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Personal Stories From Baystate Marathon - Part II
Compiled by Tom McMahon
Saturday, October 24, 2009

  From Kevin Counihan:

That was my 93rd marathon since Bay State 2002. 6th straight USATF-NE Iron Runner Jacket. I have my 7th Cape Cod Marathon next week, then November 1, 6th straight NYC Marathon #95. This a free (comped) entry from my NYC Disabilities club Achilles. That's 15 a year for 5 years now. 2010 Boston Marathon will be #100.

You expect the temperature to drop like that in February, but not in October! A lot of people went straight at the turnaround at mile 12 and went home.

That was 2nd fastest of year. Vermont still the best.

At the turn around at mile 12 I passed Billy Prentiss and said  you will re-pass me in a mile or so. He said I'm done, I'm heading to the finish. I hope he is OK. I did not stop at all 2nd half for fear of freezing solid. The fact that I was carrying 100 gallons of water sponged up by my clothing and it was now freezing gave a real sense of urgency to the race. You guys all wimped out! You missed the best part of the race. From 12:30-1:30 I got hail thrown at me the last 4 miles propelled by stiff winds. When I finished I had no feeling in either arm and felt like a block of ice.

Steve says lets run up the stands and get some soup. If I could move my arm I would have hit him. To recap 3 out of the 4 marathons I just ran, it poured out the whole race. This week I got a Nor'Easter, next week Tornado? My friend Arnie said this is worse than Hyannis in February.

Can you bend your fingers yet? Work was so much fun today, Not!   I think Frank Lanzillo should be the brains of the outfit. He did the Half. We did not. That was #4 of 6 Marathons in 6 weeks. Why? To quote Sue Quimby "Because I Can!" The Snail was very impressed with Dennis Ryan's time as was I.

  From Mark Pelletier:

Here is my take on the day and commentary:

This was my second marathon.  I had originally thought I could run about a 3:50 marathon when I decided to run a fall marathon and began training for it last spring.  My first marathon was last fall in Manchester NH.  So I purposefully picked something much flatter this time around and had planned to be much faster.  As the race started to come closer I begin to rethink my target time to 4:00 hrs because I hadn't hit my weekly training plan once since the birth of my daughter in May, and I had spent the last month of training trying to run through an injury and fighting a cold for the two weeks prior to the race. 

When the race started I felt pretty good.  The first couple of miles felt really slow because the two races started together and it felt like you were not able to run at your desired pace because of the crowd.  Because it was crowded I missed the 1 mile mark.  So around 12 minutes I began to wonder if I missed the 1 mile mark or I was really running slow.  Then I hit the two mile mark at 16:40, a little faster than I had hoped to run but no big deal I would just ease off the pace a little.  Mile 3 went in the wrong direction and I was 7:55 and feeling good but I really needed to slow down so I wouldn't die later.  For the next few miles I managed to find my targeted 9 minutes a mile and felt pretty good as the 1/2 marathon turned right.  I had found my target pace and was feeling comfortable and sticking to my water/gatorade and gel intake plan.  Because it was a two loop course you started to see the second loop mile markers a few hundred yards before the first loop mile markers around 4 miles.  So around 8 miles I passed the 18 mile marker for the first time and as I was passing it I had a thought "my legs feel more like it is 18 miles, not 8 that I have run - this is not good" and I started to slow down for the next 5 miles as my mile splits moved through the 9 minutes towards 10 minutes.  As I reached the Rourke Bridge to turn right and head out for the second loop, I started to think this is not your day and it is miserable out here, so maybe you should head straight and bail on the day.  But being the stubborn person that I am, and knowing I had never not finished a race as far as I can remember, I turned right for another 2 hrs & 50 min. of fun and second guessed my decision for the next 13 miles.  The highlight of my day was I never had to stop and walk except for the hamstring cramp I got going over the 2nd Bridge around mile 18.  Unfortunately, my pace for the second half was only slightly better than a walk.  So it was a long day of trudging along in bad weather and my marathon time got slower instead of faster.  Can't wait to do it again, just not any time too soon!

