Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Ras Mor 5K

Final turn in Cambridge
Photo by Scott Mason
The Somerville Road Runners and Ras Mor 5K in Cambridge played host to the USATF New England Championship. This was the third race in the Championship series as teams already competed in the Jones Group 10 mile and New Bedford Half Marathon. The rain was coming down as Joe Shairs and I headed into Cambridge. The weather is something we can't control. It is what it is. We spun around the neighborhood that surrounded Massachusetts Avenue and the Asgard seeking a quiet spot but none to be found with my lack of patience. I took to the garage on Green Street which in the end cost $19 for four hours. It was piece of mind and a dry haven. We got our numbers around the corner and then headed out for a warm up with Justin Freeman. I tried to recall the course that I did in 2011 (16:34). However, the course has changed so I really only showed them the first half of the course which was primarily out to Harvard Square and back. The new course took a right hand turn into the residential area of Cambridge and looped back to almost where we started. That made up the 2nd half of the race.

I started the race about four rows back. I got off the start and in motion with no slips, trips, or falls. The rain backed off and was very light but we had to be conscious of puddles and staying off any painted surfaces on the roads (reduce slipping and waste). I wore my iNov8 233's and stayed out of trouble. The temperature was in the low 40's and we headed into the wind on Massachusetts Avenue. I noticed my legs were tight and never really loosened up. I passed mile one around 5:22 to the left of Joe, not the 5:05 something we heard by a volunteer. Joe passed me shortly thereafter. Eric Narcisci (Whirlaway) was now with Joe and the started to pull away. I eventually caught up to Wayne Levy (BAA) and we went back and forth for the next mile. CMS teammate, Tim Mahoney came by with 800m to go and I got on his heels. I started to rig a bit as SRR's Joe Lauer went by with 400m to go. He has been very timely passing me with force in the closing miles of these USATF races. The 3 mile mark came up quick and so did Jason Porter (CMS). I expected him to be in front of me during the race so really shocked me to come around. We turned right for the last 150 meters and went for it. I crossed the line with a gun time of 16:58 and mat to mat bib time was 16:56. I went into the race with light mileage over the past few days so it was all good. I really expected to be in the 16:5X range. Thus I was content with the effort. Looking back, I would not change anything other than not give in a bit with three minutes to go. 

I connected back up with a bunch of CMS teammates and we headed out for an estimated four mile cool down along the Charles River and back into Cambridge via Mass Ave. CMS had a few athletes run PR's like Morgan Kennedy and Colby Chrusciel today which was awesome. Dave Dunham ran his 100th USATF New England Championship. He and Dave Lapierre ran their first race as Seniors (50+). It was nice to see Tim Van Orden and Al Bernier jump into a team race again after a layoff. Race results via coolrunning are here. Photos by Scott Mason can be found here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Bedford Half Marathon

KrissyK photography - 445 photos from the 2014 New Bedford Half Marthon

130  49/410  M3039 JAMES PAWLICKI  1:17:43  5:56   18:24   36:39   54:26 1:17:46 CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS         

Krissy got Joe Shairs and I down to the New Bedford Half Marathon in record time. The race was the New England Half Marathon Championship again. The race and the city do a good job to bring the championship back year after year. I checked in with several Central Mass Striders in the pre-registration area of the YMCA gym which was under plenty of security (bag screening) and endless volunteers. I did an easy warm up with Joe and Dave Dunham (8 minutes out and then back). It was sunny and temperatures felt like low 40’s, however, there was some bite to the northwesterly wind in our faces heading out for the first 3 miles. I was rocking my new Nike Lunaracer version 3 which Matt Germain hooked me up with at Whirlaway yesterday. There was plenty of cushion there ready to rock 13.1 miles. I was next to Joe for the opening mile. Dave was there too while Martin Tighe and Arthur Besse were ahead. I heard a 5:45 1st mile split from someone next to me. It was a little aggressive and Joe reminded us that there were plenty of miles ahead. Joe and I passed Arthur and Martin in the early hills. After 3.5 miles, we turned left and Joe took off down Rockdale Avenue. I took my hat and gloves off right away as the wind was at our backs and I started to get warm. I wheeled along and folks were passing by slowly over the next mile settling into their rhythm. Mile 5 passed in 29 something and I tossed my hat and gloves to Krissy who set up shop for photos after running 6.9 miles before the race started.
Approaching mile 13 in New Bedford
Photo by KrissyK

