December 2022 Newsletter
Note from the Editor
Donate running shoes, read about UVRC member adventures, and check out updates from the NH Grand Prix and the Upper Valley Running Series!
UVRC Newsletter Team
UVRC Newsletter Team
Table of Contents
- Recycling Shoes by William "Bill" and Sarah Young
- Tricks of the Trade: Adventure Ridin’ Across America by Sean Meissner
- The Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k in Manhattan by Michael Herron
- The Adventures of Sweatman: The Sandown 5-Miler by Robert "RJ" Jones
- Upper Valley Running Series 2022 Wrap-up by Geoff Dunbar
- NH Grand Prix 2022 Recap by Jim Westrich
By: William "Bill" and Sarah Young
Omer and Bob's sports store in Lebanon has a box in their entryway where you can donate athletic shoes that still have some life in them. Jim Burnett introduced the UVRC and the Upper Valley to this program years ago.
According to Jim Riordan, founder of the More Foundation Group, the USA has 5% of the world’s population and 70% of the shoes.
The More Foundation Group gathers the shoes and sells them for $4 a pair to brokers in Asia, Israel, Pakistan and South America. These sales fully fund their foundation which uses these funds in Ghana, West Africa to plant fruit trees and trees that can be harvested for their wood. Each pair of shoes provides funding for 5 trees which provide food, income and carbon sequestration.
Before COVID, shoe sales by the Foundation provided enough funds to plant 200,000 trees a year. This dropped to 50,000 trees when all the gyms were closed. But in 2022 they are on target to reach 600,000 trees. The More Foundation Group has adopted 60 schools in Ghana and established nurseries in their schoolyards. Each school has about 500 students, and they learn how to germinate and care for the seedlings which produce both food and income. When the saplings are mature enough, each student takes 10 trees home to plant. The More Foundation also sponsors agroforestry training at these schools. The Foundation hopes to repeat this project annually to reforest Ghana.
Three other Upper Valley drop off locations for athletic shoes are Anytime Fitness in West Lebanon, CCBA Witherell Recreation Ctr. in Lebanon and UVRC at 484 Canaan St., Canaan, NH.
Sustainable Hanover and UVRC
Tricks of the Trade: Adventure Ridin’ Across America
By: Sean Meissner
On May 9 this year, I dipped the tires of my Salsa Vaya gravel bike into the Pacific Ocean in Pacific City, OR. On June 9, after 3,267.9 miles of pedaling, I dipped those same tires into the Atlantic Ocean in Lewes, DE, thus, completing a 35-years-in-the-making adventure goal of bicycling across the United States. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
It all started in 1987 when I was a freshman in high school. I had just finished my first cross country season when my Uncle Rog became the leader of the local Explorer Scout Cycling Troop; he invited me to join, we went on a few group rides, and I was hooked. We started by riding 15-mi loops on hilly rural roads, which quickly increased to 30 and 50-mi weekend rides.
I remember the first time we rode to Nana’s lake cabin – a 70-miler that I never would have even thought of riding before Scouts; it was always just “let’s drive to the lake for the day”.
Uncle Rog eventually got us in shape to ride TOSRV, a two-day, 230-mi organized ride near Missoula, MT. At 14 years old, I was the youngest rider that year and I remember getting in a pace line with riders who were talking about their upcoming cross country ride. WHAT!? No way! I had to hear more, and what I heard hooked me. I knew right then that I would someday ride across the USA.
Fast forward to 2017 and after largely ignoring my bike for a decade and a half because I was having fun running 10-15 ultras per year, I decided to dust it off and I quickly remembered how much I used to love riding. I started thinking about my cross country riding goal and after a couple years, I loosely gave myself a timeline of completing my goal before turning 50 (Summer 2023).
In October, 2020, I bought a gravel bike specifically for the ride and got more intentional with my training and beginning stages of planning. I started baiting friends to see if anyone was interested. And I rode a bit more regularly over the next 18 months, but nothing crazy.
Eventually, May 2022 came around, I had found a riding companion (random college student through AdventureCycling.org), I had made logistical plans for the first 10 days of the ride, and I made my way to Pacific City.
