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Next Goal Race: New Hampshire Marathon

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Tuesday, June 18, 2013
in Road Races

This year has been a very enjoyable training year so far. With no big races in my future plans I have had no pressure. I have mostly ran 25-30 miles a week with only a couple of bike rides so far. I have been racing quite a bit as I recently just completed all 10 races of the Good Times 5k Spring Series and finished 4th in my age group. (same as last year) After finishing eleven 5k's in 10 weeks I was feeling it was time to take a little break and come up with a long term goal.

Several blog posts back I wrote that I usually get hit with an idea about a goal race during the winter months. I get all excited, sign up and start training. This is the first year that did not happen. Nothing came to mind and I didn't want to force the issue by signing up for a big event when my heart wasn't in it. Running in the Good Times Spring Series was fun but I still did not have any inspiration for that big goal race.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with my wife while having a cold beverage at a fine establishment about Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. Every Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend for the last 5 years I have vacationed at Newfound Lake. The roads around the lake are great for cycling and you will always see a ton of people running or biking around the lake. I usually get a couple of really good rides in during the weekend and always try to swim/run as well. There is a 16 mile loop around the lake and I have ridden it over 50 times but have never attempted running the loop. I mentioned I thought it would be interesting to run the 16 miles around the lake some time. It would be a tough hilly run but would be fun. As the conversation was progressing it happened.....inspiration hit me! I should just enter the New Hampshire Marathon! The course starts in downtown Bristol and then circles Newfound Lake before returning to Bristol. Not only do I know the course extremely well but I have also filmed the race! (check it out here)   Perfect!  I finally have a big goal race!

I am super excited. I finally have a big event planned for 2013. Unfortunately I picked quite a challenge as this is not an easy course. This is a very hilly course with a couple of tough climbs. The goods news is that I know every inch of the course and the last 9 miles are rolling to downhill. Basically you just need to survive the first half of the course and then hopefully have some legs left for the last stretch of miles. I have always wanted to run around the lake and now I can do it in a race environment. You really will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful venue for a marathon in the fall.

To make this even more special I have talked my brother in law and sister in law into making this their first marathon. They have the marathon on their bucket list so I said why not this year? Tough course but easy travel, low cost, and they know the course as well as I do. In addition I think I have talked my wife into coming out of "marathon retirement". Once I made the decision to enter this race everything fell into place. On October 5th The New Hampshire Marathon will be my 8th marathon and my 6th state. Let the training begin!

Click here for the New Hampshire Marathon course video.

Click here for the New Hampshire Half Marathon course video.

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Good Times 5k Spring Series Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 17, 2013
in Road Races

After a day of tremendous sadness over the senseless violence that was inflicted on our beloved Boston Marathon, the Good Times runners towed the line on most likely the first organized road race after the horrific events of April 15th. Runners are a resilient group by nature and almost 400 showed up on Tuesday night to show support for the innocent people whose lives were changed forever on Monday. Race Director Dave Camire had some moving remarks prior to the start of the race and asked runners to observe a moment of silence.

Like many of you I was devastated by the news of a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately acts of senseless violence seem to be happening all too often. The sheer evil required to plan and carry out any of the recent mass shootings and the bombing at the Boston Marathon is beyond comprehension. There is no valid reason as to why someone commits these acts. Senseless violence doesn't make any sense. The only thing we can do is to hold the  perpetrator of each act accountable, increase our efforts on prevention, and make sure the victims of these acts have the full support of our nation.


The Race

This week's race was a unique event named the Rose Maguire's Great Mill Girl Chase 5K. In this event the women start the race first and 2:30 later the men start. The overall winner of the event receives $100, man or woman. This is a fun event for all. Even though I am not in competition for the $100, my focus is always to try to catch my wife before the finish line. I have done this race several times before and beat her for the first time last year.

This race is challenging to me for a few reasons. It is not just the 2.5 minutes that is tough to make up. I am used to starting in the front. When you start in the front and typically finish in the top 20 there are not usually many people in your way. In this race the men need to weave through many of the 200 woman that started ahead of them. There are many narrow sections of the Good Times course (check out the course) and this is always challenging and can really slow you down.

