Welcome to the December 2018 Upper Valley Running Club newsletter! And what a snowy month it has been. Hope everyone has been able to get outside and run despite it all! Keep your submissions coming — email email@example.com.
Table of Contents
- Letter from a Board Member Jim Burnett
- Winter TNT by Tim Smith
- Turkey Trots by William Young
- Winter Wild by Brandon Baker
- Seacoast Half Marathon (November 11th, 2018, Portsmouth, NH) Race Report by Colin Smith
- Things I See When I am Running by Lori Bliss Hill
- Runner Profile: Janet Morgan
- Ask the Coaches
- The Granite State Flash goes to the Big Apple by Tim Smith
- Running & Retreating by Rebecca Stanfield McCown
- The Survey Says…
Letter from a Board Member: Marathon Journey
by Jim Burnett
Mesmerized, I gazed into the TV screen as Abebe Bikila ran barefoot through the floodlit cobblestone streets of Rome to win the 1960 Olympic Marathon. I was 10 years old and as Bikila picked up the pace approaching the Coliseum, I started to think “Maybe I would like to do that someday”. As it turned out, my marathon journey began 18 years later at the 1978 Paul Bunyan Marathon in Orono, Maine (T-shirt above left). Fifty-three marathons have followed and, God willing, I hope to run more for years to come.
The Plan: Every marathon has its own story. Most recently, I ran the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon (T-shirt above right) with my daughter, Heddie. I am happy to report that everything went according to plan and our race was what I would call a “perfect” marathon. Keep in mind that there are factors outside your control, like the weather on race day, that can scuttle the best laid plans. I have always been one to plan ahead and the best advice I can offer to those who want to run their first marathon or PR (personal record) or BQ (run a time that qualifies you for the Boston Marathon) is allow a full year to prepare for the race. That means that at about this time of year decide if you want to train for a marathon next fall, and if so, make it your “A” race.
What’s an “A” race? Simply put, it is your top priority race for the year. You run other races, but they are run to prepare you for the big event. For example, I like to pick 3 or 4 half marathons to use as “pace” trials. Run the first one at MP (marathon goal pace) plus 2 mpm, the next at MP + 1 mpm and a third at MP. Your objective is to run that pace consistently throughout the half marathon. Race a 5K, 10K or 10 miler and add warmup and cool down miles to round out your mileage for the week. In fact, every workout – tempo run, hill workout or intervals on the track, should be “geared” to help you prepare for your “A” race.
Cross Training: Mix in cross training and don’t forget that walking and hiking count! When you walk, think about how your feet contact the ground. Feel your weight roll up onto your forefoot. When you hike, feel your quads burn as you ascend and feel them absorb your weight on the descent. I am convinced that prepping for the Mt. Washington RR each year in June builds leg strength that carries over to the fall. Also, ride a bike. Last summer I trained for the Prouty 100-mile bike ride. Mostly, I prepared by riding my mountain bike on the rail trail and cruising up and down Canaan St (flat) on my road bike. Schedule a long, slow trail race or two for late summer and don’t be afraid to mix in plenty of walking. I ran and walked the VT 50K in late September. I took my time (8 hours) and soaked in the Upper Valley landscape along the way.
The Expo: This year the highlight of the NYMC Expo was the Strava booth. If you are a Strava member, they ask you to sign a wallboard and give you “Kudos” mittens if you are a “Prime” member. We passed the mittens along to family members wave so we could pick them out in the crowd at the 8-mile mark of the race.
Race Day: On November 4th, Heddie and I got lucky. The weather was perfect for the 2018 NYCM – not too cold waiting for the start, virtually no wind on the course and temps never got above the low 50s. The NYC skyline was magnificent and Lady Liberty was floodlit as we cruised by on the Statin Island Ferry to get to the start.
Mile 8: At mile 8 the Schippers-Burnett cheering section was whooping it up yelling encouragement and waving “Kudos” mittens. Heddie blew kisses.
