Monday, December 21, 2009

3K BU Development Meet #1

I lined up for a 3K at the first of three development mini meets at BU on Saturday. I got into the second of four heats with my 9:24 seed time. I drove in with Kristen and Brett Rickenbach who was aiming to get under 9:50. I got a decent warm up with Brett outside a half hour before the first heat was scheduled to start. We came upon a Mercedes SUV parked along Commonwealth Avenue with the passenger side glass broken and door wide open. That ranks right up there with the Honda Fit lying on it's brakes right outside the track at BU back in 2007.

Much like the 5K two weeks ago, I managed to bolt right out and settle into last place for a few laps. The race had over twenty athletes and it was pretty tight for the first lap or two. Anyhow, I went through 1K around 3:08. With a surge or two, I settled in behind Craig Fram, Terry McNatt, and Bruce Davie taking us through the mile around 5:01. Several folks like Joe Fischetti and Al Bernier were yelling at me which helped keep me motivated. I heard a 2K split of 6:18 which was heading to a 9:28 3K if I kept the pace. I got anxious with four laps to go but was not too confident with a big move or surge so I waited until one of the three masters was going to make a move. It was just about at the last lap when Craig Fram moved out and I followed. We got around Terry and Bruce and had a mad dash for the finish. I just got to the line before him. I stopped my watch a few steps later, bent on knees, and saw a 9:21 on my Ironman. I shook Craig's hand and thanked him for pushing at the end of the race. Al ran over and mentioned a time of 9:18. I was pretty happy with the effort. I had the race within the race for the 2nd half of the 3K. The official time was 9:18.37.

Brett ran a great race and exceeded expectations with a 9:37 3K in the next heat. Andy McCarron ran 8:44 followed by Al Bernier, 8:57, in the fast heat of the 3K. Tim Cox was leading my heat at one point and finished with a solid 9:09. I had to hustle out for an appointment in Gloucester but was very pleased to see Greg Hammett run a solid mile in 4:30 and 800m in 2:04 to prove he's not messing around this winter. Jeff Goupil was leading the mile when I left the building. He finished with a solid 4:44 and 2:15 in the 800m. CMS represented well in a very early track race for the winter. I recommend to anyone who is looking for a low key track event on a quality track to make it to these BU development meets. They now offer preregistration to ease the registration lines a bit so please take advantage of that and help the event run smooth. I hope to get to one of the next two meets which happen to fall on the day after Christmas and New Years. My right Achilles is a bit grumpy so I will keep an eye on that.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Indoor track racing begins

I ran 16:27.49 (5:17 min pace per mile) for 7th in the slowest of three heats of the 5,000 meter race at the Jay Carisella Track & Field Invitational hosted at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. I had about five minutes to warm up for the race as officials decided to run the slowest heat 1st. They ran the slowest heat last all day. Go figure. No time to panic, just sign in, get my heat number, lace 'em up, and race. I bolted out into last place of about 16 runners as I was in no mood to run aggressive nor stupid. Teammate, Tom Brown settled in up front and ended up running 16:12 for third place. My plan was to run just under 5:20 for the 1st mile. I went through in 5:15.47 and was moving up in the race. Not too much excitement in this one, just kept reeling in the college kids who went out to quick. Mile two passed by in 10:32.23 for a mile split of 5:16.72. Not too bad, close splits, and wanted to hold it. Hold it I did slowing a few seconds off the pace and finished up passing another on the last straight. This was a decent cruise control for 25 laps and I beat my seed time and expectation of 16:29.

Jay Carisella Track & Field Invitational results.

Looking ahead, I will jump into the BU mini-meets. There is another open meet at Harvard on December 12 but feel that I should take a weekend off and get some miles in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gabe's Run 5K x/c race

Gabe's Run was a good ol' cross country race on the day after Thanksgiving. Add in rain, wind, and a tough hill after two miles and the table is set. Plenty of puddles, mud, and competition at Patton Park where I played a few High School baseball games against Hamilton-Wenham. I settled into fifth place after 800m. Peter Asaro (former Gloucester HS) hammered out into the lead and nobody was going to catch him once we got out to Rt. 1A. My Adidas spikes were not thrilled about running on the sidewalk during that stretch. I got passed by a few runners up a killer hill beyond 2.25 miles. We were met with ankle deep mud at the top and the worst footing on the whole course. It is amazing that none of us went down or lost a shoe. Coming down the hill was tricky. I almost spilled a few times. I caught a two runners in the last 800m. Official results had me at 9th place in 17:50. My Garmin measured 3.09 miles. Dennis Floyd was not too far back to finish 2nd in his age group. Kristen braved the elements and raced in the women's race earlier. It was her first cross country race ever and 1st race for 2009. My dad was in attendance spectating and got soaking wet even under the umbrella. The bummer for the day was leaving my LaSportiva trail shoes behind at the school. Oh well.

Next up is an indoor 5K event at Jay Carisella Track & Field Invitational at Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center this Saturday. It should be fun.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Essex Turkey Trot

The Essex Turkey Trot race was once an annual race in my racing schedule. My first exposure to the race was no doubt influenced by Salem State College teamate Jason Euzikonis in the mid 1990's. I'd have to research my archives to see how long it took me to run the course then. I recall the course being a bit shorter but the hills were still as demanding. This is a tough New England course, one of which I respect and appreciate. My last effort on the course was a second place effort of 27:35 in 2003. I was not too far removed from a 2:37:59 Chicago Marathon effort (my last 26.2 mile effort) and Nathan Huppe beat me to the finish by :18 seconds that year. I joined CMS a month later and focused on Snowshoe racing all winter with Dave Dunham.

Elevation per Garmin Forerunner 205 as measured during the race

I warmed up with CMS teamate, Patrick Rich. It is always a treat to see him racing. The gun went off at 1:03 and after a 100 yards passing the race host facility, Woodman's of Essex, Patrick bolted out of the reluctant lead pack of ten and took a lead he would not relenquish. I jumped out after him but to no avail. I watched him hammer out the course chasing the lead vehicle, thankfully not the diesel powered Fire Truck from the past and lost sight of him after Prospect Street or 3.25 miles. This course is all about rolling hills. At 3.5 miles I heard applauce pressure from thrid place so I tried to maintain focus. Shortly thereafter I saw John and Patty Gillis cheering for a second time in about five minutes heading up toward mile four. My mile four mile split was 22:10 so I was on the longer side of 5:30's. I had to hustle to get under goal time of 27:30. I caught a side stitch soon after. I could not recall the last time I felt one of those.

A few more turns put me back out to the home stretch with a dedicated coned section over the last 800m. My last peek at the watch showed 26:23 and I could see the finish line in the distance. Patrick was probably already enjoying the clam chowder from Woodman's. I marched ahead with my goal in mind. The Garmin went of signaling five miles a few feet from the finish line. 27:26 displayed with 5.02 traveled. 27:27 is the official time per the results. The course is USATF certified as an 8k. Patrick ran the same time and place as he did last year with the 26:03 clocking. Kristen took a ton of photos. While warming down, I noted how beautiful the backroads of Essex is. I ran by several horse farms, a yard with three huge rabbits chilling out, and plenty of vocal roosters. One of them yelled out my mile one split which I couldn't comprehend......

