Monday, May 23, 2016

Trav’s Trail Run

The rain held off for Trav’s Trail Run (3 mile) cross country / trail race at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport. The course is an up and down affair in a course that sees single track, fire roads, and fields. This is a scenic course and a gem for age group prizes as the goal was to get a coveted ‘Stina' mug. The race went out fast as Nate Jenkins and Greg Putnam (representing CMS) took no prisoners. They would go on to place 1-2 overall. I would go on to place 9th overall. The results missed Chris Kealy who was a few places ahead of me. I ran 17:16 about 30 ticks slower than last year. I felt the effort was good with a little “off throttle” in the middle of the race. Chris Kealy and Paul Larosa went by me before the mile and my legs were fading. Jochen Steinbrecher who was on my heels at the mile, would be held off by yours truly by 11 seconds at the end where I was gassed. I kept my place and position which was established at the mile. With Greg Putnam placing in the top 3 overall, that allowed me to sneak into the 3rd place 40+, master age group to get a mug and New Balance bag.

After 600m into the race
Photo by Joe Armstrong

50m before the finish "mid-air"
Photo by Joe Armstrong

Prizes for 3rd place
Photo by Krissy Kozlosky


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

This was race # 1 within the USATF New England Mountain Series. This was the 5th year of the race in Huntington, VT, home of Kasie Enman. Her house and property host the race via Sleepy Hollow Inn and XC Ski resort. This was my first time there and was excited about car pooling with Matt Veiga and William Jackson. Matt made the 3 hour trip each way look easy. After arriving super early and warming up on the last mile of the course with Chris Smith (SRR and training partner this past Tuesday for 5 X 1K) and some CMS guys, the race took off up the hill.

The temps were in the low 50’s and a few light drops of rain dropped upon but overall, dry aside from mud here and there. The course, as I saw the profile was three up and down efforts through a 6.3 mile course on wide xc ski trails and single track. I went out conservative, based on my placing after 400m, but the breathing was heavy (welcome back to racing).

There were spots of slick mud that were easy to navigate on the flats and climbs with my ol’ New Balance 100’s. However, it was dicey on the steep drops after the mile. I lost a lot of time on the first stretch going down, getting gapped by Chris Smith and Dave Dunham. I mean from next to them and then out of sight after 3 minutes. I gingerly moved my way down the hills preferring to stay on my feet. From the bottom of that hill (1.75 miles?), I took a more aggressive approach and reeled in runners one by one. Up, down, flat, did not matter. I felt strong and carried momentum where I could but respecting the miles ahead. I was not familiar with the runners in the race other than teammates so it was cool to have them as a beacon after not seeing them and then I would see a CMS singlet coming back into my target.

Much respect from competitors on some single track which was really appreciated when they stepped aside once I was on the heels for 30 seconds. Dave Dunham, was my last beacon to catch with 800m to go on a downhill stretch, giving him a love tap on the ass as I went by.  It was easy to cruise down the hill but had to deal with a 100 yard up hill to the finish in a field. I just held Dave off at the end. My time was 49:51. Overall, I was as happy as I have been in the last seven months with my racing effort. 22nd overall,  6th guy in his 40’s. The post race after a 1.5 mile cool down was capped with a Burrito bar. It was a good appetizer before Matt, William, and I stopped in Richmond, for some sandwiches at Hatchet. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Boston Marathon recap

Short version of my Boston Marathon experience:

My goal was to break 3 hours. I had a little cushion going through the half way point in 1:28:12. I slowed the pace down as I approached the Newton hills. The calves started to cramp up at 21 miles. The last five miles seemed to take forever, occasionally having to break up the running stride to release a cramp. It was so nice to reach the last turn – a left onto Boylston Street and finish up in 3:05:28. Despite missing the goal, it was sweet to finish this one up as the last Boston Marathon I started, I did not finish. A local reporter called me later in the week and put a story together

Long version, pull up a chair:

I volunteered at the Boston Marathon expo, held at the Hynes Convention Center, on Saturday with Krissy and the Central Mass Striders. We had a task of shirt distribution but we got shuffled into a short-handed bib number packet distribution group. I did not mind as the incoming runners are full of enthusiasm as we are the first point of contact for them. Before volunteering, Krissy ran the 5K with her sister and friends while I came in a littler later to get some GU in the crowded expo. Sunday, the day before the marathon, I ran easy for a half hour.
CMS volunteers
Monday morning, I got up to a 4:30 alarm after about five hours of sleep. Breakfast was a regular coffee, oatmeal, and Toll House crackers with Garlic Humus. I had a zip lock bag for my marathon race replenishment consisting of the following: 2 packets of Saltstick caps (3 in each packet that contain Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, and Vitamin D), 2 Vanilla Spice GU Roctane, and 2 Hammer brand Endurolytes capsules. The caps consist of Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, and Maganese. The Endurolytes and Saltstick products are used to replenish electrolytes that are used up in the race. I did not take any before the race, and looking back, I should have. I planned on taking them every 45 minutes in the race. I used everything I packed in the race. In addition, I picked one Cliff Gel at each of the three stops and consumed them on the marathon course. I got dressed into the racing gear and my well-worn red Lunarglide racing flats. I put on a throw away long sleeve t-shirt courtesy of the Larry Robinson 10 mile road race from 2001 which was donated before the starting corals in Hopkinton.

Krissy drove me over to the Lord Wakefield Hotel for a 5:55 bus pick up. I got on the bus and greeted runners from the North Shore Striders, Wicked Running Club, and Mystic Runners. I think Heather Lane sat next to me. She runs for Mystic and owns a 3:35 Boston qualifier. Brendan Ring and Paul Whitelam, from the same club, sat in front of me. We kept each other company, but I stayed mostly mute on the ride into Hopkinton. Once the bus parked at the school around 7:15, I jumped off and walked around visiting the Central Mass Strider and Somerville Road Runner buses – wishing everyone a great race. The temperature was a hot topic, with forecasts of 70 degrees by noon and then dropping off as we got into Boston. That is pretty much what I witnessed although did see a temperature drop from 61 to 60 as I approached it in Wellesley. The water I was drinking all morning was getting passed 45 minutes later. 

I was thankful for the plethora of porta johns at the school and on the bus. At 9:35, I headed over to the starting line corals looking for #2 within the first wave to start at 10:00. I met Michael Rushton from WA on the walk to the coral and talked about the replenishment we planned on taking as he grabbed a clementine from a neighbor. He is sold on simple sodium chloride, basically table salt. You can get them in bulk and they are far less expensive than Salt Stick caps and Hammer brand Endurolytes.

I settled into coral 2 and stood next to teammate, Nick Taormina (who would run a 2:59). The 15 minutes of standing went by fast. The gun went off and we stood patiently waiting for the first coral to cross the start line. Then we walked, then jogged, then started to run. It took me almost 45 seconds to cross the starting line, where I started my Garmin. I recall the down hills early and how crowded it was. It was too easy to want to speed up but I tried to hold back. I switched lanes and crowds constantly. It did not matter, it was crowded for the whole race. I bumped into teammate, Arthur Besse, and ran with him for a short conversation. I let him go.

I was soon joined by another teammate, senior (50+), Gary Cattarin. His presence was refreshing and welcomed as we both had the same goal; to squeak under 3 hrs. He had the 6:53 (3hrs) pace locked in his head, but as I found out after a few miles, we were running faster than that. I was concerned about the early 6:40 pace per mile but that is what I averaged for the first 10K. Gary took a bag of ice (from his wife?) on the side of the road and offered me some around mile 8. I melted it on my neck and dropped it down my back – the rest melting inside the singlet. I backed off Gary’s pace but kept him in sight all the way past the Newton fire station. I lost him in the Newton Hills and he went on to run just over 3 hours.
Smiling at Roger Perham at mile 12

I did my thing, acknowledging anyone I knew such as the North Shore Striders working at the mile 12 water stop or the Wicked Running Club at a GU stop later on. My half was split was 1:28:12, setting me up for the goal time but I knew it was not going to last. I backed off the pace on the approach of the hills in Newton – the first was going up and over Rt. 128/95. It was there after mile 16 did I really start to see carnage around me. Runners were showing signs of the warm day, cramp up and walk for example. Even myself, I was waiting for a muscle to cramp.

