Monday, December 15, 2014

USATF Club Cross Country Nationals

Goofing off before the race
I put the word out to the Central Mass Striders racing team several months ago hoping to get interest in the USATF Club Cross Country Nationals race in Bethlehem, PA - Lehigh University. I was thrilled to get a masters and a senior team. We had  eleven in total willing to make the road trip which is about five and a half hours away. USATF New England offered a bus for which I took advantage of. I met up with Martin Tighe, Joe Shairs, Todd Callaghan, and John Gillis for a 7:00 departure in Woburn. The bus had 16 athletes from CMS, Greater Lowell Road Runners, Whirlaway, and Liberty. We dashed over to Westwood to pick up the rest of our passengers that made up Greater Boston Track Club, Hurtin for Certain, and a few more GLRR members. We were also joined by Bob Fitzgerald of New England Runner. I sat with Martin and among the CMS guys in the middle of the bus. We talked with everyone around us and had some great conversation catching up with Mark Reeder, Paul Hammond, and John Barbour. Otherwise, I listened to my iPod or closed my eyes for some light rest. We got to the host hotel around 2:00, allowed people to check in, and folks like myself to change into running clothes. We gathered back onto the bus and drove over to the xc course to preview it. We met up with the rest of the CMS crew breifly - Dave Dunham, Paul Bazanchuk, Dave Lapierre, and Dan Verrington as they were just about to leave. I saw about six miles of the course. The course layout was easy to figure out based on the map I saw earlier in the week. It was wide open fields and paths around the stadium and corn fields. It was a two loop course that was perfect for spectators and easy on the runners aside from a few hills that were not steep as much as they were long enough to slow it down. However, we thought the course was going to be fast. There was some mud at 1.1K and a little here and there at turns but overall the footing was good. I brought spikes and flats. I went with the flats for race day.
Warming up past mile 1

The bus driver was awesome to drop the CMS guys at our hotel which was only 2 miles away from the course and 16 miles from the host hotel. We checked in, showered, and headed off in the two cars that the Senior team had and over to Bella for a nice Italian dinner down the street. We dropped everyone off back at the hotel while Dave Dunham and I headed north to the host hotel to pick up our race number packets and attend the suggested technical meeting for our team. This was the first race I had entered that required back bibs indicating the age group. This is a good idea so you know the age group of the men ahead of you in the race. As soon as I found the starting line box assignment, we left. The Senior team had box 53 and our masters team had box 69 making Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots proud.

The team had breakfast in our hotel. It was cool to see other teams huddled around tables in their team gear. I was the last one to attend breakfast - grabbing some oatmeal, coffee, and yogurt. We got into the cars and headed over to the race at 9:30. Our race started at 11:30. There was plenty of parking when we arrived. Just as we got out of our cars, I saw Al Bernier arrive. We had exactly five 40+ men to make up our masters team. We had five 50+ guys and Paul Bazanchuk (60) but scoring down into the Senior team. We put our racing bags down on a tarp behind the starting line and camped out. Some teams went all out with tents on the other side of the stadium a half mile away. I did my own warm up after we got checked in 30 minutes before our start. The USATF official (clerk) was ensuring we and all other teams had the same style singlet, numbers pinned front and back, and chip secured onto our racing shoes. We were only allowed to have four men in the front box at the starting line so I took the box behind Greg, Todd, Al, and Joe. A field of almost 600 masters runners were soon taking off for the massive start. The course narrowed in about 500 meters away and I kept an eye on Joe and Al who were a few seconds ahead. I went to the right of the muddy spot at 1.1K. Most people went left or through the middle where it looked the slowest. I was next to Martin through mile one, going up an incline. I mentioned our 5:38 mile that I saw on my Garmin. Mark Reeder pulled beside at mile two and I tried my best to stay with him but lost him after mile 2 going down a hill past the stadium. The course was such that you could look ahead and see 400 meters at a time so I could make out my CMS guys ahead. Al seemed to be reeling in Joe and I could see Todd ahead of him. I battled tough in that first full loop and knew lap two was going to be tough with the same hills. The effort got hard in the 2nd loop. I couldn't wait to reach the last hill and open up over the last 2K. Well it looked like every guy around me was thinking the same thing. They were so strong and it did not matter what age. I think I only had one or two guys pass me in that stretch but will say that no one was willing to give an inch. This was cross country nationals. I ran as hard as possible up into inclined finish - scoring as our 5th man. I placed 95th with a time of 35:42.  