  From Tom McMahon:

I convinced my twin, Annajean McMahon, to show up at my house at 5:45 am for the ride to Lowell. For things I really want to do, I like to get there early. For other things, such as work, I try to get there on time, but not early!

For 10 days I’d been checking the weather reports – which kept changing – trying to figure out what I’d be wearing for the Marathon. The night before it looked bad, so I packed just about everything I could think of. Annajean, my wife Jane, and I arrived at about 6:40 and hung out at the Tsongas Arena. (At least there was a warm, dry place before the race.) I made my final decision on running gear (hat with a brim, gortex jacket and pants – which I planned to shed at 3 miles, shorts underneath, and gloves), and we headed to the starting line. At that point it didn’t seem all that bad and I was hoping the weather people were wrong yet again. However, a few sprinkles of rain were just starting.

I was feeling pretty good, ready with a clear strategy for the race, and pretty confident that this time I would complete my first marathon. Through the first 10 miles things were going fairly well. I was shooting for about a 9:30 pace and monitoring myself on my Garmin. On my long runs I had practiced running 20 seconds faster each mile than my desired to pace which allows a 1:00 walk interval each mile. Therefore, I was trying to run 9:10 miles and do my walk intervals. I hit 10 miles at an overall pace of 9:34.

The conditions weren’t that bad during the first half of the race. (Nice day for a half marathon – hey, Frank?) I knew I’d be doing the Rourke to Tynsborough Bridge loop twice, and the first time around I kept thinking to myself – I hope I’m feeling this good the second time around!

Jane met me on the course several times to ask if I needed anything, but after stopping to shed my pants at mile 3 I didn’t want to stop again. Dry socks would have been nice, but they wouldn’t have stayed dry very long. I think dry gloves would have been really good, but by the time I needed them I don’t think my brain was working too well beyond, “put one foot in front of the other!”

Conditions gradually changed from not too bad, to really nasty. The sprinkles became steady rain, the water on the ground spread into big puddles, and my feet and hands kept getting wetter and colder. There was wind, too, but I wasn’t really focusing on it. I was really glad I had continued to wear my Gortex jacket.

I had another problem that steadily got worse. Somewhere early in the race I’d been getting twinges of pain on the top of my left foot. I’d periodically alter my stride, take my walk breaks, and it would go away. I thought it would disappear, but it did not. This was a completely new pain – my left foot was one of the few parts of my lower body that had given me no trouble throughout 4 months of training!

At 20 miles I had slowed to an overall pace of about 9:46. I was hoping to hold that to the finish, but things kept getting tougher. The pain in my foot was becoming fairly constant and it forced me to take more frequent walk breaks. During the first half of the race I was drinking water every few miles. During the second half I added some Gatorade every other time. I had planned on using gu, but I’ve had the experience of getting nausea at about 22 miles, so I kept putting it off and then never did use gu at all throughout the race.

Going over the Tynsborough Bridge at almost 18 miles I was focusing on saying really positive things to myself to keep going. I was looking forward to getting to the spot right before mile 22 where I had dropped out last year. I thought to myself, “I’m going to sail right by that spot!” (If I’d had a sail with me, I could have made use of it in some of those very large puddles!)

Unfortunately, I was slowing with each mile and by the time I passed 22 I was doing 12 minute miles, but I was determined to get to the finish. My feet and hands were cold and numb. I kept going pretty steadily and possibly the cold and numbness made my foot pain a little less noticeable – at this point I don’t remember that too clearly. A few people passed me, but there were others who looked in bad shape. I remember seeing one woman hopping on one foot somewhere in the last 2 miles.

Between a few races, and some training runs, the last part of the course was somewhat familiar and that helped me to kind of know how much more I had to do. I think I probably got my pace back down into the high 11s during the last 2 miles as I saw I was almost there.