Jay Euzikonis and family caught my good side in the Newton hills

I was getting tired and felt my stride changing, reducing the stride length, within the Newton hills. This stressed my hips but I was pleased to reach Boston College (the heights!) where I dropped out two years ago. As I reached the Chestnut Hill reservoir (between mile 21/22), I felt the first deep calf cramp. I had hints of it coming in the previous miles. I swore pretty loud. I looked at the watch – exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes. The other calf cramped up soon after.

The next four plus miles consisted of damage control. Cramp, jump up, release the cramp, run, cramp, repeat a few times each upcoming mile. I was reduced to 8:00 minute miles at the end of the race which was not in the plan. I recall the temperature cooling off and a head wind in the last few miles. In addition, the sight of the Citgo sign was memorable, meaning Kenmore Square and mile 25 was close, but yet, far. The last 30 minutes of the race took forever.
Smiles for Krissy at 26.10 miles

The last turn onto Boylston Street and screaming spectators was a sight for sore legs. I ran toward the finish and found Krissy on the right hand side, first row. It was emotional. I smiled. She stood there for three plus waiting for me. I took a right and ran over to her. I was afraid of cramping up if I leaned over for a hug and kiss. I reached out and high fived her and the crowd in stride not trying to leave too much time ticking away on the running clock. I ran back out to the street and got back into the race still saturated with tired legs. I took my hat off before crossing the finish line. Man that was tough, but expected. No marathon is easy.

Boston Marathon, April 18, 2016
Distance: 26.2 miles
Official time: 3:05:28 
Overall place: 2,170

Stepping on the letter "N" at the finish (gun time shown on the finishers clock)
I funneled through the finish line area getting water, a heat blanket, a medal, and goody bag of food. I kept moving and walking forward. I was thanking every volunteer in site. I really appreciated them, all day since arriving in the corals in Hopkinton. A long walk around a block got me to the family waiting area and Krissy was there, waiting just a few minutes. I saw Dan Vassallo, waiting for his wife, Katrina, for a few minutes. He said I looked like crap in the flesh and I could not argue with him. In summary, I am looking forward to get back to this race next year. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Merrimack River Trail Race

I headed up to Andover for the Merrimack River Trail Race. 10 miles (5 out and 5 back) along the Merrimack River. The race was host to the New England Trail Championship and part of the All Terrain Series. I was torn about going, not wanting to race a week before the Boston Marathon and get hurt or stress the muscles too much. I went anyway planning on taking it easy somehow and limiting any risks. I got off to an unfortunate start by missing the start by 10 seconds - putting me behind 100 runners or so in a single file mob at the trail head. I came to a dead stop as people navigated the mud bog. I guess it was best as I was forced to a gentle start for the next few miles. Passing people on the single track was hard but I did not stress out. I got a few comments "Pawlicki, what are you doing back here?" My response of trying to just stay on my feet was true. I had a scare at 4.5 miles and had a mild collision with an oncoming runner (Ryan Kelley?) who was heading back. I was with a runner who went to the left and I went to the right as we jumped over a drainage pass. Ryan was coming at us and it looked like he was going to split us in the middle. But he leaned my way as we were both mid-flight. His knee grazed my right quad. We both landed with apologies there and at the post race food tables. We were fine, just shaken. Today, my upper quad is sore and tight. I picked up the pace a little bit after the turn around but but more so after the hills settled down with about 3 miles to go. Mile 9 was my quickest at around 6:30 pace. I finished 48th overall and a time of 1:12:29. I hung around and caught up with peeps and awaited the famous Stephen Peterson raffle. The team did well by placing 1st for the open and masters divisions. I was the 4th master on the team where 3 scored. Results

