Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Exeter Trail Race - USATF New England Trail Championship

Todd Callaghan picked me up and headed to Exeter, NH for the 10 mile Exeter Trail Race which was a New England Trail Championship for 2017. I knew zip about the course and terrain but was looking forward to racing on the trails which were sure to be competitive with $1K in prize money. Here is a nice description of the course (found after I ran the race).

"This a very technical trail race. There is arguably no better urban trail running and mountain biking network in the northeast than the Oaklands & Henderson-Swasey Town Forests. Located just minutes from downtown Exeter, NH these trails are better known as Fort Rock. If it’s technical trail running you are looking for…search no further. This may be the most technical trail race anywhere in New England!" - Visit Exeter New Hampshire

I warmed up on the course with CMS mates Ed Sheldon and Paul Bazanchuk and got a feel for what the legs would be in for. I would compare it to the single track found in Ravenswood in Gloucester or Greenwood Ave in Beverly Farms. One eye would be needed on the ground and the other up looking ahead for trail markings.

The start of the race narrowed down after 300m of road down to the single track trail in a hurry. I settled into about 14th place. I quickly determined that I had to move up and around the gent in front of me. I wanted to keep Ed Sheldon close and his orange shirt was quickly getting out of sight after a few miles. I passed the runner in front of me and was rolling pretty well. After 3.5 miles, I found Ed on the ground. He was in pain, taking a hard one to the earth. I asked if he was OK and he confirmed. I was not convinced yet I ran by certain he would be back on his feet chasing me soon enough.

My failure to have my Garmin watch on me was biting me big time. I was lost without it. I wanted to know how far into the race I was on several occasions. I had nothing to go by except for knowing water stops were at 3, 6, and 9 miles. The trails continued to roll. Not once did the course have a wide flat fire road. Miles of single track, navigating the turns, rock hopping, planks, and board walks got surprisingly tiring.

I managed to pass a few more runners in the middle of the race, the last of which was one of the two Jeff Walker’s – this one from RI who is in his 50’s. He hung close behind me in the 2nd half of the race. His presence kept me honest and to keep attention to the course markings which were a bit sparse in several areas. We managed to keep course all the way but was not too confident on several occasions. The legs were junk over the last few miles. The goal was to not get passed and to stay on my feet.

I finished 10th overall with a time of 1:13:07.4. Jeff was just 23 seconds back. I finished a whopping 4 minutes behind the 3rd place master, Ryan Carrara and almost two and a half minutes behind 9th place (Scott Leslie).

After finishing, I turned my attention to looking for Ed. Soon enough, he would come in with a bloody elbow. I have said it before, and will say it again, this guy is tough as nails. I got him a bag of ice where I had to poke a hole to get water to clear out his wound on the elbow. He was in good spirits and carried a great sense of humor. If that were me, I am not so sure I would be as positive as he was. He deserves a hard hat of the race award!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ribfest 5 mile

Steps before the finish line
Courtesy of Millennium Running
I headed up to the 3rd USATF New England Grand Prix race in Merrimack, NH (Ribfest 5 miler) with Nakri and Krissy. It was cloudy but warm and humid. I met up with new CMS racing team member Ben Fazio and DJ Raboin to get some team gear to them. That was followed by a half mile bus ride from the parking lot to the race. The layout was easy to navigate so getting the race number and shirt was easy. I warmed up with Nakri and Kevin Gorman covering the 1st and last miles. I ran a mid-27 minute race back in 2014, thus familiar with the course.

I got to the starting line and settled in next to teammates about five rows deep. Getting a clean start with a few quick turns in the 1st 300m was the goal. I did hear someone go down right behind me at the first right turn up the hill. My first two miles were decent, around 5:45 pace and I was in CMS master company with Josh Perks and Arthur Besse. Kevin Gorman and Jason Dunklee were about 20 seconds ahead on the lollipop loop. I came out of that loop into 3 miles very flat and that set the tone for my last two miles milking 6 minute pace from there into the finish. I got a net time of 29:54.5, 96th place, and 14th in the 40-49 age group.



Passing mile 4 at the Ribfest 5 mile
Photo by KrissyK
Finish line video, thanks to the Millennium Running crew who put on a 1st class event. Wish I stayed around for the post race festivities.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Scamper for the Campers Camp Fire North Shore 5K

I got a flyer on the car at the Lynn Woods race for a local race on Saturday for the Scamper for the Campers Camp Fire North Shore 5K. The course map was on the back of it and was surprised to see that it ran through the Fays Estates neighborhood. I decided not to attend the US Mountain Running Championship at Cranmore Mountain so my Saturday was open for this as I was curious. I emailed the race director, Laurie Hamill, early in the morning and she confirmed that I could sign up at the race. I ran about a mile to the race and signed up 25 minutes before the start. It was a small field, over 30 entrants. 

