Monday, October 18, 2010

BayState Marathon

The plan was to run 6:00 mile pace for as long as possible and finish under 2:40. Based on recent race activity, I felt I was in 2:38-2:39 shape. I wound up in a in a pack of several that included Chris Spinney, Dan Verrington, George Adams, and Jon Chesto in the early miles. The pack broke up and left Chris and I behind as that group began clicking off 5:52's about 5 miles miles into the 26.2 mile trek. Chris fell back a bit as I went over the Rourke Bridge approaching my dad and mile 13. There were some solo miles back to the Tyngsboro bridge where I did manage to pass a few including Martin Tighe who was out pretty quick early on. I also started to run into the back of the marathon runners. Everything was going pretty good up through this stretch and liked the fact that the George Adams group was only 45 seconds up running past Greater Lowell Regional High School. I thought that I could slowly reel them in. Mile 20 passed and I laughed at the painted words on the pavement regarding "hitting the wall."

Going through 21 miles, the legs got heavy, and began to slap my Nike Lunarracer2's to the ground. Joe Donnelley zipped past me and gave me words of encouragement. He looked so good and effortless while my pace was tiring. I tossed my hat and gloves to the side of the road. Shortly thereafter, Dave Kanzajian from Whirlaway offered me water at 22.5 miles. I refused and thanked him. Ten seconds later, I got a sharp cramp in my left hamstring. Uh oh. Actually is was like #@*&?!

I've had such muscle cramps before in marathons. There is no way to come back, recover, from the dehydration and glycogen depletion. I carried forward hoping no more muscle cramps would return. Then I got a calf cramp in the same leg. Now I was playing hop scotch over the last 5K and not having fun. I got desperate over the last 2.2 miles looking for any spectator with liquids, food, or a loaded gun. The 24 mile clock had 2:25:25 with 2.2 miles to go and it was going to be close to break 2:40. I forgot about the .2 and thought to myself that I just needed to run two sub 7:00 miles to get under 2:40. No problem. I finally found someone with water and offered her $100 bucks for it. She gladly gave it up laughing. I took a sip and placed it carefully down 20ft past the hand off. I had no energy to thank her and barely enough to bend over and place it carefully on the curb without spilling it. I recall a water stop around the corner but it was all too late. One more runner passed me and I could not do anything about it while on the Aiken Street Bridge cursing and praying for no more cramps. The hop scotch running routine was getting old. Dave Quintal was on the bike yelling for me. I apologize here as I recall swearing under my breath that I hate this marathon crap. I am positive he saw my unfortunate grimace. A few careful turns here and there put my carcase into the baseball park looking at my watch to gauge what was required to stay under 2:40. I saw something like 2:38:50. I stumbled into some shuffle to restrain any reminder of a cramp. My dad was in the stands yelling with 50 meters to go. I tried to change my stride into a sprint here and there while keeping Martin off my heels along the warning track. I fought the clock and staggered through the finish on the other side of 2:40. I was so pissed not getting under 2:40. Photos show me laughing in disgust before the second finish mat was crossed. How dare I forget how humbing this marathon stuff is. I have so much respect for it, I rarely jump into them. I walked over to Kristen beyond the finish line and had to strech my legs while leaning against the infield wall. I laughed with humble pie. I placed 26th overall with a net time of 2:40:01.1.

My anger and frustration wore off soon enough. Just behind me, Ken Tripp set an 18 minute PR. 12-13 minutes ahead off me our top four CMS guys Andy McCarron, Jim Johnson, Scott Leslie, and Greg Hammett all set PR's. George Adams ran a masters PR. It appeared that CMS won the men's open division. I soaked it the atmosphere and caught up with several relfecting on thier splits and races in the previous hours. I soon got some food while hanging out with Kristen who took several photos (mostly CMS folks). We watched several finishers cross the line in the 3:30-3:50 range. I reflected on my race thinking that it could have been a lot worse. Worse like the guy Kristen and I watched hit the ground 20 feet before the finish line whithering in pain (leg cramps). He needed attention from a group of volunteers to get up and walk across the line a minute later. He had a stretcher waiting for him. The moment got a huge cheer from the crowd and myself. It made me feel better to not sweat the two seconds I did not want on my time for the marathon. I got pretty cold so I shuffled back to the car to change and found a home in the Brewery Exchange with Kristen and my dad. I got my Iron Runner jacket for completing the USATF-New England Grand Prix Road Race series. I got one that I still have from 1997. The marathon was typically the race that I did not partake in each year since then.