10:49 at 2 miles
5:36 for mile 3
5:45 for mile 4
5:15 last mile.
Splits taken per physical race markers which were all within a few feet of GPS tracking

The 2nd place, 1st age group placing, granted me a 12lb Butterball Turkey which will be feasted upon on Thanksgiving Day. As if the race were not enough physical activity, I drove over and finished the day off with a mountain bike ride with Bret Rickenbach and Patrick Taylor at Ravenswood Park in Gloucester. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Day and a four day weekend. I am leaning toward racing Gabe's Run in Hamilton on Friday. They have over 500 runners preregistered already for what will be a 5k cross country run with a separate men's start from the women.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New England Cross Country Championships

Kristen and I arrived at Franklin Park 15 minutes before the start of the masters race. She brought her Nikon D60 and was ready to take photos for the day. It was great to see CMS have a full masters team. They were led by Eric Morse, Scott Clark, Dave Quintal, Dave Harper, and Ernie Brake. Francis Burdett, who races for CMS at Mt. Washington finished 2nd overall to teammate Kent Lemme. It was clear that it was a fast day for racing as several masters ran quick on the dry course. The men's open team and I headed out for a 20 minute warmup before the women started their race. We finished as the women crested the first hill. Before I knew it, Kristen took a team photo a few minutes before our race went off at 11:32am. We had eight guys toe the line among two starting boxes. I was the only one to start in the 2nd row.

I went through mile one to the sound of a 5:14 split. The GPS went off a few steps beyond to signal mile one but I marked off each split according to the course markings today except for mile 6. I was in good shape leading into mile two under 11:00 and headed through the 5K around 17:05. My goal was to run quicker than my 8K time at Mayors Cup going through 8K. I was right on plan. I passed runners throughout and heard cheers from several all over the course which was helpful. I remained focused through Bear Cage Hill and zipped through 8K, pulling up a bit on the throttle, through a 27:20 or so which is 39 seconds quicker than Mayor's Cup two weeks ago. I was very happy with this but knew the hard effort would catch up as I was starting to tire a bit but still managed to reel in a few folks in over the last 2K. I caught the last runner I was battling with into the finish as the clock turned over into 34 minutes (sub 34 was my goal). I had 34:08 on the Garmin and 6.21 for distance traveled. The results posted had me at 34:10.

The team ran very well and the consensus was that everyone did go through 8K quicker than two weeks ago through the muddy Mayor's Cup. It was good to see the team almost double in participants today. We ran a short cool down and everyone was talking about plans for the upcoming season which includes indoor track, snowshoe racing, and at least one more x/c or road race around Thanksgiving. Sounds good to me.

Kristen took over 800 photos of each of the three races.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

East Boston Savings Bank Challenge 11K

Kristen is the race director for this 2nd annual race in which also includes a 5K . I volunteers my services just I as I did last year. We drove the course yesterday to confirm mile markers with my Garmin 250 and marked the spots with chalk. Wouldn't you know it would rain last night so we had to go over the course again at 6:30am today. As of last week, my volunteer role was to co-pilot her in the lead vehicle throughout the 11k. As the morning progressed, all volunteers had everything under control. Granite State Timing Services was setting up. Mile markers, water stop equipment, water, cups, and course Marshall's headed out for their duties at 8:10am. Then I worried about having time to run today as I made a commitment to help my friend Patrick move up to Gloucester after the race.

With this in mind, I asked Kristen if she needed me for any other volunteer duties before the race and or if she'd clear me for running the race. I did pack a bag with my running equipment, flats, and CMS uniform just in case. I was cleared to race it so I handed over $20 at the registration table in exchange for bib 67, yellow EBSB race t-shirt, and a chip. At 8:22, I was off for a warm up with Doug Chick who was doing the 5K. We ran the 5K course for the warm up I went over the course with him and explained my role in marking the course twice over the past 14 hours. I gave final instructions to the volunteer at 1.5 mile water stop and where to place the 5K turn around marker.

As I was not mentally and physically prepared to race, I did appreciate the opportunity and wondered what sort of effort the legs felt like putting in. The 11K is a tough course with plenty of hills. I headed out behind Doug Chick, Wes Lassen, and John Ayers. By the time Doug turned around at 1.54 miles and headed back for the 5K finish, I pulled even with John Ayers into the lead, going through my favorite part of the course, uphill, splitting the golf course. We ran together, occasionally chatting it up, through 5.3 miles. Meanwhile, Kristen was in the EBSB lead vehicle as the pace car the whole time. I pulled away from John after going over Rt. 128, leaving Centennial Drive. I hustled to the finish line with a time of 38:55 for the win. My GPS advised that I ran 6.77 miles, 38:54, and 5:44/mile pace. John followed with a solid race in 39:20.

More importantly, Kristen had 100 runners overall with 66 in the 11K and 34 in the 5K which was an increase over last year. The event was smooth and the volunteers did a great job. I ended the event picking up following the race awards packing everything back in the bank. Kristen and I drove the course to pick up all mile markers. I will be at the New England X/C Championships next Sunday, spikes on, ready to race.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mayors Cup cross country race report

This is a tough time of the year for CMS to get a full team (five runners to score) at team competition races. Cross Country scoring is calculated by the placing of your top five runners against the top five runners of your competition. If there is a tie, displacement occurs by the sixth runner. Today, we were very fortunate to get five men to the starting line. CMS has been busy at the races over the past month. Three New England Road Race Championship races took place in September and October. The finale was last Sunday at the Bay State Marathon in Lowell, MA where CMS won with the duo of Justin Fyffe (2nd), Andy McCarron (3rd), and Scott Leslie (7th) scoring out with cumulative time of 7:30:25, almost two minutes ahead of the Whirlaway Racing Team. The 1st place finish for the team put us into a tie for 1st overall in the Grand Prix series with the Greater Boston Track Club. It was an exciting conclusion to finish the series for the team. Thus, some of the guys needed to rest their marathon legs this week or were going at it at other races this weekend.

I love cross country. It is my favorite running discipline. Fall foliage is in a particular cycle depending on your locale in New England. The temperature is usually decent at this time of the year. Today was a favorable day for racing in Franklin Park with clear skies and temps in the low 60's. The weather, something that mother nature has control over, dropped plenty of rain yesterday. I knew the course was going to be a challenge. However, that's what I like about cross country. I have run in snow, mud, rain, nor' easters, and witnessed hurricane type winds for this sport.

I did a warm up with the team and Peter Mallet (elite triathlete and UNH grad) to check out the course. It was a bit soggy in places. Al Bernier, Dan Navaroli, Tom Brown, Dave Harper, and I toed the line and represented CMS against eleven other teams today at noon. Five club teams were from New York State. Four club teams were from Massachusetts. Finally, two college teams, Dartmouth and Tufts had full squads on hand. My goal today was to have a time that began with 27. Those minutes had surges, mud, and elbows thrown around. I hit the lap button on my Garmin 250 (which measured my effort for 5.0 miles) for all splits except mile three. I passed mile one in 5:21 feeling pretty good and right on what I planned. I backed off a touch through the first tour of bear cage hill and went through mile two at 11:07. There was a fun stretch of mud leading into the wilderness loop. Kristen who was taking photos was up on the wall screaming words of encouragement. Exiting the loop, Greg Putnam and wife were yelling for the team.

I passed Doug Chick from GBTC heading around the field, passing mile three (neglecting the split) and through 5K around 17:20 or so. Another slippery battle with mud for the finale wilderness loop trying to stay in touch with the competition which had a few GBTC singlets, one of which being Brad Kozel. Mile four passed in 22:40 with a dive into the soggy grass leading to the left hand turn toward White Stadium and Bear Cage hill. I was focused on keeping pace on the folks a few strides ahead. I was looking forward to cresting Bear Cage to let loose on the last .4 miles. I let'er rip, bolted down the Bear Cage and carried the momentum to the backstop, 90 degree right-turn into the home stretch which was met for the third time of the day with soggy footing. I shortened the stride into the finish line fighting the clock to stay in the 27 range but let the chip timing provide relief in the results later to give me the 27:59. If that time was 28, I'd be burnt over that for the rest of the day and into tomorrow's training run.