Sunday, March 20, 2016

New Bedford Half Marathon

- Race # 2 for the USATF New England Road Race Grand Prix - 

Gregory Putnam drove Krissy, Joe, and I down to New Bedford for the Half Marathon. It was Greg’s first crack at the distance since 1999 in Melrose at the Law Enforcement Half Marathon. We hit up registration, got our numbers, caught up with CMS teammates and competitors. That was followed by a 22 minute warm up. It was cool and breezy. Ready for the race with the flats and racing gear, I filtered into the start corral further back than usual camping out a good 14 rows back. Gun off, I am off once I can move and crossed the start about 8 seconds later.  My goal was to run under 6:00 pace for a 4th consecutive year of a 1:17 and change here at New Bedford.

Mile 1 was just under 6:00 but the hills that would follow put me a touch slower than that. I rolled with Arthur Besse after 3 miles. After mile 4 is my wheel-house area but today was not the day for that or any risks. I played nice and even keeled through the 10K (36:38). I could not resist not tossing in a surge so I threw in a few after six miles but it was short lived. Dave Dunham and Mike Paulin pulled up with a healthy pack of wolves and I tagged along after mile 7.

The wind was all over the place while single file was the rule.  I struggled a bit but hung in with Dave getting ahead after taking on a Carb-Boom and two Endurolyte caps in the next few miles. The wind broke a bit for the last 2.5 miles which was helpful. My legs were tired but surprisingly just a few guys went by from there to the finish line. I finished in 135th place with a gun time of 1:19:21, chip time was 1:19:13 (6:03 pace per mile). I was lucky to be the 4th scorer on the masters team. The CMS teams did well: open was 2nd, masters 2nd, and Seniors were 5th.

My GPS splits are off as they were beeping after the course mile markers. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Black Cat 20 miler

I had an opportunity to run the Black Cat 20 mile race in Salem so I signed up during the week. I needed a long run (at least 2 hours) with the impending Patriots Day circus. The justification concept was to run the race between 6:35 and 6:55 per mile pace overall. I also planned on trying Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes for electrolyte replenishment. I have severe muscle cramps targeting me in long races like the marathon (Boston, Manchester City, & Vermont City). The Hammer product is similar to the Salt Stick product that I have tried in the last two marathons but still cramped after 15 and 18 miles respectively.  I took two caps 90 minutes before the race. For breakfast, I had oatmeal with Peanut Butter Granola, a cup of coffee and 30 oz of water. I drained a RedBull ten minutes before the start of the race. I got to the starting line with two minutes to spare after a 2 mile warm up with Dan Chruniak and Bradley Gates.

The weather was perfect;  sunny and temperature in the high 40’s with a warm up into the 50’s by late morning. I wore the Level Renner singlet as there was no critical mass from SRR or CMS for team competition (3 coed score).

The course is a 10 mile loop from the Hawthorn Hotel down Lafayette Street, past Salem State (Rt 114) into Marblehead for a turnaround at Devereaux Beach. The course runs back to Salem via 114 and a 2.75 mile loop to the Salem Willows and back to the Hotel. The 10 mile folks stop right there and the 20 mile folks go out for another loop. The B&S Fitness site, host event management, bills the race as flat and fast. I knew better but the ones to whine about is the one at the Salem and Marblehead line (heading into Marblehead) and the hill rising to Salem State University heading into Salem.

To recap, I will break the race into 5 mile segments. The first five contained quickest mile (6:24 for mile 2) feeling out my legs and determining who was in the race, who was doing 10 vs 20, and who is a master. I backed off the pace after two opening sub 6:30’s and ran solo for the most part. It was hard to watch the front runners move away but I had to stick to my plan which was really not to run too fast and be a mess beyond my fitness.

