Monday, November 5, 2018

Baystate Marathon - Lowell, MA

It is Saturday, 24 hours before the marathon, October 20. I had two roadtrips for the day in the Jetta Turbo Diesel: one to Dayton, ME and the other to Brookline, NH to watch the Ghost Train ultra event. I was on my feet for three hours before Krissy and I left just before dark at the end of the day. On the way home we wound up at Amici Trattoria in Chelmsford (where my Jetta came froma year ago) for dinner where I had Eggplant Parmesan. I was in bed by 11PM after sorting out the running gear but not packing 100%.

The Sunday alarm came quick. It was time for the Baystate Marathon: last race of the USATF New England Road Grand Prix Series for 2018. The weather forecast looked good, overcast and temps in the 40’s although a hint of rain was forecasted. I showered, band-aided up, and dressed ready to race with a warm layer on top of that would be good to change into after the race. I had a light breakfast: cup of coffee, a clif bar, some water, and a couple of Endurolyte capsules. 

Interms of hydration, I drank a 16oz water with a few NUUN tabs overnight. Krissy, Liz, and I left Lynn around 6:00AM. I listened to Envy on the ride up to Lowell. We got into the garage three levels up, parked, and broke for the Porta-Johns.

I went back up to the car and grabbed two zip-lock bags to hand Joe Shairs who was waiting inside the warm Tsongas Center lobby. Each contained the following: HotShot, Pickle Juice, a Honey Stinger Packet, 3 Endurolyte capsules and 3 Salt-Stick Capsules. You would have thought I was fueling up for an Ultra. I was fueling to stave off muscle cramps. We did not plan on a specific spot to meet on the course but knew he would be beyond the Tyngsboro Bridge both times that I would pass him.

After getting coaching advice from Joe Shairs, Dave Dunham,Terry McNatt, and David Lapierre, I went out for a short mile warm up and find the Porta-John again on the far side of the garage. It was nice to warm up and listen for the booming voice of EJ who was fresh off the Chicago Marathon. I ran back to the car and shed the warm layer drank a Red Bull, Pickle Juice, and Hotshot. I ran to the start running another ¾ of a mile to keep warm. I lined up next to Dave Lapierre, about 12 rows back from the line, with whom I planned on running with for as long as possible.

We headed out at a pace that felt right. I did not look at the watch at any mile markers. My GPS miles were going off just before those on the course. It was going to be a long day. I was soaking it all in. I would see my dad walking toward the Rourke Bridge. I yelled to him as I ran by.

It seemed that Dave and I were comfortable, clicking off sub seven minute miles early on, a bit quick, but we would be fine as we settled into the sevens at mile four onward. After 8 miles, Dave warned me that he needed to make a pit stop and catch up. He did several minutes later. We were approaching mile 10, Greater Lowell Vocational. This part of the course is loaded with shade.

Mile splits through 10 miles:
6:54, 6:58, 6:59, 7:03, 7:12, 7:22, 7:12, 7:12, 7:09, 7:17

As we approached the crossing of the Rourke Bridge, spectators got louder. The half way point was on the other side. I heard several yell my name. I did not see my dad over there where he was supposed to be camped out in his chair. We headed back to Chelmsford and Dave moved up with his pace and put some room in between us. I was not ready to increase the pace yet. I kept my pace of ~ 7:10 mile pace until mile 16, about halfway to the Tyngboro Bridge and started to see some 7:20’s. 

My legs were getting heavy and the head wind would feel stronger. I could not manage to get on any heels or behind anyone. I was losing confidence. I turned my ankle on a small hole in the road. That woke me right up and some negative thoughts started to creep into my head. I was waiting for a muscle cramp in my left calf. It started to get tight half way through the race but had me concerned.

The wind approaching the Tyngsboro Bridge was the strongest of the day. I was really in a tough spot mentally. I lost my company miles before and I started to struggle. The 3:10 marathon pace group passed me at the end of the bridge. It was a bigcrew, 20+ that I wished I had the legs to stay with them.

The other side of the bridge offered relief with a tail wind back to Lowell. But my my left calf started to feel like it was in a vice. I saw Joe and got a bag of goods. He was giving me updates on the CMS guys. They were doing great. It lifted my spirits.

