Two Weeks till Boston
Not a great week of training other than the fact it was the first time since January that I've run every day, keeping a 60-70 mile running seven day total for a short while. Wednesday's track workout was very short and weak. I didn't have the legs to run a weekend workout. Instead I finished the week with a two hour trail run with Norm Fuller on a very pleasent Easter Sunday morning. Weather was absolutely gorgeous. After some pretty dismal runs this week and a hint of slight IT Band soreness from the return to seven day a week running, an easy run and change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered.
On a more upbeat note it was just four years ago to the day that I won my first road race (other than a weekly series run at Stanley Park) in my final tune-up to the long anticapited first running of the Boston Marathon. John Stifler wrote a most flattering report of the race. About as good a writeup any runner could posibly hope for. Here it is...
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Smart run by Florence winner
By JOHN STIFLER
For a textbook example of an intelligently run race, see how Rob Landry of Ludlow won the Ron Hebert Road Race Sunday in Florence.
Landry, who was running this 8-miler for the first time, moved quickly off the starting line to test the field and found that Amherst ultramarathoner Todd Walker and Williston Northampton School cross-country captain Sam Kurtis of Florence were the only two runners who might stay with him.
Then Landry let Walker and Kurtis take the lead, and it was Walker who led the trio strongly up the long opening hill on Route 9 and then the second uphill into Haydenville, while Landry tucked in behind to avoid facing the afternoon's blustery winds.
The race goes abruptly downhill in the fourth mile, and there Landry made his move to the front. With a faster maximum leg turnover speed than either Walker or Kurtis, he opened a distinct gap and then lengthened his lead the rest of the way, gaining speed all along. Landry's time for the eighth mile, which is all flat, was just six seconds slower than his time for the long, scenic downhill sixth mile of this course. He finished in 47 minutes, 22 seconds, well off the course record but good enough on this sunny, windy day.
''It's a tough course,'' said Landry, 37, who a week earlier clocked a very impressive 1:18 for a half marathon in Westfield. Later this month he will run Boston, where he hopes to do the marathon in 2 hours, 45 minutes or so.
Walker, meanwhile, is getting ready for spring ultra season, with the Bull Run Run, a 50-miler in Manassas, Va., on Sunday, followed by the Masanutten (Virginia) 100 miler in May and the Laurel Highlands 70-miler in Pennsylvania in June.
As for Kurtis, he said he was pleased to win the high school age group in the Ron Hebert race for yet another year. Next fall he'll be running cross country at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., whose running alumni have accounted for five victories in the Boston Marathon (four for Bill Rodgers, one for Amby Burfoot).
Top woman in Sunday's race was Sheila Osgood of Granby, who has been running faster and showing up higher in the results list wherever she goes. She was the second woman at this year's D.H. Jones/Town & Country 10-miler in Amherst and the 11th woman in the St. Patrick's 10-kilometer road race in Holyoke. On Sunday she won in 52:35, good for 10th place overall.
Osgood attributes her excellent conditioning this spring to the fact that she spent the winter on the snowshoe racing circuit, such as it was in this horribly snow-free year.
One place that did have snow was Bolton Valley, Vt., site of this year's national snowshoe championships. Osgood competed there and won the gold medal in her age group (20 to 24 years).
How steep is the learning curve in snowshoe racing? Osgood began the sport last December. Her success must be due partly to her running career; she competed for Holyoke Catholic and Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
Of the transition from being an experienced runner to a novice snowshoe racer, she said, ''In snowshoeing you need stronger legs, and the hills are harder than in regular running.''
She agreed that the stride technique takes some adjustment too. ''My first few races were good, but in the last couple I clipped my ankles quite a bit. You get used to bruised ankles (from one shoe hitting the opposite ankle), and you learn to keep your legs farther apart. And it definitely makes you a stronger runner.''
At the national championships in Vermont, Osgood completed the 10K snowshoe course in 61 minutes, 45 seconds. Jay Kolodzinski of Florence, 26, finished in 53:38, placing 45th overall in the field of 154. His father Walt Kolodzinski, 63, finished in 79:36.
''What a brutal course!'' said the elder Kolodzinski. ''Uphill for a mile and a quarter, then undulating, crossing brooks and gullies. And the downhills. On one section, Jay did a somersault in the air, landed on his shoes and kept going.''
This area was well represented among the top finishers in Vermont, as the Belchertown husband-wife duo of Paul Low and Kelli Lusk were double runners-up, Low placing second in the men's race (43:11) behind winner Greg Hexum of Minnesota (42:42). Lusk was the second woman (54:43), behind Vermonter Kasie Enman (53:07).
''Greg was really strong the whole way,'' said Low. ''Where it was single track and more technical, I would almost catch him, but when we'd hit the flat trails he would just fly. He looked like someone in a road race while I was like someone running in the sand on a beach.''
Low described his and Lusk's approach to snowshoe racing as low-key - I suspect that's how it is for nearly all snowshoe racers - as they both look forward to the summer mountain running season.
Right now plenty of local runners are looking forward to the Boston Marathon April 17. Rob Higley of Amherst, who two years ago won the over-50 division at Boston, says his training is going well, and this year, for a change he'll get to find out how well he can run without a cancerous tumor in his kidney. (It was discovered and removed last year.)
Others in the field include a large portion of the Dean family. Sue and Ed Dean of Leeds and Mark and Kathy Dean of Florence - who finished 16th, 50th, 44th and 66th, respectively, in the Hebert race Sunday - are all training for Patriots Day.
They won't run it together, though. Sue, with her faster qualifying time, will start in the first wave of runners, which this year will begin the race half an hour before the second half of the field, where Ed, Kathy and Mark will start.
''We'll go there together, run our own separate races, and then go home together,'' Sue Dean said.
Donna Utakis of Amherst, who runs a lot of the same ultramarathons as Walker, is on the entry list for Boston this year, as is Michael Murphy of Florence, whom I have seen training by running the Hebert course in reverse - taking the long hill on Mountain Farms Road in the uphill direction. That's not easy.
The Amherst contingent includes perennial Boston runners Nelson Lacey and Nick Hopley, plus several younger runners you'll hear more about after I find them in the finishing chute on Boylston Street. Entrants from Easthampton once again include two Williston coaches, Heather Johnson and Christa Talbot. And the list goes on.
If you're running Boston, try phoning me at 585-0924 or 575-8744 very soon after the race to tell me about it.
Now put this paper down, put on your running shoes, and get over to the Northampton Community Gardens on Burts Pit Road. The 20th season of the weekly Northampton cross-country race series begins there tonight at 6:30. The cost is $3 for the five-kilometer run, great company of all speeds, refreshments and good humor.
John Stifler, who writes a column about running and other sports for the Gazette, can be reached at email@example.com