Wicked Half Marathon - View from the Back of the Pack
SALEM, MA - It really is a different race when viewed from the back of the pack. I only get to view a race from the front when I occasionally start from there, and then settle into the middle, which is my customary finishing place.
However, it was another story altogether on this foggy day (which fortunately wasn’t a very rainy morning as those sage weather men had predicted.) I started at the back of the pack. I never saw Mike Pelletier and Dave Jefska. I finished close to last.
How did this happen? Many must be wondering about this. (Although I confess that I got nary an inquiry about this startling development – sort of disappointing!) So, whether any one actually wants to know or not, I decided to tell all.
I needed to complete my last long run of 23 miles in preparation for the Baystate Marathon in 3 weeks. Unlike Kevin Counihan who informed me that he is running a marathon on each of the next 4 weekends (is that really true, Kevin??), I figured I truly do need a 3 week taper if I am going to actually finish my first marathon.
Considering the very poor weather forecast for the weekend, and the fact that I need to work during the week to pay my race fees, I figured that Saturday was my best shot to get this long run completed. Of course, I could not now give up on my quest for the GOLDEN FLEECE, which I’m sure I will cherish far more on Thanksgiving Day than the other trimmings that will await me.
However, how was I going to do all this in one day?? Inspired by Vicky Yee’s tales of arising pre-dawn for epic runs and strength training at the Beverly YMCA, I began to formulate a daring, but slightly insane plan. Saturday morning I awakened at 4:30 a.m. and was out the door by 4:59 when the weather looked promising (i.e., it was not raining.) I did a slow 4 mile pre-race run. After gathering all my gear and having a snack I headed by car over to Salem for the race. I was in a hurry because I wanted to run a bit more before the start so that my post race run would not have to be 6 miles. At 6:25 I hit a red light, and figuring I could get away with it, I made a right turn despite the “no turn on red light sign.” No sooner was I around the corner then I saw the flashing lights of a police car. (“Shit!”) So that killed about 10 minutes and resulted in a $35 ticket.
By the time I got to the Bentley School, I had to circle around looking for a place to park, but I already had my number and fortunately the race started about 10 minutes late. Therefore, I had ample time to find my place at the back of the pack, but no time to look for Mike and Dave and wish them well. My plan was to run slowly, with walk breaks, so that I would still be able to run an additional 6 miles after the race, for my morning total of 23.
At the beginning of the race it was aggravating to be running that slow, and to already be way behind most of the runners. Believe it or not, I actually think I ran too fast for a lot of the race. However, after I got going and stop being concerned about being near last, I started to enjoy the race more than I expected. I was taking it easy, so there was time to enjoy the splendid scenery, chat with other runners and the volunteers along the route. I noticed one women kept stopping to take pictures and then resume running. I asked her if she was a “running photographer.” She explained she was part of a group (from Las Vegas) and that they were running 12 half marathons in 12 months and her contribution was taking pictures of dogs along the routes as well as other interesting scenery!
The entire route was familiar, so it was not difficult to complete the race at a fairly comfortable pace while keeping in mind that I was going to need to save something for the next 6 mile leg. When I got to the finish I didn’t see too many familiar faces. I think Mike and Dave had already gone home. So, I grabbed some water and a quick snack and set off running again. The next 3 miles weren’t too bad, although by this time I was going very slowly. The final 3 miles were very tough, and essentially I just barely managed to complete the entire 23 miles – only the 2nd time I have ever run that far. I’m pretty sure I did not injure myself (unlike my 1st 23 miler), and I’m optimistic that I will make it to the starting line of the Baystate Marathon on October 19.
Wicked Half Marathon
SALEM, MA - Dave Jefska parked his car on the end of Derby Street at 6:10am and we walked over to the Bentley School, a looming shadow in the dark and fog. With only two tiny rooms marked "Girls" and two tiny rooms marked "Boys" inside the school and three porta-johns outside, the start was, not surprisingly, delayed about 10 minutes while runners waited for the toilet lines to disappear.