Minutes later, running along, I negotiated my gloves off and fought to open the zip-lock bag, fought to grab, open the pickle juice, swallow, open the hotshot, swallow, then the Honey Stinger gel and capsules through the waterstop. Try doing this while running 7 minute miles.

It was around this time that Jimmy Quadros jumped in and talked me up a bit and supporting others around him and I. His efforts were decent but I was felt like I was slowing down. He flew away 2 miles later. Joe would soon zip by and I got another survival zip-lock and I repeated the ingestion of the contents minus the Salt-Stick capsules and Honey Stinger which I gave back to Joe. I was taking either water or Gatorade pretty much from every stop along the course on the day so far.

Miles 11 through 20 splits:
7:08, 7:13, 7:14, 7:13, 7:10, 7:21, 7:22, 7:33, 7:15, 7:32

I saw a 7:58 on my watch at mile 21 and thought the world was crashing. That was the first split I saw all day and felt the previous three miles were similarly slow (turns out I was wrong). I was doing the countdown of miles and wondering when my left calf was going to pop or cramp. The Rourke Bridge went by and now within 5K, felt that I was going to be OK to the finish. I would see teammate Paul Young ahead, the only runner I would recognize after losing Dave at 14 miles, coming back.

I started to feel confident to open the stride in the last mile, risking a cramp but it did not come. I caught Paul on the last of the turns heading to the Tsongas Center. It felt so good to catch up to him. We both pushed it in the last 200 meters. He finished a stride ahead of me at the line.

Miles 21 to the finish
7:58, 7:40, 7:36, 7:49, 7:30, 7:18, 6:53 pace for the last .2 miles.

It was so nice to finish the Baystate Marathon. I could finally smile and not worry about pain or the onset of muscles cramping up while running. I got a medal around my neck and mylar wrap to stay warm. I regrouped with Dave Lapierre and Paul Young to share stories of survival. D-La ran a 3:07 and looked pretty good after.  I had a water and an ice cold banana. I started to get cold. I shuffled off to the car and turned the heat on getting out of the marathon clothes while laughing at the line of traffic thinking they were leaving the garage.

They were there for 55 minutes and did not move an inch. I went through my phone and started to study my mile splits and try to see any results.

I headed down to the finish as Krissy was less than 5K away in her marathon. I found her coming in for her last 1/2 mile. I tried to run along side with my phone and take some pictures. It washilarious. I barely got some finish line photos as I could not keep up. She would run 5:20 or so for her 2nd Baystate finish. 

I would have an official time of 3:12:30.7 for 199th place. I was 47thin my 40-49 age group. Not too bad, wanted to get under 3:10 for the goal.

Place Div/Tot  Div        Name     No.   City State Age

199  47/228 MM4049  JAMES PAWLICKI 1454 LynnMA  44

3mile   10k  .5mile   Halfway 16.3mil   30k     23mile    Net Time  Pace Gun Time Qualifier

20:42 44:14 1:00:49 1:33:53 1:57:33 2:14:41 2:48:23 3:12:30.7 7:21 3:12:39.8 BQ

In closing, my time was pretty close to the calculator prediction from Runners World. I am glad that I did not have to deal with any muscle cramps. It was on my mind for the final ten miles of the race. I did finish the race with no salt deposits on my face so maybe I was hydrating properly?  

2018 Baystate Marathon Results

USATF New England Masters Cross Country Championships - Franklin Park

October 5th - Joe Shairs, Todd Callaghan, Dennis Floyd, and I arrived at Franklin Park for the USATF New England Open and Masters Cross Country Championships. They set up the CMS tent while I went to pick up the team bib numbers. It was cool and sunny. The Friday and Saturday rains soaked the course to the point where the race had a detour for the start of the Wilderness loop. I never saw the standing water but it was best to avoid it from what I heard. The start of the Wilderness loop was basically the exit. I measured the course as 5.0 miles after my race was done.

