Welcome to the May 2020 edition of the Upper Valley Running Club newsletter. We’re sad we can’t run together these days, but we hope this newsletter inspires you to find joy through running during these tough times. Keep your submissions coming — email email@example.com.
Table of Contents
- Letter from a Board Member: Running by Myself by Joffrey Peters
- 4th Annual Main Street Mile by Tim Smith
- Running Every Road in Hanover by Betsy and Mike Gonnerman
- The Lone Runner Challenge by Tim Smith
- The Year Without Races (Or, “I Have A Feeling ‘21 is Going To Be A Good Year”) by Judy Phillips
- Enough Already…It’s Time to Embrace Virtual Racing by Jim Burnett
- New COVID Safe but Tick Rich Trail Running Treasure in Hanover by Bill Young
- Confessions of a Paper Towel Hoarder + Here Comes the Sun… I Think… by Ellie Ferguson
- Route of the Month by Laura Petto
- UVRC Runner Profile: RJ by Scott King
- Can I still PR?: A data junkie’s reflection on 12 years of 5ks by Sara Vannah
- Ask the Coaches
- A Last Word from the Editor by Amanda Kievet
Letter from a Board Member: Running by Myself
By Joffrey Peters
These are strange times. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us into an unusual state. For some, this new life consumes too much time and energy and worry to manage running. Others find themselves with a wealth of time to run. With childcare closed, I find myself straddling the two categories: I would love to be out running, but have little time, and added stress makes each run feel harder than it might have in another world, a mere two months ago.
Another oddity of the current situation is the social isolation. I’m a social person, and love gatherings and parties and meetings. Group runs are what convinced me to start running in the first place.
I was a lousy runner growing up. A mile seemed an incredibly long distance, and it seems any attempts at running my parents encouraged ended up hot and filled with deer flies. Running was distinctly not for me. However, over the years, most of my opinions have tempered, and a desire to move fast through the mountains got me running for fitness, and for fun on the trails. Group runs (often with the promise of a pub at the end) are what got me running regularly.
That social draw kept me coming back, and eventually inspired me to transform myself into a person who calls himself a runner. Now, self-isolating at home, I see mostly only my wife and son on any given day, but I find myself mostly content. And running alone.
Running by myself is different. It allows me to push the pace when I feel like it, or totally relax. I can choose to meander up a side path I hadn’t noticed before, or bushwhack up a hill on terrain that is distinctly unrunnable. There is a zen that comes from watching my own feet touch down, and hearing my own breath, and feeling wind on my face. But along with the freedom and peace come some challenges: running on my own means it’s only me in my head. My harshest critic is my only companion. It means no races, which for me were inspiration to train hard, and were social events themselves.
My (6-month-old) son is now able to sit upright well enough to ride in the jogging stroller. I’ve been out with him in the stroller nearly every day for the past week. Not being able to talk, or run for that matter, he’s not much of a running companion. But I suppose I’m not alone running anymore either.
4th Annual Main Street Mile
By Tim Smith
It is May, the days are warming and soon the air will be thick with the smell of lilacs. Which means it is time for the Main Street Mile – “Your Fastest Mile of the Year!“.
“But wait!” you cry out. “We are not going to all huddle together on the starting line! Much as I would like to sprint for 1609 meters, I’m just not doing it in a crowd – not this year!”
So UVRC is pairing up with the Hanover Rec Department to provide a “Virtual Mile Race”. It is still a race with prizes and bragging rights. It is still a mile, on the same course we have always used. But we will not all run it together.
The way this works is that you can run the course at any time between Monday, May 11th and midnight Sunday, May 19th (the race would normally have been May 14th).
There are two ways to participate;
- Use your GPS running watch and upload your times to Strava. If anyone runs the “Main Street Mile Segment”, they will show up on the leader board for that week.
- If you are not a Strava user, you can still run the course, and then just email in your times to Hanover Rec. We actually trust you to self report your times.
You do need to register, but it is free!
I’ll be posting more detailed information about the starting line, finishing line and course in the near future.
For those of you who want to look over past performances on this course, go to https://www.strava.com/segments/23595530
Running Every Road in Hanover
By Betsy and Mike Gonnerman
Shortly after the new year began in January, Mike announced to me that he wanted to run every road in Hanover in 2020. He had read about Ricky Gates, a world-class mountain and ultra-runner, who was running every street in San Francisco, which had inspired this “insane” idea. I told him I thought it was crazy, but he was head strong.
He started collecting lists of streets, maps, etc., to plan his routes. Mike ran his first run on January 21, 2020. After he had done a couple of runs, I told him I would join his quest. So, over the next 3 months, we worked on this “mission”. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, and our lives became more restricted, this became our total preoccupation. Road races were cancelled, so this gave us a goal, and an opportunity to do something unique.
We were familiar with most of the roads in downtown Hanover, near our home, but once we moved to roads further out, especially in Etna and Hanover Center, this involved driving to find them, measuring them, and making sure there were street signs and Hanover Town line signs when we needed them. Since our measurements (by odometer or on maps) were crude and frequently inaccurate, we often found ourselves on longer runs than we planned. Most of the time, we ran together, which meant running both ways on the roads (or twice the distance). Sometimes, I would drop Mike off at the start of the road, then drive the car to the other end, when I would run back towards him. He would continue on to get the car and come back to fetch me – this would mean we each only had to do one length rather than two.
