Monday, December 31, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Mileage

Here are mileage totals from my 2007 training log:

Running: 1,515 miles (220 hours)
Cycling: 585 miles (31 hours)
Swimming: 48 miles (24 hours)

Total: 2,148 miles (275 hours)

275 hours only equates to 3% of the hours in a year. So I have some room to pick up the miles in 2008!

For 2008 I'd like to hit 2,000 running miles for the year. I don't have a specific cycling goal but I'd like to step up the cross training on the bike since cycling is my true passion.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thomas

Last month we visited the Essex steam train and took the kids for a ride on Thomas The Train. After the train ride, we enjoyed lunch at the Black Seal and hung out at Town Park overlooking Middle Cove. Can't believe the weather was that nice just last month!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Day Revisited

Here's a video of Christmas Day:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

Santa left presents!

Alex, Gavin, Ciara

Ahhhh...

Kourt & Keith

The kids with Oma & Great Gram

The kids with Big Papa

Kasia & Chris

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Eve of Xmas Eve

"Good night sis. Only one more day until Santa comes!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bummed about Frosty

Alex just watched Frosty The Snowman and was pretty upset when Frosty melted at the end.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vermont 100 Pacer

“Pacers” are allowed in 100-mile endurance races to run with competitors the last portion of the event. The Vermont 100 allows pacers to join runners for the last 30 miles of the race. Pacers provide encouragement, help runners at the aid stations get food and hydration, help the runners follow the course etc… My training partner Mark and I decided to pace at the VT 100 (July '07) with several goals in mind:
- Gain some experience with the ultra running scene
- Log some training miles in preparation for our first 50 mile race
- Fulfill volunteer requirement for entry into the 2008 VT 100

Click here for an account of my pacing experience at the 2007 VT 100.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mt. Whitney Hike

Back in 2002 I hiked up Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, standing at 14,496 feet. It was such an awesome hike. The terrain was incredible, the views were spectacular and the weather was perfect. I flew out to San Diego, CA and met up with my buddy Doug and two of his friends Tim and John. We drove up to Lone Pine, CA and camped out at the base of Mt. Whitney. On day 1 we hiked up the east side route to just over 12,000 feet and set up our tents at Trail Camp. On day 2 we completed the trek up to the summit and then made the return trip back down.


At the summit



Here's a video I put together of the hike:






Monday, December 17, 2007

2008 Race Schedule

Here are some races that I’m planning to do in 2008. Come join me if you’d like!

1/27/08 - ING Miami Marathon - Registered
Location: Miami, FL – I hope to qualify for Boston!

3/16/08 - Shamrock Marathon - Registered
Location: Virginia Beach, VA - St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

4/21/08 – Boston Marathon - Pending Qualification
Location: Boston, MA – C’mon 3:15 in Miami!

5/18/08 – Soapstone Mountain Trail Race - Gonna register
Location: Stafford Springs, CT – Had fun in this 14.5 miler last year.

6/1/08 – Nipmuck Trail Marathon – Gonna register
Location: Ashford, CT – A tough 26!

7/19/08 – VT 100 Mile Endurance Run – Registered
Location: West Windsor, VT – My first 100 miler!

9/28/08 – VT 50 Mile Endurance Run – Gonna register
Location: Mt. Ascutney, VT – My first 50 miler last year.

10/11/08 – ING Hartford Marathon – Gonna register
Location: Hartford, CT – My 3rd consecutive HM.

Quote:
“Run as fast as you can until you can’t, then go slow”
- Dean Dobberteen

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Elf Yourself



A Lauren video creation:


Turco Family Elves
Keith & Kourtney Elves

Auggie & Sissy

Sometimes they aren't fighting over toys...



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jan

Today was the funeral for Shannon’s Aunt Jan. She passed away this week from brain cancer. Jan was only 53 years old. It’s tragic for someone to pass with so many good years ahead. Cancer is such a devastating disease and has struck this family before, which adds to the pain of another life being taken. Jan had an infectious smile and lots of enthusiasm. She was remembered today as “the sparkplug that charged everyone up.” Her son Christopher recalled how his mom was the loudest parent at his football games. Jan leaves behind an inspiration to always be positive and enjoy life. She enjoyed life most by loving her family. Her kids described her as their best friend. Jan liked traditions. She included our kids in the tradition of celebrating a birth in the family by having custom decorated pottery plates made with our children’s names and birthdates. Our children were the latest in the family to be baptized and Jan provided a family gown for the kids to wear. Alex and Ciara were the 4th generation in the family to be dressed in the gown. Jan was an elementary school teacher. Therefore, it is not only a great loss for this family but for the many kids whose lives she helped develop. Appropriately, the funeral was on the first storm and school cancellation snow day of the winter. This was a salute from above to Jan the teacher. We pray for Uncle Doug and Shannon’s cousins Karen, Mark and Christopher, that they may live their lives in her honor. May we all carry on her spirit. Jan will be missed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

USA Running

This video of Ryan Hall is pretty cool. It’s amazing how smooth he is and how he makes running appear to be so easy and effortless.