In the Groove: After the 8-mile mark I settled into my pace. My goal was to run 6 mpk (minutes per kilometer) or about 9:45 mpm and finish in 4:12, which would be 8 minutes under my BQ. My 5K splits were all within 30 seconds of 30 minutes. In the middle of the race when I got into rhythm, memories of marathons past flooded in. “Yes, this is good. Keep in rolling,” I thought, as I started up the hill at mile 23 just before entering Central Park for the final two miles. I knew I had a good cushion on my goal time, so when my shoe lace on my right foot became untied, I calmly pulled over and propped my leg up on the guard rail slowly, exhaled and bent over to retie it (without cramping, phew). The last mile was like a parade, passed live bands blaring Bruce Springstein, then up the last 400 meters to the finish line.
Post-Race: Heddie and I met after the race at the bag return van for bib numbers 11,000 – 12,000. From there we made our way to the subway and took the AC Train back to Brooklyn, then walked the short distance to Heddie’s home. Having gotten up at 3:30 am to get the day started, it was now 2:00 pm. Family and friends came over for pizza and ice cream late afternoon. It was an awesome day, so much work, so much fun. Can’t wait to run another…God willing.
by Tim Smith
It was a cold and blustery Tuesday evening in mid February. Most people in the upper valley were scurrying home with visions of curling up next to a wood burning stove. The snow was coming down – or rather moving horizontally with the wind. The only people on the streets were late commuters, snowplows, and an odd gaggle of runners, dressed in reflective vest and head lamps.
Why are we out there? I get that that question all the time by non-runners and I find it nearly impossible to explain. Surely it is not something about health, that is what gyms are for. Rationally, the big races are months away, yet some how I have this deep belief that my archival is logging miles and the Shamrock Shuffle is only a month, or maybe only 200 miles from now.
But that can only partially explain Tuesday Night Track in the heart of winter.
I think one thing which attracts me are the happy people I find orbiting Occum Pond. People at work might be happy or sad, nasty or nice, they may tell you funny stories or grumble and complain. But they are there primarily for the job and nothings else – rarely do they show up on their own time.
People at Tuesday Night Track – especially on a gnarly night in the winter – really want to be there. Runners are happy people. Running is playing! Running is the recess that we lost after elementary school. We don’t run for health – we run for joy and because we need to play.
On those moon-lit nights when the mercury drops to the single digits, it may take a few miles to stoke the furance and be warm, but we are all glowing at the end. On the nights where the sleet is coming down in buckets, the headlamps only show me smiling faces during the warm down. I have never had a night where at the end I wished I had been someplace else.
Okay – so I may get carried away and be a bit of a zealot for winter running. I was suppose to tell you about what to expect this winter at TNT. We are going to follow the same pattern as the past few winters, a pattern which repeats each month. The idea is keep in the routine of something harder and faster on Tuesday night – but maybe not quite as intense as when we are actually on the track. It really is a while until the racing season.
Week 1: Long intervals. The most common thing would be repeat miles. But I’ll try to add a bit of variety some how.
Week 2: “Two Beer Tuesday”. A two mile time trial and then pub night. Actually we might be breaking this pattern this month to fit around the Jingle Bell run. So stay tuned for details.
Week 3: Hills. We use to always do these on Tuck Drive. Right now that is under construction, and I don’t know what it will look like when done. So this might be a moving workout. Again, pay attention to the weekly TNT announcement and the MeetUp page.
Week 4: Tempo Runs. This is an element of training which I think we have sadly neglected in our club. However Rob Frost tells me he is starting a Thursday Tempo group. If that takes off I may change week 4.
Week 5: (Jan 29, April 30) We don’t have many 5th weeks this year – I hope we are back to the oval by April – but just look for something fun and different on that last Tuesday of January.