I signed up for the Boston Marathon this morning by default (was there a choice?) to jump into it next April. I will research the avoidance of muscle cramps which got me real good in the last five miles at Boston in 1998 and 2000 en route to 2:44 marathons. Reflecting back on the effort from BayState yesterday, I would not change a thing during the race. I will reconsider better opportunities to stay hydrated, perhaps consider salt tablets to set some sodium in the 2nd half of the race.

Overall BayState Marathon Results 2010

Photo credits to Scott Mason (two above more here) and Kristen for the photos.

How I got to 2:40:01.1
12:06 17:46
6:01 23:48
6:02 29:51 5 miles
5:54 35:46
6:01 41:47
5:58 47:46
12:06 59:52 10 miles
6:02 1:05:55
5:59 1:11:55
1:18:38 Half Marathon Split
1:24:00 at 14 miles
6:04 1:30:05 15 miles
6:00 1:36:06
6:02 1:42:09
6:00 1:48:09
12:21 2:00:31 20 miles
6:11 2:06:43
6:15 2:12:58
6:08 2:19:07
6:18 2:25:25
6:20 2:31:46 25 miles
8:19 (last 1.2 miles) 2:40:06 on my Ironman

Facial expressions tell a lot and speak louder than words......

Saturday, October 9, 2010

James Early Cross Country Invitational Westfield, Ma

I laced up the cross country flats today to take part in the James Early Cross Country Invitational race in Westfield, MA at high noon. The Salem State Alumni men had a team that included folks from my era like Brian Beaulieu, John Bowser, Dennis Floyd, Mike Gilmore, and coach Tom Derderian. We could not have asked for a better day for weather; about 60 degrees, dry, sunny, and dry throughout what I think is billed as an 8k course. Brian's Garmin dialed his distance race in 4.98 miles. I was not sure what to expect today for an expected time with the recent marathon training which has been void of interval and oxygen debt running. I warmed up with local CMS teamate Tim Mahoney and John Bowser about a half hour before the race. The first mile of this race consists of jockeying for position around Stanley Park - soccer fields surrounded by a tree-lined boundary. This means a steady diet of carefully envoked surges to pass runners while there is plenty of visibility to look ahead and see the front pack develop. I survived mile one in 5:19 and was OK knowing that I'd settle into 5:30's soon enough.

I passed miles two and three in good shape with a controlled 5:35 average pace and ready to throw in a few more battles ahead. I passed a few college guys heading into mile four and up a few rolling hills back onto the soccer fields for the final 800 meters. The hills hurt and found myself watching my steps through the roots to ensure I would not fall or trip. I held my own and a quick glance of the watch indicated that a sub-28 minute effort was a given with 200m remaining. I clocked in with a 27:39 good for 35th overall and 2nd alumni behind Mark Dawson who ran an awesome 26:47 barefoot! Brian, John, and Dennis finished up to complete the team scoring which placed us one spot ahead of Salem State University younsters which is coached by Dennis. Dennis is coaching a talented All-American Senior, Alex Gomes, who finished 2nd overall with a 25:52. Another athlete, Alex Derosa, set a personal best on the course with a 27:10.

Finally, I was surprised by Kristen after the race among friends and the Salem State folks with a huge birthday cake to celebrate my 36th. We manged to demolish more than 3/4 of the cake in five minutes. It was great catching up with alumni, student athletes, coaches, and friends. Special thanks to the team duo of Debra and Brian pulling the alumni team and clothing together. High fives to all the folks who ran the race and hugs and kisses to Kristen for her thoughtfulness and talented photos within.

Before and after photos of the cake.