The race started and I waited the interminable 2:30 before I could begin. After running sub-par times for the first two weeks I decided to run without a watch. I like to run by feel in the shorter events. In a 5k I'm always running a 100% effort, so seeing my mile splits doesn't help me run faster. I caught up to the first large group of women fairly quickly and had a tough time navigating for about half a mile. At one point I was flying down the left side of the road third in a line of three men. There was a large group of women in front of us and the lead guy quickly went further left only to find 3 benches blocking our way. Much to my surprise he jumped up on the first bench and then jumped from bench to bench, hit the ground, and kept running. I have never seen someone do this in a road race before. This was impressive but must have taken a lot out of him because soon after he was dropped.

I suffered for most of the race. I finally broke free from the crowds and tried to focus on maintaining a fast pace. At one point on the course as you cross the Aiken Street bridge you can look to the right and see the runners ahead of you going underneath the bridge. As I got to this point on the course I looked and saw my wife about 20 seconds ahead. Unfortunately my legs were close to the red line of effort and I didn't have much left. I tried a surge on the last straightaway in an attempt to bridge the gap. Up the final "S" curves I could see her just ahead of me but the bottom line is I just couldn't do it. She ended up beating me by 4 seconds. However, I did run my fastest time of the season 19:58. Good Times!



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Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
in Road Races

Yesterday I unfortunately experienced a very scary medical situation. Let me give you some background. First off I need to say I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical experience. In addition I do not recommend anyone use my actions as a guideline for handling similar situations.

On Sunday I started feeling run down and had a few bouts of sweats and feeling light headed. I didn't do much and went to bed early. On Monday I felt OK in the AM, ran 7 miles, and did some errands. After the run I had lunch and then started feeling really run down and had a bad stomach ache. I battled extreme stomach pain all during the Red Sox home opener. The pain slowly subsided and I went to bed early again. Yesterday I woke up with pain and tightness in my chest and was still feeling run down. I worked for several hours in my home office and started feeling light headed and still had the tightness in my chest. Around 11:00 AM I started making lunch and broke out into a sweat and started feeling faint. The bottom line is that I had pain and tightness in my chest, had the sweats, and was feeling faint. I couldn't believe it but I thought there may be a possibility I was having a heart attack. Me?

To make matters worse I did not have a vehicle as I had let my daughter take my car to school as I didn't plan on going anywhere yesterday. I considered calling 911 but thought there is no way this could be happening. Unfortunately I couldn't deny the way I was feeling and knew I needed medical attention ASAP. So what did I do? I quickly threw on my running shoes and walked to the Walk-in Center a half mile from my house. I was feeling very faint and weak and thought more than once on the way over that if I collapse this would turn out to be a very dumb decision.

Once at the Walk-in center I was quickly examined and the doctor told me based on what she was seeing I needed to go to the emergency room ASAP. I had no car but it didn't matter because they said I also needed to go via ambulance. To make a long story short I ended up being at Lowell General Hospital for the next 5 hours undergoing a whole battery of tests on my heart. I was examined thoroughly and I would like to thank the great staff at Lowell General.

What were the results? I had a surprisingly lengthy conversation with a cardiologist who explained to me that after all of the tests my heart was fine. They do not know what caused my symptoms but it wasn't heart related. I was probably fighting something off and maybe I strained a muscle in my chest...not sure. Regardless I was glad to hear that I did not have an issue with my heart. During my discussion with the cardiologist I mentioned I was a runner and in fact I had planned on doing a 5k road race later that day. Here is a snippet of our conversation heavily paraphrased:

Doctor: After all of these tests we do not know what caused your symptoms but it is not heart related.

Me: So my heart is fine?

Doctor: Yes.

Me: So there is no reason why I can't run in a 5k tonight?

Doctor: Well, I can't tell you what to do once you are discharged but your heart appears to be healthy.

Me: Ok..Thanks.


 You have to understand that after a lifetime of running and racing one of the scariest things that could happen to me is to have a heart condition. We have all heard of fit runners having a heart attack. It does happen. Once I heard my heart was fine I was instantly injected with relief and knew I was running in the Good Times 5k that night. I left the hospital at 5:30 PM quickly changed and went to the race. You see, I can deal with feeling faint, weak, sick, etc. Many long distance events I have completed at some point I have felt that way during the race. I wasn't feeling at my best (obviously) and completed the race in 20:22.