So every Tuesday at 5:30, except when we are at a hill, Occum Pond is the place to find happy people as we hurl along in the dark of this winter.
by William Young
The temperature on the Norwich Green was six degrees for the start of their festive Turkey Trot. The race was free. Donations support the Haven. Newsletter editor Laura Petto was one of the chosen frozen. Good citizen Paul Coats, Lebanon Athletic Director was directing traffic for his Norwichian colleagues. Hillary Wheeler, Madeleine Felsted and their dogs flew over the river and through the woods. Sarah Young took a brief break in Dan and Whit’s warming hut at mile 0.1! The checkout girl works near the automatic doors and was dressed for winter inside. Zack’s Place 5 K in Woodstock supports another great cause and is sometimes the C5K Finish. Hanover’s 10 K on Sunday before Thanksgiving has expanded with 5 K and a Tiny Turkey Trot for children. We all gobble wobbled home to thaw out.
by Brandon Baker
Winter Wild is celebrating its 10th season this year! Started in 2010 by Chad Denning, we have continued on in his vision developing a unique and fun way to keep winter fitness and enjoy a one-of-a-kind race during winter months. Affectionately called “Up-hilling…with a twist” Winter Wild require athletes to conquer a set mountain course, on running shoes, snowshoes, BC Skiis, nordic skiis or even running with your snowboard on your back! Then returning back to the base area for prizes, a raffle and a shared adventure! This year we have 9 events in 3 New England states, all at ski areas! There is no better way to keep fit in the winter, especially if you participate in the NE mountain running circuit! Find our more at winterwild.com and teamampactive.org #InspireActiveLiving #Explore4Chad
Seacoast Half Marathon (November 11th, 2018, Portsmouth, NH) Race Report
by Colin Smith
The Seacoast Half Marathon is a late fall race down in Portsmouth, NH with a field of about 1,200 runners. This year would be the fourth time I’ve run it since 2008. I keep going back for a few reasons: my family likes Portsmouth so it is good destination for a weekend away with a race squeezed in early on Sunday morning, the course is beautiful (running along the coast through Rye and New Castle and then racing back through the historic district of New Castle and across the causeway into Portsmouth), it is a relatively flat, fast course, and it’s just about at the end of the fall season in Northern New England when you can be confident of racing in above freezing temperatures without too much chance it’s going to be hot.
For me, the race marked the end of 12 months of getting back into running. I was last in good running shape in 2008, and then a combination of my wife having the first of our three kids in mid-2008, followed by a knee injury, surgery, and recovery in 2011-2013, meant that I fell out of the running habit. I’d tried unsuccessfully to get back into it but never managed to get beyond the unenjoyable running while out of shape phase. It was the combination of struggling to run the Foliage Five at 9 minute mile pace last October and then being told (in a kind way) by my doctor at my annual physical that I was overweight and needed to do something about it that gave me the encouragement/shock that I needed.
To start with, I signed up for Covered Bridges and rejoined the Saturday morning UVRC runs. After a bit of a winter hiatus for ski season, I knuckled down to training in April. The Road to the Pogue in May reminded me how much work I had to do. I took a slowly but surely approach, avoiding any fast running and just trying to gradually build mileage. June came quickly, but I was able to break 1:45 at Covered Bridges, which I was really pleased about. My race times at the URVS races were speeding up as running regularly improved my fitness. I made a last minute decision to run the CHaD half marathon and ended up running 1:37 and really enjoyed the race. Three more solid weeks of training and a fairly gentle taper week got me to the start line in Portsmouth having run about 700 miles since April and having lost the extra 20lbs I’d been carting around.
Race day was a little cold (35F) and a little windy, but very sunny. My family dropped me off at Portsmouth High School, which is the race HQ, and I got warmed up. It was perfect running conditions once I had my gloves and hat on. I had in my head a target of running 7:15 minute pace or 1:35, to go two or three minutes quicker than at CHAD. The Seacoast Half has pacers, but rather than round number times they do round number mileage splits. So, 7:15 was right between the 7:00 and 7:30 pacers. On the line I chatted to the 7:00 minute pacer and made the possibly rash decision to try to go with that group. I think running with a pace group is more enjoyable particularly early in the race and helps remind me I am not doing a 5K, but that did mean trying for 1:31 and change.