Much of the first two weeks involved cold weather, headwinds, and cows. We got fit riding through Oregon, which included an overnight at the best cyclist-friendly hostel ever in tiny Mitchell. In Idaho we got a small taste of the Rockies, I met-up with my brother on a random highway as he was going to work, I had a fairly hard crash (cracked some ribs), and celebrated riding over Teton Pass with a 53 mph descent into Wyoming. The much anticipated Teton Day didn’t disappoint, with a gorgeous day, slight tailwind, beautiful Teton views, nachos & blackberry margs at Signal Mtn Lodge, a mother grizzly and two cubs sighting, and me winning my only KOM sprint of the trip at our high point on the Continental Divide at Togwotee Pass.
Then surprisingly, Nebraska was another trip highlight! It started with the Sandhills sand dunes that were amazing, took us on 200 miles of a rail trail gem on the Cowboy Trail, treated me with the world’s best cinnamon rolls in Tekamah, and finished with gigantic Omaha Steaks in, well, Omaha. Despite getting my only coal-rolling of the trip (which I think was unintentional), I enjoyed Nebraska.
The next three states, the Is, took us through the heart of the country and were filled with lots of soybeans, corn, cows, curiosity with us at random convenience stores, windmills, and headwinds. Oh the headwinds. Eight to ten hours a day of in-yo-face 20-30 mph winds. Almost every stop, the locals would say “Yeah, this is a crazy spring as the wind usually blows from the west…”. Thanks.
In the second I, Illinois, a ride on the Hennepin Canal Trail yielded a not-particularly-hard crash, but hard enough to break my handlebar (likely cracked on my first crash back in ID). Thankfully we were in flat Illinois when this happened, as my right shift lever/brake was useless and it would be 130 miles before I found a bike shop that could replace it.
After unfun rides around and through some big cities in Indiana and Ohio, we eventually made our way through the heartland and into eastern Ohio, where the steep hills and random pig encounters made it feel more like West Virginia. I enjoyed getting out of the headwind and rollers and back into the mountains, as it was nice to actually be able to see when even the steepest hill was ending (well, usually), even those creeping up to near 20% (of which I proudly cleared them all).
Those hills were just a warmup, however, to the Quaker State, as that’s where our biggest vert days of the trip came; long ups and long downs, pretty much all day, every day, for our 3 days of riding across it. Fun highlights came when crossing the Tuscarora Trail and Laurel Highlands Trail, both of which have significant meaning for me in my ultrarunning history, and the best lunch of the trip at an Amish dairy, where I feasted on a fresh strawberry-banana milkshake and a quart of fresh strawberries - oh-so-good!
Although not much riding was done in Maryland, we did get a few miles on the historic C&O Canal Path, another trail where I’ve logged a few ultra miles. As we entered Delaware, our final state line sprint was won by my much younger and faster riding partner, but it was a fun heart rate spike on our penultimate day that ended with good beers and relaxing in the sun.
Our final day was a mere 54 miles (typical days were 110-115 miles) and we were excited to get on the road. We enjoyed a scenic tour through old town Dover, then while cruising toward Milton, I felt my rear tire getting squishy. Crap. I’d gotten flat #1 on a poor road choice outside of Boise, and now, just 20 miles from the Atlantic, I got flat #2. I was on fire, though, and had the tube changed and we were back riding in under 5 minutes. A few miles later, however, my heart sank when that same squishy-tire feeling returned. This time I actually found and removed the tiny piece of glass from my tire before putting in a new tube. Back on the bikes and we pushed quickly to Dogfish Head Brewery so I could book-end my trip with a Sea Quench Ale (as I’d also drank one on day one way back in Oregon). As it was a warm day, I was pleasantly surprised that they were serving Sea Quench Ale slushies! I could’ve enjoyed a few more, but still had a dozen more miles to the ocean. Back on the bikes, “lights on” one last time, a little rebellion of riding 23 mph in a 20 zone, and then after 3267.9 miles in 30 days, 23 hours, and 20 minutes (under a month), we found ourselves in the Atlantic Ocean in Lewes.
We were done. And it was awesome. My favorite wife and her parents were there to greet us, and after a celebratory swim, we enjoyed good food, drinks, and heckling from my wife for my ghost-white t-shirt, er, chest.
A bike adventure of a lifetime, indeed.