I did have one unpleasant thought – which I didn’t dwell on, but which turned out to be accurate. It went something like this, “Even when you finish you’re still not going to feel that great for a while.”

So, I went over the finish line, and looked around and there was no one there to meet me. It was raining, and I was very cold and numb. Jane had gotten delayed getting back to the finish and didn’t show up with dry clothes for a long 10 minutes. I made it up the steps of the stadium and looked around and didn’t see anything that provided any shelter. I did see Fernando and talked with him very briefly before turning around hoping to locate Jane. Finally I saw her, she saw me, and she started coming towards me!

Jane helped me into some dry clothes, although, unfortunately, I did not have dry shoes. Also, I had to pull on pants over my wet shorts. Suddenly I felt faint and sick to my stomach. I told Jane I wanted to go to the medical tent. We started back down the stadium stairs (terrific!), but I had no clue where to go. Fortunately Jane aimed me under the stands and after a brief conversation with an EMT person I was led to a pretty wonderful place. It was a heated locker room where they were providing evaluation and treatment for those in need. I got a real blanket (the space one didn’t do a whole lot), my vitals checked (okay), and some nourishment which eventually included warm soup. (yah!) I started to feel a whole lot better. There were a few other people in there in a lot worse shape and one was so cold and shivering they sent her to the hospital.

At some point I did remember that we had not found Annajean (sorry Annajean!), and Jane went looking for her and had her paged. Later we found out she had finished the race about 20 minutes before I did and had gone on to claim her Grand Prix Iron Runner jacket at another location. (Congratulations, twin!)

After that, it all felt like coasting downhill, with a ride home, eating and drinking and relaxing for the rest of the day. My left foot was extremely sore and I was concerned I might have a stress fracture. However, it’s a lot better now (one week later), and my doctor thought it was most likely a tendon strain. Tomorrow I’m going to test it on the roads with an easy run.

It was definitely a memorable first marathon, but I really doubt I would run another one in weather conditions like that again. However, you never know what crazy running feat you might attempt!

Personal Stories From Baystate Marathon - Part I
Compiled by Tom McMahon
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LOWELL - Mike Pelletier found the following weather information in Lowell during the race. However, they are merely numbers and don't really convey what it was like out there on the course! The following personal stories written by Strider runners give a more "graphic" picture.

Conditions: an hour into the race, the temperature begins to drop; the wind picks up; and the rain begins and steadily increases.

Time Temperature Wind Speed (mph) Wind Gust (mph) Rain (in/hour)
8 am 41.4 4 12 0.00
9 am 41.4 5 13 0.01
10 am 39.9 5 13 0.04
11 am 39.4 6 14 0.05
11:30 am - 7 16 -
12 noon 39.3 5 15 0.07
1 pm 38.9 8 20 0.10

  From Linda A. Desjardins:

Not Bay State - Brr State. Holy crap it was cold! We shivered at the slightly delayed start, warmed up during the race, and shivered even more at the end in LeLecheur Stadium, totally unsheltered from the rain.

The race was very well organized with a lot of support on the route - plenty of water and other choices, many porta-potties, hearty spectators, and alert traffic control. My only criticism would be the lack of a warm shelter to enter immediately upon finishing. (I remember hogging the fireplace after the Mill Cities Relay - so very comforting.) Of course we all know New England weather and on any given day, we might have been begging for air conditioning.

The rain didn't start 'til mile 3 for me, then began to increase and by my 10th mile, it was coming down steadily. The wind wasn't as god-awful as I had anticipated and dreaded. (Of course I live along the coast and we wrote the book on wind.) It was interesting to notice that runners were initially stepping to the left of the puddles along the right side of the road. The more miles we covered, the less we cared enough NOT to run right through the puddles. There is a saturation point where nothing else matters. But the cold and rain had an advantage for me: as soon as I thought I might walk a little, around mile 23, I quickly reminded myself I'd freeze. The external motivation worked for me. It was so nice to see LeLecheur park and know the finish was there. Not so nice to realize the finish involved an inside lap. I hate delayed gratification. The lap was quite muddy and messy but by then, the finish line came into sight and nothing else mattered.