After a truly impressive rendition of the national anthem by a Portsmouth High School junior on the morning of Veteran’s Day and the centenary of Armistice Day, we were away. The start is flat or very gently downhill and heads east through Portsmouth into Rye. We had a tailwind, the sun was shining, the conversation was good, and running felt easy. At around 4 miles the course emerges onto the coast road in Rye and we got our first blast of wind to go with our ocean view, but it was a crosswind and not too strong. We were 30 seconds off pace at 5 miles, so the pacer started to speed things up gently. The combination of our first sections of headwind and the increased pace blew our pace group apart over miles 6, 7, and 8, but I was still feeling good as we turned away from the wind after 8 miles. The biggest climb on the course comes as you cross the bridge into New Castle and climb past the imposing Wentworth by the Sea resort. The last time I did this race I blew up on the hill and lost contact with the pace group I was running with. This time I’d left the remnants of the pace group behind on the downhill to the bridge and went past several runners on the climb as we past the 9 mile mark.
The next couple of miles is my favorite part of the course. It winds through New Castle, which was settled in 1623, and still has many very old houses. A clock at mile 10 showed about 1:10:30, so I was on track at 7:03 pace. The pacer, now sans group, was not far behind me. Immediately after, in the center of New Castle, the course turns left and rounding that corner we were greeted by the headwind. No more admiring the architecture, it was time to work. The wind had picked up by this time, to about 15-20 mph with gusts over 25 mph, and that made running back into Portsmouth across the exposed causeway really hard. Respite and support came with some shelter from buildings as we got back onto land, cheers from my family, and then a left turn at the 12 mile marker. After recovering a little I still had a bit in the tank and was able to pick up the pace for the last half mile, pass a few people who were struggling on the gentle climb towards the High School, and finish in 1:32:12 or 7:02 pace.
After a bowl of piping hot squash soup and fresh crusty bread (the after race food selection is great and is served inside in the High School cafeteria, so there is no need to get cold outside), I dug out my phone. Hunting around on Cool Running, I found my time from 2008 – my fastest run of the three times I’d done this race before – and realized I’d beaten it by 40 seconds. If you’d asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought that was possible. The Seacoast Half Marathon is a well-organized, enjoyable race on a great course, and for me, it now represents a memorable milestone of finally getting back into running shape.
Things I See When I Am Running
By Lori Bliss Hill
by Mary Peters
Town: Lebanon, NH
Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?
I grew up living on the Lebanon – Enfield town line out by Whaleback and went to school in the Mascoma School District. I moved into Lebanon in 1993 and have lived here with my husband and two kids ever since!
What do you do professionally?
Officially, I am the Office Manager at Charles F. Morgan, CPA, PC. My husband founded the accounting firm in 1995. I began working with my husband after the birth of our son in 1996. I also assist in preparing individual tax returns and payroll tax returns when the demand is high. I often hear “I couldn’t work with my spouse” but for us it has worked quite nicely.
How long have you been running?
I began running three years ago when my daughter (my youngest child) went to college. My husband, who had been running for several years, encouraged me to join the Couch to 5K program as he was deeply concerned I was going to fall into a deep depression. I hated it! I really did! But I loved the people and found that the more I ran the easier it became. Grudgingly, I began to like it (just a little)!
How long have you been running competitively?
I don’t run competitively! There was a lot of talk about running competitively when I began running. I thought I HAD to run a sub 30 5K in order to be a runner. This mindset left me frustrated and disheartened. (Which I believe was a HUGE reason why I hated running when I began.). I have spent the last two years focused on enjoying the journey and learning to love running for the sake of the run. I have been in a few races (and yes, I can be quite competitive) but I try not to view myself as a competitive runner. That may change someday but for now I want to finding the joy in running.
Why do you run?
I run to stay healthy both mentally and physically. I run so that I am able! But mostly, I run so I can keep seeing all the wonderfully supportive friends I have made along the way!
Recent memorable moment while running?