Now as I write this four months later, I’m about to ride the Erie Canal Trail with my buddy Rob. At 4 days and 380 miles, it will be much shorter than the cross country ride, and I’m very much looking forward to shorter days in the saddle, more trail miles, fall foliage, and a great end to my cycling season.
I somehow believe that this mostly cycling-focused year has made me a little less of a runner and a little more of a cyclist again. And as someone who’s been a runner for 40 years, I think my body might like that shift. It’s almost like cross training and mixing things up are good things. Good things, indeed.
The Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k in Manhattan
By: Michael Herron
As luck would have it, I had plans to be in New York City during marathon weekend. The New York Road Runners (NYRR) has a 5k on the Saturday before the Sunday marathon, and I managed to sign up for it. This race, the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k, is the New York equivalent of the Chicago 5k that Laurie Reed ran on Columbus Day and wrote about in the November UVRC newsletter. I now have an official NYRR member number, which I will use when I run my next race in New York.
Needless to say, the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5k was unlike any 5k in the Upper Valley. There were 11,010 runners in it, which is more than the population of Hanover, my hometown. There was also prize money in the race, which might go a long way to explaining the winning time, 13:24.
The 5k starts in front of the United Nations, which is on the east side of Manhattan. Not only could the runners see the UN, but the number of languages I heard spoken while waiting to start was truly a New York experience. Next to me in my starting corral was a woman with German flag colors painted on her face, and, as many of my friends know, I seize all opportunities to practice German. Here was a good chance, and it turned out the flag woman was from Hannover. I explained to her that I am from Hanover, which I then spelled after getting a quizzical look from her, but she appeared unconvinced (thank goodness I did not have to explain that I also live close to Lebanon!). My German friend seemed to want to practice English with me, so that conversation ended with viel Glück (good luck!) Next to me on my left was another European runner, this one from the Netherlands. She had run the New York marathon a few times but this year was in town to support a friend. She encouraged me not to run the Amsterdam marathon, which she described as sort of boring, but instead to try to get a slot in next year’s New York marathon because the experience is so exciting. Honestly, I would be happy to run in Amsterdam in the future.
The 5k started in waves, and I was in wave E. Even with a wave start, the first quarter mile was on the slow side. My first mile was 8:05, which I found pleasantly surprising given my initial pace. From the UN, the race heads west on 42nd Street to 6th Avenue, and, as I ran the second mile along 42nd, I checked my pace on my Garmin watch. It read 9:00, meaning a 9:00 minute mile. I thought for sure I was running faster than the first mile, so I checked again in 30 seconds. Pace was 10:40. Then, a few seconds later, my watch reported that my pace had suddenly sped up to 7:30. It occurred to me that my watch was confused, which is very evident in the tracing it generated. You can see in the tracing that, from the UN, I ran west along 42nd and then north along 6th. The tracing, however, is quite jagged, which presumably reflects how tall building interfere with GPS signals. The tracing is normal at the point where the race enters Central Park. The turn into the park, which is on 59th, was jammed given the 90 degree turn.
It was a real blast running with a crowd through Central Park, and the finish line of the 5k is the same as the finish line of the marathon (same albeit minus a major difference in leg pain). After we finished, race volunteers handed out refreshments, which included a bag of pretzels. Behind me, I heard some Germans talking about the pretzels and what they were eating, and of course I had to jump into this conversation. For some reason, one woman was interviewing another in German, and then she wanted to interview me as well. My German accent does not fool anyone, but in my experience I apparently sound more like a northern European speaking German than an American. I’ll take it. The interviewer wanted to know what I thought of the course, whether I had run the Berlin marathon, if I liked the pretzels, and so forth.
All in all, this was a great 5k. I met a number of very nice and interesting people, and the race was fun to boot. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I am going to enter the upcoming New York City marathon lottery and see what happens. Ich drücke die Daumen! 😊
The Adventures of Sweatman: The Sandown 5-Miler
By: Robert "RJ" Jones
It took a while when I first started running but eventually I got out of the habit of saying to myself while on difficult runs; “Ugh I hate running”. Because apart from being destructive it was also untrue. I didn’t hate running, what I hated was suffering and being clued into my own perceived inadequacies i.e. breathing like I smoked a dozen packs of cigarettes a day, feeling pain in every part of my body even my teeth, and realizing that I sweat WAY more than a typical human man. And as a personal point of pride , I’ve come a very long way from the person I was when I first started running. Now I look forward to my runs, know how to pace myself for optimized success, and genuinely find it to be a fulfilling, stress relieving activity.