Note: He went on to win the trials and will represent the US at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cape Cod Airshow (August '07)

This summer my family and I traveled to the Otis Air National Guard base in Massachusetts to see the Cape Cod airshow. Although it was hot and humid, the continuous activity and thrill of planes blazing through the sky made for an exciting day. My company sponsored a VIP area on the flight line, which provided us some shade, cold drinks, food and the best seats in the house, not to mention visits from many of the pilots who performed throughout the day.

Here’s a slide show of some more pics I took at the airshow:


Here’s a video I found posted on youtube that has some cool footage of the action from the show:



Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weekend Family Fun

Last night we got together with some friends and enjoyed the festivities of the Connecticut Trolley Museum winterfest. We had dinner in the Trolley Stop restaurant, checked out all the active model trains and then took a 3 mile ride on a 1920's trolley car down the tunnel of lights.

Today we had lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the historic Lyman Orchards Homestead. The only disappointment was no horse and carriage rides this year!

Here’s a short video of the weekend activities:

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sleep eating

This video, taken a year ago, is of Ciara eating her mac-n-cheese while falling asleep:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gingerbread Lane

Yesterday the kids had some fun decorating gingerbread houses with their Oma.



Thursday, December 6, 2007

11 Degrees

The last few weeks I’ve been recovering from the races I completed in the fall. I’ve been getting plenty of rest and have gone to the gym for only a few light workouts. My only run outside was the one in Washington DC last week. And although it was a great run, all the stops to take pictures didn’t make for the best workout. So I decided that this morning would be the start of getting back into training mode, with a focus on the end of January Miami Marathon. My alarm clock went off at 5:30 AM and as I was trying to pull myself out from under my warm Canadian fleece bed sheets into the winter chill, Shannon was mumbling something about it’s “not fair” and “need to sleep”. I’m the one getting up to go out in the frozen tundra and my wife’s the cranky one?!

After checking the thermometer and noting that it was not so cozy outside, I put on my cold weather gear, lit up the headlamp and set off on my 7¼-mile route. I must’ve chosen the right clothing combination, as I was comfortable and not too bothered by the sub-teen temp. I managed just under an 8:00 min/mile pace completing the run in 57 min. It was great to be back outside running, even though it was an icicle forming 11 degrees!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

California Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Here’s a report of the Ford California Ironman 70.3 I competed in earlier this year. (Saturday 3/31/07)

Pre-Race: Two days before the race my family and I traveled out to Southern California. The day before the event I visited with my friends in San Marcos, picked up my packet, checked out the race expo, organized my gear, carbo loaded, and settled in to the West Coast time zone as best I could. Race morning, I woke up at 4 AM, loaded up my stuff and arrived at the race parking area in Oceanside at about 5:15 AM. I picked up my bike from the
tribike transport folks located by the expo area. What an excellent service they provide! I biked the 1.5 miles from the parking area over to the race start. The nervous energy and buzz of the pre race transition area is always one of my favorite parts of an event. Thoughts of keeping all the gear straight, visualizing the flow of the race, hoping I don’t drown, psyching myself up, culminates all the time and effort invested in training and creates an energy that’s intense.

Swim: At 6:40 AM my age group wave started. It was an in water start, and the only chance to get in some warm up strokes was the short swim out to the middle of the harbor starting line. The cold air temperature, which was about 49 degrees, actually helped with mitigating the shock of the 60 degree ocean temp. The air temp along with wearing my long sleeve wetsuit resulted in the water not feeling too cold… at first. I faced the usual challenge of maintaining a straight line, and easing into a rythmn while bumping into people, getting kicked and sorting through the congestion of bodies, arms and legs. My hands and feet numbed up and it was odd to lose the “feel” of stroking through the water. Open water swimming is quite different then training in the pool! I completed the 1.2 mile swim in just over 36 minutes which I was happy with…

Bike: I didn’t bike train over the winter much at all. Winter in CT doesn’t make it easy to get out and ride. So I was wondering how I would feel in the race and how prepared I was to handle 56 miles at a solid pace. The first 25 miles were pretty flat and fast. It felt so good to be out on a ride, I forgot about the race and just enjoyed the scenery and the perfect weather. This allowed me to get into a nice rythmn and hold a decent speed. About 30 miles in, there were a series of major hills, which slowed things down dramatically. I pushed through as best I could and this is where I started to feel the lack of bike training. I got through the climbs and finished off the bike segment with a solid time of 2:42.