photo by Michael Scott
We all changed into some warm clothing and watched the next few races that started each hour. I settled for watching the women's open race and taking a few pictures instead of warming down. I also got my luggage from Paul's truck and into the Bus as we changed our plans and booked rooms at the host hotel. This eased our logistics for the rest of the weekend. Some guys left to head back to New England while the bus crew hung out and watched the rest of the races. The men's open race was particularly awesome to watch as the lead pack was huge for 2/3's of the race only to thin out at the end. It was so exciting to also see the women's race develop as I was rooting for the BAA ladies to take the team title which they did. The races were over and it was time to clean up and enjoy the rest of the events (happy hour, food, awards, et cetera) the race event had planned at the host hotel. Joe, Al, Martin, John, and I caught up with competitors and friends.

photo by Jill Forsythe
We got up early the following morning for a run. We met up with Kevin O'Neal from the BAA before heading back for the rest of his teammates. I took them through some quiet roads behind the hotel long enough until the CMS crew had to get back for breakfast and take our bus back to Boston. It was a great weekend and glad that we had the guys on board to pull this off. I was proud of the guys as I saw unofficial team results showing that we placed 9th as of Saturday night at the host hotel. Our Senior team finished 11th per those same team results, however, we were told the results may change because some age groups needed to be sorted out. Unofficial Masters Results

By the numbers
539
536
555
533
556
548
119 (0.25) 
35:47

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mill Cities Relay

Today was the 31st running of the Mill Cities Relay - consisting of 27 miles, 5 legs, two states, and 1 river. Joe and Sandy Armstrong from Wicked Running Club picked Krissy and I up for the ride to Nashua. I met up with Jim Rhoades to give him his number and drop off my running bag before heading out for a 2 mile warm up. I was running leg number one for the Somerville Road Runners Men's Masters team. I went through the mile in 5:26 in about 5 seconds behind Brian Keefe from SRR. My third mile was the slowest (see below) per Garmin. I recall SRR training mate Kieran Condon passing by and I stayed with him for less than 800m before a few more guys went by. We were fortunate to have a tail wind. Mike Paulin from the Wicked Running Club and D5K weekly runs passed me during mile four. Mike and I finished the Vermont City Marathon together back in 2013. I dug down to surge back and pass Mike after mile five and held him off, handing off to Jim Rhoades. I drove his car to the next exchange zone to pick Jim up and watch him hand off to Jesse Morrow. Jim and I then went to the boat house. We missed Jesse finish and hand off to Greg Picklesimer who was taking on the long leg. We drove the back roads over to the fourth exchange zone where Greg was handing off to Joe O'Leary. As we drove past, it was obvious that they were in the midst of the exchange so we drove into Lawrence so Jim could take some photos (see the link in the results below). Joe looked good running past us as did the rest of the SRR folks. We got back in the car to warm up and drive to the finish at the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence. After watching the finish line for a bit, we headed in for some food and drink for a few hours. Team photos were taken and awards were given. Our team got a Mill Cities Brick for the 1st place men's masters team! The post race set up is awesome to catch up with everyone and all things running. There were funny stories all around.........

Dan Vassallo passed 61 runners on leg 4
Festus being Festus
Ask Paul Hammond about the story behind the Cowboy boots
Where was Mike Quintal?

Joe O'Leary, Jim Rhoades, Jim Pawlicki, and Greg Picklesimer

Statistics from the Garmin 220
30:25 overall time (30:01 in 2013 and maybe under 30 in 2012 - stopped at 30:22 after hand off)
5.43 miles
5:36 mile pace

5:26
5:34
5:46
5:34
5:39
2:24 (.43)

Full Results

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wild Turkey 5 Mile Run - Salem

Krissy and I before the start
"Cut your tangents you rookies," I yelled as we turned left around the Salem Common following the start of the race. Same course this year with the exception of the last 300m wrapping up the 5 mile loop just in front of the Knights of Columbus. I felt like junk from the gun - seeing the group I should have been with just ahead and pulling away after my 5:30 opening mile. I saw the leader, Villanova athlete - Justin Williamz ripping around Winter Island after mile 2 absolutely killing it. I plugged away and cheered the group running into Winter Island as I exited. I managed to catch a guy at 2.9 miles and another at 4 to move up two places. CMS t'mate Matt Viega was way ahead battling it out for 5th. I finished 7th overall with a time of 28:31 - well off my reasonable 27:45 expectation. I took the effort in stride. It was a stiff reminder that not all races go as planned and the body told me right away how it was going. I touched base with Justin who took the win to get the scoop on his affiliation to Lynn (as seen in other race results) and his progress at Villanova. His DMR team is one second off the World Record (Taxas and Leo Manzano hold it) and his team is chasing that in 2015. Yes, world record! The Lynn affiliation relates to his girlfriend. Proud to see Krissy finish the race as she had doubts after some knee pain recently. Another turkey day race in the books. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

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