Sunday, November 9, 2014

USATF New England XC Championships

I had a blast today. Joe drove Todd and I into Franklin Park. Dave Dunham did the team a solid by setting up a tent so we could crash and keep our stuff together. He had an assortment of CMS singlets over the past 20 years hanging over the front side of it. I was excited to be racing the masters 8K - same course as Mayor's Cup from two weeks ago. My first mile split was identical to then - just under 5:20 and a step away from Todd. He pulled away and ran down several runners over the next few miles. I had to back off a touch up Bear Cage hill but I was trailing good company in Mark Reeder (GLRR) and Wayne Levy (BAA). It was this company that I kept for the rest of the race, only getting past Wayne up Bear Cage in the last mile. I finished 22nd overall, 3rd CMS runner, with a time of 28:17.51. This was 20 seconds slower than two weeks ago. I will chalk that up to marathon legs from Sunday. However, the execution was good and did my best out there. The CMS masters team finished 3rd overall behind the BAA and Greater Springfield. The Seniors team took first place. I am looking forward to racing with these guys at USATF Club XC Nationals in December.  

Masters 8K results

Paul Bazanchuk, Erik Vandendries, Dave Mingori, Joe Shairs, John Gillis, Todd Callaghan, Jim Pawlicki, Greg Putnam, Martin Tighe, Dave Dunham, Dan Verrington

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Manchester City Marathon

The marathon bag was packed as Krissy, my father, and I left the wind and rain of the North Shore to cloudy and windy skies in Manchester, NH. It was time for the Manchester City Marathon. I watched the race from the bike last year so had a feel for some of the course. I was not really in marathon ready fitness but had plenty of races including the Nahant 30K under my belt. We parked under the host hotel and picked up my number and race packet early so as to ensure Krissy got a map of the course as she planned on taking photos as various points. CMS got a team photo in 10 minutes before the start of the race and before I knew it, the race started and we were into a head wind 800m in. I connected with Martin Tighe as we both had a plan of 2:50 or so. I mentioned each mile split as we passed a mile so we knew what was going on. We were running a little quicker than expected but we just went with it. About four miles into the race, the lead women came up on us (we had Anthony Crudale from GBTC with us now). 

We all hung together clicking the miles past us, working together, with or without wind in our faces. It was nice and took the burden of the marathon thoughts away. We were in sync without a lot of talk. I still yelled out each mile split to assist the group of what we just accomplished. I was concerned that someone would get anxious and take off. Martin did at mile 15 right into a head wind. It stood me right up and started to feel the pacing catch up as the legs hinted they were no longer going to tolerate 6:20’s. Anthony fell back and Martin and the ladies carried on ahead. I started to have those negative signs that the legs wanted to cramp at any moment and then we came upon the half marathon runners. That kind of helped because I did not feel so isolated and alone.

However, I kept an eye on the ladies and Martin ahead. They put a minute on me. It was nice to see Dave Dunham out there offering support or a gel. I was all set and armed with at least one left for the last 8 miles. I came into the downtown area (mile 19) and to a cheer from Joe OLeary (SRR) who had prescribed most of the intervals that I have been doing over the last few years with a solid SRR group at Tufts University. One of those training partners, Joe Lauer, came by looking particularly fresh. I reluctantly hitched on for pick me up. That worked for about 2 minutes and my legs said no way. We crossed the bridge over the Merrimac River and I saw Morgan Kennedy (CMS) sitting down at an intersection. He was done for the day. I wanted to offer him my gel and last salt tablet but the look on his face and my own misery said not to bother. I waived to him and it was mutual. My battle continued and wouldn’t you know it, we had some hills to encounter and I am feeling like crap. My left lower leg was going numb like I sprained my ankle. I motored on and came to terms that the 2:50 was out of the question and now my effort was to finish and limit the legs from cramping outright. I saw Denise bolt out of a yard, marathon style pit stop, and get in front of the 2nd place woman who I was tracking down. She took right off and took the win around 2:51. I remember mile marker 22 very well as we had to run downhill and that hurt. Soon I had to jump a curb to reach a bike path and that was risky with my wobbly state. Eric Narcisi (WRT) came by looking just like Joe did earlier with a lot of energy and looking fresh. I was envious. Not much I could do but shuffle along the bike path which reminded me of the last few miles of the Vermont City Marathon. It had that slight down grade to it and peacefulness. I only wished I had some legs under me.  