Run: The run was an out and back along the ocean and was lined with spectators the whole way. The cheering and support was pretty awesome. It was hot in the direct sun and I made sure to drink at every station and dump some cold water over my head. I kept a steady pace the whole run and finished it in 1:51.


I completed the race in a total time of 5:18. It was an awesome race, well supported and a lot of fun. Here's a table of my split times:


Spreadsheet

After the race I had to walk over a mile back to where my family was parked and my son insisted that I carry him on my shoulders. My few hours as a triathlete were over and I was back to being Dad!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mountain Wingsuit

A friend of mine (Bruce) emailed me and said if I get bored with long distance running here's something to try. It combines interests in the outdoors, aviation and insanity:


Here's another wingsuit video
Yet another wingsuit video

Crazy!! I think I'll stick with the land stuff.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

No go in the lotto

The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run lottery was completed yesterday and my name was not one of the 16% of applicants picked from the Gatorade bucket. I’ll have to try again next year! So now it’s time to register for the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Race which takes place July 19, 2008.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Three S's

Ciara sneezing, singing and then sucking her thumb:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Presidential Traverse

Last summer, my buddy Mark and I hiked the entire Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in one day. Configured in light and fast mode, I was geared up with my Gregory Z35 pack, Merrell Chameleon ll light hiking boots and Komperdell trekking polls. With a pre dawn start and some assistance from Mother Nature, we had a full, weather perfect day for hiking.

Quick stats:
Distance covered: 24 miles
Elevation gain: 9,075 feet
Peaks bagged: 11
Time to complete: 12 ½ hours
Gorp consumed: A lot

Here’s a quick video of some pics from the hike:



Here’s a google map of the route uploaded from my Garmin Forerunner 301:


Here’s a table of the trails we used, the peaks we summited along with the distances, elevations and time of each segment of the traverse:


Spreadsheet

A goal of ours is to run the entire trail section between the AMC huts in 24 hours. According to the AMC website it's a 56 mile trek and climbs a total elevation equivalent to Mt. Everest. With a little luck on our side, I think we can do it. We’ll see…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Running Around Washington DC

I put together a slideshow of pics I took while on a 13 mile run in Washington DC yesterday. The excellent weather and the fantastic sights made for an awesome run.



Washington DC

Below is a map of the route I took:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Not So... Happy Feet

Running two 50 mile trail races and a road marathon in six weeks wreaked some havoc on my feet:And like any good training partner would do, my buddy Mark sent me a few pics of his ankle after he rolled it on a run this past weekend:

Happy trails.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Road Race

Thanksgiving morning means its time for the Manchester Road Race. Over 10,000 runners and walkers enjoyed a sunny morning with mild temperatures in the 60s. This year Shannon, Kourtney, the kids and I walked/jogged/strollered the 4.75 mile course. The race is a good time with all the bands, stereos blasting tunes, runners in costumes and partying by spectators along the route. Here’s a video of some footage/pictures (with a few pics contributed by Lauren too) I took during the race:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ciara's Birthday Party

Here's a 2 1/2 minute video of Ciara's birthday party at the Children's Museum.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Karno

In the summer of 2006 I picked up a copy of Dean Karnazes’ book: Ultra Marathon man. Reading the book was my first real insight into ultra marathons. The chapters about the Western States 100 Endurance Run seemed absolutely crazy. I was amazed that people could run 100 miles through the mountains in under 24 hours! In the fall of 2006 I ran the Hartford Marathon. It turned out that Dean Karnazes also ran the marathon as the 28th leg of the Endurance 50 (He ran 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states!) It was pretty cool to see him during the race. Afterwards he autographed my book, and posed for a pic with me:

“Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must, but never give up.” – Dean Karnazes

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hoping To Win The Lottery!