This is all to say that when I consider a run to be a “bad run”, it means that it was egregiously bad. It means that I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and hitchhiking my way back to my car or just sitting down on the side of the road and waiting for my motivation to come back, the cops to show up and forcibly move me, or my slow demise, whichever came first because I was simply not going another step.
Such a race was the Sandown 5-miler. Now I want to preface this by saying that just because I had a bad run, it is in no way a reflection of the race itself or its sponsors. The Sandown folk did an awesome job putting the race together with fantastic volunteers and a fun and challenging course. It was however, about 90°F and 87% humidity when the race started, had more ups than downs, and I was not in my prime of race shape which combined together means I got my butt whooped.
It was my first time doing the Sandown and I foolishly didn’t look at the course ahead of time as I am a chronic procrastinator and signed up at the last minute. It wasn’t until I got to the race proper that I realized I had made a mistake as before me lay a Sandown race sign that read “13 Hills, 5 Miles, Road Pain=Your Gain”. In my time here I’ve come to know that you don’t bother counting the number of hills in a race especially in NH and VT unless those hills are substantial, so reading 13 hills felt more like reading “13 nails for your coffin”. Also having seen a few overly masculine taglines in my time like “Pain is just weakness leaving the body” and “The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow” I had a feeling this would similarly underestimate the pain to gain ratio I would actually be receiving. And spoilers; there were many things I was feeling “tomorrow” but strength was not one of them.
Things started off pretty wet, as during my warmup I managed to sweat through my warmup tee and had to switch into what was going to be my “ride home tee”. I was starting to think that despite my almost pathological hydration preparation, I may not have enough moisture in my body to make it through the race. No time though as the announcement went out that the race was about to start.
Earphones in, I decided to have “You Got to Run” (Thank you Jim Westrich) and “Running up that Hill” on repeat as my playlist for the race for a little motivation. With the power of Buffy Sainte-Marie, God, Anime (y’all remember Vine right?), and Kate Bush on my side, surely I could manage this right?
At first yes! And then no. Very much so no . I can’t speak for other people but usually by mile 2 of any race I can tell what kind of race it's going to be for me. And by this mile 2 (which seemed to take forever to appear) my body was already jettisoning sweat from every pore and I felt like I was dragged a sandbag behind me. And as I huffed and puffed my way up another hill one of my co-sufferers remarked by way of encouragement something along the lines of “3 hills down, 10 more to go” which, while I appreciate knowing what I'm in for, did not help my mental state one bit.
By the time I got to the next water station I was in two cup mode i.e. grab one thing of water to drink, and one to splash on my overheating body which was beginning to wonder what the heck it was still doing running.
There was a pack of us that were essentially leapfrogging around each other by vacillating between running, walking, and sweating and here something magical happened that occurs in races when you all acknowledge that you are on a rough ride. And that is dad joke level encouragement. I would pass someone briefly and they would jokingly call out “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be right there” or “hey you look familiar!” knowing that we’ve been in the same huddle for the past 3 hills. Honestly despite how ragged I was feeling, this kind of wry human connection gave me a boost.
At about mile 3.5 I was cursing Kate Bush’s name and had to ditch my headphones since they were too sweaty to stay in my ears. And I realized that it was time. Time for the shirt, which was more sweat than quick-dry synthetic fabric (not quick enough!), to come off! Not that I am shy by nature but I've never been one to drop the top in a public race. But desperate times call for desperate measures and at the time my brain was convinced that it would help somehow. So chest bared for all to see, and at this point we were on a public road so there were plenty of people driving by, I sallied forth. The longest or seemingly the longest of the hills drained whatever remaining chutzpah and bravado I had gained from taking my shirt off and I was somewhere between a walk and a crawl as I made it to the final half mile which was mercifully downhill.