My goal was to qualify for Boston. Being 61, I needed a 4:30. I'm pleased to say that despite the less-than-favorable conditions, I managed a 4:24! (I remember when I needed - and got - a 3:20 to qualify. I remember when I thought a 4:24 was, frankly, embarrassing.) My how age brings wisdom!

Thanks, NSS, for letting me represent you. I hope I helped our team.


Linda A. Desjardins

  From Lanse Stover:

This was my 3rd marathon, after running Baystate 9 years ago, and New York last fall. I survived, but not much more than that. My plan from Fernando was to do 5 mile chunks at my marathon goal pace of 8:00/mi (a 3:30 marathon). All fall I've had misgivings about that goal, as long runs have consistently proved to be the most challenging part of my training. But I figured it was worth a try! I had a 7:58 pace through 10 miles, and it crept up to about 8:12 by mile 15. Then I started feeling miserable, the weather deteriorated, and I slowed down significantly. When I saw the 3:20 pacer sprint past me, I thought "how can she possibly move that fast". Then I saw the 3:40 pacer sprint past me, and I knew I was in trouble. Just for fun, I tried keeping up with her for a hundred yards, but her pace was so far beyond my capabilities at that point it was laughable. By mile 20 I was just forcing myself to keep running. I basically crawled through the final miles, and finished in 3:51:08. I'm so grateful I didn't qualify for Boston so I don't have to think about whether to run another marathon!

Overall, the course support was good, right up to the point where they handed you your bag. Then it sucked. I couldn't believe there wasn't any cover or warm area for runners. The least they could have done was get the bathrooms opened and put heaters in there. And while the food was welcome (actually, it may have saved my life) why were they letting EVERYONE get in line for it, and why weren't there signs telling you where it was and how to get out of the place? Beats me. I finally followed Dennis Ryan to the rec center across the street, but by then I was so chilled it took me an hour and a half to stop shivering (the only thing that warmed me up was sitting in the car with the heater on full blast during the ride home).

  Link to David Ring's report on his blog.

  I received the following email from Vicky Yee and convinced her she didn't need to write anything else! Her account is spontaneous and straight from the heart!

Hi Tom,

Man, that has to be the worst weather I have ever run in. Remember that forum post we had going a few years ago about the worst running weather ever??? Well I'd say that yesterday takes the cake. I was definitely suffering hypothermia from mile 20 on.

Hey, I can do better than that. My left shin/foot started to cramp almost from when we first started! After I worked that out, my left hip started bugging me and by favoring that, my right hip was screaming from mile 15 on. Really, it was a death march from that point on. Every time I looked around, someone else was clutching a leg in the obvious pain of a cramp. I knew there was no handsome fireman around to save me like at Boston in 2007, so on I went. Can you believe they had the nerve to make you walk up those stairs at the end, and with all those stupid spectators running around not clearing way for me??? I was not a happy camper! The soup was a nice touch...if it was HOT... it took me hours and hours to get warmed up. Today I am pretty much stiff and sore everywhere.

So how are you feeling???

I am going to try and write something. Don't expect much from me though. My writing skills have really dropped off since I started working insurance and all my creativity has been sucked dry. I tried 6x to write something up for Mt. Washington but it always sounded too self-centered. Anyway, here's how I can sum it up: The Worst Running Weather ever was Baystate 2009. Friendships made along the way will last a lifetime and make the pain and agony of those 26 miles worth it!

I hope you enjoyed those Happy Trails yesterday. I sucked down 4 Sam Adams Octoberfests and promptly passed out for 11 hours!!!

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