Hanover is 50 square miles and has 255 roads which are runnable. 60% of the roads are paved, and 40% are dirt. 20 roads are categorized as Class VI, parts of which are not maintained. We only tackled the runnable ones. From mid-January to mid-April, we ran a total of 201 miles in 36 runs (average 5-6 miles/run) and had 21,000 feet of elevation gain.
We were surprised by the number of hilly routes, many much steeper than downtown Hanover. Some of the hilliest: Moose Mountain Road, King Road, Pinneo Hill Road, Stevens Road, Goodfellow Road.
We made our dining room into our planning room, with a large map spread out where we could check off the roads once they were done. And, we recorded our runs in Strava.
I suspect we set the FKT (fastest known time) for 75+ year-olds running all of the Hanover Roads – 100 days.
The Lone Runner Challenge
By Tim Smith
Last month I wrote to describe what the Lone Runner Challenge would be. This month I’ll tell you what it is.
Actually I’ll let a lot of other people tell you want it is.
Below are pictures, maps and comments which have been posted.
Road Less Run
“OK, maybe I only ran a quarter mile of “new” road for me.” — Geoff Dunbar
“I drove up to Bradford, I was planning on running a lot more of Goshen, Rd than I did but cut it short. I did see a pair of donkeys who were loving the bright sun today!” — Alex Hall
“I’m cheating. On a road trip every run is a road less run.” — Paul Coats
“I did Bliss Rd in Quechee – it was beautiful! About half a mile in the middle of the road is unmaintained so there’s no through traffic.” — Sara Vannah
Great Hill Run
“I ran Beaver Meadow/Bragg Hill with an elevation gain of about 900 ft. over 9 miles.” — Laura Petto
“For my #GreatHillRun I ran right out my front door, up Academy Rd, on to Houghton Hill Rd, and to the summit of Houghton Hill via an infrequently travel path. The climb is over 1,000 ft in about 4.5 miles, with only a couple breaks in the climbing. My timing was perfect, as I reached the summit, there were only a couple minutes left of a stunning sunset; Not a cloud in the sky, and 360 degree views of blues, oranges, and purples painting the hillsides. I didn’t stay long, as I had to chase the sunlight home. Twilight fell as I made my long descent and I was greeted by a brilliant performance by the Moon and Venus.” — Alex Hall
“I ran around Eastman Lake. There is one monster climb up Snow Hill but plenty of other climbs along the way. The last big hill brings you up and at an angle that provides a really nice view of the lake. Nice run but I sure miss Saturday morning runs from Omer and Bob’s.” — Pam Moore
“I went with the classic UVRC Mascoma Lake plus Sunset Rock (hill) combo.” — Rob Daniels
“King Hill Rd in Etna. A very steep first 1.5 mile, and then an easy glide home! Beautiful view from the top. I think it is a #GreatHill!” — Timothy Smith
“I ran up a trail on the skiway with my sled and sledded back down!” — Sara Vannah
“I explored Farnum Hill in search of archeological sites. First I ran partway up Poverty Lane, then onto a trail (Old Kings Highway) which used to be the first colonial road in Lebanon. I looked for signs of an old copper mine or town meeting house, but did not yet find them so will have to go back another time!” — Hannah Taska
“I ran my first marathon today (quechee to Hanover and back) and miles 23 & 24 had some good hills!” — Ryan Scelza
“A great run on the rail trail, Leb to Mascoma. Dropped about 10sec per mile most of the run!” — Timothy Smith
“This was by far my longest run in quite some time. I did not approach is with a tempo pace in mind (I was really focused on getting in a quality long run). I ran my first ten miles in 1:23 and was happy to run the next ten miles in 1:12.” — Alex Hall
“3×1 mile, each faster than the last. Plus I tacked on 2×400 which were even faster!” — Geoff Dunbar
“I did a progression run on Sound of Silence – cheating a little bit because the last 3 miles are downhill.” — Sara Vannah
Dirt Road Run
“Nice run beyond Goodrich Four Corners in Norwich. Pattrell & Kerwin Hill Rd.” — Timothy Smith
“For anyone who had run the Foliage Five, my route should look familiar. So nice to have a maintained road with zero vehicular traffic!” — Alex Hall
“Thanks for the motivation. I tried out a loop I’ve been meaning to do #LRC #DirtRoadRun. The class 4 road was very wet and the rest of it would satisfy the #LRC2 #Greathillrun. There was about 10m of pavement but I skirted the outside to avoid stepping on it!” — Madeleine Bothe
“Modified the classic Three Mile Rd bowtie 10 miler to only run the gravel, making it a Lobster Claw half marathon! Roads dry and in great shape. My season was a month ago this year!” — Joffrey Peters
“I went out & back on Old River Rd in Quechee/Woodstock – the dirt part of the CBHM course. “ — Sara Vannah
“I am cheating a bit. I ran this loop, which was about 50% dirt roads/trails.” — Laura Petto
Follow The Flow
“A very pleasant run along the Ottauquechee. It was upstream half the way, but then we “Followed The Flow” back home.” — Timothy Smith
“Followed the flow on Mink Brook; they’ve really done a nice job with the trails along there! Only one muddy spot and easily detoured. “ — Geoff Dunbar
“Went down to Newport to check out the Sugar River Trail. There weren’t too many people out there and it was fun to run down hill on the way out, following the river. There were a couple river crossings with some handsome covered bridges. Trip back was a little rough; uphill, against the wind, and 16 miles is still a little out of my fitness comfort zone. But all in all, a very nice adventure.” — Alex Hall
“Lovely run along Mink Brook and Wheelock Trail” — Nancy Dunbar
“I ran up New Boston rd and met up with the very start of Copperas Brook where the Elizabeth Mine was. I then joined Rte 132 where Copperas Brook turns into the Ompompanoosuc River and followed it all the way to Union Village Dam which was far enough f
