Monday, September 30, 2013

Nahant 30K - breaking out of the fog

The Nahant 30K was race # 6 of the USATF New England Road Race Grand Prix on Sunday. I can see Nahant from the house and many Sunday long runs have been run out in Nahant. In addition, I got lucky a few years back and my 6:01 mile pace provided a win at this race in 2008.

This past week of training has been complete crap because of planter fasciitis. I managed to run Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for a total of 16 miles. Thus, I was getting to the starting foggy starting line on Sunday morning with a one mile at a time approach. I kept in mind that Krissy would be on the course taking photos and an easy DNF would be offered if I stopped where she camped out and I could called it a day. A 30K is 18.6 miles – pretty much a marathon by my fitness standards. The early miles and approach of many runners around me had the jolly feel of a marathon. Casual conversations and jokes were bandied about. I liked it. It was fun until the climbing in Nahant began. I got quiet and tried to ignore my previous week of training and why. 6:10 pace was routine for the first 5 miles. I was with Joe Shairs and could not complain about the good race position (top 30 or so) after the first 10K. Then my race unraveled. My legs were junk, muscles in my right hamstring were tight and getting hot. I was not surprised but did not want to accept it half way through the race. I lost ground on each climb in middle third (and last third for that matter) of the race. Joe smartly bolted after Martin Tighe and was out of sight. Spacing between runners at this point is spread out anyway.

In full flight in Nahant
Photo by KrissyK
I never thought about dropping out as slowing down made everything tolerable but not good mentally. The pain in the foot was not flaring up enough to whine but the lower legs were not happy. As bad as I was plodding along (guessing 6:30’s), only a few runners went by over the last 10 miles. Michael Cooney looked the best of them as we rounded the top of the Northeastern lab loop and Krissy for the 2nd time. Running downhill was problematic – legs just hurt - feet slapping and my stride mechanics were sloppy. I saw friend, Patrick Taylor on the corner of the Nahant town hall a mile later. He busted my balls on how far ahead Joe was. True. I told him how I felt, with the PG13 version out loud of course. David Corbett pulled up soon after.  There was less than 25 minutes of running left and the sun burned off the clouds and fog. I forced a second wind and stubbornness to multiply the misery by staying with David no matter what and how tired I was. We ran together trading the effort which I really appreciated over the last 3 miles. Jason Bui blew past us with 1.5 miles to go and looked fresh making me jealous. I managed to pass one more guy and got passed by a BAA runner in the final 400 meters. 37th place, 6:17 average pace per mile, 1:56:58 crossing another finish line that I was glad to meet as there were doubts all week.

I hung out and traded stories with CMS mates and others – seeking to hear their positive efforts, PR’s, and personal wins. They all picked me up. The emotion I saw from Cheryl Taylor Cleary – winning her first New England Gran Prix was priceless. The first two people to call in order was her mom (voice mail) and then her coach, former CMS athlete, Kevin Beck. Dan Vassallo was on top too - I knew how much this meant to him. My dad was in attendance and shook my hand, proud of the effort no matter place or time. Krissy hustled to the finish line to get more photos. Amazing. The CMS men’s open team got the win. They were destined for 2nd place half way through the race but things changed in the 2nd half. Dan Vassallo, Patrick Rich, and Scott Leslie are tough SOB’s, period. The masters team pulled out a strong 2nd place finish behind Jason Porter (top 40+), Joe Shairs, and Martin Tighe (top 50+). The afternoon kicked off by hosting friends, CMS and SRR competitors back at the house for some grilling. We were a tired crowd with good reason.

Monday, September 23, 2013

ECTA 10 mile trail race - Hamilton

Half mile into the second loop. This photo by Krissy is one of my all time favorites. 
This race as part of the North Shore Trail Series. ECTA - Essex County Trail Association conserves and purchases land around the county so my dollar is going to a great resource and service. Furthermore, this race bounces around Hamilton showing runners the various trails in the area including private land opened up just for the race. Thus the start and finish - even the overall distance will vary year to year. Each runner got to enter a raffle and a chance at gaining entry into the Stonecat Trail race in November. I was hoping to win an entry and had several others pulling for me but it was not meant to be. The race waited for the train to pass by at 9:07 and we started off within minutes as we were to cross the train tracks in the first mile. CMS-mate Joe Shairs took the command with David Long and I in tow. David and Joe would trade spots over the next three miles while I kept my head down and focused on footing and proximity. The course is a mix of everything you expect in a New England trail run. There was nothing technical however for footing but you had to pay attention. I pulled beside Joe after three miles and took the lead leaving Appleton Farms. The course got twisty on single track heading back to the half way point (also the start / finish line). I came through 5 miles around 31:15 or so and began the identical 2nd loop. David Long was not too far back and Joe not too far back from him so I had to keep on pressing through the trails. I could feel my legs were much more tired. I some time to think and came to the conclusion around 6.5 miles that if anyone wins a race in the trail series that an automatic lottery by-pass should be granted for the Stonecat Trail Marathon. I started to pass runners who were still on their first lap and I had less than a mile to go. I had to be careful passing them on the single track trail and I made sure that I communicated my passing on the left of them while also supporting their efforts. I crossed the line in 1:02:45 in a pretty tired state but at ease picking up a win in the trail series. I earned the trashed plantar in my right heel that cropped up after Lone Gull the previous weekend. David was right behind me in 1:03:11 and Joe came through in 1:04:55 (top master). The poor guy was limping into the finish and hobbled around post race. I know we both took Sunday off to let the wounds heal. Rumor has it that we plan on running 30 kilometers all while being surrounded by water.
Krissy caught me smiling. I was surprised to see here out there in the swamp.