Dave Harper (3rd 40+ today & took the individual master X/C GP lead) was not too far back from me to finish off the scoring for us. I am thankful that he did the 8K instead of the 5K today. Dan (2nd overall x/c Grand Prix Scoring), Al, and Tom (1st race for CMS) had solid efforts. We figured that the soggy footing slowed things down out there 30+ seconds. The results are posted here. The team placed 9th out of the 11 teams. I am looking forward to New Englands on November 8th. Despite the distance jumping to 10K, I will get through the 8K mark quicker than today if weather cooperates. We'll see.

Scott Mason took a ton of photos yesterday of each race so check them out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

James Early Invitational and Bradley Palmer X/C Challenge

From most recent (10/10) to last Sunday(10/4), I put in a pair of cross country races on both ends of Massachusetts. Yesterday, I headed out to the James Early Invitational to run for the Salem State Alumni team. Kristen and I carpooled out to Westfield with Jason Euzikonis and John Bowser. I had the luxury of being teammates with Jay for four years while only three with Bowser as he was a year ahead of me. It was like old times traveling out to a race. We arrived at Stanley Park about 15 minutes before the women's race went off. There were 24 collegiate teams with SSC Alumni making it 25. Kristen was all over the place taking photos of the ladies in the race. Before I knew it, they were finishing their race and I did a warm up with Fabian Meija who now runs for New Balance Boston since his days at Salem State. With Dan Smith having a work commitment, Fabian was no doubt going to be the fastest Alumni.

Much like the women's race, there were 23 men's collegiate teams plus the SSC Alumni. Westfield State usually has an Alumni team but they were a few runners short of a scoring team. The gun went off and allowed the mass of 250 plus aiming for the flag at the other end of the field. I went out controlled in a manner to ensure I did not trip up nor get run over. The race runs around the field several times during the race to the delight of spectators. By two miles, I moved up quietly into the top 40 runners or so and settled in. While running around the soccer fields, I could see Fabian was up ahead in the top 15 having fun.

The spikes came in handy after 3 miles where there was some thick mud from the rain the day before. It soaked up so much energy to get through a few patches. I was still with the Gordon College guy I caught after two miles. I hit some rolling hills and started to fade around mile four. A few runners got by me but I got my second wind getting out to the soccer fields for a 3/4 lap into the finish. I got back on the heels of the Gordon College guy and finished right behind him. All in all, I was very happy to get under 28 minutes with a 27:44.46. I wound up 32nd overall. I think my best time in college was 27:20's and post collegiately, I recall running 27:17 in 2004 ago as an alum. Overall, the alumni team finished 12th out of 23 teams. The Salem State Alumni, SSC teams, friends, coaches, and family then got together for a pot-luck BBQ in the picnic area shortly after the race. It was great to catch up with folks that I have not seen in a while and also chat with the athletes competing for Salem State College. Kristen has a ton of photos here.

Last weekend kicked off my cross country season at the Bradly Palmer, GBTC, X/C Challenge. Again, with rain the day before the race, I expected a muddy corse and invested in some fresh Addidas XCS spikes at the New England Running Company as I have not owned a pair in several years. I signed up a team of ten CMS runners six days before the race. By the end of the week, two open guys had to bail. Thus, we had four masters and four open guys toe the line up against five other teams. Five of the six teams were fighting for prize money. I got out into the top 25 or so for the 1st mile with a 5:30. I slowed into the 2nd mile with a climb up to Moon Hill. I think everyone slowed down for that next lap around and into Moon Hill again. Dan Verrington caught me and gave some words of encouragement on the way to Moon Hill. I hung onto him for the return trip to the field where the race began. With some generous downhill, I passed Dan and chased down a New Balance Boston and GBTC runner into the last 600m. I never did catch them but I finished strong with a 28:35, good for 20th. The time was about 30 seconds slower than my 2008 and 2007 efforts. The team finished 3rd overall behind BAA (1st) and host, GBTC. Kudos to GBTC for putting on a great event at Bradley Palmer State Park, which is a perfect venue for a cross country race. Krissy has a ton of photos from the race here.

I'm looking forward to the Mayor's Cup X/C race and the New England 10K X/C Championships to be held at Franklin Park in the next several weeks. I hope that CMS can find enough runners to score a team at each race. It will be a huge challenge as several of our top guys will be racing the Bay State Marathon next weekend and they will need to rest those marathon legs.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lone Gull 10K, USATF-New England Championship, Gloucester, MA

It was nice to wake up to sunny skies on a crisp morning. Kristen, my dad, and I headed up to Gloucester for the Lone Gull 10K. Gloucester is only ten miles away from Beverly so this was a quick ride up Rt. 128 to Good Harbor Beach. This was a rare opportunity for me to see a new race course. We got there an hour before the race and the lot was filling up fast. I warmed up with solo until I ran into t’mates Dan Verrington and Mike Quintal.

After a fifteen minute delay and ten minutes standing in the third row in the masses, the race went off into a downhill with the Atlantic Ocean to the left. The weather was perfect. I hit 5:32 at the mile. Todd Callaghan, fellow mountain runner from Gate City Striders pulled up shortly thereafter and Terry McNatt kept good company. We got over the 1st significant hill on the course and down into mile two. I trailed Todd by a few steps. We got into welcomed shade leading out to Eastern Point which has a nice lighthouse that was not visible from the course. This section was also home to the loop where I saw the leader heading back from where we came from. I went through three miles and the 5K (17:12) just behind Todd as we passed Jose Ortiz from Whirlaway. I put in a surge to pull along side with Todd a few seconds later.

We are now on our way back to the finish. Todd and I did not separate more than a second for the remainder of the race. We reeled in a few guys until we caught Todd's teammate Rich Smith. The three of us ran together until about 800m to go when Rich put in a surge leading into the last hill where mile six waited. It was a very smart move. I trailed Todd by a step. Kristen stood on the hill for some photography to prove our existence on this fine day. As I crested the hill, I let loose to get around Todd and see if I could get Rich. Rich got to the line first but we got the same chip time. Todd was right behind me. I finished 61st for a time of 34:30 (5:34). I was shooting for something between 34:00 and 34:30. Official results.

Splits were as follows.

5:41 11:14
5:29 16:43 (5K 17:12)
5:36 22:20
5:28 27:48
5:38 33:27
1:03 34:30

I am looking forward to some cross country races coming up in the next several weeks and into November.

USATF-New England 5 mile championship

Better late than never. Quick update from September 12....

Ollie 5 Mile Road Race, USATF-New England Championship, South Boston

The last two years at Ollie, I have run mid 28 minute range. I ran a 27:30 in at the Squantum 5 miler in June so I wanted to match or better that time. However, my approach toward the goal would be to ease into this 5 mile race with a focus on the last three miles and coming back to the finish on what is close to an out an back type of course. The splits were all over the place which later revealed that the course turn around spot was not where it should have been. I finished strong where no one passed me after 800m into the race.

My splits were as follows.

5:35 (stopped watch 2 seconds after finish line) 27:27

My official time was 27:24 and placed 75th in a very competitive field. It is speculated that everyone ran 4.9 miles for what was declared the New England 5 mile championship last year. I did not pick up on this until the next day, Sunday, when the results were edited for the pace and distance. So many runners ran outstanding races with several CMS folks running PR’s. It is unfortunate that the course was short, but the strong efforts by everyone should not be diminished. Here are some photos that Kristen took with her Nikon D60 in one hand and an umbrella in the other. Also, it was nice to also have my dad, Leo, on hand who picked a ominous day with the rain to watch us race.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mountain Goat status article

This article came out in The Salem News, Monday, 8/10/09. Photo credit in the print article goes to Scott Mason. Check out his photos.

Pawlicki reaches Mountain Goat status

By Jean DePlacido
August 10, 2009 12:45 am

Jim Pawlicki is officially a Mountain Goat, and that is a hard-earned title 100 New England runners achieved over a six-week period this summer.