or me! Rte 132 was mostly down hill but the litter on the side of the road is really epic and terribly sad. Mainly beer cans and bottles but soda and water bottles are a close second- I lost count at 500…” — Madeleine Bothe
“I ran the Newport rail trail too. It was a beautiful morning. The only disruption to this peaceful run was a family out on their four wheelers. Honestly it was great to see people out enjoying the outdoors even if their choice of activity is not my thing :)” — Pam Moore
“I ran recovery run on a fairly usual route for me, criss-crossing the Mascoma on the Rail Trail and adjacent roads.” — Joffrey Peters
Looking Glass Loop
“A section done in reverse direction for the first time. Going this way the roller coaster bumps on Poverty Lane make for a good hill workout.” — Rob Daniels
“A loop I have done dozens of time – clockwise. This time reversed. Two abrupt hills, but with a partner it went fast and well.” — Timothy Smith
” —- interesting that this is the abnormal direction for you! I usually do it this way, if only because that’s the direction of the Norwich turkey trot” — Laura Petto
“I ran around Mascoma CW, which is opposite my normal half-marathonish loop. It’s also opposite the way the Shaker 7 goes, so it’s really the other direction than most have run around it.” — Joffrey Peters
“Occom Pond both ways” — Geoff Dunbar
“I did Sound of Silence backwards (barely – it’s a lollipop). The steep hill wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and going downhill by the horses & the field was nice!” — Sara Vannah
The Year Without Races (Or, “I Have A Feeling ‘21 is Going To Be A Good Year”)
By Judy Phillips
With races canceled since March and through August, it’s definitely been difficult for me to train. I’m a very idiosyncratic runner: I’ve always used races as part of an overall training plan, to build mileage and improve pacing, rather than a true competition with other runners. Races bring me joy, pure and simple. I enjoy the camaraderie with the other runners (I get very social while waiting on the port-a-john line!). Nothing makes me happier than meeting the challenge of completing a race, particularly a longer race on a very hilly course. That sense of accomplishment makes me smile all day.
I set our racing schedule early in the year, researching new races, along with perennial favorites. Believe it or not, I can spend hours looking at dates and comparing to my husband’s schedule, checking logistics and reviewing the course and pacing requirements. I try to find two races per weekend (sometimes two in one day!) and for the last weeks in July and August, when we’re off celebrating our anniversary and my birthday, respectively, I try to find as many races as I can, sometimes as many as 7, Saturday through the following Sunday. The summer is especially wonderful as it offers early morning or evening races midweek.
I really like the structure and routine of racing, so when races are cancelled, I don’t choose the virtual race option. I’ll just do my own distance on the treadmill or quiet route near home.
With a nod to The Who and a view to next year, here are some May races to put on your forward racing schedule for ‘21:
5/3 Cinco de Miles 5k – Bedford, NH
This is another fun Millennium Running event. The 5k course starts in the driveway of the Bedford High School then follows County Road to an out and back loop before finishing at the Bedford Memorial Park Pool. There’s always a nice post-race party following an MR race.
5/24 Runner’s Alley Cisco Brewers Portsmouth Memorial Day 5K – Portsmouth, NH
This is one of our favorite races, and a great way to kick off summer racing! We’re really missing this one especially. This is a fast, flat course on a large multi-corporate campus, closed to traffic. Nice post-race refreshments, plus there are so many excellent restaurant choices in Portsmouth, one of our favorite cities. If you haven’t been, this is a fun introduction to the Seacoast running scene.
5/30 Shelburne 5K/10K & Half Marathon – Shelburne, VT
This was to be the inaugural event. The proposed course is described as hilly, and mainly on quiet country roads. With the multiple race options, this promises to be a fun way to see the Vermont countryside while running your favorite distance. Watch for this one next year!
Enough Already…It’s Time to Embrace Virtual Racing
By Jim Burnett
April 30th, 2020: As I sat down to squeeze in this article before the deadline (NOW) about hilly workout suggestions in my home town of Canaan…“PING”…I got an Email from Lisa and Tom, the race directors for the “hopefully” upcoming 60th Anniversary running of the beloved Mountain Washington Road Race, which informed registered runners that ah-ah-ah about that tentative postponement date of August 22nd…well ah-ah-ah maybe that’s not going to work out after all because Governor Sununu is not so sure that gatherings of >1,000 people will be possible at that time…GEEEZ!
To this I say, “ENOUGH ALREADY…NO MORE BAIT AND SWITCH…PLEEEEEASE.” It’s time for all runners to take the bull by the horns and determine their own fate and here’s how. 1) If you are registered for a race that’s scheduled in 2020, consider the possibility that that race is going to ACTUALLY happen a pipe dream. 2) Create your own VIRTUAL race to replace the pipe dream or sign up for an already existing VIRTUAL race.
Personally, I’m registered for the Boston and Chicago Marathons. I have a faint and ever dimming hope that one of those two races will happen. But, instead of moping about the $500+ I have probably squandered or pining for The Good Old Days when being registered for a big city marathon meant something, I have decided that I will run my own VIRTUAL Boston Marathon on the Northern Rail Trail by starting at Potato Road in Canaan, run 13.1 miles toward the Connecticut River, turnaround and comeback. I plan to use USATF course certification guidelines to “Jimmy Certify” this VIRTUAL course…CARE TO JOIN???