Coming into the last 5K of the race gave me a sense that I was close to finishing but the death march continued. The legs had yet to give out to any real sharp cramping but they were hinting. The bike path dropped down to the river behind Delta Dental and I was immediately greeted by a volunteer who gave me a heads up on the turnaround. I got down there and saw runners coming back at me so as to see who I was running with miles ago – Joe, Denise (who would go on to win), Eric Williams (WRT), Martin, and Eric. I reached the 180 degree turn with a huge sign and two volunteers. No big deal I thought until hearing later that the leaders missed this spot and kept running – hence getting lost. I turned and passed a runner in the process facing now a stiff head wind. I immediately saw CMS teammate and fellow master Nick Taormina about 30 seconds back. I was the 3rd CMS master at the moment (behind Al Bernier and Martin Tighe) and I really did not want to give up that spot. I tried to pick up the pace but alas the head wind was not cooperating. The last mile and a half was the longest mile and a half I ever ran. I was losing my mental and physical faculties. The legs were refusing but were still turning over. Each volunteer was supportive as I was in a sea of orange cones taking me up to the Elm Street and the last long straight to the finish. I was so happy to reach that finish line. I finished in 24th place and a chip time of 2:53:15. I was the 4th master (40+) overall. Martin was about a minute ahead of me and Nick was right behind me. I shook some hands and caught up with my dad and Krissy. It was getting cold so I went across the street to get changed. Walking and coming to any stairs was hilarious. I got back to Veterans Park now anxious to get the low down on the team scoring. 

It was then that I heard about the unfortunate news about the top guys getting lost. It still makes me sick to think about that. As recently as yesterday, the guys were given the prize money they missed out on by the Machester Marathon. CMS took the team win in the open and masters divisions. The Senior team placed 3rd. USATF New England is/was to review the team scoring impact this week as Jason Ayr from WMDP would have, if finished in his leading spot, taken the team open win and overall Grand Prix Series for 2014. Regardless, I have to hand it to all that ran in the event as conditions were far from favorable. I took in some hot chocolate and left for a nice lunch at the Common Man down the road. 

Plc Name                  Div        10KSPLIT   13.1MISPLI 19.3MSPLIT  Pace      Time     
24 PAWLICKI, JAMES  M40-49 38:56     1:23:34         2:04:27           6:37        2:53:15 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mayor's Cup 8K cross country race

Photo by Joe O'Leary
Todd and I got to Franklin Park finding parking what seemed like a mile away. It was certainly a packed house. I headed out for a warm up with Ryan Collins and found Todd to cover 2 plus miles to check on the course which was dry if not for a few stretches of mud. Overall, the course was in great shape. The race went out fast as usual. I hooked up with Todd after 200 meters. The course mile came around in 5:20 (GPS showed 5:14). I lost some space as Todd pulled away up Bear Cage Hill. The quick pace caught up with me after two miles. Bernat Olle passed by and my legs were just flat. I looked ahead in the wilderness loop and saw Todd gaining on Ryan. I came around for the 5K around 17:30 and into the wilderness loop again trying to keep it together. Runners around me were suffering but occasionally I would latch onto someone for a bit. I came around to mile 4 around 22:40 (5:40 pace) and had a WMDP guy to work with for the last mile. We went back and forth into Bear Cage and I encouraged him to give it a go talking him through the top telling him to open it up. He was hurting so I proceeded with my own advice knowing that I had to hustle to break 28 minutes which was my goal. I counted that finish line clock all the way down the home stretch from 27:30. Official results had me at 27:58 so that made for a happy guy and a clear head for the ride home. I was the 4th CMS runner behind Greg Putnam, Todd Callaghan, and Ryan Collins. Dave Dunham capped off the scoring for us as the all critical 5th man. I headed out for a cool down with the team, Bernat, Jon Longo (training for the Philadelphia Marathon), and Kieran Condon (training for the New York City Marathon).