Pawlicki, a Beverly resident, successfully completed all six races in the 2009 USA Track and Field New England Mountain Circuit to achieve his Mountain Goat status, and he finished fifth in the point standings.

The courses are extremely demanding, full of all types of challenges and very different from what the average runner encounters on road courses. Some are part road racing courses and rugged trails close to ski resorts, while others are primarily run on narrow dirt paths that require a great deal of agility. The race distances range from just under four miles to 10 miles.

At Ascutney Mountain in Vermont, the last stop on the circuit, runners from last year's race voted to change the course to make it even more challenging by extending all the way to the summit instead of following the auto access road to the parking lot roughly a half mile from the top of the mountain. The new path added a mile and a half of treacherous conditions.

Two years ago Pawlicki was fourth on the old course with a time of 33:01. This summer he finished 11th in 43:56 on the longer, rougher course. Runners had to deal with slippery footing, thick fern undergrowth, boulders and streams, as well as narrow, hilly paths that made the going slow. There were a few sections where Pawlicki, who works for Boston Scientific in Quincy as an e-commerce specialist, had to pick his steps by walking cautiously in the roughest patches where falling was a distinct possibility. His main focus there had nothing to do with making good time; it was staying on his feet.

"After leaving the parking lot you were on really technical trails, and there was at least a minute of walking," Pawlicki said. "I had a sense of relief after doing all six; I can now look back with a feeling of accomplishment. Two years ago I didn't finish all of them; I did five but had to drop out of the Cranmore race."

Pawlicki is a full-time runner, who is a member of the Central Mass Striders men's racing team which is sponsored by Polar Racing. He figures he has been running 335 days each year since graduating from Salem State in 1998, varying his events according to the calendar. He has run six or seven marathons, the last in 2003 in Chicago where he finished in 2:37.59 for his second fastest time.

"During the winter I do indoor track events and jump on snow shoes to race," said Pawlicki. "I do 15-20 road races throughout the year, but during the early summer concentrate on the mountain races. In the fall I like to do four or five cross country races; it brings a little diversity and each season is different. I don't do any special training for the mountain, just do what I would do for a 10-mile road race and then apply it with some concessions for the conditions.

"The mountain racing circuit goes all over New England, and each course is so different. The first one was Memorial Day weekend at Wachussett Mountain in Princeton, and then we did Pack Monadnock in New Hampshire for a 10-mile race that was nine miles on road and one on dirt. We also were at Northfield (MA.) for the New England Trail Championship. The Cranmore Mountain Hill Climb was also the USA National Mountain Championship, which was fun.

"The most demanding was the Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire where there was a half-mile stretch of a pretty steep 30 degree climb. There you had to walk for the majority of the race."

Before the final Ascutney Mountain Challenge, a big group picture was taken of all the mountain goats, and after finishing they received tee-shirts with the words "Mountain Goat" on them.

"After completing the first two races I had to commit to the rest," said Pawlicki. "I felt the pressure, and wanted to gain that notoriety among my peers. It was really a lot of fun. After the last race one of the guys knew of a great spot to cool off in a mountain stream. The river was icy cold even though it was mid-July, but we had a great time. People brought food, and we all hung out together for a couple of hours."

Through all his ventures across New England Pawlicki's girlfriend Kirsten Kozlosky of Beverly has been at his side offering support, sharing the driving, and taking photos.

"She's my copilot," said Pawlicki. "I put quite a few miles on my Volkswagen Rabbit, and Kristen has been great about helping with the driving. She volunteered for a couple of races, and gave me so much support.

"One of the big perks of mountain goat status is being able to bypass the 2010 Mount Washington Road Race Lottery; we just have to register to guarantee a place in the field. I ran Mount Washington a couple of years ago, and I might look into that again. I went into the lottery then and didn't have a problem, but I guess it is a big deal because they limit the number of entries to 2,000 and it has become such a popular event.

"Finishing all six and receiving this status is a very rewarding feeling," said Pawlicki. "Now I've put the demons to rest, and I plan to be back again next year to try to do it all over again."

Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beverly Homecoming 5k August 6

It was time to get back into a race. A home town 5K race on a weeknight in Beverly was appealing even though I would have to leave work early for a 70 minute commute ride home from Quincy. I ran an ugly 28:35 5 miler at the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl four days after Ascutney last month. Thus, my legs were ready for a race despite, again, not doing any interval work or tempo runs.

I ran into some old competitors from many moons ago at the race last night. Sean Dunleavy who coaches Beverly High School boys cross country and Danvers High School girls track was in attendance with a baby jogger. I recall that he finished under 21 minutes. Dave Gagnon, teammate at Salem State College for two years before transferring to rival Westfield State College also made a rare appearance in a race. After a 2 mile warmup with fellow Beverly resident and training partner, Junyong Pak, the siren went off for the start of the race.

CMS teammate, Patrick Rich jumped out and stood alone with a pack of six gents including myself following about 15 feet back. I wanted to yell into my group (not even 60 seconds old) "will someone get out and help that guy in the front?" My fear was that someone in my group was going to hang back, sit, and jump on the lead with 400m to go. Fortunately, Tim Richards (Holy Cross Junior) gave Patrick company and they pranced through a 4:58 first mile. I was 5:10 at the mile in the trail pack getting impatient but lacked fitness to surge at any point. I passed a few runners then and got passed before the hill leading into 2 miles. Greg K. (4:26 miler at Ipswich High School & coached by Patrick Rich) opened up his stride on the downhill putting five seconds on me. I caught him about 400m later but he surged again and built a nine second margin to the tape. I hustled through, twisting my upper body with a tired gait with a 16:23 on the clock for 5th place. The official results revealed 16:25, my quickest of three 5K's this year. I find it interesting that races add two seconds to your time.

I am considering races that are short in distance through the fall. I have no intention to fool myself into a fall marathon or beat myself up down at the New Haven 20K (US Championships) on Labor Day. I am being realistic and will race distances that my training will support for the short term. I like the idea of the Anthony Chamberas x/c 6K and Magnolia 5K in the next month.

Kudos to Patrick Rich to tie a PR of 15:27 set a few years ago on this same Beverly race and course. He is in amazing shape. Meanwhile, Junyong who has not paid an entry fee and toed a starting line since the Boston Marathon in April made short work of the Beverly course in sixteen flat. He's been running with the less is more theme and I can appreciate that.

Junyong Pak, myself, and Patrick Rich with awards.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ascutney Mountain Challenge

Race six, the finale, of the mountain series was completed today in Mt. Ascutney State Park. The runners from last year's race spoke up and voted in a race course change to extend to the summit this year. The race previously followed the automobile access road to the parking lot about a half mile from the summit. I ran the course two years ago placing 4th with a time of 33:01.

Today, I placed 11th with a time of 43:56. The last 1.7 miles were different with the race leaving the road and onto the Futures Trail and to the summit. The footing was standard technical New England trail: mud, thick ground fern, boulders, streams, and stone steps along a single track. I am sure that this is the typical fare for the trail runners so they must have eaten it up. I on the other hand tip-toed through some sections. However, the trail was a blast and in usual fashion reduced me to a few walking sessions in the tougher portions of the trail. I gave up some time in the tough spots but just focused on staying on my feet as it would have been easy to trip up. I can't wait to see some photos of the runners. When Raina, the race director, officially solicits feedback, I will suggest the all road course back in and or see if a trail section could be worked into the course from the parking lot, previously mentioned about a half mile from the summit.

I'd like to congratulate the 100 or so runners who achieved Mountain Goat status by completing each of the six races in the Inov-8 USATF-NE Mountain Circuit 2009 Schedule. This allows the runners to bypass the 2010 Mt. Washington Road Race Lottery (they still need to register). I think it is a great program and has been a boon for each of the mountain races which have been close to or exceeded record entrants in 2009. In addition, I'd like to acknowledge the fine performances of my CMS teamates who no doubt, fared well in the individual point system.