Katie Edwards (5th female overall and 1:17:26) from CT pulled beside and I stuck with her for a few miles even pulling when I could. Soon we hit some head wind and I struggled. She sauntered forward and gapped me. I took in a Power Gel before the water stop. I got a sticky hand from it and tried to wipe it clean. I was bothered but chugged along as it took my mind off the tiring legs. I am guessing my 10 mile split was around 59:30. My race goal was to be 6:00 pace per mile or better so I was just under that pace. I had some work to do still as the head wind continued. A group of five went by and were showing some good initiative and a spunky pace. Joe Lauer from SRR was one of them and recall he pulled this move at the end of the Jones 10 mile in February. I was game for about a minute and could not sustain any longer. However, it woke me up a bit and I was rolling good and battled a GMAA runner (Jason Baer ?) through 11 miles. He went right to my heels as if to draft as I was pulling along anticipating the last climb of the day before 12 miles. He started clipping my heels and apologizing each time. I took it in stride and kept the far left hand side of the road. Then I swung over to the right and started the climb. I saw my college coach, Tom Derderian, there and he gave me some support. I gained on a group and seemed to recover better and quicker than them at the top. Jason passed by and then I set sights on Justin Renz from HFC who was up at least 8 seconds. A few right hand turns and it was home stretch. I opened up the stride and got right next to Justin before the line but he got me by a second. It was a good finish for me and I finished five seconds slower than last year: 1:17:43. My overall place was 130th

The new shoes treated the feet pretty well so I will be wearing them in the Boston Marathon. I caught up with SRR and CMS folks beyond the finish. Several PR’s were had. I was so happy for Jon Longo, Chris Klucznik, Colby Chrusciel, Arthur Besse, Morgan Kennedy, and Chris Mahoney was with 14 seconds of his best. I have to give it to the race for the great amount of volunteers ready at the finish with tissues and water. I accepted the finishers medal like I earned it. These races get harder and harder so I don't take them for granted anymore. I did a very slow cool down with Joe right away. Krissy came running out of the parking garage to give us our jackets and my hat and gloves. She was awesome. And then she went back onto the course to continue taking more photos. 15 minutes later, I got some warm layers on and hung out with CMS mates over the food (chowder, fish sandwiches, and plenty of Polar Beverages) back at the YMCA. I checked in with Lisa Doucette to check on the team results and they looked good except for missing Arthur over a bib number snafu. They should get fixed in the next day or so. Looking ahead, rest is in order. I may hit up a local 5K this weekend, but if not, I am all in for An Ras Mor. I am thinking about the Great Bay Half Marathon in April a few weeks before Boston. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Granite State Snowshoe Champsionships

Granite State Snowshoe Championships - March 8, 2014 - full results

My dad and I rolled into Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, NH for the last snowshoe race of the year and Granite State Snowshoe Series. This was also hosting the championship for the Granite State. I placed 3rd last year with an elbow shredding kick to the finish line with CMS teammate Greg Hammett. Race director Ryan Welts and Chris Dunn provided some guidance on how the course was laid out. The course profile did show, as they reiterated, two hills toward the end. The last hill was Catamount Hill. Before heading out for my warm up, I found Jim Johnson all stressed out as his keys were locked in his car. I went into salvage mode to determine what we could do to get him racing gear assuming that AAA would not be able to get there and in his Nissan within 45 minutes. I went and got him another bib number from registration and then offered to grab a sledge hammer as we could take out a small window and get in. Thankfully we were advised that Scott Mason – a locksmith by trade – might be able to help. Jim flagged him down and Scott, with a slim Jim in hand, was in the Nissan in about 2 minutes. No big deal. 35 minutes to race time and I got out on the road for a quick out and back for a warm up on the roads. I got on the start line four minutes for the start for instructions by Ryan Welts. I jumped into third place behind Jim Johnson. Nacho had the lead early. The pace felt upbeat. I lost sight of Jim after 10 minutes and did not see nor hear anyone on my heels.

I felt OK on the single track and miserable on the four wheeler track. The tire track was too narrow to have a comfortable stride and foot plant with the snowshoes. It was an ankle buster. So I would then opt for the higher snow in between which was booted up (rustic was the term that I learned). I could not find a happy medium and slowed down a bit noting that I was exhausted. Really exhausted! Two folks caught up – I assumed one was Dave Dunham (the other was Tim Van Orden). I picked up the pace on the single track and seemed to be feeling better. I wanted to push them from the front. I kept that up until some hills and Dave called for a pass and I obliged with satisfaction. I asked Tim if he wanted to go too and he was all set. I kept with Dave until for a bit before having to climb. I was toast and told Tim as such. Tim went by as Dave now had five seconds on us and was wheeling pretty good on the down hill. It was another ankle tester with single track. They gapped me pretty good but they were at least visible. Things flattened out before approaching a sign “big hill ahead.” I figured it was the last hill and oh it certainly was. It was steep enough for me to step into a walk here and there but I was only 8-10 seconds behind Tim and Dave. I got to the top and I managed to look out to the beautiful view for a few seconds while trying to stay with the flagging of the course. I could just make out Dave's back before he descended down. 

