Wednesday, March 22, 2017

USATF-NE GP Race # 2: New Bedford 1/2 Marathon

The second USATF-NE GP race was upon us and another race where my body was not happy with me leading up to it. I had a solid 2 weeks after Amherst, one really good work out and then woke up one morning with some pain in the back of my knee, in which I ran 13 hilly miles on and then the next day I had to stop mid-run because the pain was too much. The was the Sunday leading up to New Bedford. I had pain to the touch behind the knee into my outer hamstring on Monday and somewhat on Tuesday. I took those two days off, along with Wednesday to be sure I was doing everything I could to make it to the starting line on Sunday. I haven’t taken three days off in a week in about a year. I ran 2 miles on Thursday with no pain, but a very tight leg. I then ran 3 miles on both Friday and Saturday with no pain and less tightness, so….what’s 10 more miles?

The weather leading up to New Bedford was looking a bit ify at best. On Friday the forecast called for 3 to 5 inches of snow and 20 to 30 mph winds. YAY! When all was said and done, the temps were good, there was no snow or rain…BUT there was a lot of wind. New Bedford is always windy, but this was WAY windier than usual.

Around 5 miles

So, onto the race… The gun went off and.....we walked over the line. Once we got going we hit some swirling odd mostly headwind through the 1st mile. I wanted to run in the 5:45 range for these first few miles and I hit the first mile in 5:46. I was trailing a large pack that was about 20 feet ahead of me, so I made a small surge to catch up. There had to be 25 guys in this pack, it was nice to just latch on and let the pack do the work. Unfortunately the pack was short lived. We only stayed together through around 2.25 miles. Hathaway Road went by quick, the wind wasn't blowing as bad there and it got down right warm as the sun popped out. I felt like I worked way to hard from mile 3 to 4, only to run a 5:59 mile. After that mile we were on the fastest section of the course. Dave caught up to me and I felt a bit better, felt like i started rolling well. The next 2 miles were 5:25 and 5:36. The speed came to an end shortly after that as the wind started blowing again, but we were able to slide through 9 miles at 5:45.3 pace. That' where all the fun would end.

As you hit the 9 mil mark you could look down and see the white caps crashing in the harbor and the flag straight out flapping away, in the unfavorable direction. Once we hit that corner it was like hitting a wall. The wind would blow hard then a tad less, then harder. Dave had 15 secs on me at this point, but was basically alone up ahead. I had the advantage of having 3 or 4 guys to run with. We were in a pack bouncing off each other as our bodies got hit by the wind in different ways. It was brutal. We caught up to Dave just before the 10 mile mark, which I hit in a blazing 6:30. The next ¾ of a mile were no better, we were just getting beat down by the relentless wind. Finally hitting the 11 mile mark in 6:21 we were clear of the worst wind of the day. My legs were left feeling like Jell-O and as much as I tried to push on, I just couldn’t get it going. Hitting the 12 mile mark brings on the hill and one last kick in the balls before having some downhill to the finish. I did not run the hill well and for once Dave actually gapped me on a hill! I was passed by a couple runners when we crested and I was just done. I gave one hard push when we turned the corner onto Rt 6 and got hit by more wind. We turned the final corner onto Pleasant Street, ironic no? And I was able to muster up something that resembled a kick to pass two runners that passed me at the top of the hill. My finish time was 1:17:47 (same pace as Baystate?) It is not a time to be thrilled with, but considering I wasn’t able to finish my run the previous Sunday, I am happy with how I performed.

After the race, a very short cool down back to the car was all I felt like doing as it was getting pretty chilly and then off to The Pour Farm for some tasty beverages and food.

I have now run New Bedford 8 or so times. It was my first ½ Marathon, it is a race I have run hard in and PR’d and a race that I have used as a marathon paced long run. So, I have experienced it in many different forms. This year’s weather added to the variety! One thing that has stayed the same at New Bedford and I am surprised by it every time for some reason…but the cops out working the race are by far the most friendly encouraging cops I have ever encountered in a race! It is great to see!

Anyway, onto the next USATF-NE GP race at the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-Up 15K in Upton, MA on April 1st.

If anyone is looking for some fun at the end of April, there is only one place to be…The Fool’s Mile at the Foolproof Brewing Company. Come check it out!

Friday, March 3, 2017

USATF-NE GP Race # 1: Amherst 10 Miler

My main goal for 2017 is to run the full USATF-NE Grand PrixSeries. I have run races in the series here and there over the last 15 years, but have never been able to run the full series. Last year it was a thought, but the schedule wasn’t to my liking and my motivation to race was lacking greatly. This year I was 95% happy with all the races in the series and was excited to have a plan and focus for the year. On top of that, joining CMS for this purpose has given me other goals and has added to the race experience.