Good times were had by several folks (too many names to remember) taking in a soak at the stream under Rt. 91 leading into the Mill Pond. Tim Van Orden advised that it was the place to go. Over twenty race folk managed to bring suds, food, and spirit as we hung out underneath a cloudless sky. Thanks to Todd and Laurie for the organic fruit salad, Tim Mahoney for the Harpoon offerings, and to Tim Van Orden for the "fresh out of the garden" greens. All I know is that for the next mountain race (next May), it will definitely be about where to hang out after the race.

Finally, I would be remiss without thanking Kristen for her company and support at each of the races in the series that came without complaint with early morning, multiple hour drives around New England. She volunteered at races, took photos, took the wheel, and brought some sanity to each turn on the road.

Lastly, as much as I need a break from the racing (I don't mind but am glad that the mountain series is over), I am signed up for the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5 miler on Thursday evening in South Boston. This is an out an back, flat and fast 5 miler put on by the L-Street Running club. I have been running a lot along the bay from UMass Boston to Castle Island so it will be another routine run except at goal, 5:30 per mile pace.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Loon Mountain report

I have read and heard that some runners think that Loon Mountain is the toughest race in the mountain series. It may have the steepest section (it is called upper walking boss for a reason) we'll encounter but my judge of the toughest race is how I feel Monday morning. I felt a lot better this Monday than I did last Monday following Cranmore.

I warmed up with the CMS crew and Patrick Ard from Whirlaway who was running his first mountain race. I ran past Ted Breen and Brad Kozel from GBTC as I approached the parking lot. I gave Ted advice earlier in the week on what to wear for footwear as this was his first mountain race too. Aside from that, everyone who ran at Cranmore a week earlier all shared the same sore muscle stories that lasted most of the week. Glad that I was not the only one. I still put in a heavy week of miles. The race got off to a late start but only after Paul Kirsch made sure that all folks who were seeking Mountain Goat Status were members of USATF before the race started.

Abdeltif Faker jumped out to a quick start. He had a long stride and looked like a ringer aside from cutting his running pants into uneven length shorts. I've seen or heard worse. Dennis Floyd told me he got beat by a Greater Lowell Road Runner in cut-offs (jeans cut into shorts) in a local 5K over 10 years ago. I am not fashion expert myself so I will leave it at that.

I rolled with the race in the early going. Todd Callaghan and Dave Dunham passed me early on. I noted how good Dave looked working the ascents. The word chisel came to mind during the race watching Dave motor up the hills. He took off and I just tried to stay close to Todd Callaghan. I was successful at that until the downhill toward "upper walking boss" which is as steep as it will get for us this summer.

This bit seems to go on forever. I looked up and saw the race in front of me (10 guys in total), but they were already at it for minutes. Tivo and Todd were side-stepping in some of their climb. The kid in front of me was walking and pulling away (no news there). I was not comfortable at all walking, but did some. I felt it was easier to run, if you call it that. My steps were so small but I found a rhythm. I ran by Scott Mason (check out his photos) who was taking photos about 2/3 of the way up and he gave words of encouragement. I looked back on a switch back. I saw Kasie Enman not too far. That sighting kept me honest, not to walk anymore and get to the top. In all honesty, this upper walking boss climb did not seem as long as it did two years ago. The young kid in front of m, 17 year old Adam Pachek, was too far ahead for me to catch on the downhill. My form was a mess and I still babied down it, feeling he was unreachable with only a few minutes of race left. I tore into the last uphill and into the finish to cheers from Kristen and then into the finish line where co-race director Paul Kirsch stood. 52:52 for 11th place. It felt so nice to be done with the race.

There was nothing I did during the race that I would change if I did it over again. A quick check of my prior result here in 2007 showed that I ran 52:28 or 24 seconds quicker then. However, I know I busted the downhills harder there and walked more up the walking boss section in 2007. After getting my new CMS threads on (it was windy and a bit chilly for July), drinking some Heed, I flagged Todd down and into the Gondola ride down to the base. Mats Lemberger (formerly of Dartmouth) who finished two spots in front of me joined us for the ride down. We had a nice view. I looked down a few times and could see some flagging on the course that Dave, Tivo, and company patiently set up in 2 hours and 59 minutes the day before.

I was shocked to see Joe Shairs and family at the ski lodge who were passing through. Joe looked cold in short sleeves (it was windy at the base as well) so I sent him off with a CMS jacket that I had in the Gti. The family was heading off to the Flume Gorge only a few miles away. I proceeded cool down for a couple easy miles. I bonked hard about 10 minutes from the parking lot. I walked it in and had a granola bar that must have been in my running bag for six months. It tasted so good. I just needed some nourishment and fluids. I walked into the post race gathering ready to kill for food. It could of gotten ugly but fortunately there were plenty of bagels and crunchy peanut butter for everyone. An hour later, Kristen and I broke bread with Ted and Brad in Lincoln for sandwiches before sitting in some nasty traffic on Rt. 93. Good times for sure.

Cheers to DoubleJ for his first Mountain Race win. He earned it. Dave Dunham, 1st master, ran a solid race. Tivo and Todd Callaghan held his own as well, admitting a light week of training after the race. Tim Mahoney was right behind me and is sure to race well at Ascutney Mountain in Windsor, VT this Sunday. The check is in the mail so I will be there. I am looking forward to the change in the course which will have some trail in the 2nd half and we race to the summit.
Oh and will someone please elaborate on "there is no safeword at Loon Mountain?"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kissing Cranmore Mountain

As the bottom of my heels burned up sprinting down Cranmore Mountain, I was wishing for something flat to give my quads rest. I fought gravity up and down the mountain yesterday. I just wanted to let the heels cool down. I expected a bloody mess when I pulled the footware off minutes after finishing the race and cooling off in the cool stream 100 yards from the finish line. Todd Callaghan praised the benefits of the cold water. I washed the Cranmore earth off my legs, proud to have survived the event. I was reticent before the race but I had an objective of putting a demon to rest.

One hour of punishment. Punishment that I neglected to tolerate three years ago at Cranmore for three fun loops up and down. Yesterday was only two loops that Paul Kirsch put up for the National Championship where the top three men and women would be selected for the US team to compete at the World Championship.

I gave some honest advice to a runner on my way into the 2nd lap yesterday heading into the second loop as he was dropping out and walking toward me and back to end his journey prematurely. I yelled at him and told him not to drop out, he'll regret it. I turned back to look at him and made sure he followed back onto the course. I told him to walk it out, just finish it up. The guy in front of me looked back at me thinking I was crazy for yelling at a competitor to get his ass back in the race. The beaten runner got back in the race.

I looked forward, following my advice to just finish and did not care how many steps running, walking or crawling it took. I just looked forward to getting the race over with. I was not so much a competitor as I was a participant making the best of a situation of gravity and a ass kicking contest against Cranmore Mountain. Cranmore Mountain got the best of me. I will get back there next year. Yeah, I am getting fitted for a straight jacket too. No surprise there.

Learned a few things yesterday or at least it caught my attention I had time to think during the race....

1. Walking up steep sections is acceptable. Elite runners of both sexes around me were walking or maybe it is called power-hiking? Damn, some folks were pulling away from me as I got no where trying to run or slip on lichen covered rock. It looks silly kissing the ground, leaning on the knees, but power hiking seems to work.

2. Small, petite, woman kick ass at this mountain stuff. They just shuffle up the steep sections with tiny strides. I feel like a heavy ape with a dumb stride. The 'running form police' tried to pull me off the course at the top but they wanted me to burn up my heels running down the mountain. I appreciate that.