Earpods back in, I was out of sweat anyway (which is not a good sign), but I gave Kate Bush a break and switched to some Megalovania (the heavy metal version) because I needed something loud to drown out my brain saying “You don’t have to run into the finish there’s nothing left in the tank” I did though, I really needed to run through the finish out of a severe desire to be done and get some water, maybe throw up. I won’t tell you the time I finished because I didn’t commit it to memory. I know it was certainly not my best and I certainly know why. I looked around at the other UVRC folk that were there, all of us drained, sweaty, but done. My head hurt, my body hurt, and I didn’t pee for several hours after the race suggesting a high level of dehydration. It was the worst I'd done and felt on a run in recent memory. But I don’t mind that actually. Because while I did technically have the option of just peacing out of the race and hitchhiking, I didn’t. I could have walked the entire rest of the race when I was really hurting without shame, but I kept running off and on as long as I could. There’s something perhaps even slightly masochistic about learning how much you can handle and putting yourself to the test. It also helped that other people were right there with me trying their best just to finish. And for me just getting to the finish has always been enough. I walk away with lessons learned and I renewed hatred for all things hilly. I’ll probably do it again….
Upper Valley Running Series 2022 Wrap-up
By: Geoff Dunbar
The latest edition of the Upper Valley Running Series concluded with the Hanover Turkey Trot, Sunday, November 20th. Fitting for a November race in New Hampshire, a few flakes of snow made their presence known. Congratulations to all the brave runners who came out for the event.
The UVRS had 8 races this year, starting in May with the BarnArts Race Around the Lake. We had 24 runners achieve the coveted "Finisher" status by completing at least 6 of the races. Prizes will be generous this year! Aside from the guaranteed entry into the 2023 Covered Bridges Half Marathon, we're still working on exactly what the prizes are and when we'll distribute them. Check the website for finishers, age group winners, and all of the scoring.
Planning for the 2023 Upper Valley Running Series will take place over the winter. Stay tuned for details to come. I'll stay on as series coordinator for 2023; get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to help out with the committee. We have a good group of folks who help out, but more are always welcome.
NH Grand Prix 2022 Recap
By: Jim Westrich
The NH Grand Prix is a 5 race team competition and the UVRC finished 3rd out of 8 teams. Faster times earn more points but the main way for a team to do well is to have a lot of participation. UVRC had a lot of people participate--88 runners did at least one race! UVRC had great participation in 3 of the events but not in two races farther away. If the NH Grand Prix had been just the 3 closest races (Skip's Run, NE Half Marathon, and Track 5K) we would have won the series by 700 points! It was a great effort and a fun set of races.
The NH Grand Prix started out with the Nashua Soup Kitchen run. UVRC had a great van full go and a few other runners came down. We just did not match the large numbers of 3 other teams and started the season in 4th place.
Skip's Run then saw the best participation of any club in any race all season. UVRC had 52 runners show and scored just under 1600 points better than the next team! UVRC was in first place after that race.
Next was the hot and hilly Sandown 5M. UVRC had a nearly full van but just not enough runners to get many points.
The team had two Tuesday NIght Track sessions where people ran a 5K for the series (everyone could submit their best time). UVRC had great participation and 40 people ran.
Finally, the season ended with a NE Half Marathon from Hopkinton (NH) to Concord. Despite the distance of the race and the drive to the finish line UVRC had a decent turnout with 21 runners.
While the NH Grand Prix is a team competition if you run all 5 races you get to be a Granite Runner (I believe the prize is carving your face on a mountain somewhere but maybe the prize is something else). Both Tom and Pam Moore completed all 5 races as well as myself. RJ deserves special mention for running 4 of the 5 races but only missing the half marathon because he had to drive the van to the finish line (they can still carve his face on the mountain for that).
Pam Moore was the top point scorer for the whole series (!) as well as UVRC and Laurie Reed, despite missing the half marathon, was 4th overall and second for UVRC. I finished 3rd for UVRC and second overall for men.
In addition to those mentioned above, Patrick Luckow, Geoff Dunbar, Helene Sisti, Nadia Lafreniere ran 4 of the 5 races. Nancy Dunbar, Keri Niles, Julia Neily, and Shelby Whittet ran 3 races. 14 runners ran 2 races and 61 runners ran one of the races!
The New Hampshire Grand Prix website is at: https://www.nhgp.org/.
Let us know if you have any ideas for races that should be in the next year’s Grand Prix!