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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

European Club Champions Cup

I had kind of figured that I was done getting flown at others’ expense to compete in races. But it turns out not! Last year (with no help from me) my club, Leiden Atletiek, won the Dutch championships for cross country running, and with this victory came an invitation to the European Club Champions Cup in Albufeira, Portugal. Each team is allowed up to one foreigner, and I have been running fast enough to help the team, so they brought me with. It is definitely interesting traveling with a team whose language you don’t understand to a third country whose language you also don’t speak. My Spanish – left over from high school – makes me possibly more conversant in Portuguese than I am in Dutch, but that is more commentary on the sad state of my ability to learn the language of my new home than a claim that I could get by in Portugal.

Anyway, I had some adventures getting to the hotel the first night, but eventually we got to race day. The course started with a 630 meter loop, and then had five laps of a 1820 meter loop, for a total of just shy of 10 km. About 120 of us started, ran 250 meters, and made a U-turn. I was definitely in the back half of the pack already, and just trying to relax while not ending up in last. We came through 630 meters in about 1:51, or 4:45 mile pace. I let myself slip back through the field a bit, trying to conserve energy for later.
I wouldn’t call the course hilly, but it had hills, and it was certainly challenging. It started with a short straightaway, followed by a U-turn, the inside of which was sand but the outside of which was grass. This was true of most turns on the course. After a bit of straight, the course made some gentle turns and then dropped into an artificial depression that had been dug out. About a two meter drop, five meters across the bottom, and then climb back out. Then up an easy but sandy grade, back down, up a meaningful climb with some sand, back down, and up a very short climb and back through sandy S-turns. Then over two artificial bumps and start over.
The tight turns made find a rhythm difficult, but I ran the first two laps well. I moved up a few spaces, and was on a decent pace. I slowed a bit from the first lap to the second, but less than those around me did.
Then I hit lap three. At this point, I still hadn’t figured out how to deal with the sandy turns. When I went wide to maintain footing, I would get passed on the inside. Try to take the best line, I would get passed on the outside. Work to accelerate through the turns, get passed late in the straights. I don’t know if I am just really bad at sand, or if I am not in shape, or I just had a bad day. But I was passed by many more racers than I overtook. I ended up 72nd out of 110 finishers, and 4th for my team (top 4 out of 6 scored points). My time was about 33:30; if there was a halfway split I probably would have been about 16 flat there.
On the other hand, the only other 40+ runner dropped out after one lap, so I can claim an age group victory…
Oh well. Next up: Rotterdam Marathon. I’m not getting any younger, and they don’t make courses faster, so it is time to set a new marathon personal best. Hopefully one I can be proud of.

Two slow Saturdays in the snow.

So I actually entered a ski race a week ago, and should probably blog about it. I have waited due to a few factors: jet lag, a desire not to compete with U.S. Nationals coverage, and not wanting to admit how slow I raced. The race was a Zak Cup at Gunstock. The last time I raced at Gunstock was an Eastern Cup several years ago where I requested to be seeded as a Master racer so that I could make my start time after working in the morning. The snow slowed after the faster seeds and then started to speed up again as I started. By the time I finished the tracks were blazing fast. I won that race, but it is hard to say whether I did so despite or because of the changing snow conditions. Last Saturday I started in bib #1, a consideration given to me…

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,…

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…