As for the MWRR, Joffrey Peters is conjuring up a gnarly-beyond-nasty VIRTUAL MWRR course as I write. Stay tuned…CARE TO JOIN??? Fair warning there may be rocky trail sections thrown in…GRRRRRRRR…
And, you know what?, VIRTUAL races are really COOL. To be honest, nothing can replace running shoulder to shoulder with your favorite AG rival down the home stretch, but…but…but I just signed up for the VIRTUAL Brooklyn Half Marathon for free. As I registered I was asked if I wanted to donate to their “Rising New York Road Runners” program for kids and I said sure. So, for less than $25 I made a commitment I will keep that connects me VIRTUALLY with the running community at large and, in my case, with my family in Brooklyn…Let the trash talk begin! I will train for and run my VIRTUAL Brooklyn Half sometime between May 1 and 17th, simply post it on Strava as a “race” and the race organizers will offer links to ongoing results until final results are posted on May 21st. What’s not to like? Close to home, the Hanover Recreation Department and UVRC Board member Tim Smith are collaborating on a VIRTUAL “Main Street Mile” in May as well. The opportunities are endless.
So, as you can clearly see…IT’S TIME TO EMBRACE VIRTUAL RACING. Make the commitment, connect with other runners, challenge a friend to join in and start training and trash-talking. I knew we could figure this social distancing dance out…I KNEW IT!!!
New COVID Safe but Tick Rich Trail Running Treasure in Hanover
By Bill Young
An outstanding trail running resource has been added to our already rich Upper Valley options. The Trescot Ridge Water Reservoir land is laced with roads and trails with fantastic distance signage. Thank you Hanover Conservancy and Trails Committee. Highlights:
Great maps like this one. Available on line or free at the trail head kiosks.
Signage with distance at every trail crossing. Notice the wide gravel road for social distancing and 1.2 miles out Knapp Road to Ascutney View Trail.
Fun History about the Poor Farm, the reservoirs and the No. 4 School House as seen photographed in 1912. It moved when the students moved. Dorcas and her students removed the brush at old site.
Wild things. Two daughters of Mink the famous bear den here. Hanover hunters have harvested the most deer in the state of NH since this sanctuary was opened. Deer ticks follow the still large deer herds.
Views. Hill climbers will find them and can gaze south from the Ascutney View Trail to one of their other favorite training grounds.
Contact Bill if you want a long slow distance exploration.
Confessions of a Paper Towel Hoarder + Here Comes the Sun… I Think…
By Ellie Ferguson
As I was driving to work this morning I saw a strange sight. As I came around the corner a mile from my house, there was this big bright thing sending rays at me above Cannon, obscuring my view of the top end of the tramway. How weird.. Oh yeah, that’s the sun.. As I drove up the Easton valley, with sun peeking over the snow covered Kinsmans (yes it’s still winter in the high peaks).. With all the shenanigans with COVID-19, it was nice to finally see the sun out..for more than a minute. And it ended up in the low 60s to boot..
While the world has seemed to have gone mad, we need to remember this will come to an end.. There will be life after COVID. In the meantime, remember we still live in a beautiful state, and remember to stop and appreciate the beauty all around, even just for a few moments.
In the never ending silliness of late; including recently announced trailhead closures in WMNF due to people being stupid and not socially distancing like the recent Smart’s Mountain issue, ongoing toilet paper, paper towel, hand sanitizer hoarding, things have overtaken me. I now have 6 paper towel rolls (1 open), 6 rolls of toilet paper (1 roll open), 3 packs of 20 wet wipes, and 1 small bottle of hand sanitizer. Such a hoarder. Oh dear…
Route of the Month
By Laura Petto
Route Name: Douglas New Boston Loop
Route Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation: 526 ft
Terrain Type: Paved road, dirt roads, and trails
Description: This is a nice, challenging double loop. Routes that include New Boston are my favorite (see my route description from last year) and the view after the first climb is particularly beautiful – after the twisty initial New Boston climb, there’s a wonderful outlook onto fields framed by mountains in the background. At sunrise (and I suspect at sunset, I just never run then!), the light pouring over the mountains onto the fields is stunning. Then, after New Boston, a sharp left is taken onto Douglas, which is a very challenging climb – about 200 ft up in .4 miles. But that beautiful New Boston outlook is even better from the top of Douglas! After that, there are some nice rolling dirt roads to the Douglas connector to Upper Turnpike. The connector is along a small creek, and it can occasionally be slippery, but it’s an easy trail without much elevation gain. Then, onto Upper Turnpike for a gentle downhill dirt road. Finally, onto Turnpike, past the Dairy. I often see chickens roaming on side roads, which is fun! To break the monotony, I like to go back along Beaver Meadow instead of taking Turnpike all the way to Main Street. It’s easy going after the connector trail. The route is definitely front-loaded with climbs and views – the best and hardest parts in the beginning.
Variations: Start at Huntley Meadow, or start from the Dartmouth green
UVRC Runner Profile: RJ
By Scott King
Name: RJ which stands for Robert Jones (there are several Robert Joneses in my family so I thought I’d be slightly different
Town: Hanover, NH
Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?: I’m originally from a pretty large suburb of Phoenix, Arizona called Ahwatukee. I came to Hanover in 2014 to do a one year internship at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. But one year turned to two, and then they hired me as a full federal employee, and then they didn’t fire me before my probationary period was up so now they’re stuck with me until either time stops or I die ☺.