3. These mountain runners are incredible. I don't know how they can tolerate the pain of climbing, straining the lower back, calves, and quads. I can tolerate it for short periods of time, but I relent.

4. Running up against gravity is one thing. Running down at break-neck speed is another and quite hard on the legs and body as I was reminded this morning. Glad that I still have the skin intact on my heels (for now).

5. My attitude changed while going up in the second lap. I chatted it up with Kristen and Joe as I stumbled past them in a climb. There was some funny dialogue, R-rated comments and questioning of my sanity. It helped me cope. I'll have to get the clip up here. In summary, I was trying to use humor to get through the next twenty minutes.

6. I usually like to race down-hill with the best of them. But my burning heels were telling me otherwise. It is humbling to step aside and run in the tall grass to try to slow down and let people pass without much care. I tried to alter my stride or run on my toes flying down the hill to ease the slippage in the New Balance 790's.

7. The transition game of a burning ascent onto something flat is comical. I was reminded of the duathlon event from getting off a bike and into a run. The lactic acid build up and release makes jello of one's legs for a bit.

It's not all piss and vinegar though. I had a great weekend. Joe Shairs and family let Kristen and I crash at their condo in Bartlett the night before the race, sparing me a 2.5 hour drive on Sunday morning. We had a great dinner on Saturday and capped it off with a 2 hour documentary and history on the Boston Bruins. Milt Schmidt, Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Cam Neely!

Here is a picture of me walking or something past Kristen. No doubt cursing, mumbling, and thinking about another hobby.

Lap 1 took me 29:10 and Lap 2 took me 31:04. Unofficial time which was stopped in the finish line chute was 1:00:14. Kristen's movie clip of my hobbling finish into the time clock was 1:00:12. Here is Joe and Kristen yelling at me on the 2nd lap. Finally, please take a look at Scott Mason's photos. He took a lot of nice shots and captured the moments of the race.

Loon Mountain is next Sunday folks. It's a cool race that has a famous section of calf and quad burn depending on the stride. Better yet, it has some down hill in there to mix it up a bit and provide relief from ascending.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Squantum 5 Mile Road Race, Pub Series # 4

I ran my first New England Runner Pub Series race tonight in Quincy (Marina Bay). The start of the race is at Marina Bay Beach Club, formerly Water Works, which is half a mile from work. I won the race two years ago and have done plenty of training on the course by means of being minutes from work. The rain was coming down pretty steady but it let up about twenty minutes before the race. I ran into some ol' competitors and friends: Chris Spinney, Solomon Tsegai , Don Fay, Deon Barrett, Chris Simpson, and Bryan Doldt. Bryan, Deon, and Chris were my teamates with the Greater Boston Track Club several years ago.

I was pretty tired this week, coming off Northfield Mountain and an upbeat 14 miler over the weekend. In addition, I got in plenty of hills in Breakheart Reservation over the last two nights after work. The race was no doubt going to be competitive as there are plenty of talented runners who have been racing the pub series this year. Tonight was no exception. Kevin Gray took it out hard with Joe Navas in tow. I settled in and next to Terry McNatt for the 1st mile. I did not get my 1st or 2nd mile split but was keeping pace with Terry.

Andrew Holmes (2nd place in the last two years at this race) from HFC passed us and he pulled Lee Danforth with him shortly after two miles. I was fading a bit going through mile three in 16:19. I knew it was going to be a battle to the end with Terry. Sure enough, we passed through mile three and four together. I was cutting tangents like a veteran trying to shake Terry over the last two miles. I held him off by one second into the finish. I turned to him in the chute and thanked him for keeping me honest during the race. Eight place in a competitive field and a course PR with a 27:29.

The Achilles was barking a bit in the easy 2 mile cool down with Don Fay. The rest of the night was low key at the Beach Club with one ticket for food (Hot Dogs and Hamburgers) and the other for a beer. I caught up with some folks and touched base with some co-workers. Time to rest up and maybe a day off tomorrow.

Looking forward....

Good luck to CMS and friends at the Mt. Washington Road Race this weekend. I also want to welcome Scott Leslie to the men's open team. He ran 2:32:56 at Boston this year. He will be at Mt. Washington racing for CMS and is looking forward to the Ollie Road Race and the Bay State Marathon. Lastly, I want to wish Mark Kimball a speedy recovery after being struck by a truck while running with his wife last week. I hear he is getting better each day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Northfield Mountain recap

I was torn on which race to go to on Saturday, June 13. I wanted to race the Market Square 10K in Portsmouth, NH where I set my 10K PR set 10 years ago (33:03) and had a decent race last June getting under 34 minutes. On the other hand, I have run the first two races of the USATF New England Mountain series and the Northfield Mountain is race number three. It is also the New England Trail Championship. Dave Dunham has been the race director and puts on a solid event. Who else can set up the course the day before, direct the race, and race it - very well mind you.

Kristen and I got up at 4:30 and were out the door with the GPS set up at 5:35 in the VW Gti. We got to Northfield at 7:30 after a stop for gas in Fitchburg as the Gti got thirsty for 93 Octane. Kristen was volunteering to help out at the water stop with and take some photos. She got to ride up the auto road with Al Bernier in the Subaru.

I did a warm up with a small CMS crew that was made up of Eric Morse (good to see him racing again), Dave Dunham, and Tim & Abbey Mahoney. Before I got to the starting line, I was greeted by Mark Asaro who was thanking me for being a gentleman; offering encouraging words to his son, Peter, during the last 300m of Pack Monadnock. He thanked me for not outdueling his son. I told him that I had no energy to pass him on what felt like a 30% grade and gave every effort just to catch up to the guy. Peter finished two seconds ahead of me at Pack.

At 9:00am sharp Dave gave the race of over 200 the final instructions and gave the first row on the starting line his traditional high five as we were off with two commands. I settled in with Tim Mahoney after the first minute. Justin Fyffe, Josh Ferenc, and Eric Morse were dueling it out for the 1st mile. I had a split of 5:39 which is moving pretty good. The climbing soon began and I shuffled up the hills. Todd Callaghan and Tim Mahoney got around me between 2 and 3 miles. My effort was hard enough so I just wanted to keep them close until the outlook point. The course is practically all down hill after that. I managed to surge pass Tim a half mile before the water stop and set my cruise control to match Todd's stride who had his sights on Greg Hammett in front of him.

The next 3K is runable downhill for most but causes some pain for the next day. Paul Low has seen a low four minute mile in this stretch in the past. I couldn't gain any ground on Todd and Greg was keeping his distance on him. I heard the occasional foot steps behind me but never checked to see who it was, assuming it was Tim (it was). At one point on the down hill, my left foot started to burn up in the heel. This is typical here due to the speed at which I am running and occasional breaking - putting much force on the feet. The New Balance 790 held up pretty good but I was expecting my toes to rip through the toe box toward the end of the descent.

The course levels off after 5.3 miles or so and you can see the race in front of you as it is a long stretch (3/4 of a mile?). I could make out Justin's yellow, Lasportiva shirt about two mintues ahead. I heard he had a good battle with Andy McCarron over the past two miles. I was trying to stay focused on Todd who still had 10 seconds or so on me and I did not want to get caught by Tim or anyone else in the last mile and a half. I hustled into the home stretch for 8th place with a time of 38:59, my second quickest time on the this course. I ran 38:32 last year on a hot day and a dog fight battle with Todd Callaghan and Tim Van Orden over the last two miles.

I was happy with the effort. CMS did very well, placing nine runners in the top twelve. See the overall results and the awesome photos by Scott Mason. I ran the course again after the race with a big crew that included Todd Callaghan, Tim Mahoney, Tim Van Orden, and a few others to pick up the flagging and mile markers. A big thanks to everyone. The company was great and it offered another 45 minutes of hilarious conversation.