I received an email from the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run confirming the receipt of my application for the race lottery. On December 1st, around 350 lucky names will be selected out of over a 1,000 applications. Those individuals will then have the right to run the 2008 100 Mile trail race from Squaw Valley, CA to Auburn, CA. Here’s a piece of the race description from the WS100 website:
“… following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 18,000 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trail, the Western States Endurance Run differs substantially from other organized runs. Adequate mental and physical preparation are of utmost importance to each runner, for the mountains, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.” I’m hoping some of Shannon’s luck of the Irish comes my way and I get picked in the lottery!


I snapped a few shots and ran the beginning few miles of the WS100 course this summer:


Looking through Squaw Valley to the Sierras





At the base of the mountains (Start of the course)



Looking back down toward Squaw Valley




Up over Emigrant Pass

The WS100 confirmation email ended with a cool quote:

“See the best in every one, expect the best from yourself.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stone Cat 50 Mile Ultra Run (11/10/07)

Friday night Mark and I cruised up from CT in 1½ hours to the Danvers, MA Comfort Inn. After confirming that we missed the packet pickup across from the hotel, Mark needed to satisfy his Dunkin Donuts coffee fix. So we set out for the D&D just a few miles down the road. After snagging the coffee, we made a wrong turn and ended up on I-95 South towards Boston. So after our nighttime interstate scenic drive we ended up with a post 10 PM arrival at the hotel. We prepped our gear for the race and decided that the forecast of low 30’s, wind with rain showers meant the following race attire/setup: tights, a long sleeve compression top base layer with a shell outer layer, along with a lightweight skull cap, gloves, two hand bottles and a stash of Power Gels and Endurolytes.

Saturday, after a 4:15 AM wake up call, we geared up and headed down to breakfast. The hotel had a 4:30 breakfast for which many of the runners took advantage. Mark and I chatted with a couple of guys from Boston. We were laughing with one guy who wasn’t looking forward to flying to India the next day. Not the best post race method for stretching out the legs!

We drove over to Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, MA and the race was underway at 6:15 AM. We were stoked to see that the rain had passed and it looked like we’d have a clear, but still cold, day of running. We eased into a nice pace and ran with two guys (Ron F. and Keith M.) from MA. The course was rolling but lacked any significant climbs so there was no walking (at this point.) We bypassed the two stations in the loop and made our first stop at the end of the 12.5 mile lap. We finished the first lap in 2:03. After filling up the bottles and grabbing some soup we headed out for lap 2. It was pretty much more of the same and we knocked out the second lap in 2:07.

Lap 3 is where the race started to get tough. Physically, fatigue from just having run a marathon started to set in and mentally, the fact that we had to run another one became a reality. The talking diminished and the focus turned to breathing, hydrating, foot placement, pain management etc… Mark was looking strong and kept easing up so Keith and I would not fall too far behind. It was key having Mark to pace me through that lap. By the end of the third lap, which I finished in 2:38, Mark pulled ahead a few minutes and Keith decided to call it a day with a knee injury. It was disappointing to see Keith drop because he’s a solid runner and it was cool chatting with him about life’s adventures.

At the start of lap 4, Mark asked me if he should wait or go on. I appreciated the gesture but knew he was feeling stronger and I wouldn’t be able to keep his pace. So I urged him to go on without me. I was hungry so I grabbed some pretzels and soup and took a little extra time to get myself together before heading out for the final 12.5 miles. After the stop, I was cold and my legs stiffened up so it was hard getting into a steady pace starting the last lap. I shuffled my way to Al Cat’s. I was so hungry when I got to the station I gobbled up M&M’s, Chocolate Chip and Macademea nut cookies along with some soup and PB&J. The food and positive support from the volunteers provided a much-needed boost. I was also happy to realize that in only 4 miles I’ be at Freddie’s station and then I’d only have the final 4.5 miles from Freddie’s to the finish.