Mayor's Cup Cross Country Race Results

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ravenswood 4.1 mile trail race - Gloucester

The trail race tour continued today at Ravenswood park in Gloucester. CMS teammates Dave Dunham and Todd Callaghan were signed up so I was looking forward to seeing them. Todd and David Long hustled out at the start and I took a back seat. The back seat got comfortable apparently as I never got back in touch, only seeing David at one point shortly after 3 miles. Leaf covered single track, fire roads, boulders, planks, you name it - we ran over it. Eric Narcisi shadowed me for the first two and a half miles - keeping me from letting up at all which was good thing. Todd took the win (26:50) followed by David (27:26). I was third (27:53) and Eric was 4th at 28:06. The first three guys were over 40! Dave Dunham took 5th and top 50+ honors. A joined a big group (Dave X 2, Eric, Emma, and Doug) and headed out to run the course again. We reached the post race party that already kicked off with the fun raffles done by race director, Jen Brooks! I swear I saw Bonnie Halliman win a box of Yodels as I arrived. I was light headed (low blood sugar or bonking) and was tempted to ask if I could tear the box open before I passed out (maybe a little dramatic). Thankfully there were plenty of baked goods still on the table. I was all over Matt Curran's peanut butter fudge snacks and a coffee cake muffin. My life was saved. A bottle of water and I was good to go! My award for the day was a pair of Eddie Bauer wool socks (always appreciated) that are warming my feet right now. 2014 Ravenswood 4.1 mile trail race results

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hills & Hops 5K Trail Run - Bartlett, NH

pre-race at the base
Krissy and I headed up to the White Mountains for a few days to celebrate my 40th as well as our 24 year anniversary. While having dinner at the Red Fox, Krissy and I peeked over the events in the Bartlett NH area for the near peak foliage Columbus Day weekend. I saw an advertisement for the Hills and Hops 5KTrail Run at Attitash Mountain Resort. The race was kicking off their 17th Annual Oktoberfest. Last years results showed 40 year old Ken Lubin took the win with a time of 19:47. I shrugged it off and was more intent to run long with the likes of Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson in their back yard. I got a few miles in with Jim Johnson the night before the race. He did not have any details on the race when I brought it up. Our schedules did not line up for a long run so I had 12 hours to gear up for my first race after turning a master (40+).

Krissy and I arrived at the Attitash Mountain Resort early so I could check out the course. It was well marked with arrows where you had to make a turn which was literally to go up or down. I imagined that I was in for an eastern Mass style trail race but I was so wrong with my assumptions. Despite the course not hitting any peaks, this course was an ass kicker. I gave Krissy the 411 and she signed up after I compared it to Lynn Woods with some climbs that were the equivalent of Stone Tower grade and length. I stripped down to single layers (orange Adidas tech short sleeve, gloves, and my Volkswagen GTI winter hat) only to hear about a 10 minute delay 10 minutes before our race. Argh! My scientific calculations of the warmup time ratio went right out the window. I kept moving right until the race was called to the line. A gent jumped into the lead (turned out to be Ken Lubin – last year’s winner) on the first climb. My breathing was heavier than his as I took over 300 meters into the race. I boogied along, up and down the course. My pace slowed a lot on the climbing after one mile. 

Gifts from the race
 My lead grew a little longer each time I looked back at the top of the hills. The last hill was the long one. Once at the top, a generous decline in elevation awaited to grades lucky to be seen at Dunham’s Northfield Mountain races of the past. Each step was careful on the descent for various reasons. Alas, the finish came into view and a not so shocking 20 minute something on the clock (crossed the line in 21:05). The Garmin nailed this as 3.14 miles. One has to throw times out the window on any race that is off road. Ken was about a minute behind me and felt the race was a little different as in longer than last year. He too measured 3.14 miles. The race director asked for our feedback and all I could say was not to make it any tougher in the future. I would like to see this course as a snowshoe race. I put a long sleeve on and headed out for a very slow cool down, however, running against the race, doing the loop clockwise. I cheered on every runner – giving the good news to those who only had one hill left and a long down hill finish. Krissy was one of them, hiking up the last beast. Later she would share that she finished strong and passed a few doing so. I was in hustle mood after I wrapped that up as the condo exit was to take place at 11:00 so I left Krissy at the race to score a bottle opener in the raffle. I picked up a race Mug and Nike gift card which magically turned into three pairs of socks three hours later.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Stone Tower Trail Run 15K