I recently ran the CHaD 5K with another member of the couch to 5K program. I was injured and not sure how I would fare. Around mile 2.5 my running partner told me to go on without her. She was afraid she was holding me back! I quickly informed her we were in it together and we were going to cross the finish line together. There was just no way I was going on without her! That wasn’t the most memorable moment. The most memorable moment was as I was approaching the finish line, I reached back and grabbed my friends hand and we crossed that line together. That moment gave me goosebumps. Turns out my friend shaved 10 minutes off her PR that race! She was a trooper!
My fellow “couchers”! I just love them all!
Cross training activities?
YES! I have done some cardio classes at the CCBA for a couple of years now. This summer I did something CRAZY and joined a challenge at KDR Fitness. It is HIIT training and incorporates a lot of strength training in the workouts. What a HUGE difference it made to my running! I just can’t believe how much easier it is to run when you actually have muscles that are strong and functioning. Who knew?
Favorite post run treat?
My favorite post run treat is heading to Lucky’s on Saturday mornings and eating an egg, ham, and swiss on a biscuit with my running friends. The treat is the friends, not the biscuit!
What made you start running?
My husband… He made me do it!
Who is your running “idol”?
This may not be the traditional answer! I don’t know any famous runners or influential people. I only know the runners I have run with.
This being the case, I suppose I have two running “idols”. The first and most influential is Mary Peters! Her dedication to the Couch to 5K program, her love for the sport, her commitment to the miles and her quiet encouragements all inspire me. She makes me wish I had started running when I was much younger.
My second idol is Scott King! I am so amazed every week to see how much he has progressed! He gives me hope!
Are your reasons for running now the same or different than the reason you first started?
Oh definitely different! I run now because I actually enjoy it! I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish. Running makes me feel strong and capable.
Ever been injured? How did it happen?
It seems like most of my running career (if I may be presumptuous enough to call it that) has been affected by injury! Last year I was out running with my husband and tweaked my knee. This year I have been suffering with a calf strain. I believe both of my injuries were caused by overuse and fatigue. I have to work on slowing myself down and finding the right balance between what I want my body to do and what it is actually able to withstand.
Hot or cold weather runner?
When I first started running I said I would not run in the rain or if the temps were 30 or below. This weekend I just ran with friends at the low temps of 15 degrees. So much more refreshing than running the Red, White and Blue 5K in 90 degree weather! For me, I like running in 50 degrees and under!
Morning or evening runner?
Give me a friend to run with and I don’t care what time of day it is:)
What is your motivation?
My motivation is my family. My father died when he was 51. I am 48. I run to keep my heart healthy so I can be around to celebrate the golden years with my husband and love my children for as many years as possible.
If you could run with anyone, who would be the person?
I am looking forward to running a race side by side with my husband. Hasn’t happened yet but I am hoping soon!
Aside from running, what are your hobbies?
Aside from running, I enjoy reading, crocheting, biking, boating and working out.
Ask the Coaches
Got a question for the coaches? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it on!
Judy Phillips asks: I’m an older, long-time (40 years in January!) runner. My posture normally has never been the best, but I’ve noticed since March that I’m really slumping over in races. I run mostly in Northern New England, so do lots of steep hills. I started to wear a little, lightweight pack from New Balance to carry keys and my phone…is it possible it’s “pulling” me forward? I really need to improve my form. Any and all tips welcome. Thank you!
Carly Wynn: Hmm… I sat with this question for a while. It kind of stumps me, mostly because there are so many different ways to approach it, and it’s unclear from the question exactly what is prompting the slumping.
The thing is, poor running posture can have a lot of different root causes. Poor posture across-the-board is often caused by weakness in the abs, tightness in the hips, and shallow breathing, along with stress and other psychological factors. Any one of these things could also be causing slouching while running. Stretching and strengthening the hip flexors, abs, and back would be a safe, albeit very general, way to start. Breathing exercises that encourage deep stomach breathing wouldn’t go amiss either.
