Monday, March 30, 2009

Westerling sets record at Gilmanton 5K

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Alan MacRae/for the Citizen Heidi Westerling takes on the final stretch of the Gilmanton 5K Road Race and Walk Saturday. Westerling's time of 17:34 set a female record for the 11th-year event.

GILMANTON — The weather was cool but dry, perfect for a run. And the field for the 11th annual Gilmanton 5K Road Race and Walk was the event's biggest yet, featuring more than 360 participants. So it was fitting when two newcomers broke the tape Saturday morning. Heidi Westerling set a new course record for women, cracking Mary Proulx's top time of 18:18 set in 2006, and Vermont's Justin Fyffe surged away from the field on the final 200-meter straightaway to take first place overall in 16 minutes, 8 seconds. Westerling, an Acworth native who won the New Bedford Half (Mass.) Marathon just two weekends ago, was never threatened on her first jaunt around Gilmanton's hilly, 52-meter road course. The 28-year-old's record-setting mark of 17 minutes, 34 seconds was a breezy 1:20 ahead of Proulx (Ashland), who took second in 18:54. "It's an interesting course," said Westerling, who drove around the loop with some friends before Saturday's race to get a feel for it. "I just wanted to come and see what I could do for a 5K on it. ... I knew what to expect."While Westerling was on cruise control from the first corner on, the top-five men were locked in a tussle for first place overall. The real racing started as the course, which opens with a 1.5-mile decent down Route 140, switched to a dirt road with a steady incline. The lead changed three times during the climb, with fourth-place finisher Wilson Perez and Mascenic Regional High senior Job Christiansen each stepping ahead of Fyffe. It was the 30-year-old Perez out front as the pack curled right onto Currier Hill Road. "The first mile and a half was really steep down," said Fyffe, 28. "It was really fast, a fast turnover. My feet were pounding pretty hard."When we got to the dirt road everybody slowed down quite a bit. It's a really steep hill."And the long hill caught Fyffe, who had never seen the course before Saturday, by surprise."I just shot it from the hip," he said. He had the freshest legs during the course's most grueling stretch. Perez backed off about a quarter of the way up the hill and Christiansen stormed ahead of Fyffe to take a brief lead. But Fyffe never let the 18-year-old out of his sight, sticking with him and catching him as the hill crested and turned to a level sprint to the finish line. "We were kind of going back and forth for a while, I guess," Christiansen said.With a final burst down Cat Alley, the race's final leg, Fyffe broke the tape without a competitor on his tail. Christiansen (16:14) finished six seconds later, followed by New Hampton native Justin Freeman (16:16), Perez (16:21) and Chris Mahoney (16:24)."I kept the surge going for a few hundred yards after the hill," Fyffe said, "and (Christiansen) was kind of done at the hill. I think that's what made the difference."Vermont's Stephanie Westcott (19:10), 15-year-old Jacy Christiansen (19:33) and Heather Ann Searles (19:59) placed third through fifth, respectively, in the women's field. Ann Rasmussen, a veteran local runner from Plymouth, took sixth at 20:58. The event nearly doubled in numbers compared to last year's icy trek. A field of 210 runners braved wind, ice and temperatures in the low 20s last March to celebrate the race's 10th anniversary."This is by far the deepest field you will ever see," Race Director Scott Clark said. Clark, the Sant Bani School track coach and a Gilmanton native, finished the race third in his 40 to 49 age group in a crisp 17:29.Lakes Region runners of all ages turned in top times Saturday.Clark was fourth and Alton's John Tuttle (19:17) was eighth in the men's masters group. Rasmussen topped the women's masters field with Meredith's Mary Gosling (23:45) fifth and Laconia's Sara Rosenbloom (24:38) ninth.In the youngsters group, ages 14 and under, Franklin's Morgan Mason (25:31) was fourth and Tilton's Sloane Frederick (30:11) was ninth for girls; Alton's Drew Tuttle (19:33), Gilmanton's Peter Howe (20:32), Northfield's Michael Roy (23:29), Thornton's Kyle Hodges, Gilmanton's Mitchell Filion and Northfield native Marc Roy all placed in the top 10 for the boys' 14 and under group.Gilmanton natives Taylor Clark (24:37) and Lynsey Tyler (24:45) took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the girls 15-19 range, followed closely by West Thornton's Lisa Cash (26:27) and New Hampton's Lauren Bergeron (26:55); Wolfeboro's Max Thomas took finished third in the boys 15 to 19 group in 18:53.In the female 20 to 29 group, Campton's Corrine Schlabach (24:06) took fourth and Center Harbor's Ashley Bener (30:55) was 10th. Andover's Sarah Lester (24:42), Sandwich's Jennifer Marks (26:20) and Northfield's Michelle Bohler (26:50) placed third through fifth, respectively, in the female 30 to 39 group, while Holderness native Ben Savage (20:52) took 10th in the men's range.Gosling was third in the female 40 to 49 group, while Doug Gosling (21:18) and Alton's Alan Barrett were seventh and ninth, respectively, on the men's side. In the 50 to 59 bracket, Rosenbloom was fourth and Danbury's Gail Bliss (28:30) was 10th among women; Tuttle was second, Center Sandwich native Steve Olatsen (22:31) was eighth, Sanbornton's Franz Vail (22:37) was ninth and Gilford's Steven Snow (23:47) was 10th for the men.The local standouts were rounded out by eight male runners aged over 60. Holderness' Eugene Fahey (22:54) was second in the 60 to 69 group. Meredith's James Miller (27:04) was fourth, with Alexandria's Earl Mills (28:38), Sanbornton's Robert Schongalla (28:38), Tilton's Don Shaw (29:01), Belmont's Ray Dbouin (29:35) and Sanbornton's David Adams (29:46) rounding out spots six through 10.Franklin native Terrance Humphrey, 71, took first place in the 70 and over division, finishing in 30:22.
Alan MacRae photo Justin Fyffe, front, pulls away from the pack in the closing moments of Saturday's Gilmanton 5K Road Race and Walk. Fyffe was the first place overall finisher at 16 minutes, 8 seconds.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Best Bathroom in New Bedford