By 7am, what passed for dawn had arrived and we milled about outside in the fog as staff set up signs displaying expected paces as a way for runners to arrange themselves.
It was the most amazingly polite start I've ever seen: a handful of racers occupied the areas designated for 6, 7, 8 and 9 minute/per mile runners while another 500 runners were grouped behind us at the 10 and 11 minute per mile signs. Dave and I designated ourselves as elite 8-minute-per-mile guys and hung out just behind Gary Freedman and Glenn Diamond surrounded by a sea of empty space. During the 10 minutes of waiting, the mob behind us never moved forward. The National Anthem played and the countdown to the start began and still no one moved closer to us. Finally, the race started and the mob advanced and soon we were swallowed up, but it was strange to not start pressed together shoulder-to-shoulder in the midst of a sea of runners.
Dave and I ran side-by-side up Essex Street to the Hotel Hawthorne and down Hawthorne Boulevard, along Derby Street to Lafayette Street and then headed towards Marblehead. In Marblehead, we ran to Devereaux Beach and then looped around the Neck as if it were Thursday night before we headed back to Salem. When we got to the foot of Hawthorne Boulevard, we continued straight along Derby Street and down Fort Avenue, running the Derby Street Mile in reverse. We continued down Fort Avenue, looping around Fort Lee and up the hill on Memorial Drive to the finish back at the Bentley School. At the top of that last hill, I was finally able to get a couple of strides on Dave.
In keeping with my philosophy of never running well unless I can see the finish line, I passed a good dozen runners in the last 0.2 miles. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite catch the 5th male 60-69 and lost to him by 2 seconds.
I don't know what it was, the disappointment of loosing by 2 seconds or the ungodly start time of 7am or getting up at 4:20am to run this race, but I went home and for the first time in years took a 2-hour nap.
Full results at Cool Running.
Chilmark Road Race
CHILMARK, MA - I’ve wanted to run this race for a long time. It just kind of caught my fancy. I liked the sound of it, and I pictured a scenic, pastoral run through the “Up Island” section of Martha’s Vineyard. I didn’t get the opportunity to do it until this year because I was never on the Island at the right time.
Apparently it caught many other peoples’ fancies, too, because this has become a pretty big 5K race. They say they cut off the participants at 1500, but CoolRunning listed 1621 finishers.
The race is run on Middle Road in Chilmark and it’s a fairly narrow road the whole length of the race. When the gun went off I knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t really get going for a least a quarter of a mile. There were lots of kids in this race and a lot of people who “don’t know what they're doing” as a friend of mine told me later. I had to avoid one little girl who was weaving all over the road and having a great time. Anyway, chalk it up to experience. I figure I probably lost about a minute off of my time.
The good news was that it was fun anyway. It is a beautiful and pastoral course with some views of the ocean along the way. There were quite a few spectators along the route offering cheers and encouragement. It’s a fairly challenging course with 2 substantial uphills, but a pretty nice gradual downhill the last half mile or so.
I finished with a time of 26:14 (8:27 pace) which was 380/1621 and 41/142 in the 50-59 men’s category. However, what really made the whole thing fun was that my son, Neal and his newly announced fiancée, Meghan, as well as my girlfriend, Jane, all ran in the race as well. It was one part of an exceptionally good two week vacation on the Vineyard.
Run the Goose 7K
GLOUCESTER, MA - In the short,
Full results at Cool Running.
75th Annual Around Cape Ann 25K
GLOUCESTER, MA - 508 long distance runners finished the 25K. Thirteen of the 508 were Striders. In the team competitions, the Strider Men's Open Team finished 11th. The open team had only one truly open male: Dennis Ryan. Likewise the Masters team had only one legit Master: Dave Sullivan.
In individual competition,
11. NSS Open
2:04:17 2:14:54 2:18:39 (2:19:37) (2:24:02) = 6:37:50
7. NSS Masters
2:04:17 2:14:54 2:19:37 (2:24:02) (2:28:43) = 6:38:48
Full results at Cool Running.