What do you do professionally?: I’m a microbiologist and data scientist for the Cold Regions Lab. In broad strokes I use computational techniques to parse out the millions of DNA sequences we can extract from microorganisms in a variety of environments (snow, soil, skin, etc) to understand which microbes are there and potentially what they are doing. For example, if we were interested in understanding what would happen if some company accidentally dumped a bunch of crude oil on snow, we could collect snow samples from that area, extract the DNA, and I would look for bacteria that are known to have the ability to munch on complex hydrocarbons and their general abundance. Because if they are there perhaps the oil spill won’t be nearly as bad and we could model how long the degradation would take. I’m also interested in how microorganisms sense things in the environment and also how they signal each other that something is going down and if we humans can leverage that to get better resolution on microbial and environmental processes. Or utilize microbes as novel forms of communication. Clearly I like talking about work, ask me questions if you see me!
How long have you been running?: I think at this point a year and a half!
How long have you been running competitively?: I wouldn’t say I’m competitive in the traditional sense, I mean in my mind I would need to have some kind of fierce rival from another town that I’m constantly trying to get the upper hand on, a Gary Oak if you will. But I’ve done races for the last year or so and I’m pretty sure I beat at least one person in my age group. This isn’t the pinnacle of sportsmanship but for motivation whenever I race about halfway through I’ll pick someone who seems to be about my pace and declare that if I beat them I have “won” the race.
Why do you run?: For fun! I mean yes I also do it to keep my weight down and it allows me to be much more lenient with the amount of junk food I eat, but primarily I do it for fun. It helps me relax, lets me do deep thinking, and I get to jam out to what some might call weird music without interruptions or judgement (you can judge all you want, I know a boppin beat when I hear one). In my mind it also justifies all the shoes I buy because someone, let’s say a professional runner, mentioned that having different kinds of shoes helps work different muscles thus reducing risk for injury. Whether that’s true or not it gives validity to something I was going to do anyway.
Recent memorable moment while running?: Recently for the first time I ran the entirety of River Road and back. I’ve lived nearby for so long but never actually did it. It’s beautiful!
Best athletic accomplishment and why?: Honestly the fact that I’m still running to me is my biggest accomplishment. I was a person who really did not enjoy running and was very vocal about it. But now it feels weird if I don’t have a run during the day. Total convert as they say.
If you like to race, notable race moment? OR most memorable race?: Most memorable race would have to be the Montreal Rock and Roll Half-Marathon I did in September 2019. It began pretty horrid because they started the race almost an hour late and I had totally lost my buzz. But we got to run through the old Olympic stadium which was super cool and I had never experienced a race of that size before, the energy was incredible. Unfortunately I kind of burned out towards the end but I had a solid running buddy the whole time that stuck by me even as I think I dramatically said “I think I’m dying go on without me!” so that kept me going.
Training partners?: I’m lucky that I have lots of runs with people in the club (who get to be featured in the titles of my Strava runs, a high honor I know :P). But I’m always looking for more! I love running with people. What I really need is a running dog, alas.
Cross training activities?: Does baking count as a cross training activity? I used to bike a lot but found I had more fun running. Oh and racquet ball!
Favorite local running route?: I call it the Unicorn Run. You start by CRREL and then turn by the co-op to get on RIP road, snake through some neighborhoods and pop up on wheellock, go down to the other co-op (isn’t it crazy how there are two within running distance of each other?), wind through downtown Hanover, around Occom and then back. And when you are done the shape looks like a Unicorn rising up on its haunches to kick some evildoer in the face.
Favorite post run treat?: In the summer I love chugging a cold PBR. Also a toasted PB&J but I’d eat that whenever. I always crave something salty after a run so ramen is a good choice too. Really the best treat is a hot shower and a nap.
Strangest place ever run?: I don’t really have any as of right now but I’m open to suggestions!
Any notable streaks or other unusual running events?: Alas no but something that I heard about that sounded really fun is the Night Owl run. I’m not sure where it is in New Hampshire but it’s a night race where you aren’t allowed any time keeping devices and you win by being the closest person to cross the finish line exactly at midnight. One day I hope to do it!
What made you start running?: Good question! My buddy and fellow UVRC member Matt Sherman, tricked me into doing the Run for Pie by telling me that everyone who ran got pie. And I, who hadn’t run seriously in a long time, was like “oh fine I can get off my butt for a 5k if there is pie at the end”. Of course in actuality if you ran and *placed* you got pie I found out but still I suffered through that 5k and honestly kind of got my butt kicked. But afterwards Matt continued to encourage me to keep it up, to come to the Saturday morning runs and meet people, to log my runs and watch my pace, he encouraged me to sign up for races even if I didn’t think I would do very well. He’s a good hype man and I probably would have stopped running if it hadn’t been for him. So find yourselves a good hype man people!
Who is your running “idol”?: All of you in the club! Seriously! We are such a diverse group of runners and I have been consistently humbled by the passion everyone has.
Are your reasons for running now the same or different than the reason you first started?: Very much so! I mean at first it was more about fitness and not being a chunk (my own mother remarked at “how less fat” my face was after I’d been running for a while. But somewhere along the way I found myself thinking halfway through the workday “man I can’t wait to run” or after something stressful happened I would be like “god, I just need to run or something then I’ll be better”. It became something I actually found enjoyable and was part of how I de-stressed. Of course the community is just icing on the cake!
Why did you join UVRC?: Matt Sherman told me I should haha. But also, I’ve never really been much of a joiner but everyone was so nice and encouraging it just felt right. I mean maybe I also really wanted that sweet singlet but that’s neither here nor there.
Ever run in a costume?: Technically no but I feel with all my multicolored running lights I look like a disco robot.
