Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wild Turkey 5 Mile - Salem

This 5 mile road race is just a ten minute drive from the house in Salem. It has become a tradition on Thanksgiving morning. I picked up my number at New England Running Company last night to ease the congestion as the race was expecting over 1600 runners - a record amount. Krissy and I left at 7am for the 8am start. Upon parking, I saw SRR's Jennifer Rapaport and Diona Fulton so I touched base and offered to show the first and last miles which we did for the warmup. I got back to the car at 7:45. It was in the low 40's with partial sun and some wind from the north. Racing gear consisted of my blue CMS Polar Beverages singlet, fleece DION Snowshoe hat, Dungeon Racing gloves, Craft shorts, Feetures! socks, and Scott racing flats. I ran a few more minutes around the Salem Common and saw my dad at Washington Square ready to watch. I got on the starting line next to my 'ol Salem State teamate, John Bowser and Mark Flaherty who ran at Westfield State. We have been running on Sundays together over the past month in Lynn Woods along with Dennis Floyd and Jay Euzikonis of whom was representing a Brooks table of footwear and also racing today.

Just ahead of Nick after exiting Winter Island
Caleb Evanter (GBTC) shot right out with Max Kulbauch (Philadelphia, PA) who has won this race in the past. I chased down a turkey costume and a cook within 200m. Caleb has been running very well this year. I yelled ahead to David Corbett (Mystic Runners) who did not hear me. I pulled along side and shook his hand for an awesome effort at the Manchester City Marathon a few weeks ago (2:46). He missed his PR by 50 seconds on a tough course. Then a gent flew passed as we ran by Pickering Wharf in home made sandles. It turned out to be Nick Sousa (I did not figure this out until after the finish) with whom I never met before but have seen him tear up the North Shore Racing scene over the past 2 years whenever I see racing results. We went through the mile with 5:22. I recorded the split but did not look or acknowledge it at all, just opened the first mile on feel and instinct. We were in 3rd and 4th place with some head wind toward the long straight away before turning right into Winter Island. I passed Krissy who yelled for me. I had a stride or two on Nick but he did not shake as we toured the park, rounded some cones and exited. I recorded mile 2 with a 10:56 split (5:34) again not looking at my watch or acknowledging how fast I was going. At this point we are running against the race and I got several more cheers. Nick looked over at me and said, "popular guy, eh?" Humble as always, I apoligized!

Striding into the finish line
We got into the neighborhood behind the Salem Willows and we went back and forth, not separating anymore than a stride. I had a step on Nick through mile three, 16:34 (5:37). This time, I looked at my watch to gauge if I was anywhere near the 5:30 pace (27:30) that I hoped to nail today. I felt that I was putting a few seconds on Nick through the Willows (slight tail wind) but he was back on my heels through Deadhorse Beach which exits the Salem Willows. We had a climb and he was back with me beyond the top. I noticed a spectator on the right having a cigarette. We passed mile 4 in 22:15 (5:41) but felt decent to finish this thing up and thought ahead, picturing what would be if it came down to a kick in the closing 200m. I was not too confident as I started to wear down at the Bentley School and I could tell Nick was ready to take charge of this battle. We crossed the last intersection, passing an officer for traffic control. Nick gave me words of encouragement, "let's go, we have 800m to go." I sucked it up and stayed on his heels. Again, he gave words of encouragement with 400m to and I could see our last left hand turn to the finish. He gapped me by two seconds with confidence and I could not match it. He was strong all the way to the line and I was spent. It was a good fight, one of which we ran 98% of the race within a stride or two of eachother. I collected myself after the finish line shute and saw my Salem State college coach, Steve Czarnecki, who was watching his Bishop Fenwick athletes in. He commented to me "not bad for an old guy." I agreed. Nick swung back and handed me a water. To this point, I was embarassed to not know his name and only asked if he was local? He mentioned Salem, and I figured it was Nick Souza as soon as he said that he ran a low 26 time last year on this course.  I took the 4th place and 27:40.2 with pride. Not bad for an old guy......

Wild Turkey 5 Mile
Salem, MA, November 22, 2012
1 CALEB EVANTER MARBLEHEAD MA 34 25 M 1 Top Fin  26:12.8 5:14/M
2 MAX KAULBACH PHILADELPHIA PA 914 23 M 1 20-24    26:43.8 5:21/M
3 NICK SOUSA SALEM MA 1630 29 M 1 25-29                 27:38.3 5:32/M
4 JAMES PAWLICKI LYNN MA 1130 38 M 1 35-39            27:40.2 5:32/M
5 BRYAN MENDES PEABODY MA 352 17 M 1 15-19           28:28.2 5:42/M

Complete results

Two strides behind Nick at the line

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Harold A. King Town Forest Swampscott