I ran over to the race and signed up for the Stone Tower 15K. The race course goes up Stone Tower three times, Steel Tower once, and Dungeon Rock once. Tough as it can get for a trail race. The weather was perfect after the rain yesterday. I chatted with Dennis Floyd (SpiderOne) before heading over to the line next to David Long (Wicked Running Club) who was 2nd last year. Chris Smith (Somerville Road Runners) charged into the lead from the Great Woosd gate driveway and into Lynn Woods. I caught him toward the top of the first hill and taking the race up the single track to Stone Tower. The lead was short lived as I had my eyes on a sign for the 15K and an arrow pointing left. I was scolded to screams of many after I took the turn (where were you on Thursday). I turned back only to be behind Bernat Olle (Cambridge Running Club) and David Long who bolted down the hill. They traded off leads as I had a birds eye view before I was able to catch David after Penny Bridge. Bernat was holding his own about five seconds in front. I kept him close for the next few miles but never got any closer than I did going up the Dungeon Rock steps - maybe 10 seconds.

I lost some time in the Boulder Path which is a single track ankle buster. I knew I was losing precious time and being cautious instead of reckless. I asked myself - what would Jim Johnson do here? Upon reaching Stone Tower a second time, I managed to see Bernat at the bottom of the hill (100 yards?) and not slowing down. That was the last time I saw him. The rest of the tour took me through a personal favorite of Lynn Woods - Undercliff Path. I think I heard David behind me so I could not dare take a nap at the wheel. The legs were absolutely zapped for the rest of the race. I don't think I could have held anyone off if I got run down in the last two miles. It was all downhill from the third exhaustive visit to Stone Tower. I rolled into the finish for 2nd place overall and a time of 1:00:22. Bernat crushed it in 59:19. David rolled in about a minute behind me. Full results I was pretty beat following the race so I shut it down and hung out for some refreshments. Looking ahead, it looks like I will be racing Ravenswood (1st race as a master), Mayors Cup XC, and the Manchester City Marathon.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Clock to the Rock 5K - Lynn

The Downtown Lynn Cultural District hosted the Clock to the Rock 5K in Central Square. The awesome Boston traffic got it the way and was pretty sure I was not going to make the 6:00 start. It took me over ninety minutes to reach downtown Lynn. I had 8 minutes to park, change, sign up, and get to the line. I reached the registration table while the race was getting lined up on the starting line. I made it to the line with about two minutes to spare. I sprinted out into fourth place. Up front was a young kid running with a back pack. William Jackson and Michael Smith followed as we ran along the barriers on the side of the road marking the course. William took the lead and I got behind him when we reached the Lynn/Nahant rotary maybe .75 miles in. A police officer said we were going the wrong direction. We were running the last mile instead of the first. We slowed down and nearly stopped - looking confused. William and Michael shrugged it off and started running again. I followed knowing that we were doing the course in a counter clockwise direction.

We were supposed to be going clockwise so we missed a turn 400 meters into the race. As William said, "what's done is done." We stayed together but at a slower pace now. I was thinking that we were going mess up the results and or get disqualified. By nature of the course and our misdirection, we ran into the race to jeers that we were going the wrong way. I felt pretty silly but kept a sense of humor about it. Michael picked up the pace at the end to cross the line in 1st and I followed Bill. In fact, I walked across it and told the timing truck what had happened. Another conversation took place with someone affiliated with the race. I stayed out of it and was ready to write off us getting credit. We did run 3.15 miles but in the wrong direction. They recognized our efforts and let the results stand. I ran a cool down with William and Michael, running the course in the correct direction. We followed up with hanging out at the after-party in the Lynn Museum and live music by a local funk band. It was a pretty cool scene. It was easy to forgot about our mishap. Awards were given out and I grabbed an age group trophy and managed to pick up a race shirt that I missed at registration. Patrick Taylor swung by to check out the festivities and we hit the road for a burrito at Taco Lupita around the corner. At least I will be prepared for the course next year!

Lynn Item article and photos: Quirky finish to the Clock to the Rock 5K