With Brian heading around the backstop
Photo by Kim Gordon
I warmed up 30 minutes before the 10AM start time (mastersr ace was the first of the day) with some of the CMS guys to see how the course looked. We ran the Wilderness loop, the back side of White Stadium, and Bear Cage Hill. The upper half of the Wilderness loop was soggy and the area behind White Stadium was a little muddy but one could dance past most of it. The messy part of the course would be in front of White Stadium on the field. This I did not see before the race so it was a surprise. Good old cross country mud! I picked the New Balance Trail shoes over the Inov8 flats.  We had 12 CMS masters and seniors at the starting line.

The opening mile of the race was the usual crazy chaos of 120 men sprinting out across the field which I found a few slippery spots. I got behind Chris Smith and Mark Reeder early and through mile 1 which looked like 5:35 per Garmin after the race. Teamate, Nick Taormina was just in front of us. He has been racing so well this fall. Brian Rhum from Gate City Striders and I kept company back and forth. 

He pushed us through Wilderness, loop one. I pushed us through Wilnderness the second time, passing Nick and Michael McGrane (BAA) in the process. I was trying to get close to two guys ahead at mile 4, one turned out to be John Sullivan from HFC. Brian went by me before the entry to Bear Cage Hill. We clawed to the top. Once I got myself together, I pushed down the backside of the hill. This is how it would set me up to the final straight away. I held my place, 39th overall with a finish time of 29:37. Nick was right behind me. The masters team would finish 3rdoverall and the Senior team would do the same.

Trailing Brian again at Franklin Park
Photo by Kim Gordon
I ran another 1.5 miles with the team and camped out atthe CMS tent to watch the women’s race and then the men’s open race. The CMS open team would finish 10th in a competitive race. The guys picked the tent up and met me at the finish line where I was fixing some errors in theteam results. We went to Backlash Beer Company for some Pizza.

The 8K turned into a 5 mile. Blue spot is where the water flooded the start of the wilderness loop.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Marathon Training thoughts

Just some random thoughts on Marathon training. It takes discipline and focus. I have seen many 12 to 16 week programs. Several are online. Previous to the sea of online resources, I had the books from Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, Arthur Lydiard, Tim Noakes, et cetera. I never prescribed or signed onto any specific program but am always curious what the suggestions are when it goes from week to week within the marathon training cycle.  

After seeing Jack Daniels speak on the topic of long distance running and training, he warned of the one program fits all scenario that is customary in the team environment (school programs for instance) with significant numbers of athletes and abilities. Does it make sense to send all 50 middle school kids out for the same warm up, workout, et cetera?

In general, if there is one thing I would suggest to anyone for the marathon prep: get your miles in. I break training down to the two Q’s: Quality and Quantity. When it comes to the longer distance races such as the Marathon, I would take the quantity over quality. However, everyone is different so I can hear Dr. Daniels echoing his issue with the one size fits all coaching.  

My recipe is broken down to weeks. I will have a peak week of miles in the marathon program, say maybe 3 weeks out from the goal marathon date. I will also have my longest long run scheduled there as well. But in general, I try to hold consistent miles per week (50 - 60) no matter if I have a 5K or marathon coming up. Nothing earth shattering there.

Most of my miles (pace per mile) are pedestrian by design. With a few bouts of injuries in recent years, I will take the good health over trashing my legs every day. Thus conversation pace for the most but I do respect the need mix it up a bit. Introduce something at least one day per week to get out of your comfort zone. I call this the “quality” aspect of training. This could include track intervals, hill repeats, fartlek run on any terrain, or a hard effort in your local fun run.

A race can substitute the quality effort but I will still have a workout and a race within the week. Lastly, I include a long run. I will have a long run on a weekly basis unless a race is planned for that weekend or life circumstances get in the way. As I get older and less motivated by the marathon distance, I have been letting up on the steady diet of the weekly long runs and the weekly interval training. If it happens, it happens.

The Baystate Marathon is coming up this month and I wanted to take a time out to reflect what the last 12 weeks looked like in terms of the mileage per week. The miles and numbers do not lie. It is what it is. As I mentioned in paragraph one above, I would sell people on getting in the miles or quantity when focused on the marathon. 