The 2nd five miles was more solo isolation with a few guys going by me. I took a PowerGel and two Endurolyte Caps before mile 8 near the entrance of Winter Island. I had trouble getting the caps out of my sandwich bag so I stopped at the water stop to finger them out and drink water. I added at least 15 seconds there creating  my slowest mile of the day (7:04). Dan Chruniak went by after 8 miles, asked how I was feeling, and proceeded to pick up the pace. He looked way too comfortable. I went through 10 miles right around 1:06.

The 3rd quarter of the race felt lonely and the legs were tired. I backed off the pace a bit, now running some 6:40’s. A BAA runner passed me before reaching Marblehead. Letting him go by and not racing him frustrated me but I stuck to my plan, having no choice. The leaders did their turn around and were coming at me, giving me a chance to count places and monitor who was behind me once I did the turnaround.  The Wicked tandem of Michael Paulin and Bradley Gates were about 20 seconds behind me. I yelled over “uh oh” joking but aware they were likely going to catch me. I was tired but looking forward to the last quarter of the race. 

Now heading back into Salem for the last five miles, I took my last PowerGel and last two Endurolytes caps. Michael caught me on the hill up to Salem State. I hung with him down Lafayette street to bounce back with a low 6:30 mile and feel my first muscle cramp – my right calf. I had four miles to go and was really concerned how many more times that was going to trigger. I told Michael about it and he told me what I knew – back off. I did and in turn, Bradley Gates caught up. He shared that he was hurting, as did I. Like two wounded birds, we stumbled along, supporting each other with company and a few words all the way to the finish. It was nice to see Krissy at Pickering Wharf and at the finish. My time was 2:12:44. I was not sure of the place, but Michael was a good minute and a half in front of me and Bradley was about five seconds behind me. I had to leave the race in a hurry.

To the finish line
The race is put on and managed by B&S Fitness. They hired Racewire for the timing. I checked the results yesterday and today and found several runners missing in the 20 mile results, including myself. Dan Chruniak, Jason Bui, Brandon Ring, and Bradley Gates are missing. I sent Racewire a message yesterday evening.  They have not returned a response, per their 24 hour policy. Too bad, but we’ll assume they have been working around the clock to fix the results. Meanwhile, B&S Fitness responded to my email inquiry about the issue today. They felt bad but deferred to Racewire to clean up the results. Let's hope they resolve the issue.

Fist bumps
Myself, Michael Paulin, and Bradley Gates

Myself, Michael Paulin, and Bradley Gates

Sunday, February 21, 2016

USATF New England Indoor Track & Field Championships, 3000m

I jumped into the 3000m event at Harvard University for the USATF New England Indoor Track and Field Championships to lower my time of 10:11 from late January in Providence. I got to the race just after 12:30  with Krissy. My race did not plan to start until after 3:10. I chilled out, caught up with friends. I ran a 3 mile warm up outside with Francis Burdett. Once inside, I waited out the rest of the 200m event and made my way down to check in for the 3K which I got into the slower 2nd heat. Meanwhile, the rest of my teammates: Pat , Fullerton, Colin Carroll, Scott Leslie, Chris Mahoney, Eric Narcisi, and Scott Mindel were in heat 1. That gave me the chance to cheer and yell for them. Scott and Eric went on to set PR's. The race was pretty exciting to watch. No one was giving in and fought all the way to the line. Awesome race. My race went pretty well early on. My instincts were to go with the flow at the back of the race as my seed time was the 2nd slowest. I was hitting some 39's in the first mile. I did not get a split at mile 1. After 2K, I slowed and blew my opportunity to break 10 minutes. I ran 10:05.47 and beat four guys in my heat. I chilled out for a bit and collected a few folks before heading out for another 3 miles. I don't have a race next weekend so I plan on a 2 hour long run. Later in the evening, Krissy showed me some video that she took of the races. I highlighted how clumsy and awkward my racing form is. I look like a twisted pretzel.

Still sweating after the race.