I was finally starting to get on a roll with training at the end of January and the first week of February, ending with the Krispy KremeChallenge. Once returning from North Carolina I began to feel sick and that turned into a full-blown cold. I still ran every day, but the mileage and quality were shit.

I was finally over that and had a good workout on Thursday February 16th. It was a work out that showed some progress over the last month. That was followed by a good long run with a good size group on the Sunday. My foot had been bothering me during the day starting on maybe that Saturday, but it only bothered me when I was sitting, standing or walking….not while running! That changed on Wednesday the 22nd. I got out of my car to run and I knew right away my foot felt not so good. I ran about 50 feet, stopped, turned around and walked back to the car.

I was going to run on Thursday to see how it felt, but figured I would give it another day of rest and icing. Friday I ran about ½ mile on it and there was no pain. I still had the pain during the day, but it was definitely less than it had been. The day before Amherst, I ran 2.8 miles from home and had no pain and ran much quicker than anticipated without effort. OK, cool…I will at least make it to the starting line.

Race day was here and it was forecast to be around 40 at the start with some wind. This is decent weather for February, but with the crazy warm weather as of late, it felt a bi chilly walking outside. Wind aside it was still an ideal temperature for a 10 miler.

Fast forward to the race itself, I had thoughts on what I could run, but was a bit unsure. Amherst is not an easy course, mostly because there are two miles on the course that take away 30+ secs from you…easily. So, you have to run fast elsewhere without going crazy, to make sure your overall pace is where you want it to be.

The goals I had in mind were to break 59 mins and the outside goal was to run 5:50 pace, which is 58:20. I ran the last 10 miles of Baystate in 58:40, so 5:50 pace seems easy in my brain…but when you run over 6 mins on 3 miles in the race, you really need to be running 5:40-45s to get it done. I knew Dave would be game to run in that zone and I spoke with Alan Bernier before the race and he had similar goals.

The gun was quick, I was talking with Steve Dowsett and all of a sudden there was a bang. I felt like I got out good, but not too quick. I really held back the first half mile. I wanted to go through the mile in 5:50 as I knew the 2nd mile would be fast because of the nature of the course. Dave, Alan and I were within feet of each other though the mile in 5:48.9. Perfect. As we moved along, Alan and Dave would gap me on the small downs and I would catch back up on the ups. We hit the flat after 2 miles and I got just ahead of Alan and started catching up to Dowsett, then went by. I felt pretty good, but felt slow. I figured it was we were beginning to go gradually up hill. This mile just continues to get steeper and steeper until you peak around 3.3 miles. The mile was not as steep as I remember from running the course in 2012 but it definitely slowed you down. I was 5:27 at 2 miles and then 6:14 through 3. I was pleased enough with that slowdown, I had done some data searching before the race and the slowdowns that I had found ranged from 40 secs to a minute and a half. On the up new teammate Ed Sheldon went by me, but I was able to get him back when we peaked and started heading down. In my mind I had gaped all the people I had passed, but this was not the case at all, as I would find out later on in the race.

I was 6:11 at 4 miles and from there until 7 the race was pretty uneventful. Some downs and some flat. The dirt road was in solid shape, my fat ass was sinking in spots, but overall you could not complain. I was focused ahead, trying to make up as much time on the down hills that I could. I picked off a few runners and as each mile went by, although not feeling amazing, I felt better about what my time would be.

Right before 7 miles Dave came back on me. I went through that mile in 5:30 and he went through in 5:26. He loves those down hills. I knew I need to keep my foot on the gas and not let him get by and pull away like he did at the Newport 10k.





I was successful in doing this and put a couple seconds on him between 7 and 9. However, than Ed Sheldon came back on me! This was right before turning right on Strong Street heading uphill towards the 9 mile mark. I was able to keep in in sight, but he gaped me enough where I didn’t think I would be able to catch. Finally we peaked the hill at around 9.6 and started the downhill towards the loop around the parking lot. When we finally entered the lot, I started moving a bit, but didn’t start kicking until we hit that final right hand turn. I pushed as hard as I could and was reeling Ed in, but in the last 10 feet he heard me coming and put in a last burst to hold me off. I should have started moving earlier than I did, but I was pretty shot from that last hill. I finished in 58:23, pretty much my pie in the sky goal for the race, so I’ll take that.

Dave came in 12 seconds later, running damn close to his 10 mile PR on a not very PR friendly course.

After waiting through the shit-show that was the awards, we headed out for a 2 mile cool down then headed to the Northhampton Brewery for some beer and food.