That said, I maintained an average of 51.26 miles per week since late July. My recent race results for a 5K, 10K, and average mileage per week peg me for a 3:13 marathon or 7:22 per mile pace. I can’t really argue with that. Of course, one has to consider all other variables that go into race day so we’ll see. My average weekly miles in the 12 weeks heading into Boston 2017 were 53.08 but my legs still succumbed to the warmest day that month and I shuffled the last 8 miles to a 3:34 marathon (goal was 3:04). 

Use this calculator and see what it slots you in for. Central Mass Strider and teammate, Dave Lapierre shared it with me recently.

Courtesy of Runner's World
Click on the link above

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Lone Gull 10K

I jumped into the Lone Gull 10K in Gloucester as it was a CMSteam race as are all USATF New England Road Race Grand Prix road races. Thiswas GP race 6 out of 7 in the series. I have not done this race since a 36:02showing in 2016. I was on the 45 day DL last year nursing something behind myleft knee.

Krissy and I picked up our race numbers at New EnglandRunning Company the day before. I got a chance to thank and say hello to race organizers/directors,Jane McNally and Len Femino for hosting and organizing a great event. The 10K coursehad a changed this year. A loop from a private neighborhood in the middle ofthe course was removed to appease the Pumpkin Spice Latte neighbor who said “notin my hood!” Town records did not show any opposition in the last five years.

To make up for that removed mile loop, the last mile wouldextend out to Rt 127A (Thatcher Rd) beyond the former finish line (now almostmile 5) on Nautilus Rd. The last turn would include a 90 degree right into the GoodHarbor Beach parking lot driveway. The finish line would be at the opposite endof the lot, close to the registration tent. A warm breakfast would be waiting therefor all finishers later in the morning.

The weather was decent, low 60’s, sunny skies, and anon-impactful breeze. I started next to a group of CMS guys about 10 rows backfrom the new starting line, about 150 yards from the old start. The new startis next to the old finish so we had to climb up and over a hill after theopening 20 seconds.

I trucked through mile one around 6:20 per my Garmin while a6:29 split was heard (the difference in gun time or time to reach the startline). Michael McGrane from the BAA (he ran a xc GP race the day before) wasclose and David Lapierre was 5 seconds ahead. My next two miles would be in thelow sixes. 

I gradually went by a few runners and ran along with BrianCullinan from SRR. We completed some 1K intervals two week ago. I caught up to EJ,John Barbor, and Regina Loiacano around mile three. John said he must be havinga good day if he is anywhere near me. The guy is pure gent, dropping me acompliment while racing.

My 5K split that I heard was in the low 19’s setting me upfor a mid-38 minute 10K. I opened the stride on the downhill stretch to theocean. Michael took off. Mile four passed by in 5:53 and I was starting to targetDavid and Michael.

I caught them after 5 miles giving encouragement to tagalong as I felt decent. I passed a few more folks to the entrance of the GoodHarbor Beach parking lot. I got by one more runner in the long but finalstretch along the parking lot to the finish which provided the quickest mile ofthe day, 5:47. I placed 146th and a chip time of 37:42. I was happywith the compete level over the last four miles.  

Garmin splits (watch was started at the start line, not pergun) below.

Mile       Pace      Elevation
1             6:19        11ft
2              6:06        22ft
3              6:06        12ft
4              5:53        -38ft
5              6:03        6ft
6              5:47        -10

The CMS men did very well with the open team taking 5thwhile the masters and seniors each placed 2nd overall. I gottogether with several CMS guys for a few more miles along the beach houses. Itwas fun to hear the race recaps, battles, and upcoming racing the guys plan ondoing. 

By the time I got back to the post race activities, age group awardswere being announced and given out by Len Femino. There were French Toaststicks, maple syrup, and sausages by the time I got to the empty breakfast lineso that was a bonus. That might have been a first! Lastly, as Krissy and Idrove out, who did I see picking up trash and cones, Len Femino. The man doesit all.

