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Racing in a Foreign Country

You might think that after a year in Holland – a country where almost everyone speaks good English – I would have the logistics of racing figured out. I thought so too. I was wrong.
Buses don’t run early on Sunday morning, so in order to get to Amsterdam for the Dam tot Damloop 10 miler, I had to first bike the the Leiden train station. There were two detours along the way. The first had signs indicating the alternate route, but the second had nothing (I later learned the the best course of action was to ignore the barrier and ride through the “closed” path). I didn’t do that in the morning though, so I missed the train I was hoping to take and got to Amsterdam 15 minutes later than I hoped.
I still had plenty of time before my race, and I got in a decent warm-up, found a port-a-john with a short line, and was ready to drop my bag in a truck to get it to the finish line. This is where things got tricky.
I found the truck that I thought should take my bag, but was told that as I was in the elite wave, there was a special truck for me – right by the start line, very easy to find. I jogged back to the start line (a kilometer away, so some of this was good warm-up but the crush of people made some of it less so). I found several volunteers, but no one knew anything about the truck for my bag, and there were no signs. I didn’t have time to get through the crowd two more times, so I changed to my flats there, taped by public transport card to my bib, found a construction fence to hide my bag behind, and hoped for the best.
Once I was racing things went well. I went out a little too fast, but still was passing a lot more people than passed me from 2 km on. It was rather windy, and so it seemed wiser to draft the runners near me than to slow down to the pace I had thought I should run. I went through 5 km in 15:58 and 10 km in 32:05. Around that point I lost contact with the group, and was running alone. The headwind was not as strong on that section of course, and there was a straggling runner ahead for me to try to chase down. Still, I continued to slow, getting to 15 km in 48:23. I thought that I put up a very strong effort in the final kilometer, but in fact I ran another 3:16.
Even with a second half fade, this is a new personal best for 10 miles. While I believe the wind was a bit stronger than last year, I took 11 seconds off my time. And when I got back to the start my bag was safe and sound. So it was a good day at the races, even if I was reminded that I still haven’t quite figured this country out.

Tips for Master Skiers

Last Thanksgiving, I received an email forwarded through FasterSkier asking if I would write advice for another older athlete with kids and a full time job. I have received a couple similar requests over the years, and I keep thinking that I will make a blog post about this soon, rather than trying to respond to individuals. I have started the post a couple of times – maybe this is the version I will actually finish. 1. Train every day. This is really the most important part of getting and staying in shape. And for many, it is the hardest. Now, a day off here and there is a good thing, so – like any advice you receive, particularly from me – take it with a grain of salt. But as a parent with a full time job, there is almost always a reason to take a day off: family…

A Not-So-Triumphant Return to the Track

On Friday night I competed in a track meet for the first time in more than 18 years. The last time I was at a track meet I set two PRs – one in the hammer (101’3″) and one in the 400 (57.5) – I was actually drafted at the last minute to rabbit the 800. How all that came to be is a story for another time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my return, but it actually felt quite familiar. Despite being in another country, and being alone, the feeling of being at a track meet is very much the same. There was the rush of adrenaline every time the gun went off to start another heat, the nervousness of checking out the competition, the frustration with the meet being a bit behind schedule. And about that schedule – the 5000 m was schedule to start…

January Track Workout

I doubt my blog silence has been noticed by many, what with Nationals going on, not to mention three U.S. women on podiums in different stages of the Tour de Ski, but it seems I do still have a blog! I was home in New Hampshire for three weeks, and got to see lots of family and friends. And despite the weather (Kris and I summitted Sandwich Dome on Christmas Day, and there was no white stuff to be seen) I managed to get in about 20 hours on snow. Now that I am back in Holland, this has given me the answer to a question I have had for some time: just how many days of all skiing does it take before the return to running is all sore muscles and excruciating pain? Turns out the answer is somewhere south of 10 days 🙁 Anyway, sore – and jetlagged…

Technique Drills

I know this blog is on a skiing website, and I know that this is the time of year when a lot of readers (if I have a lot of readers) might be looking for some technique drills to get ready for the upcoming ski season. I don’t think this is the post for them (but it might be. You’ve come this far, so why not keep reading?) This is a post about technique drills for running. It is not a post I ever thought I would write, as I have always been skeptical of any attempt to dictate running form. My experience over the past couple of months at my running club, however, has changed my mind. In particular, this week I considered not going to the weekly track workout, as I have been nursing a hip injury. But I went. I felt my hip a little during the…

Dam tot Damloop

Okay, WordPress has eaten this post twice. The most brilliant prose I have ever written, and it is gone (as far as you know). Here are the highlights: The Dam tot Damloop in Amsterdam has 48,000 participants. The winning time was 45:19. I was 30th, 28th man, 2nd over 35, in 52:05. The Dutch have outdoor, semi-enclosed urinals at there races which makes the line at the port-a-johns a lot shorter. Near the start of the race I ran for over a kilometer through a tunnel under the canal. That was kind of cool (not least because in created a small hill on which I made crazy amounts of time on the Dutch runners who really can’t handle the least hint of an incline).

Running in Holland

I still don’t have internet at my house here so this may be a short post. But I am getting running figured out – who needs internet or a cell phone or food that your youngest child can eat when you know the closest track and a good trail for long runs? Anyway, I found both of those last two things. It is about a 9 km bike ride to the track owned by Leiden Atletiek, a club I may end up joining. They have a beautiful and well-maintained eight lane outdoor track. I did ride about 18 km yesterday just to get there, as I did not remember exactly where the track was. And no one I asked even knew there was a track in the area – which is no surprise given that the track is hidden with residential neighborhoods on one side and a big urban woods…

July

Wow! Blogging has been slow this month. So I will make a quick summary. I raced Loon Mountain a few weeks ago. I had an unremarkable race to end up third. I like to think that I could have at least scared Ryan Kelly for second place (instead of being a minute back) but I didn’t, and Josh Ferenc was untouchable another 20 seconds up. And last week I raced the Bill Luti, bringing home my third title in that race with another so-so effort: a younger runner led me through the mile in 5:00, and then dropped like a rock even as I had a lousy second mile up the hill. The big event of the month was running the Pemi Loop with Kris. We have both had our eyes on this ~33 mile loop with ~10,000 feet of vertical for many years, and finally decided to go for…

Mt Washington

I have been slow to report on the Mt Washington road race, but it is still worth writing about. In many ways it was actually a boring race. I went out hard on the first couple hundred meters of flat, sharing the lead, fell to 11th when the climb started, and passed about one person per mile until I reached four miles. Just past mile five, former winner Rickey Gates passed me back, and so I finished in 8th place. I was 30 seconds behind Rickey at the finish, and almost a minute ahead of 9th place, so there just wasn’t much drama (unlike last year, where I passed Dan Princic in the final minute). It was, however, a great day. I ran up the hill in 1:05:55, a little over 30 seconds under my previous best. I have been pretty tired the last couple days in a way that…

Racing Up, Racing Down, and Moving

So usually if a race is a week old I figure there is not point in blogging about it. But I am going to today, because I have an excuse… Anyway, I raced the Pack Monadnock 10 miler last Sunday. I raced this three years ago, losing to Brandon Newbould in the final climb (the course climbs about 1800 feet, half in the last two miles). This year I entered with elaborate contingency plans should I be racing any of several potential rivals, but none of them showed up. I had a 20 second lead by two miles, over a minute by seven miles, and earned an easy four-minute victory. Then I went home to work on packing up my house. The next day my nephew and I moved all of our furniture and most of our boxes. On Thursday, in addition to more moving-related tasked, I did the downhill…