As I was cruising down some wide-open double track, I clipped a rock with my foot and was sent through the air superman style. As I projectiled into the dirt I yelped out an agonizing “OOhh.” A voice from a runner on the trail behind me called out “Are you ok?” I turned around, couldn’t see anyone, but responded, “I’m good. Thanks.” I took inventory, dusted myself off and continued on. I stopped at the last station for only a few seconds to fill up my bottle. I picked up my pace, finished as strong as I could and ended up completing the last lap in 2:43. Here I am 50 yards from the finish:

The giveaways were excellent. All runners received a long sleeve coolmax shirt and finishers scored a jacket:

I finished with a time of 9:52, which was 33rd place out of 131 runners. (Note: Of the 131 runners who started the race, there were 81 finishers for a 62% completion rate)

As I gingerly ambled into work Monday morning, a guy walking from the parking lot behind me shouted out “What, do you have a stick up your ass?” I turned around and had no idea whom the fellow employee was and he didn’t know me either. Astonished at not seeing the face he expected, he apologized “Sorry I thought you were someone else. Really, I’m sorry.” My co-workers got a good laugh when I told them the story and I told them to watch out for the guy who sits over there…

My kids summed things up: “All done running? Daddy stiff? Daddy you run faster next time.”

video

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Check out the incredible finish to the women's race at this year's Chicago Marathon:

http://cbs2chicago.com/video/?id=36199@wbbm.dayport.com

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy B-day Mimi

Video of my kids from a few days ago...


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hartford Marathon (10/13/07)

I started out following the pace group which was targeting a 3:15 finish time which is equivalent to a 7:26 min/mile pace. Our group cruised through the 10 K mark in 45:11 (7:17 pace) and knocked off 10 miles in 1:13:06 (7:19). At about mile 16 I faded from the pack and hit the 20 mile point at 2:30:39 (7:32). After mile 20 I hit the wall and schlepped my way in for a finish time of 3:36. I placed 372nd out of 1,571 runners.

Here I am leading the race... just kidding.

Approaching the 10 mile mark

Almost finished

Monday, October 1, 2007

Vermont 50 Mile Ultra Run (9/30/07)

Saturday afternoon, Mark and I made the trek up to Mt. Ascutney, VT. We set up camp at the appropriately named Running Bear campground, which is about 10 minutes from the starting line of the Vermont 50 mile trail run. After setting up our camping hammocks, we prepped our gear and drop bags for Sunday’s race. Since we were the only guys suspending ourselves between two trees for the night, a few intrigued campers stopped by our sight to inquire about our tents.
My hennessy hammock tent at Running Bear campground

Sunday morning we arrived at the start eager to run. With the race finally underway, it felt great to be running after all the training and months of anticipation. It was 34 degrees at the start and it warmed up to the low 60s during the day. The cool temperature and clear skies made for perfect running conditions.

Perfect weather for viewing the scenic VT countryside

We ran the start of the race with Jeff L. from VT, who we had met while pacing at the Vermont 100 this summer. The first few miles were spent chatting with Jeff and easing into a comfortable pace. We ran by a girl who had crashed on her mountain bike and was being taken out on a stretcher. Someone indicated she had broken her hip. Although I wasn’t on a bike I paid a little more attention to my footing after that scene.

Our plan was simple: start easy, conserve energy and see just see how things went. Due to some recent injuries we hadn’t put in a long run in awhile and it really felt like we were entering some uncharted territory. My focus was primarily on staying hydrated. I carried two hand bottles and popped endurolytes every hour. The plan worked well as I didn’t have any issues all race and I felt energized the whole way.

As we made our way up Garvin Hill, there was some fog in the valley below which provided an amazing panorama. At the crest of Garvin Hill, at mile 20.6, we stopped at the aid station to fuel up and take in the incredible scenery.

We continued our comfortable, steady pace and reached Cady Brook aid station, the approximate half way point, in 4:09.
We made it to Smoke Rise aid station, the approximate 50K point, in 5:06.

At this point Mark was starting to have some issues with his stomach, so he was content on hanging on and following my pace. One of the coolest points in the race was a section between Goodman’s and Johnson’s aid stations. The trail passed through a clearing that allowed for a pretty awesome direct view of Mt. Ascutney. As we enjoyed the beauty of Ascutney however, the realization that we had to actually run up that mountain, quickly put a damper on the moment.

We made it to mile 48 at the base of Mt. Ascutney in 9:08. All we had left to finish was 3 miles part way up Ascutney, across the ski slopes and down to the finish. Mark picked up the pace and we blazed through the last section in 34 minutes passing several runners along the way. It hurt like heck to push it up the mountain and I wasn’t happy with Mark at the time, but it was worth it in the end as we were able to finish in 9:43. As I crossed the finish I was happy to see Shannon and the kids who just showed up minutes earlier and were able to see me finish.

Mark and I finishing

Receiving my finishers medal
Mark and I with the kids
Mark and I were pumped to not only finish our first 50 mile race, but to also log a respectable time and place 59th out of 195 runners (173 Finishers.)