I felt pretty good and fresh when I toed the line last Sunday for the New Bedford Half Marathon. I enjoyed a nice road trip with my wife Jess, teammate Greg Hammett, and friend Erik Kress. We had a few moments of anxiety getting our numbers but it went fairly smoothly. I went out pretty fast and my first mile was 4:56. I felt good but knew this was too fast for me. I backed off a little and my two mile split was 10:15. Still a bit fast but I was comfortable. I always go out like this and it takes a few miles to settle in. By mile three I was settled in and started posting between 5:10 and 5:15 which is exactly where I wanted to be. I was constantly taking mental notes on how I felt because I wasn't sure how I would feel considering I just raced 50K a couple of weeks ago. At mile 7 things got very interesting. I was suddenly hit with an urgency that only a runner can appreciate. It came quick like a bolt of lightning. I fell off my pace, lost the lead pack I was hanging with and soon found myself being swallowed whole by the chase pack. I was running out of time and had to make a quick decision. I noticed a public restroom to the right side of the course and thought that it was too good to be true. It was. The damn thing was locked. Next, Kevin Tilton gave me some encouragement and told me to tuck in behind him and the pack and hang on. This only worked for a second and I basically gave up. I pulled of the course and looked at a bystander and asked, "Do you know where the closest public restroom is?" He was kind enough to let me go to his house. We walked a few houses up a side street to his house when he warned me about his dogs. He simply said,"I have a lot of dogs but they don't bite." When he opened the door I have never seen so many four pound pocket pooches in one spot in my entire life. There were at least 10, maybe 12 dogs. The man pointed across the living room to the bathroom door and I proceeded to navigate through the puppy posse and into the bathroom. This is where I was privy to the nicest bathroom in New Bedford. The bathroom had a raised jacuzzi in the corner with three steps semi circle around the profile. The largest throne I have ever seen and for extra freshness a bidet. Needless to say I was in and out pretty quick. And much fresher ;) I thanked the man graciously for "saving my life" and I headed back to the course. I came up on Greg and he seemed to be surprised to see me. I felt like quiting but I have never actually been able to drop out of a race and I figured I came all this way. So I finished as hard as I could, got a pretty good workout, and know how to model my next bathroom. See you at the 12K!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Keene Coach Runs to Second