I ran as hard as I could from the start getting the police escort through the streets that I train on (also Matt Veiga lives in the area too). The course was flat with the exception of the downhill start to Fays Ave and the hill to go up Western Ave to the finish where it all started on Belleaire Ave. I took the win for the 2.9 mile course in 17:16. It was a new course for the race. The post-race pizza, beer, soda, and awards were at the Camp Fire North Shore grounds a quarter mile up near the Salem/Lynn line. I would like to see the race get more runners next year. Overall, it was a decent low key event that for the entry fee, you get fed, a race shirt, and an honest 2.9 mile course through the flat Fays Estates. Yeah there is a hill at the end, but that is offset with the downhill start. Results

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wachusett Mountain Road Race

I kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with one of the first Mountain races I ever attended several years ago. The Central Mass Striders hosted the 25th Annual Mount Wachusett Road Race which is also part of the Mountain Series. It is about 3 miles up and 3 miles down and comes out to just about 10K. The last 2 miles are on trail with the rest on the auto road. There are few breaks on the way up to the top which is nice.

CMS had an impressive group in the race with the likes of Tim Van Orden, Matt Veiga, Todd Callaghan, Dave Dunham, Steve Brightman, Ed Sheldon, & Erik Van Dendries. These guys are consistently in the front of the mountain series races. I took a back seat in the first mile, trying to look good with Dave Dunham but the pace was too rich for my blood.

I found a pace that I could negotiate with up to the top and this put me a few strides behind Michael McGrane from the BAA. I put in a good push from 2 to 3 miles and got ahead of him rounding the summit “King of the Mountain” optional finish in 22:33. Then it was a good stretch of descent on the auto-road. This was tough on the legs while I put the brakes on to modulate the beating. It was nice to finally reach the trail where I felt I could extend a full stride.

19th place at the top of Wachusett


Someone caught up to me on said trail. I never turned back to peek, instead forged straight ahead. The steps behind me faded on one last hill to climb with about 800m to go in the race. I rounded into the finish with a time of 41:44 and in 10th place. I turned back and Michael was just four seconds behind me. He made up some time on me on the downhill showing how good he is running downhill.

I was 19th at the top. Some runners in front of me there either backed off considerably or did not take the option of running the 10K. CMS packed in 7 out of the top 10 places in the 10K.
Upon my finish, I see that Ed Sheldon is bloodied up pretty good from head to knee. As always, in good spirits, he took it in stride and kicked my ass after tripping up on the trail on the way down. Water and paper towels got him cleaned up. He is one tough SOB! I took on some water for myself and found Dave Lapierre about 20 minutes later in the parking lot for a short but needed cool down. I hung out for the awards and bought some new CMS fleece hats for the team from Karla.


10th place at the finish


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trav's Trail Run

I headed up to Trav’s Trail Run 3 mile trail race with Krissy and the gang at Maudslay State Park. It featured a newly paved parking lot. I warmed up a bit on the course after I could not convince Junyong Pak or Greg Putnam to do the full race course. I got on the line and bolted down the hill at the start getting in behind some young folk into the single track 800m in. I went back and forth with the lead female, Elizabeth Suda, before passing my GPS mile in 6:07. I passed maybe three more runners in the 2nd mile (6:13). 

I was trying to close the gap that Chris Kealy had on me (maybe 10 seconds).  I pushed down the hill to the bridge and got on his heels as we both started the long climb up to the finish line. I was lucky to have some left in the tank and barely got ahead of Chris who is a really fast master runner. I finished 11th with a time of 17:28. The time is my slowest in 5 races (4 straight years racing this one) but only 14 seconds or so slower than last year.  CMS had a nice showing up front. Nate Jenkins and Greg Putnam, like last year, took first and 2nd overall. I ran a cool down with Steve Dowsett and Junyong on a great loop out to the Merrimack River and back for the fun awards. I picked up a coffee mug and New Balance gift card. Full results


Sunday, May 14, 2017

ECTA Spring for the Trails Half Marathon - Ipswich

ECTA represents the Essex County Trail Association. Straight from their site, they exist to protect access to the trails and open lands throughout Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Topsfield, Essex, and West Newbury. Yesterday, ECTA hosted the 2nd Annual Spring for the Trails Half Marathon. This presented an opportunity for me to see the fun trails in Willowdale State Park from the Ipswich entrance off Linebrook Rd.