The only running shoe for me is… The Brooks Asteria! I love that shoe so much it feel like it was made for me. It fits my weirdly shaped feet, is my favorite color, and it was the first shoe I ever ran double digits in.
Ever been injured? How did it happen?: I’m kind of dealing with some behind the knee pain right now that I think came from overexertion and not stretching very frequently. Also if you’re reading this this is just a PSA to hydrate. Have you drank any water today? STAY HYDRATED PEOPLE! IT IS SO EASY AND IMPORTANT! HYDRATE OR DIEDRATE!
Hot or cold weather runner?: Somewhere in the vastness between? It’s really about the fashion here. I love tights, hoodies, and jackets with thumb holes, but I also like the modesty pushing split shorts and singlets I can wear in the heat of summer.
Morning or evening runner?: Evening 100%. My motor does not get running until at least noon. It is something of a small miracle that I’ve done these races that required me to get up at 5AM.
What is your motivation?: There is a sizeable hole in which I’ve buried all the things that I have started and quitted but I’m committed to making sure that running is not one of them. I never thought it would be something I could do and even like doing and the fact that I was so wrong has reframed my own self-doubt. It probably isn’t healthy but there is always that tiny voice in the back of my mind (though it’s gotten quieter and quieter) that insists that “this is just a phase”. Continuing to run is my way of giving that voice the middle finger. Also I lost a lot of weight and don’t want to have to buy new clothes again. I mean I do, I love clothes, but I want to buy them because I want to not because I have to.
I run therefore I… let my creativity run too. I am a creative person by nature, just thinking of new stuff regardless of what it is gets me excited. Usually these are stories and concepts and such. If you follow me on Strava you may have noticed that my runs have strange titles like they are out of pulp fiction novels. These are the stories that I’m making in my brain while I’m running. I create characters that are always on some kind of journey and play the movie of that journey in my head while I’m running. And if you run with me I make a character based on you too as a guest star (you know you want in on this ☺). It allows me to ignore the mileage, the time, whatever is stressing me out in my life, and just be in complete control inside my own head for a while where cool things are happening and there’s always a happy ending. I also love running fashion and gear so part of my prep is putting together an ensemble that looks aesthetically cool, it to me is a way of owning my runs but also supporting my clothing and shoe addiction. And one of my mottos is “look fly, feel fly”. Lastly, my characters need some dope background music so it’s gotten me into crafting epic playlists, mostly from animes which almost all unanimously have songs with high BPMS and this keeps my running momentum up. If you ever see me running and lip syncing it’s probably to something from an anime….or Panic at the Disco.
Favorite running book/film?: I’ve never read or watched a running based thing so I’m going to make one up and hopefully someone with money somewhere will make it a thing. It would probably be an anime because that’s just my jam. It would be about a futuristic world in which urban adventure relays (like parkour but more jetpacks, robots, rocket powered skates, and death mazes) have taken the world by storm. Co-ed teams compete for glory in complex and sometimes dangerous courses setup in our world’s major cities. They have to combine the physical and mental talents of each team member so it isn’t just about being fast. Because I’m a sucker for the underdog, this would of course be about a ragtag team of disparate people who actually learn to love running and the relay through their team bonding but also by wanting to beat the unnecessarily evil local elite team. Spoilers, they actually lose to the elite team because hey they’re elite for a reason BUT the elite team has to acknowledge that perhaps for the first time in a while they really felt the passion for what they did and had to work to win. Because really it’s all about the fun of the game am I right? Anyway get on that Michael Bay!
How about favorite work out?: I like a nice easy 6 miler with no hills! Ugh hills are the bane of my existence. Start off with easy pace and ramp up every mile until the last mile is a blitz! Finish with a bang I always say.
What is your diet like?: Well I run so I can pork out whenever I feel like it, but I am a vegetarian so I would say it’s moderately healthy. I eat a lot of eggs, kale, and ramen but I’ve gotten into making my own noodles and perfecting my own broth because I am hipster trash on the inside. And I bake. One would think that I’m trying to fatten my housemates up for some nefarious purpose given how often I bake but really it’s just how I show my love, and also satisfy my sweet tooth.
If you could run with anyone, who would be the person?: Brandon Sanderson. I’ve never read any of his books but in the time we are running I’m going to offload all the stories I’ve been keeping in my head in the hopes that he’ll make one of them into a book.
What else should the club know about you?: If I ever tell you that I believe in you, I mean it. Every time. If there is one thing you can always trust in life it’s that RJ believes in you.
Aside from running, what are your hobbies?: I think I mentioned this a lot but I love baking. I’m also learning how to make all those things that I previously thought required special skills but really could be done by your average joe. Things like homemade ramen noodles, dumplings, sour candy (I love candy), and such. I’m also really into video games and dungeons and dragons so if you ever want to play hit me up! I’ve been a DM several times.
Can I still PR?: A data junkie’s reflection on 12 years of 5ks
By Sara Vannah
Like many runners, I’m a data junkie. I fret over my weekly mileage being low by a fraction of a mile, pore over old race results, and compare workout splits from season-to-season and year-to-year. Recently, I decided to use this to my advantage to answer one of my favorite questions – can I PR in the 5k? And if so, how much of a stretch is it?
I compiled all of the 5ks I’ve logged over 12 years of running, mostly cross country. I ran the 5k in track a few times, but those tend to be faster than running on trails or roads so I included a separate track dataset, as well as some 3k times from track that I converted. I added black dashed vertical lines for my high school and college graduations, which represented big changes in training for me, and gray dashed horizontal lines for my PRs coming out of high school and college.