The moral of the story is that if you feel you are having a heart attack it is better to be safe than sorry. Know the warning signs and by all means call 911...don't try to walk a half mile to the doctors. A heart attack is survivable but only if you get immediate medical attention. If you have the symptoms and feel it may be happening don't wait and become a for help. I also don't recommend running a road race after leaving the emergency room.  Smile

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest Discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

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So This is Spring?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 03, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the 10th update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.



 If you have read any of my previous posts you know that I have not exactly been losing weight fast. I have been enjoying my post-Ironman off season. (Maybe a little too much) After focusing on Ironman for the last two years I am having a difficult time getting back to that same level of motivation. Finishing the Ironman was a life long dream and everything else seems irrelevant. That is not to say I haven't been working out. I did run 125 miles last month and rode the bike trainer for an hour once a week. I enjoy running but I just have not been able to generate the internal motivation needed to tackle another major event.

So where am I? With exactly 10 days to go before my self imposed weight loss deadline of April 13th I am far off the mark.

Current weigh-in:    180          Goal Weight: 169

I have lost exactly 9 pounds this year. According to my math I would have to lose 11 pounds in the next 10 days to reach my goal. My brother-in-law Mike already reached his goal 3 weeks ago.

In case you are wondering the picture on this post is what I call my Poster of Shame. I started this years ago whenever I needed to lose some weight. Basically I write my weight on a poster and hang it up in my office so I have to look at it all day. Even this tactic has only had minimal impact on my motivation to lose weight. Not to blame the weather but it is hard to get motivated when it is snowing in March.

Even the Good Times Spring Series has been affected by the terrible weather. I look forward to running in this series every year and was hoping the competition would increase my motivation. Well, last night was the first race and guess what....Coldest Good Times ever! Thirty-something degrees with a heavy wind...I had to wear my winter running gear...Winter will just not let go....check out the story and video here. (your VTR host placed 17th)

The good news is that we are now in April and the extended forecast looks much better. (Of course as I write this post the windows of my house are rattling from the wind and it is freezing out) As soon as it gets warmer I will start to get some outdoor rides in and running will be much more enjoyable. Good weather is motivating for everyone. The first day it is 60 degrees on a weekend day you will see a ton of runners and cyclists on the roads. It makes you wonder where everyone has been for 6 months.

The bottom line is that training without a goal is tough. If I didn't truly enjoy running I would have slacked off big time. With no impending events that "scare" me, I don't feel like I have to get serious. We will see what happens....for now I will run in the Good Times Series every week and see if I can be competitive in my new age group.

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Sharing the Running Lifestyle

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, November 08, 2012
in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving is a time when many people pause and take time to reflect on the past year and what they are most thankful for in their lives. Some families share specific things they are thankful for together and others choose to be thankful in a more private way. I believe it is very important to be thankful and you should never take things for granted. I was taught regardless of what position you are in life there is always someone else who is hurting worse than you or has less than you.


As I reflect on the past year, one of the things I am most thankful for is the great times I have had running, racing and living a fitness lifestyle. My wife and daughter have been running and racing for years, and I am thankful we have been able to share these times together. As a runner it is wicked awesome (yes, I am from Massachusetts) for your entire family to enter the same road race. One of the proudest moments of my running career was a couple of years ago when all three of us entered the The Coaster Run 5k Road Race, and we each placed in our age groups and received medals. Sharing the running lifestyle with your family is really motivating and is a great way to share experiences.

This was also the first year my brother-in-law and sister-in-law embraced the running lifestyle. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the Good Times 5k Spring Series completing all ten events. If you are a runner you will understand that racing a 5k and then drinking a few beers with family once a week is really a great time. It is cool to be able to run with family and share running goals and experiences. I am thankful for the quality time we were able to spend together before and after the race each week. Good times with family can be limited by geography or the business of life. The opportunity I had this past year to share my running lifestyle with my family is something I am truly thankful for, and I hope to have this opportunity again in 2013.






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