I warmed up on the course, seeing the opening mile and the closing quarter mile. The fire roads would be easy but the single track gave a hint that concentration and quick feet would be required. Someone said it would be similar to Lynn Woods. The biggest difference would be the crazy constant turns and switchbacks that kill momentum that you may secure on the wider fire roads.

Early on, I was in 3rd place. Junyong Pak was the leader followed by Dave Long. I  forget his name (was introduced following the race), but a tall gent from Beverly who teaches at Landmark School, with a blue Adidas top was glued to my heels. He got bored and passed Dave and I after a few miles which were mostly single track, quick turns, and pace limiters.

ECTA Spring for the Trail Half Marathon course map


I opened up my stride on the wider fire roads and passed Dave after 3 miles. I closed the gap between Junyong and I who relinquished the lead between miles 3 and 4. I was pushing pretty well, closing in. Then we came upon a three way intersection and no course markers (pink ribbons) were in sight. Left, right, straight? I yelled a few expletives. Junyong turned around and yelled that he found the course, which was a 90 degree left hand turn we both missed about 15 seconds back. The pink ribbon was low on the ground and the red arrows indicating a turn was not there. I guess you can’t get comfortable with the expectations that a marker will be quite obvious as it was perfect up until that point on the course. I was on alert from that point on to pay extra attention.

I lost some ground to Pak while regrouping but was curious how the runners behind me, would fare upon the same error that we made (I heard some other runners missed a turn in the race but I did not know if this was the turn they missed).

Dave was no longer behind me, at least visibly, so I forced on to stay with Pak as long as possible. This took us to the water stop at 6.3 miles. I was about 5 seconds back but needed to grab some Tailwind at the table. I walked through, drinking and gulping two cups. I lost a few seconds and contact with Pak from there on. I saw him just a few more times in the next two miles but that was it. The twists and turns on the single track were brutal. Look at the course map from mile 7 to the finish. The legs and hips were taking a beating.

There was just enough elevation change to break balls too. But it was all good. The occasional Mountain Biker said I was right behind another runner (Pak) but I knew better. That could be minutes ahead. The switch backs over the last three miles allowed you to look over and see you is ahead or chasing. I saw Dave Long at one point and figured I had a minute up. Still, no time to let up, I pressed onward with tired legs, hoping for some fire road and less single track.

The race photographer I came upon said that just a mile remained which hinted that the course would be less than 13 miles. He was right. In the end, the course measured out for 12.4 for me.  I heard 12.3 mile were tracked by others.  I finished in 3rd with a time of 1:28:13 which would have placed me 4th in the 2016 results.

Results are not posted at this time. I am not sure what the times were for everyone. Pak was at least a few minutes ahead of me and Dave Long was maybe a minute behind me. I got a beer glass and a beer ticket for Ispwich Ale (good to see you TJ!) at the Ipswich Clam Festival starting at 1pm from Carol a few minutes after finishing. The race was giving New England Runner gift certificates to the every 25th runner in the race.  The race director, Carol, said she recalled Joe Shairs and I running the first ECTA race 13 years ago. She remembered the snow flurry we had. Good memories indeed.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Boston Marathon recap

Below is a recap of how I reached the finish at the Boston Marathon (3:34:33). It was the slowest and longest two hours of my running life after my first calf cramp one hour and forty one minutes into the race (around 14 miles?)

4:30 - alarm goes off after waking up every 90 minutes to urinate water consumed all night

5:29 - Krissy takes me to Wakefield to pick up a bus ride with other North Shore runners

5:34 - realize I did not bring a running hat, start to pound Coconut water for the first time in months.

7:20 - arrive and park among the buses. GLRR has a massage table out next to their bus. Must be nice.

7:30 – go hunting for the CMS and SRR buses after a United Services porta john visit

8:30 - a lady in the Hopkinton Village fell in love with my Amherst 10 mile shirt from two years ago so I took it off and gave it to her.

9:25 – no hat to be found, Arthur Besse comes through with his Brooks running cap for me back on the North Medford Club bus

9:30 – walk to the start through the village

9:34 – Eric Narcisi flies up with his bib on, going to race after months off from running (photos are taken with the three of us). His Six03 singlet cries beer stop at mile 18. Turns out I was right, but had the wrong mile.

Arthur, Eric, and I on our way to the corrals at Boston
9:40 – in corral 8 with Thomas Bok (SRR), Brian Tinger (SRR), and Ephram Ezekiel (Whirlaway)

10:00 – gun goes off, and go nowhere, waiting for 7 corrals of runners to move ahead

10:05 – cross the start line and start my Garmin

10:20 – when will these down hills stop?