I’m disinclined to blame the backpack… But it is possible your body is just adjusting. If you feel like you run better without the pack, you could try going out for a short run without it, then putting it on and noticing how your form changes. You can train yourself to create the same “feel” while running with the pack as you do running without it. While you are running, simply imagining the way you want your form to look goes a long way toward creating it.
When running hilly terrain, or exerting yourself in a race, slouching probably comes mostly from the effort. It’s a psychological response, and you can train yourself out of it with simple awareness. Relaxing your shoulders, fists, and face is a great way to start. I find that if my face and mouth are tense, the rest of my body gets tense too, so practice a light smile while running at hard intensities. Let your shoulders stay low and loose, and keep your hands relaxed as well. This will send signals to the rest of your nervous system that you’re not under as much stress as it thinks.
Of course there are also a variety of exercises to strengthen and increase mobility throughout the glutes, hips, lower back, abs, and even arms and shoulders. This answer might get excessively long if I tried to describe those, but as always feel free to contact me directly if you want to talk more about those exercises. I do recommend simple strengthening and mobility exercises as a means of preventing injury for most runners.
Greg Hagley: I agree with Carly’s response. Bending forward too much running likely isn’t a result of a small backpack. While I have no proof, my hunch is that it is related to postural practices in other areas of life, not just running. There’s a t-shirt showing the evolution of humans. We start out as a bent-over ape who transitions so an upright human and finally back to a crouched person in front of a computer. I’m no better slouching my shoulders over my laptop typing this.
I also agree with Carly’s prescription of exercises. Stretching hip flexors, hamstrings and pectorals can help us “unfold” from the bent-over position. Strengthening gluteals and upper back muscles can give us the strength to run upright. The only thing that I would add is the mindfulness to then apply our postural strength into running upright. It takes more than strength and flexibility to run well. We also need to be mentally present.
The Granite State Flash goes to the Big Apple
by Tim Smith
I am sure many of you saw an article in the Valley News (Nov 29) about our teammates Gunner and Rick Currier heading to the USATF Junior Olympic Nationals. But what you really want to know is the story behind the story.
Rick coaches a squad from the Indian River School who compete for the Granite State Flash – a youth team out of Manchester. Gunner, when he is not racing for UVRC, runs for the Flash. I had a chance recently to ask Rick about how they qualified for nationals. Actually I know the answer; the same way you get to Carnegie Hall; practice, practice, practice. (Miles, miles miles?) But Rick actually told me about the qualifying race.
The Flash had a strong cross-country season, doing well at New England’s and continuing on to regionals, which were scheduled this year for Wappengers Falls, a village fifty or sixty miles north of New York City. A few days before the race nature dumped a foot of snow on Wappengers Falls. Now wading through knee deep white stuff may seem natural to native of the Granite State, but race officials deemed it an unfair advantage to the northerners, and so moved the race to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
When the fate of the regional championships was still in doubt word came down that if the race was cancelled the Flash would get an automatic by to the nationals. Rick tells me that every athlete in the squad expressed disappointment in that possibility – they all wanted to earn their way to the race in Reno.
Van Cortlandt is a famed cross country venue, having hosted meets for now over a century. In the middle of the park is a vast lawn, nearly half a mile from north to south, and in the middle of that is a long arching line where several hundred harriers can toe the start. Out in front of them all their paths converge with a left turn into the woods.
I raced that course 41 years ago and remember a mad dash across the “Parade Grounds” and then a great deal of jostling and elbowing on the narrow trails through the woods. I think Gunner’s generation is probably more refined then mine. His only comment is that the major hill in the woods wasn’t nearly as hard as he had expected, and he passed a lot of boys on it. This doesn’t surprise me – remember this race was moved out of the snow to accommodate “flatlanders”, and Gunner is no flatlander.
Off the far side of the hill the course rushes down next to the Henry Hudson Parkway, then cuts left and re-enters the “Parade Grounds”. After curving around a few soccer fields the last few hundred meters is a straight sprint to the finish.
Van Cortlandt is unique in my experience in that is has a permanent finish line for cross country. They move the starting line to accommodate everything from 2k to 10k races. But they all finish on a straight away which reminds me of old cinder tracks. At the end are towering steel poles with flags and banners, and on the right a stone, multi tiered viewing platform for the throngs of fans – an inspiring spot to finish.