PRing part 1: Do runners really plateau?
About a decade ago, I read an article that said runners competing in one event tend to plateau after a few years. To me, a “plateau” means that times will exponentially approach some upper limit so I fit my cross country and road data with a line that exponentially approaches some upper limit.
Right off the bat, I was bummed to see just how flat the tail of the exponential is today. A quick analysis of the residuals – the difference between my raw data and the exponential model, which should show only random noise for a good model – showed that that the exponential fit was a decent one.
While my times follow an exponential trend, it’s easy to see my “good” or “bad” seasons in the data. All of the blue points at ~80 months (fall of ‘15) are below the trendline, while nearly all the points at ~90 months are above the line. To me, this shows that fitness isn’t dictated by the exponential. Improvements in training, recovery, mental strategies, nutrition, etc. can still pull you off the exponential. I’m choosing to interpret this as yes, I can absolutely continue to grow more fit and run faster 5ks. The exponential only rules if we continue to run exactly the same.
PRing part 2: How much can I trust a good or bad race result?
One of my biggest pet peeves is self-critical runners calling a good race a “fluke”. You can’t fake fitness. However, there is a large amount of variance in how well fitness manifests itself in a race – no runner needs examples of just what can go wrong in a race.
The easy answer to this was to use the standard deviation over the course of a season. Obviously this is an imperfect measure since I tend to improve over the course of a season, but large leaps in performance tended to be over larger timespans. I found that over time, the variation decreased quite a bit – as a new runner, my times were all over the place! By 8 years of racing 5ks, I was skilled at pacing myself and racing hard. My standard deviation dropped down to about 20 seconds. This means that I am normally running with 20 seconds of a PR, that perhaps all I need is a good day! It also means that I should stop beating myself up for running, say, 10 seconds slower one week than a week prior. All of this is normal variation.
In conclusion – yes, runners (or at least me!) eventually plateau – but only if they keep training the same. Racing skills develop over time and they’ll grow much faster as a beginner, but there’s always room to experiment. This winter, I experimented with running lower mileage and resting more. This brought me to the cluster of green and orange dots on the far right of the plot – more PRs! My increased consistency has meant fewer wasted efforts in the quest of endlessly slicing off precious seconds.
Ask the Coaches
Got a question for the coaches? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it on! I’m OUT of questions, so if you like this feature, get me your question ASAP!
Do the coaches have any suggestions about mixing up our routines to keep our interest up without races?
Yes, I do! This is basically my entire job right now as a coach 🙂
That is to say, you are not alone! Anything we can do to alleviate the stress we put on ourselves as goal-oriented athletes is energy well spent. So consider yourself normal for whatever you are feeling: lack of motivation, feeling that training is pointless, anxiety about races being cancelled, lack of structure, loneliness without a training group… all normal.
That said, one of the things I emphasize to my athletes is that training is a long term project. Although the next goal always seems like the most important goal, we’re all working on a much bigger picture. Now is a great time to be training for a 2021 or 2022 race for example, if racing is your primary motivator. That’s what I’m doing.
The next thing athletes should do is get clear on what excites them about training. For the runner who submitted this question, it may be racing. But it may also be having the structure of a training plan. It may be the social aspect, or having regular performance markers, or stress relief, or being in nature. Get clear on what you LOVE about training, then approach your training from that perspective.
For the folks out there who are highly motivated by racing, time trials and virtual (strava) races are a must! It helps so much to know that on such-and-such a date we’re going to go out and perform, and it gives us structure to work around.
For non-race-oriented athletes, AND for racers, I highly recommend experimenting with cross training and intuitive training right now. Having a selection of different types of training to choose from on any given day provides an opportunity for the body and mind to weigh in on what they need today. If you think you’re a one trick pony and that trick is road running, consider trail running. Or mountain running. Or calisthenics-based strength training. Or hiking. Those are all things you can do with just your running shoes. I’ve been probing the websites of the various organizations that maintain trails in the UV and trying to visit less traveled places, at ridiculous hours of the morning or in the rain to avoid other people… there’s something fun about the challenge of that. But even if running in the dark and in the rain isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, you could still challenge yourself to get to know your home better and run a new trail or road.
Check in with other athletes. Keep the social aspect alive by sharing workouts and discussing training goals, or even meeting up for a socially distanced run (although keep in mind that, though the jury is still out, it is likely we do need more than 6 ft between us when breathing at high exertion.) Zoom strength sessions with your training buddies could be a new part of your routine. Communicating with other athletes will help you keep the accountability aspect that training groups provide.
One other trick to consider: training is about wellness, and there are things besides training we can do to contribute to wellness. You might find you’re more motivated in training if you spend some energy developing other wellness habits, such as working on your sleep hygiene or focusing on aspects of your nutrition you’d like to improve.
Thanks for the question! I think this speaks to a lot of us right now.
Carly Wynn is a personal coach at www.CarlyOutside.com, and can be reached at Carly@CarlyOutside.com.
If the resources are available to you, or a combination thereof, I used to run on the treadmill while watching a ski race video (yeah, I’m that old) or an old recording of the Boston Marathon on my TV that I kept saved just for this purpose. It actually really helped my stride rate!
Nowadays it could be watching a recording of a previous marathon on youtube while on a treadmill or other stupid-indoor-machine, or listening to it on a device (I don’t know how – I defer to a millennial) while running outside.