While seeking out local trails on google maps (anything with a lack of streets), I could see a good stretch of land with the name of Harold A. King town forest in the upper north west section of Swampscott. This is less than a mile from my house. It is also known as the Oscar Short Conservation land or merely Harold King town forest. It includes 42 acres. I found requests in the WickedLocal site for volunteers for trail maintenance over the past few years and a blog write up from a gent who was visiting each town in MA. Despite a lack of information on the land in terms of maps or friendly entry, I headed out for a mid morning run to explore that area from my doorstep. I got to the official trail head at the end of Nichols Street, a dead end street which dropped down from Windsor Avenue. The sign has been weathered pretty good but you can faintly see the name, Oscar Short Land conservation area. Orange markings on the trees seemed to lead the way. I went in about 200m and it was clear that this was going to be a hike and not conducive to running at the pace I wanted to. I went back there today with Krissy to check out the trail and get some pictures. The trail is marked as you walk counter-clock wise with orange paint on trees or rocks. If you turn around, your in a bit of trouble as the trail is not marked in the clockwise direction and the trail is not obvious. It is clear that this trail is not walked or hiked often due to the amount of down branches, trees, and thorny brush impeding. We came upon an abandoned car from the 1950's in it's own grave about 15 minutes into the hike. The left fender was close by while the hood of the car was up trail about 100 meters. I love to see cars in it's patina state. The stories that the car could tell. I would imagine the car has been there for 40 plus years and entered from the rare fire road that led to the backyard of someone's house 500 meters away up a hill. It had a makeshift fence to keep people out of the secondary backyard that held a shack-like garage with a busted window. The german shepherd from the house 300m away warned me of his presence. In all, it took us about 45 minutes to meander through through the town forest via orange marked trail. I could see just two other entrance ways into this forest but they would certainly require going through someone's yard which I would not advise. We stopped several times to enjoy the scenery and take photos which Krissy has hosted. I would encourage anyone to check this out for a nice hike on little used trails.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 USATF New England XC Championships

1000m into the race
Photo by Tom Derderian
Stanley Park in Westfield, MA played host to the men's and women's open and masters New England Cross Country Championships. The open race was a rare 8K distance this year as it is usually a 10K. I prefer the 8K anyhow. I am no stranger to the Westfield course as I ran it several times in Division III competition with Salem State College - mostly by means of the MASCAC Championships that brought all of the state schools together. Since then, I have gone back several times each October to compete for the Salem State Alumni team in the James Early Invitational. The team did not compete last month due to missing the entry deadline. Thus this was a great opportunity help the Central Mass Striders fill a team and race. We were fortunate to have five men coming today so that we could score an open (all runners under the age of 40 years old) team. I picked up masters (40 years or older) Joe Shairs, Greg Putnam, and Greg Ward and we were in Westfield in just over 2 hours. I warmed up with three easy miles with the CMS masters team and Scott Mason who planned on taking photos of all races. I showed them and explained the course. To save time, we concentrated on the wilderness loop where I could show them mile 3 and 4. Soon the masters race went off at 11:00. I cheered them on and got my money's worth as they ran their asses off. All seven guys fought for each second. It paid off as they got the bronze - 3rd place out of nine teams. Once the women's race got started at 11:50, I got the open guys going for a warm up to precede our 12:30 start. Again, we previewed the wilderness loop. I got back to the field about 15 minutes before the start of the race. I settled into my Inov8 flats and was soon in our team box on the starting line, next to the five from Whirlaway. 11 teams were represented overall for the massive start.

Closing on the finish line
Photo by Tom Derderian

I got out and stayed composed through the mile which looped around the perimeter of Stanley Park in 5:14. We then dropped into the wilderness for a quick in and out back to the fields to pass mile two in 10:46.93 (5:32). That was the last mile split that I would record as the race dropped back into the wilderness loop that would get me through mile three. This is my "all business loop." I like to press in here and get into a groove. I was in a perfect pack (behind a single file). I matched strides but did not gain on Dan Princic. I got around Steve Dowsett with whom I have had a few battles with in 2012. I saw mile four on the ground. I had to regroup after the climb and rollers that got us back up to Stanley Park. I certainly lost precious seconds in that area. Steve led us out to the field and we kept pace around it. I was looking to let a kick fly but did not want to start too early. I got a step on him on the last turn when someone yelled that I had a chance at 27:30. That was my goal today and I opened up my stride over the last 100m to hit the line in 27:33 (76th out of 107 runners) for the 8K. I was very happy with the time - four seconds quicker than what I ran last October with the Salem State Alumni team. Steve had a good time and was just two seconds behind me. I walked through the finish line shute and gave the bottom of my bib tag to Steve Viatones. I pump fisted a few competitors that I knew, silent acknowledgement for well earned efforts. I walked back to the end of the finish line shute as I traditionally do to see my teammates in. Timothy Mallard, Tim Mahoney were close together. Then Sam Wood came across the line. Just one more to score it out as Thomas Brown wheeled in. The race was in the books. We cooled down out on that wilderness loop again (four times already). I was out there enjoying the company as we discussed our battles on the course. It meant a lot to me to have Central Mass score teams in the open and the masters divisions. My car pool packed the GTI and hit the road for a quick pizza on the way home.

Full Results
Scott Mason Photography

Looking ahead, I will be racing the Wild Turkey 5 mile road race on Thanksgiving Day - looking for another 27:30. I was thinking about the Gabe's Run the next day but I might be asking for a torn achilles. I will do a  leg for the Somerville Road Runners in the Mill Cities Relay and then put the flats back on for the Mount Hood golf course cross country race in December. If all goes well, I will get into a few BU mini meet events in late December and get into oxygen debt on the oval.

Navigating into the wilderness loop around 2.5 miles
Photo by Scott Mason