You know the rest. The Granite State Flash showed those flatlanders what they are made of, and is now representing our region in the Nationals.
(Anyone wishing to support the team should contact Rick or Tiffany Currier.)
Running & Retreating
by Rebecca Stanfield McCown
This summer and fall I had the opportunity to participate in three running retreats. Each unique but all three focused on building a strong community of women who run (Sorry, Guys!). I will try to capture the essence of each retreat, each one too big of an experience to justly be summed up in a paragraph.
First up was Rise.Run.Retreat, Sarah Canney’s (RunFarGirl) boutique retreat. I reached out to Sarah after I saw that her annual retreat was being held in Woodstock, VT and offered tips on the area and trail running in the park. That led to an offer to join the retreat as a group run leader! This was the smallest, about 16 women, and most intimate of the retreats and I was impressed with attention to detail and VIP treatment each participant received. It was a unique experience to room with, share meals with, and run with a professional athlete, a fitness influencer, and the remarkable women from across the country that came to spend a long weekend in Vermont. The retreat offered a cross training/strength training session with Crystal Seavers, yoga, a talk and quality time with professional marathoner Stephanie Bruce, and delicious food from the Woodstock Farmers Market. All of that was balanced with plenty of time to relax, explore Woodstock, and connect with each participant. I’m looking forward to returning next summer to lead more group runs!
Next up was the big one- and by big, I mean 250 women big! Oiselle’s Big Bird Camp (BBC). The list of professional and elite runners was deep including Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman, and Allie Kieffer. BBC was held at a posh summer camp in eastern PA and it had everything a kid could want- pool, lake, floating trampoline and iceberg, gym, dance hall, zipline, high ropes, amazing food,and camp staff serving vodka lemonade. I mean EVERYTHING! Much like camp there were activities scheduled throughout the day and you could pick from options ranging from learning about ultra running with Cat Berad, core training with Custom Performance, or a behind the scenes look at the design process for Oiselle clothing with Chief Bird Sally Bergeson. Too many options to list! You could also do nothing and hang by the beach (my chosen activity for much of the weekend). There were runs everyday and you could pick your own adventure- distance, pace, road or trail. On Sunday there was a supported long run, complete with cowbells and women logging up to 20 miles (I topped out at 17). The long weekend kicked off with a camp song written and performed by Lauren Fleshman and finished with a raucous fashion show, dance party, and (I heard) skinny dipping. I got to meet many social media friends in real life, reconnect with old friends, and see the power of the sisterhood Oiselle has been building first hand.
Finally, at the end of September, I participated in Lauren Fleshman’s Wilder Retreat. Wilder is a running and writing retreat that previously had only been held in the Bend, Oregon area. As this was its first trip to the east coast, I jumped on the opportunity to attend closer to home in Camden, Maine. Wilder welcomed 50 women (if there are any men still reading, Wilder does offer co-ed retreats and workshops) to the beautiful fall coast for running, writing, yoga (lead by the amazing Julie Hanlon), and a surprise ride on a 100 year old Schooner. Lauren led runs on the local trails, including a workout and long run, while writing teacher Mariann Elliott guided us through writing practices, often beginning the morning with daily meditation and pages. The retreat is designed to reconnect the participant with themselves through use of their bodies, running, and their minds, writing. It was also about changing the dynamic in which women tend to interact, leaving judgement behind, focusing on listening, and simple being present for ourselves and others. There is no quicker way to connect with a stranger than to hold eye contact for 2 minutes while sharing your hopes and aspirations. Seriously, two minutes solid. Give it a try.
Interested in a running retreat for yourself? I say, go for it! Spend some time thinking about the experience you want to have. Do you want to train hard, relax with coffee and wine, dabble in self-improvement? Who do you want to meet? Are professional runners and swag bags important to you? Do you want to be in a posh location or do you like to rough it? There are so many options out there for run “vacations”, take your time and find one that feels right for you. And then jump all in!