There were some cool, row-with-me coaching videos filmed in San Francisco Bay that I used to watch while on my Concept II. If I still had it, I might try to find a recorded race on youtube and try to match their stroke rate. (There would be an added abdominal component, as I’d be laughing at my attempt.)
In all cases, I’d feel like I was in a race situation, with competitors/fellow sufferers, and the crowd cheering me on at the same time.
I’m feeling your pain, Rob!
Dorcas DenHartog coaches cross country running at Hanover High School and summer track for UVRC.
With races being postponed and canceled faster than Mo Farah can kick the last 400 meters of a 10K, it’s easy to slide into the doldrums. Poor me, why should I train hard if I’m not going to race? There is now the VIRTUAL racing option to help keep your cardio battery charged up but, I know, it’s just not the same, right? So, what to do…you’re losing focus and on top of that the pounds are starting to creep back in around your waist, ugh!
HERE’S WHAT TO DO:
1) Have a purpose – set a short-term goal, create a fun, doable challenge.
Strava offers dozens of challenges each month – e.g. complete 15 activity hours in a month combining running, walking, hiking, riding, swimming, you name it. That’s just 30 minutes a day. Use Strava or whatever social media program you like or make up your own challenge. Then take it on, one day at a time.
Personal Tip: When I wake up in the morning, usually around 5 am, and as soon as I touch my glasses on the bedside table, Mookie the 100 lbs Labradoodle jumps up off his bed and is ready to head out the door for a walk. Okay, I’m lucky to have a willing training partner, but before we head out and right after I brush my teeth and take my vitamin B-12 and D3, I look at myself in the mirror and remind myself of my challenge for the day, then I slap myself across the face to reaffirm my commitment to get it done. BAM!!! My reward is to look at myself in the mirror again just before I go to bed and smile because I did what I said I would do and it was easy! One day at a time…pure and simple.
2) Commit to Only One Step – Just get your foot out the door, after that if you want to go back to bed you can, but you won’t.
Personal Tip: I always allow for a warmup at the beginning of an activity, even if I’m just walking, I feel my way into the workout. How do my feet feel? Quads? Hammies? Calves? I relax and do a quick body scan? If everything is starting to loosen up a bit, then I do some simple drills – walk/jog backwards, run in place…tap, tap, tap…relax my foot muscles, tendons and ligaments and feel the ground with my feet splayed out and push off your forefoot…aaah…
3) If you don’t want to do the workout JUST DON’T DO IT…OR BETTER YET…TRY A “FARTLEK” – NO PRESSURE
Personal Tip: If you have promised yourself that you only have to commit to take ONE STEP and that you can bail out at any time after that, then the pressure is OFF and any dread that might have tried to creep in is GONE. So, I’ve started down the road and despite a thorough warmup…IT’S JUST NOT HAPPENIN’. I mean, I’m just not up for this THING, this 10 x 400 THING or this 15 minute Tempo THING or this 10+ mile LOOOOONG RUN THINGGGGGG…No Worries. If you’ve got headphones, get ‘em out put ‘em on and jog slowly. At the end of the first song, pick up the pace a bit during the next song, then jog or walk or whatever during the next song, then pick it up bit during the next song…that’s FARTLEK, YOU ARE FARTLEKIN’. Now if you don’t have headphones, start jogging slowly and pick out a telephone pole or funky tree or rock or fence or turn in the road and pick up the pace a bit when you get there, then pick out something else down the road and slow back down when you get there. If it’s still not happening’ go home, but you won’t need to because you will in your groove and run-in’ down the road. You may even be smiling at yourself for being such a DICK in the first place. AND…DON’T FORGET TO SMILE AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR BEFORE YOU GO TO BED. NICE JOB, YOU DID IT!
Jim Burnett is the president of the Upper Valley Running Club.
A Last Word from the Editor
By Amanda Kievet
Sitting down to my breakfast putting the final touches on this month’s newsletter 5 days late (what’s new?) and I find myself moved by the articles you all have submitted. I’ve been dealing with a nagging left hip since last fall when I quickly switched from post-50 mile race recovery to just showing up for TNT and putting all my energy into speed workouts. Of course injury came on quickly. Now with COVID-19 killing all of my social motivation, I’ve all but stopped running. Since I’m so involved with UVRC (Board Member, Social Chair, Newsletter Editor, Web Developer…) this has left me feeling somewhat like a fraud. I find myself asking “Where did the runner from 6 months ago who was mid way through a 50 mile race go?” I’ve started to wonder if this, like so many of my passions, was just a phase.
But no! Reading what you all have written has inspired me to re-prioritize running. Running is such a joy and a real tool for getting through stressful times. I trained for my first 5k after graduating college while trying to figure out which direction to start my life. My first half marathon was during a very intense 3 month “coding camp”. I ran my first 50k was 2 weeks after my big wedding.
Re-starting is hard, but not as hard as starting in the first place. I already have my community (though distant) and quite a collection of race medals to show that I can get there again… someday. I’m inspired by my neighbor who’s starting a couch-to-5k style running program for the first time pushing a toddler. I’m inspired by RJ (profiled above) who I didn’t know only recently started running and is crushing it! I’m inspired by the Gonnermans finding motivation locally running all the roads in Hanover at 75+.
So, this week I’ll give the Lone Runner Challenge a go. I’ll follow Jim’s advice and just get one foot out the door. I’ll be easy with myself and prioritize stretching and rolling out to get my hip back in shape. Thanks to all of you for writing and keep it coming — it really helps to feel connected during this time.
About this Newsletter
This newsletter is put out monthly by the Upper Valley Running Club, a 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.