come in and refuse to even stop for more than a couple seconds. He didn’t even want to sit. He left his friends behind as they took better care of their feet. At one point our runners had spread out enough that we had to break up our little group and regroup while waiting.

The aid stations were all slightly different and the volunteers that manned them were incredibly helpful (Thank you volunteers!). They jumped on my very specific instructions for my husband’s soup. At that point he was starting to feel the fatigue and pain and having a smooth transition probably helped a great deal. I also loved how some of the aid stations were decorated. For example the Caribbean theme at Margaritaville and the pretty little Christmas lights as the sun was setting at West Wind.

IMGP1740The runners have to be awake for very long periods but so do they handlers. You don’t want to fall asleep and miss your runner. And this can lead us to become a little silly. At one point, after it had gotten dark, we found the fact that all the handlers were sitting in rows facing a single light on a building hilarious. We wondered what a random bystander would think if they saw us sitting there.

After sunset the trail is illuminated with glow sticks. It gives the trail an eerie glow.

As I waited for my husband I decided that I couldn’t sit still, so I followed the trail up from the finish. I cheered for runners from the middle of the woods. I took items of clothing that runners didn’t want in their finish pictures (it was dark, I’m not sure how good the finish pictures would be anyways). I found my husband in the middle of the woods and he didn’t recognize me at first. I jogged the last 1/2 mile with him, he was limping and hobbling so badly that I could keep up with him. He even said “you’re keeping up with me, I must be going slow” (I havn’t been able to run in several years because of foot issues). He asked me to go run ahead to tell them to get ready for him. I did and he sprinted past me. He finished well below his goal time, tired and sore but happy.

I should also note that that 1/2 mile also made me very aware of the wonderful effort his pacer Keith did in helping him out. I’m planning on writing a short post on that later.

So the rest of the story involved a trip to the medical tent where my hubby got the largest grossest blister I’ve ever seen treated (and I was a rower so I know blisters), watching our remaining two runners come in within the 24 hour belt buckle limit and a twenty minute walk back up the few hundred yards from the medical tent to our tent.

It was a memorable first 100 mile race for both of us.

Our runners

Although she wasn’t one of “our runners” I wanted to post about Serena. I have to admit that Serena Wilcox is one of the coolest people I have met recently. She talks at a million miles an hour and looks like she’s fresh and bubbly after 50 miles. We met her at the Wapack 50 where we got talking because she has the same last name as my husband. She adores Cooper so it was probably a good thing that he wasn’t there, it would have slowed her down.
IMGP1452She managed to finish 15th (3rd among women) with a time of 19:50:52

Last year my hubby paced his friend Nate for the last 30 miles of the race. I guess he struggled a bit at parts to a point that Adam took away his watch. This year, Nate was on FIRE. He looked strong and finished really really well.
IMGP1274He finished 18th with a time of 20:29:24

My hubby Adam Wilcox was way ahead of 24 hour pace for a long time. At one point he was at a 21 hour finishing pace. He looked great until we saw him at the 11 mile left to go mark. He had to remind himself to stay steady as he got onto the scale at that point. It was his first 100 mile race and he did great.
IMGP1387He finished 44th with a time of 22:40:24. Giving him 7th place in his age group.

Adam’s close friend “Sherpa” John Lacroix was Adam’s inspiration to get into this crazy sport. This was his tenth race of a 100 miles or more. Adam and John ran together for the first part of the race. But then Adam started skipping shoe changes and pulled ahead (which he is still paying for). John still finished in his second fastest time, which is impressive because he was actually behind pace at one point.
IMGP1558He finished 66th in 23:27:35. His third buckle in 3 attempts of the Vermont 100. His race report will be on his blog.

I don’t really know Drew that well (well at all) but his wife Allison became part of our handler/crew group and we had a great time with her and started cheering for Drew as well. So he’s part of this post as part of our runners.
IMGP1499Drew Haas finished 78th in 23:44:05.

The total amount of finishers under the 30 hour cut off time was 173 people, including 72 year old Karsten Solheim who finished in 29:54:40. You have to admire that achievement.

Another one of our friends, Jeff Waldron had to drop at the 70-something mile mark.
IMGP1483He looked great most of the race and did complete 70 miles, but his achilles tendon, which had been bothering him prior to the race finally got the best of him.

July 20, 2009

He did it!

Filed under: Races — Miriam @ 9:49 pm

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So my husband went under 24 hours in his 100 mile race this weekend. So he got the buckle. In fact he went under 23 hours. I’ll be blogging about it later but right now I have over 700 pictures to look through and many hours of sleep to catch up on.

July 16, 2009

Hubby Got Interviewed

Filed under: Races — Tags: , , , — Miriam @ 11:33 am

Pittsfield Peaks 2009Adam and Sherpa John at Pittsfield Peaks this year

This weekend is an exciting weekend in our lives. Adam is racing the Vermont 100 mile foot race this weekend. He’s been preparing for this since at least the Vermont 50 miler last year. And he signed up at the first opportunity this year. The person who inspired him to start racing Ultramarathons, Sherpa John, did an interview with Adam about Adam’s Ultra Experience and the upcoming race.

Sherpa John has been involved in extensive hiking and ultramarathons for several years now. He has used his talents to raise significant money for diabetes.  And he runs a pretty popular blog on his adventures in Ultrarunning and hiking. Check out his blog here.

June 11, 2009

52 Pounds

Filed under: Races — Miriam @ 9:00 am

Pittsfield Peaks 2009

The rock my husband carried for the last 5 miles of the 53 mile race on Saturday, has been weighed. It came in at a whooping 52 pounds. I think most people would have a hard time picking that up, never mind carrying it around up and down hills during a race. I think the rock will remain a memento of ours for a very long time.

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