I am looking foward to the Cranmore Hill Climb where I DNF'd two years ago. That race will be followed by Loon Mountain and Ascutney Mountain Challenge in July. These are tough races but I am up for the challenge. Meanwhile, I am going to run the Squantum 5 mile road race this Thursday which is minutes from work in Marina Bay (Quincy). It is part of the New England Runner Pub Series so it should be competitive. I am looking to better the 28:43 that I ran in 2007.


I slacked on writing about my blazing 16:35 (chip time) at the Rhody 5K last Sunday, June 7th, in Lincoln, RI. I averaged 5:21 pace per mile and did not crash as bad as I felt with 800m to go. My splits were 5:15, 5:23, 5:21, and :36. I am not sure I trust the mile three marker. I don't have much to say about my effort other than my legs were exposed for the lack of interval training. I had zero turn over and that is the number one requirement for a 5K, period. CMS as a team did well, finishing 5th, with the top five guys getting under 15:58. Full results.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pack Monadnock

This was a tough race today. I ran this 10 mile in 2007 clocking in at 1:06:25 where the first half was cautious with a 30:48 five mile split. Today, I went through 5 miles about a minute quicker (29:51). Peter Asaro from Gloucester and of William & Mary had just caught up to me before 5 miles after I passed Ben Nephew before the 4 mile mark.

I was spent after a climb in the 5th mile. I was crawling up each of the hills that followed. Peter must have had 30 seconds on me when I got out to Rt. 101 (7.5 miles). I could see Andy McCarron ahead of him by another 40 seconds and barely see Jim Johnson ahead of Andy. As spent as I was, I managed to catch Peter about 100 yards from the finish in Miller State Park (not an easy task in the last mile here unless someone is walking). However, I was drained and couldn't find any energy to pass him. I settled for 7th place in a very competitive field in the trek from Wilton, NH to Pack Monadnock in Temple, NH. My unofficial 1:06:44 is about :20 behind my previous effort in 2007. The delta today was going out harder and crashing harder in the 2nd half. I will chalk this up to a learning experience and solid effort on a day that I knew four miles from the finish line that it was going to get ugly.

The CMS held serious court in the race today. Without seeing the results yet, it looked like Justin Fyffe (3rd), Jim Johnson (4th), Andy McCarron (5th), myself (7th), Ben Nephew (8th), Dave Dunham (9th), Dave Quintal (12th), Tim Mahoney (13th), and Tim Van Orden (14th) all had solid races.

Bottom row (3): Andy McCarron, Todd Callaghan, Tim Mahoney

Top row: Dave Dunham, Justin Fyffe, Jim Johnson, Dave Quintal, Jim Pawlicki, & Ben Nephew

Photos by Kristen

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wachusett Mountain road race report

The 2009 USATF New England Mountain series kicked off with the Wachusett Mountain Road Race. Due to construction of the access road up the mountain, the race course had to be changed and diverted into the beautiful trails. Runners were warned or at least advised with plenty of signage in and around the registration area. I even recall a refund was offered in advance if the course change was beyond expectations. Mountain runners are hardy souls and did not seem to mind. I welcomed the change of scenery and like the idea of having some generous downhill in the 2nd half of the race.

I went out pretty hard for the 1st mile, settling in behind Andy McCarron and Craig Fram. I did not get a mile split but the effort was quicker than I usually put forth. Kevin Tilton and Ryan Carrera took command after the mile and took off as we approached the entrance to the park. I opened the stride as we then got off the road and into single track trail. It was in this part of the race (1.5) miles that Craig Fram stepped aside to let me by as he was very cautious with the tricky footing, descending beside the 1st mile along Mountain Road. I ran past Kristen who was taking photos shortly before mile 2. I could see Andy way ahead. Meanwhile, I think Tim Van Orden was a few seconds behind me.
Then the grind began up Old Indian Head Trail. This was a steep half mile section that was pretty tough. Tim passed me about half way up. He looked pretty strong and I felt that I could hang on with him through the top . Seconds later, Middlesex Fells training partner, Todd Callaghan, passed by chasing Tim before we got to the top of the trail. I was suffering a bit but was counting on the down hill that awaited a bit after 3 miles.

I looked at my watch at the top of Indian Head and saw 21 minutes or so and wondered how long it would take to see the finish line. Tim and Todd had a 8-10 second lead at the water stop somewhere beyond 3 miles. I opened my stride and tried to reel them in. I made slow progress of that as we were all flying at the same pace. This was a controlled down hill section and thought that it was far from the reckless free-fall that I encounter at Northfield Mountain. I was closing the gap a bit as we ran past the Indian Head Trail that we ran up earlier. I caught Tim on the last uphill climb for the day and a few seconds later got around Todd.

Meanwhile, I looked left and down toward the ski lodge where the finish line awaited. I was not too sure how much longer it would take before we would arrive and what the course was like approaching the finish line area. I did not research the last mile so it was a big unknown. Todd checked out the course on Thursday so he had an advantage. My college coach at Salem State, Tom Derderian, always reinforced to me that you must know the course before the finish line. At any rate, I was in the midst of a battle.

We turned left off the fire road and down toward the duck pond beside the ski lodge. I took the inside turn and surged down the hill. I still had no idea how much race was left and how to get there besides the course flagging. I was trying the shake Tim and Todd. I remember taking the inside lane around the duck pond, even dropping my left arm, pointing to claim the lane as we approached a boulder about 20 yards from an upcoming narrow footbridge. Tim and Todd were hot on my tail as I navigated, carefully around a tree and onto the asphalt, taking a sharp left turn toward the finish chute 10 feet away. It was like the last 100m of a mile race on the track with three hungry wolves fighting for the kill. I crossed the line just ahead of Tim and Todd. I turned to see Tim in the chute right behind me and then Todd followed. I was exhausted.

Todd quickly pointed to his leg and mentioned a wipe out. I did not recall seeing him go down in the last two miles of the course and asked him where he dumped. He took a fall in the heat of the battle with Tim and I on the tough corner just before the parking lot. Kristen happened to get it on video and did not even know he went down because she lost us behind the tree and she stopped recording as we bolted into the finish line. You'll notice how Todd was making ground before we approached the bridge and then the three of us approach the tree and two make it out.

We ran a nice relaxing cool down over the last few miles of the course and certainly shared some good laughs over the battle for the finish. I hope to have many more with these guys in the future.

Wachusett Mountain (5.2? miles) road race
May 23, 2009

1. Ryan Carrera 30:44
2. Kevin Tilton 30:48
3. Andy McCarron 31:46
4. Jim Pawlicki 32:44
5. Tim Van Orden 32:45
6. Todd Callaghan 32:48
7. Tim Mahoney 33:26
8. Allen Spencer(?) 33:31
9. Dave Dunham 33:35

Course profile

Cooling down while Todd points to the scene on the corner before the finish line straight. Dave Dunham, myself, Todd Callaghan, Francis Burdett, and Tim Mahoney. Photos by Kristen Kozlosky.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bedford Memorial 12K

It has been a few days since the race. I was not too sure what to expect as I have had very few races and no speed work other than a hard effort at the Danvers 5K races here and there. I rolled through the 1st mile around 5:14 and two miles in 10:37. From there I had some consistent, albeit slower, mile splits averaging 5:33 until 6-7 where I ran the slowest (5:41) for the day. I had a nice battle with former teammate at GBTC several years ago, Ethan Crain (former All American at MIT). However, I was wiped out by the time I reached the last uphill leading to the track and he rolled on. I told him to use his mile speed from his MIT days. He did. But so did Scott Anderson and Ted Breen. You can see their arms in the photo (taken by Kristen Wainwright) above, bookending me. It was on this track where the race finished, that I got called out and the weakness was apparent that I lacked speed sessions. I wound up in 36th place with a 40:13 (5:32 pace/mile).