Joe and I carefully calculating our steps. Photo by Roger Perham
ECTA 10 mile trail race photos by KrissyK

Lone Gull 10K - USATF New England Championship

Charging through at the Lone Gull 10K
Photo KrissyK

The Lone Gull 10K in Gloucester from Good Harbor Beach is a puddle jump for Krissy and I. Temps were ideal and no humidity under sunny skies. The race was the New England Championship for the 10K distance so all of the teams were in town for the competition. I was aiming for a sub 35 minute race and was on pace for such running behind CMS teammates Kevin Gorman and Tim Mahoney through miles one, two, and three. That 3rd one gave me the drama to set up the 2nd half of the race. I tweaked my right hamstring during the week and was reminded of it on a little climb to mile three. I backed off from my mates heels and ran a race of survival to the finish line. I was OK to run but my mind was all over the place taking inventories of how muscles were feeling and how bad I was going to rig for the last few miles. Stephanie Reilly (1st female and sub 35 for the day) and only four others went by me in the last three miles so that was not too bad. I was proud of hanging in and battling Justin Soucy all the way to the final 100 meters. The CMS men's open and masters teams got a big boost by capturing the team titles outright for the first time this year.

Lone Gull 10K 2013 results
KrissyK photos

Place Name  Ag Div/Tot  Div        City St Team NameNettime Pace  Guntime Pace
67 James Pawlicki 38 20/110 M3039 Lynn MA CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS 35:29 5:43 35:30 5:43 

Relay Around Lake Winnipesaukee

Jane's Addiction - "Coming down the mountain"
25th Annual Fred Brown Relay Around Lake Winnipesaukee
Weirs Beach, NH, September 7, 2013

Question: What do you get when you ask a relay team of eight runners to pedal every mile around Lake Winnipesaukee except for running their leg?

Answer: 8 tired bodies

Wrapping up my leg in Alton Bay. 
Brian Cullinan, Brian Keefe, and Alex White under the tent picking corn
Yes, the relay course around the lake is 65.1 miles. The Somerville Road Runners had several teams going. The team that I was on caved into my desire to run leg 2 which measured out to 10.8 miles via my Garmin GPS. The team biked over (about four miles) to the start at Fun Spot for the 8:00 start. Brian Cullinan started our team off for a tough 10.7 miles with the tough stretch really over the last 3 miles. About a minute after 80+ teams started, the rest of our team biked to exchange zone #1 where I needed to get ready for my leg at Arlberg Ski Shop.  I had about 10 minutes to hit the porta-john after getting my bike stuff off and running gear on. I was not rushed but there was not any time to waste before Brian came in and handed the baton off to me. My legs were heavy from the get go as I started up the hills. I ran this leg two years ago so I was pretty relaxed. This leg, although, rolling, offers fair downhill into Alton Bay. I caught two runners (one SRR runner) in the first few miles. Meanwhile, I knew Larissa was right behind me. I kept my head down and ran as hard as the legs would allow. I had the lake to my left for the last few miles of the leg. I barely held Larissa off. I ran 1:04:05. It was a few minutes slower than what I ran for this leg two years back. I handed off to Brian Keefe who was getting boos from the crowd as he was not ready and waiting for me in the exchange zone. We lost just a few seconds there though. Brian soon rolled into the exchange zone in time for me to get changed back into some bike gear and set off for the biking along the teams and course for the rest of the day. Biking along changed my perspective on how hilly the course is as well as how lonely it can get for the runners. Fortunately, cars are driving along with other runners - supporting all runners. Examples of pulling over and handing a water bottle to a teammate or for a competitor is routine. It is a friendly atmosphere. My legs were really giving me fits on any and all climbing so I faded back away from my SRR mates as they are pretty good at the biking. I took my time for the next few hours and stopped along most of the exchange zones to refill my water bottle, take a break, and rest. I found getting back on the bike and pedaling up the inclines really tough and legs were starting to cramp in the early afternoon. I was on my own for the last two exchange zones. I took my time and took my last stop at a store about five miles from the finish line. I camped on a bench in the shade outside the store after buying health food - gummy bears, iced tea, and twizzlers. The last five miles were brutal. I think I rolled into the finish at Fun Spot around 3:30 in the afternoon. What a day. Our team finished 3rd overall - not bad for a team that biked and ran all day. Would I do it again? Likely. Special thanks to the teammates in no specific order: Brian Cullinan, Brian Keefe, Greg Soutiea, Brian Tinger, John Longo, Alex White, and Sean McDonough who were all not only brave enough to take on the run and bike challenge - but accepted it graciously. Full results
My ride and a rare break at a farm stand