Imperial Stout and some chili with my cheese.


All in all, I am pleased with this race. My training has been less than optimal, but I now have a starting point. There are less than 3 weeks until race # 2, the New Bedford ½ Marathon. While I cannot make huge leaps and bounds in fitness between now and then, I plan on doing as much as I can, while hoping my body plays nice and allows it!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Krispy Kreme Challenge #3

I first did the Krispy Kreme Challenge in 2015.  Shortly after finishing that race I said I would never run it again.  This year I went back for my 3rd go at it.



The race is pretty awesome and horrible at the same time, as you would expect when running 5 miles and eating a dozen donuts.  The city of Raleigh is probably what keeps us coming back.  Some great breweries and restaurants and of course a bar/arcade.  If the area was shit, I certainly wouldn't make the trip down to NC time and time again...especially when the travel there seems to be cursed.

The first year, as documented in that first link I posted above, was a shit show.  Last year our flight down got canceled.  And....this year it started the same way, with a delay that seemed to grow every time I looked at my phone!  After about 5 hours in the Logan Airport, we were finally en route to NC.

We arrived a bit later than originally scheduled...which meant a modified eating and drinking plan.  I believe in the long run this worked to my advantage.  I definitely felt less full and less hungover the morning of the race this year.  I was ready to roll on race morning.  I felt that I was in as good of running shape as last year...it was just a matter of downing the donuts as fast as I could.  In general, I am a pretty solid eater.  I eat a massive amount of food, but in this race, it is a different story.  If I could eat within a minute of the race winner, I would BE THE WINNER!  Instead, I have yet to accomplish my ultimate goal of top 10.

The first year, I finished 19th in a time of 37:17.  I looked at 2015 as the getting my feet wet year.  It was overwhelming to say the least, sitting on the ground with all those donuts in front of me.

In 2016, I knew what to expect.  I had a better understanding of the race and the confidence that goes with that.  I ran faster, finishing in 35:13 for 13th place.  I could taste the sugary sweetness that is 10th place.  I just needed to either be in better running shape, or figure out how to eat faster.

Going into the 2017 event, I was not in better running shape and I certainly did nothing to attempt to figure out how to eat faster.  I just figured, try harder to eat faster.  Seemed reasonable.

So, the race started.  As usual, the massive amount of college students went out like it was a 50 meter dash.  I started on the 2nd row and found myself with at least 100 people in front of me a 1/4 mile into the race.  I was through the mile in 5:25 and there had to still be 30+ runners ahead of me easily. I was happy with the pace and used the down hill after the mile to bring my pace down a bit.  After that I passed a dozen or so more runners in the last mile of the first half of the race and entered the hall of donuts.  I grabbed my box from a volunteer and kept running hard to an area next to the furthest table to get on the ground and eat away.  I hit a split when I stopped running, I grabbed multiple cups of water and I ripped donuts apart shoving some in my mouth and putting some in the water to soak to make easier to eat.  It was a chilly 27 degrees at the start, so the mix of water and donuts made for some cold hands.  I felt like I was eating well and looked at my watch as last year's winner, whom I beat in the run again, took off, finishing his donuts in around 3 minutes.  I don't know how he does it.  It boggles my mind.  I need to learn his ways.  But, back to the task at hand.  I was sitting around the people that I was running with and we all seemed to be in a similar amount of donut pain.  Some people left and we ate on.  Finally, 8 minutes after starting, I shoved the remaining buggy bits of donut into my mouth and ran towards the exit of the transition area.  I through down my empty box and started tracking down the casual runner and the faster eater whom I could easily out run.  I hit the first mile on the way back in 5:27. I believe that is my fastest post donut mile.  I felt great.  But shortly after that the uphill would begin.  Most of the way back was uphill, with distinct hill, called St Mary's Hill on Strava.  My pace slowed a bit, but I was still passing people.  You make the last turn of the race onto Hillsborough St with just under a mile to go.  It is a straight road and you can see runners ahead.  You can't tell if they are in the challenger or casual division until you get close, so you just hunt them all down as if they were the same.  I was able to pass 6 on that finally stretch, I believe 3 were in my division.  I ran out of real estate to get one more. I crossed the line in a new PR of 34:45.  Breaking the 35 minute barrier.  The winner finished in just over 30 mins.  He beat me by the difference in eating.  Between him and the 2nd place finisher, they have taken the first 2 spots in the last 5 races.

After the race I went and checked out the results to find out I finished in 18th place.  That was a bit disappointing.  But, I was happy to run faster...I guess I will have to wait until next year to try to sneak into that coveted top 10!