10:22 – where is the shade?

10:40 – “Hey, that is a nice 1967 Volkswagen Beetle!”
Dude in the chair behind it says, yeah, that I am correct.
Of course I am J It was a sweet looking Beetle too.

10:40:09 – turn right to brag to Regina Loiacano about the ’67 Beetle and I run into another runner who was slowing down. Apoligies, red faced, disaster averted for the time being.

10:45 – get a contact high in Framingham as they light up freely on Patriots Day with crowds now 4 deep

11:00– still running mostly on the left side opposite Thomas Bok and occasionally in the presence of Regina

11:10 – over an hour of running and feeling beat up, want to throw middle fingers up in the air to the photographers in the bucket truck over the course

11:20 – “hey buddy, get ready for the scream tunnel on the right here in Wellesley”
“Huh?”
“Oh, first timer eh? Go to the right hand side when you hear the girls screaming up ahead. Go get a hug or a kiss”
The guy does as I tell him. Sweet!

11:25 – I hear someone behind me ask someone on the side of the road “hey, you got a cell phone?” Not sure if the dude dropped out.

11:30 – I notice Thomas Bok is not taking Gatorade or Water. Meanwhile, I have not let a water stop go by without a visit.

11:35 – this Nathan waste band is the bees knees. Get me ready for an ultra. I have everything but the kitchen sink in there. 3 GU's, 6 SaltStick tabs, 8 Hylands Anti Muscle Cramp tabs……

11:41 – oh shit, a calf cramp on the right. WTF. Slows down the pace….

11:45 – hate running into Newton Lower Falls and I am holding back, another cramp ensues crossing Rt 95.

11:50 – looking forward to the Clif Shot station at 17 miles where Krissy is. I think I will bail out of the race there.

11:51 – I can’t bail, I have a bag waiting for me at the Park Plaza with the CMS crew. I can’t tell peeps the next day that I dropped out. Not an option today, slow and steady Jimmy.

12:10 – Clif Shot station and Krissy misses me (for a photo) and my high five, low five, staggering past, see ya. She does take note of my sign language of the hand of a gun to my head and frown (not my day, just shoot me now).

12:11 – Krissy is sprinting past me, phone in hand, I am like WTF?! She stops and points the vertical phone at me. I am now on video, I better smile. I do, and shuffle onward.

Krissy took this photo after 17 miles
12:20 – right turn at the firehouse, yay, some hills, better slow down some more Jimmy, more cramps are firing in these calves.

12:35 – in the hills, struggling, but not enough to deny a kid handing out popsicles. Best darn blue popsicle I had in 33 years. I aced the intake in 4 squeezes but man that brain breeze is real.

12:40 – I see a Naughty Seltzer on the left in the hand a sunglassed lady. I reach out and ask if I may. She pulls it back with a dirty look even behind the RayBan’s. I pass, parched. She smiles “oh my god, Jimmy, I did not know it was you!” Too late Yvette, I may cramp if I stop and come back for that. Thanks anyway.

12:45 – this downhill past BC is hurting, more stress on my quads, if these cramp, I am in serious trouble. Just six more miles Jimmy.

12:59 – afraid that I am going to fall over the Green Line trolley track, seriously. Also note that the air temp is cooling.

1:05 – shade and a lot of drunk students. Gregory would call these college co-eds. I am so tempted to stop for Jello Shots but can’t see with my head down and shuffle through. This is my mile 23 shuffle of shame.

1:10 – notice some back and forth with a few run, walk, run, walk yo yo’s. I still shuffle, not giving into that or walking. Meanwhile, calves cramp up every now and then.

1:11 – good news is that the Citgo sign is on the horizon

1:16 –a dude with a “Big Bird” costume, is now kicking my ass. Nothing I can do about it. He gaps me 100 yards in about 45 seconds. Shoot me now.
1:25 – Kenmore Square is good, my last water and Gatorade stop. I do not want to see another cup of Gatorade for about six years.

1:31 – right on Hereford, left on Boylston. Nice t-shirts. I follow those instructions. It is a wind tunnel. People screaming. I smile. Can’t help it. Ear to ear. Just grateful to get here. No joke. I pick up the pace, daring a cramp to trigger. It does not for my last quarter mile. Must have gotten back down to 7’s.

1:33 – cross the line and feel a huge sense of releif. Definitely emotional with relief. Boston volunteers are the best. So helpful and supportive. I take a medal around the neck from someone smiling. Thank you. I really did earn it, the hard way. 

With Krissy back out on the course at 17 miles hours later