On that note, I was thankful for the downhills where I could stretch my stride and recover from the hills. Overall, this is a fair course and look forward to getting back here next year if it is in for the Grand Prix. Next up for me is the Mt. Wachusett race and then the Rhody 5K which is race number four in the USATF-NE Grand Prix Road Race series.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wellness Fair 5K at Salem State College

I got a chance to lace up the racing flats in a rare 5K road race yesterday at Salem State College. I was looking for a race before the upcoming Bedford Memorial 12K road race and this was also an an opportunity to do a Salem State College Alumni event. Several former SSC alumni have won this race which was being held for the 13th year. Dan Smith who ran sub 15's in college and Fabian Meija, sub 4:15 miler come to mind. The new course for at least the last five years is a certified 5K. It was previously 3 miles long. I checked out the winners plaque before the race that has the male and female winner of each year before the race. I know most of the previous men's winners and noted that none were there to race this one. Fabian was in attendance, however, recovering from surgery a few months ago.

I got a short warm up through Forrest River Park with Scott Carrier from Beverly and Dennis Floyd. Dennis who is the Salem State College Track & Field coach was running his 2nd race in consecutive weeks, looking to run 6 minute pace. He and I have been teammates in college and two running clubs. His last competitive race was a 16:22 for CMS in the USATF-NE Indoor Championships in 2008. It is awesome to see him healthy as he has been battling Achilles issues over the past few years.

I jumped out into 2nd place about 200m into the race. David Long, Beverly resident, was in front and I caught him before 800m on Canal Street. I went through a 5:00 1st mile which was way off and inched away from David. I'd say it was a 5:25 mile. I just kept rolling along and having fun with the Salem Police Car holding up traffic as I cruised by Kristen and Jeff Rockwood, assistant Salem State Track Coach after mile 2. A few more turns and I bolted in for the finish, staring the clock down from when I began to make out the time around 16:20. It was a long straight away to the finish line and just got under 17 minutes with a 16:55. David Long finished in 2nd at 17:50 and Dennis ran 18:06 for 3rd far exceeding what he wanted to run for the day.

13th Annual North Shore Wellness 5K
Salem, MA, May 3, 2009
1 James Pawlicki 16:55 5:27 SSC Alumni
2 David Long 17:50 5:45
3 Dennis Floyd 18:06 5:50 SSC Alumni

All in all, it was a good day. We got a nice photo of some alumni athletes from the old days after the race. Note the hardware that Marissa and I got.

From left to right: Marissa Petrillo, Jim Pawlicki, Dennis Floyd, Shawn McCannon, Jeff Rockwood, Fabian Meija, Brian Beaulieu, Deb Bealieu. Gunnar and Annie Bealieau seated in the stroller will be running in no time. Photo credit to Kristen Kozlosky.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

From lyme to the finish line

Kristen and I caught four dear in this photo taken at Bradley Palmer State Park one week ago.

What a week. I found a tick entrenched in my leg on Tuesday evening. I pulled it out and imediately researched these freak'n things. There was so much information on ticks and Lyme disease. My head filled with the worst case scenarios. I was very concerned as I think that I picked up the little bugger on a nature walk with Kristen on Sunday evening at Bradley Palmer State Park along the Ipswich River. That would equate to 48 hours with the nasty critter in my blood stream.

Ice covered trails at Bradley Palmer State Park. Photo taken along the Ipswich River with the foot bridge to the far left beyond the trees.

The following morning, I shared my story with co-workers who thought it would be in my best interest to see the doctor. My anxiety grew throughout the day as I waited for my afternoon apointment with the nurse practioner. I was prescribed 2 IC Doxycycline pills (anti-biotic) and a blood test to search for any sign of Lyme. I was also advised to report any flu like symptoms over the next few weeks symptoms usually being to present themselves 5-7 days following the bite.

I received the anxiously awaited call from the nurse practitioner on Friday night that the blood test for Lyme was negative. I was relieved. I have another blood test in six months. The tick incident was a learning experience. Now you and I know that they can latch on to you at any time of the year and that they will find you even if your skin is protected with clothing from head to toe.

Look at this creep. Is he tick hunting?

As a result, I did not drive down to the New Bedford Half Marathon, USATF New England Championship, with a lot of confidence or any grand expectations this morning. I missed a few days of running and my legs were sore from yesterday. Kristen and I led the Bevery boy caravan, Ben Strain and Junyong Pak, down to New Bedford in good time. I had decided to take my own car as I had a VW Scirocco fender that I needed to drop off at Greyhound Express Shipping in Boston on my return trip from New Bedford. Ben kept pace with the Gti.

I toed the starting line four rows deep, right next to Mark Reeder and Joe O'Leary. I leaned over to Ben Strain and asked him what he was thinking - in terms of his approach for his race. He wanted to hit 5:40 pace for the day. My frame of mind was to race slower since I ran 5:46 pace at the Amherst 10 miler three weeks ago. In addition, the McMillan running calculator told me that I would be lucky to run 5:50's for the half marathon. At any rate, I was going to committ to no worse than 5:40 pace for the first three miles and see where that took me.

I rolled out to a 5:29 first mile with no anticipation of holding the pace for a 1:12 half marathon. I just kept moving along and the miles rolled and splits of low 5:30's followed until a 5:48 (turned out to be the slowest of the day) for the fourth mile which has a decent hill. The next three miles feel like they are down hill. I ran four consecutive sub 5:30's while at the end, middle, and sometimes in front of a pack that included Mark Reeder, Rich Smith, Mike Cooney, Jason Cakorous, and a few others. I used self control and patience to hang with the group.

Bombing down around mile 5 looking for a pack to run with.

When racing within a pack, it feels like a race within the race and that our pack really IS the lead pack of the entire race. I had to keep my emtions in check and remember that this was a half marathon or 13.1 miles for which I was slated to race no better than 5:50 pace according to my recent 10 mile result and the running calculator. I feared that my honest and quicker than expected race pace was going to haunt me as it has over the past few years after eight miles on this course. Regardless, I ran through 10 miles in 55:32, nearly 2 minutes quicker than my 10 mile time at Amherst (57:37). Still, my pack pulled ahead and lost me in this stretch along the water.

Over the next few miles and in reality, since mile seven, I fully expected a muscle to cramp up. I woke up on Saturday morning with a calf cramp in the right leg and I woke up Sunday morning to a cramp in the other calf. That coupled with not racing or training at 5:30 pace put me in a running scared mentality - something was going to go wrong and I would pull up lame in the heat of the battle. Thankfully, it never came to that.

I found myself in a unique three way battle with the other Beverly gents mentioned above as Junyong Pak and Ben Strain caught up to me in the last mile of the race. We had at least a half mile left and the last hill of mile 12 behind us when Junyong started wheeling for the downhill and toward the finish line. Ben was behind me and I was just trying not cramp up, fall down, and save some dignity into the home stretch. I was pleased to see 1:12:XX as I approached the finish line, guarenteeing a 1:13:XX which I was pumped for and exceeded my expectations by almost three minutes. Ben nipped me at the line. He ran a gutsy race by coming back after some tough middle miles and PR'd by 90 seconds.

Closing on the finish line. Those legs are going to feel it tomorrow.

To close, I am more than pumped with the 1:13:11 (5:35 per mile pace) today. The effort was my quickest half marathon in years since my 1:13:01 behind Joe Shairs and Sergio Ribeiro in 2005 at New Bedford. The weather for the day was perfect and the usual wind was not an issue today. I am not looking forward to the next few days. The muscle soreness is already settling in. I will benefit from a deep tissue massage set up with John Gillis next Saturday though.