Top photo courtesy and credit to Leslie Whiting Poitras and the bottom photo courtesy and credit to New England Runner Magazine.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Manchester Invitational Open xc 5K

The Manchester Invitational Open Cross Country race at Derryfield Park in Manchester, NH was not on my schedule. Once I heard that Dave Dunham was going, I found the perfect scenario for kicking off my weekend: an early Saturday morning race that does not impede with the weekend responsibilities. I put the word out to Shawn Conway and Brett Rickenbach who both like xc races and they confirmed they would go too. Shawn, Dave, and I arrived at the nearly empty parking lot at 7:00. We grabbed our bib numbers and previewed the hilly but popular central New Hampshire High School cross country high course. The constant up and down on the course makes it interesting. I recall Ben True has a course record in the low fifteens for the 3 mile course.

My black and white Invo8 flats, modern day CMS singlet lined up in a starting line box with Brett, Dave, and Shawn. We had a wide field and things do not settle into single file for at least beyond the mile. I was in the top 15 or so in the opening half mile. I moved up a few places heading into the mile marker where splits were being taken electronically (never made it into the results). I think I was around 6 minutes with Mark Laprade two places up from there. He ran the Berlin Marathon the Sunday before in 3 hours. I caught up to his heels in the next 300M and then climbed up the biggest hill on the course – Weston Observatory. I mentioned that he looked pretty good for the marathon legs. He laughed. We ran down and out of the woods to the pavement (beyond mile 2). I got ahead of him there and wheeled down to the field setting me up to get within 8 seconds of the top master, Michael Holmes, a recent 2:57 Boston Marathon finisher.

I would get no closer to him on the way to the finish which the last 2 minutes of the race seem to take forever. I would finish in 5th place, in 18:31 (I ran 17:48 three years ago). The winner, Everett Hackett, smoked the course in 15:20. I met him at the end of my warmup. He coaches a high school xc team from Hartford, CT that was running later in the morning.  Dave, Brett, and Shawn were right behind me finishing 9, 10, and 11th.  Shawn, Dave, and I went on cool down making our way down to the McIntyre Ski Area which is adjacent to Derryfield Park.

5              James Pawlicki   2ND M40-49 43   LYNN MA Central Mass Striders 18:31.3

9              Dave Dunham    1st M50-59 54     BRADFORD, MA Central Mass Striders 18:49.2

10           Brett Rickenbach 4th M40-49 43 AUBURN, NH                                                     18:59.4

11           Shawn Conway 5th M40-49 47    WAKEFIELD, MA Greater Lowell Road Runners 19:06.6    


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Downtown 5K - Providence, RI

The Downtown 5K in Providence was selected as the 5K New England Championship within the 2018 road race Grand Prix, as it was in 2017. I was on the injured reserve and had a front row seat watching from the sidelines which no runner can appreciate. The “downtown” reference is appropriate as the race is surrounded by the tall buildings and in particular, start and finish is steps away from the Rhode Island State Capitol. The course is flat outside the opening 200m downhill and closing 200m uphill. I have some history at the race: last raced it in 2004, running 16:32, 88th place in what was the USATF National 5K Road Championship. It was the National Championship for a long time until title sponsor CVS backed out in 2017.

I arrived early with free and easy parking with Dennis Floyd (PR of 15:23 on this course in the early 2000’s) and Nakri Dao who was fresh off his Spartan Beast event the day before. I ran a warm up of 3 miles with the guys and settled into the start about 10 rows back.

I opened with a 5:31 opening mile. It did not feel out of place but I knew it was not sustainable. As the race got into a single file train away from downtown, I came through a mile 2 split of 5:47. I was on the struggle bus back to the finish line with a 6:00 mile. I managed to finish strong heading up the hill at mile 3 and get past a few guys. I got a time of 18:17.4 (chip) and 18:21.8 (gun) which placed me 143rd out of 1824 finishers. I was 14th in my age group. The CMS men did very well with the open team placing 4th, masters team coming in 1st, and the seniors finishing 2nd.   

Monday, September 10, 2018

Types of races for 2018

I have 22 races under my belt so far a week into September. I have 7 (5 road races and 2 cross country) more planned for 2018. With that expectation, I pivoted out the race type which is typically in line with what I have been doing for races as a master runner.

Race Type Number of races Percent
road 18 62%
cross country 4 14%
trail 3 10%
mountain 2 7%
outdoor track 1 3%
snowshoe 1 3%
Grand Total 29 100%