By Jon Pelland Sentinel Staff
Published: Sunday, March 08, 2009

While most people go into hibernation over the winter months, preferring the comfortable indoor warmth to the harsh elements, Justin Fyffe searches for an excuse to get outside and run — a lot. Fyffe, an East Dummerston, Vt., resident and 1998 Keene High graduate, didn’t want his race training to lag over the winter, so he set a goal. Since Thanksgiving, instead of enjoying hot chocolate by the fire, Fyffe, 28, trained seven days a week for the USA Track and Field 50-kilometer Championships, held last Sunday in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., on Long Island.
“I used this race to stay motivated over the winter because it’s hard to stay motivated in the winter when its cold,” said Fyffe, who won last September’s Clarence DeMar for his first career marathon victory. “At least for me, it’s hard to get out the door unless I have a goal.“When there is a big race there are no excuses, I have to get out, I have to train and brave the elements.”
Fyffe finished the grueling ultra-marathon in second place, completing the 31.1 miles in 3 hours, 6 minutes, 49 seconds. The silver medal is proudly displayed on Fyffe’s Web log, which he uses to chronicle training and races. Michael Wardian of Arlington, Va., won the 38-person men’s open division in 2:56:36.Training began the day after Thanksgiving, and Fyffe said he didn’t miss one day until last week’s race. He ran through sub-zero temperatures, snow, sleet and freezing rain this winter. In January, at peak training, Fyffe ran 100 miles per week, including 20-24 miles on Sundays for what he simply called “long runs.”
“I didn’t really follow any (training program), I didn’t do anything extra for this 50k,” Fyffe said. “It’s just a lot of miles. I basically just trained for a marathon and just went the extra miles (in the race).”
Early-morning runs to work were also part of Fyffe’s regime. Fyffe, who works as an electrical discharge machine programmer, awoke at 4 a.m. and ran to work for 5. All that training paid off once he arrived on Long Island last weekend. The course for the ultra-marathon was set on a 2.35-mile loop that runners had to complete 13 times. As if racing in March wasn’t demanding enough, Fyffe said a portion of the course had racers running into head-on winds blowing hard off Long Island Sound. That caused sweat to freeze, only to melt later in the lap and re-freeze the next time through the wind.
“The months of training really give you the mental strength to handle any race day conditions,” Fyffe said. “You’re like, ‘Man it’s cold, but at least it’s not minus-18 and 4 o’clock in the morning. At least I don’t have to work today.’ You tell yourself anything you have to to get through it.”
Only recently has Fyffe raced competitively. He joined the Navy after graduating from KHS and didn’t begin seriously training until 2007, he said.Since then Fyffe has the DeMar victory, a first-place finish in last year’s USATF New England Mountain Grand Prix, first place in the Mount Cranmore Hill Climb and has run 12 marathons. He also joined the Central Mass. Striders, a race team based in Worcester, Mass.
“It’s so rewarding just running every day, being active, being outside all the time and just feeling healthy,” Fyffe said.
Notes: Justin Fyffe serves as a volunteer assistant coach for Keene High boys’ cross country and track and field. ... Fyffe was the Vermont high school state champion in the 3,000 meters as a junior in 1997. He transferred to Keene High the following year. ... The 50k championships have been held at Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., the past three years. They were held in Brattleboro from 1978-80. ... Fyffe’s blog can be found at

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

USA 50K Championships

My wife and I took Friday off from work to use for travel. We arrived mid afternoon in Long Island and met our friend who brought us to Caumsett State Park. I managed to jog the road trip out of my legs and felt very excited to be on the course that in a couple days I would have to run around over 13 times (2.35 mile loop). I got a good night sleep and right after breakfast we went back to the course to stay loose and focus on my game plan. One section of the course seemed very susceptible to the wind and knew it would be a tough spot. Later on that day I took about 3 naps. I just moped around and hydrated. My folks, friend Latch, and my wife all made a huge feast of spaghetti, stake, salad, and garlic bread. I stocked up on pasta and bread and hit the sack early knowing I would not get the best night sleep due to my nerves. The morning of the race I felt loose and ready to roll. When we got to the park it seemed very unorganized and nobody seemed to be in charge or know what was going on. We hopped a Budget rental truck like a bunch of refugees and got dropped off a few miles later. The course was not set up, the finish line wasn't set up, and worst of all not even the race director seemed to know where the starting line was going to be. Ben Nephew and I gambled and followed a man that said he was the announcer and was going to the start. We were the first three there and it was 3 minutes before the gun was supposed to go off. Finally about 15 minutes later a mob of people showed up, a guy with spray paint made a line on the pavement and in 60 seconds we were off. Michael Wardien took off at 5:20 pace and soon was out of sight (he was attempting an American record of 2:47). I wanted to see who was going to be the players and held back for the first lap at about 6:20 pace. I realized nobody was going to run the race that I wanted and dropped to my goal pace of 6:00. Actually I was a little under for a while. The air temp was fairly manageable but the wind like I anticipated was brutal on the back side of the loop. We would drop into the woods and I would get fairly sweaty then break out into the open, fight the wind for 3/4 of a mile and the wetness would freeze. This was a 3 hour cycle that I guess I just got used to. I felt strong early on, and Dave Dunham and my family gave me lots of support. It was around 20 miles that I was a bit nervous about my condition. I was holding onto my pace but was overwhelmed that I still had over 10 miles to maintain. My wife later told me that Dave was also noticing my struggle. It was at this time that he told me to stay loose, relax, and let the training take over. I took some fuel from my wife and before I knew it I hit the marathon split in just under 2:37 which would have been a PR. This was very encouraging and I dug in, and felt very confident that I was going to hit my goal. My last two mile splits were 5:45 and 5:36 and I finished strong. I took home the Silver Medal and 75 bucks. I was and am very happy about my training cycle and performance. I have never before achieved this level of fitness for myself and look forward to this spring and the rest of the year. I want to thank my wife for her support the last few months (I can get cranky) and Dave Dunham for his guidance throughout this last cycle. Next up New Bedford Half Marathon.
2nd Place Justin Fyffe 3:06:49 (6:01 pace)
3rd Place Ben Nephew
5th Place Dan Verrington