P.S. If you are wondering…Yes, I would follow Lauren Fleshman anywhere.
The Survey Says…
For November we asked you to tell us one thing you would like to tell Race Directors to improve races. (You sure had a lot to say. Most of you couldn’t limit yourself to “one thing.”) We also asked you about race t-shirts and “gifts.” We got some interesting and a few “out of the box” responses.
Enjoy the results and look for next month’s survey!
What is one thing I would like to tell Race Directors to improve their races?
- Make certain the course is well-marked. Allow no ambiguities Have accurate measurement of course and accurate timing (Multiple mentions)
- Keep the finish line up for the last finisher if possible
- Have awards ceremony sooner. It’s tough to wait around too long, especially if it’s cold or rainy.
- I like races that celebrate all speeds of runners, like the Beach to Beacon. It’s really wonderful when people stay to cheer the slower runs and just celebrate loving running, no matter the speed.
- If it’s an out and back race, the turnaround area should be wide, well-marked, and staffed (rather than a cone in the middle of the road).
- Play loud music, after 9 am or later
- Have a plan for shelter in the event of rain or other precipitation.
- Always have 1 2 3rd age group awards, my wife loves swag bags
- It would be cool to have a gunshot start like in the old days
- Friendliness is really important. Signage is really important. We drove all the way to one race and then came home not because of the rain and mud but because the check in folks weren’t real friendly, the flow for check in wasn’t clearly marked.
- Improve communication (detailed course info and map online, send email to those preregistered confirming race info/details)
- Make sure the date, time, and location are front and center on your website. Folks shouldn’t have to scroll to find those details.
- Please have elevation maps!!!
- Inform participants on your website, prior to the race, precisely what fuel/gel and fluid types will be available, what flavor(s), at what locations
- I would like to see more trail races..
- Have an accurate course distance, with mile markers, start the race on time
More Porta Potties – PLEASE!
- More porta-potties!!! It is so frustrating when a race doesn’t have enough porta-potties.
- There no such thing as too many port-o-potties.
- If there are corrals: Include porta-potties in the corrals, especially if you close a long time prior to the start of the race.
Think of Cost
- Cost is my number one prohibitive factor, so any way to keep costs down but still enough $ to raise money for the cause, that would be appreciated!
- Offer a “family rate” or an “under 18” rate, so kids, especially older kids, can do races without breaking into their piggy banks
- Charging $25 / $30 for a simple 5K race distance is ridiculous.
Less Is More
- I am a fan of simple races (less swag, etc.). Good course, well organized, good timing services are important, but less other paraphernalia around the race.
- Keep your eye and ear on the pulse of giveaways vs. none. Many people are minimalist now, especially those of us who are aging) The option for no ‘gift’ should be standard. Allow the extra $5-$10 to be an optional gift to the charity associated with race.
- Have events for younger kids
- Have younger age categories. So many races have 12 and under at the younger end and that’s it. I encourage race directors to break it down into 10-12, 9 and under.
Think of the environment
- Provide composting and recycling opportunities – reduce waste, encourage and educate sustainability (kudos to Road to the Pogue!)
Out of the Box Ideas
- Think about hosting races without official times/places (cut off times are OK); just challenging courses with good aid stations where the goal is to finish and folks can time themselves if they want.
- Make the miles a bit shorter.
Thank You Race Directors
- Most races seem well-run; I really don’t have complaints and I thank these people for all the work they and volunteers put in.
- UVRC races are the tops! shaker 7 had some awesome post-race snacks
- Thank you to race directors! You are the unsung heroes.
Do you think that races should/need to give out “free” t-shirts to participants?
About this Newsletter
This newsletter is put out monthly (more or less) by the Upper Valley Running Club, the premier (and only) running club in the Connecticut River Upper Valley Region. This month, the newsletter was edited by Amanda Kievet, with article collection by Geoff Dunbar. Any comments, questions, submissions, winter running tips, etc, send to email@example.com.