This set up for a huge downhill for which I let it all fly trying to close the gap on Dave. It was not to be as I was lucky to get within 12 seconds of Dave at the end. I know we were both exhausted and just looking for the finish line. Tim Van Orden, Dion / Western Mass Athletic Club (WMAC) 2014 series Champ, smoked me by 31 seconds. My finish time was 53:29 and place was 5th overall. Jim Johnson took the win and Nacho was 2nd. CMS took four of the top five here. I got 6.31 miles on the Garmin so pretty close to the 10K billing. I did a cool down with Dave and Tim on the roads before chilling out at the post race festivities where Acidotic is the best in the business for awards, raffles, and showcasing the divisional top three for the race as well as the series.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stu's 30K

Stu’s 30K - Clinton, MA - March 2, 2014
Tired but standing at the Stu's 30K finish
Photo by Krissy Kozlosky
I put the Stu’s 30K on the schedule as it made sense for a few reasons. I am running the Boston Marathon so I figured that a steady long run would be suitable. The race is put on by Central Mass Striders and wanted to support it. I was also driving back to the North Shore from the US Snowshoe Championships so it was not hard to veer off Rt. 2 and into Clinton for 18.6 miles. Race director Evelyn Dolan put a shirt to the side for me. I ran a 2 mile warm up with Reno Stirrat (former CMS member way back in the day). The first mile brought back some memories of when I ran this race back in 1997 when it was a USATF New England Grand Prix Championship. My goal for the 2014 version was to keep the pacing between 6:30 and 7:00. I was a little sore from the snowshoe race 24 hours earlier. If I had fresh legs, I would have wanted 6:15’s or better. I went about the earlier miles easy and settled in the top 20. It was hard to let guys get away over the next few rolling miles but I had to run smart. The miles went by quickly as I was engaged but not worried about my place or who was passing by or pulling away. The course is hilly and I actually preferred the incline portions more than the declines. I stopped by each water stop which had Gatorade at the 2nd table and took it in. I took the one GU I carried and then another I got at a specific table late in the race. The legs stayed together but I was really tired all the way. I expected that but it is all about the big picture. The last hill was memorable passing not one but two Polar Beverage store front signs. They are symbolic - bet they were also there in 1997. The hill is a major slap in the face with less than a mile to go. I wrapped up the race in 18th place in 2:03:37 – 6:38 pace per mile. I was tired enough to not bother with a cool down. I was a lump of coal in the cafeteria after I changed into warm clothes and got some Chowder and Fluids from the happy volunteers that included CMS President Stephen Laska and CMS coach and women's manager Barbara McManus. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dion Snowshoes 2014 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships

Dion Snowshoes 2014 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships
Saturday March 1, 2014
Prospect Mountain, Woodford , VT

Krissy and I packed up the GTI and headed to Bennington, VT for the 2014 Dion Snowshoes United States National Snowshoe Championships on Friday. Todd Callaghan and I made the trip two weeks earlier so I was pretty relaxed about the navigation which comes down to just over a three hour drive from the North Shore. The approach toward this south western part of Vermont is beautiful. Bennington is 45 minutes east of Albany, NY. We arrived at the Bennington Center of Arts to pick up our numbers (Krissy was running in the Citizens 5K). I stopped by the Dion Snowshoe merchandise table to swap out some busted cleats for her snowshoes. After that was sorted, I stopped by to talk with Nancy Steffen who was handling the team entries. I made sure our CMS team was registered correctly as there was team scoring for 10K. Our Central Mass Striders – Dion men’s team had a total of thirteen athletes: six open and seven masters including me. I am considered a master as I will be 40 at the end of the year. I was looking forward to the new age bracket for competition.  I bumped into CMS mates – Ken Tripp, Dave Dunham, Dave Lapierre and Richard Bolt (in from CA) who has a lot of race history in a CMS uniform. It was cool to have him in from the West Coast racing with us again. Dave and Ken confirmed the social media hype that the 10K course was faster than what we had dealt with a few weeks back.  I also heard that Tim Van Orden made some passing lanes where needed up on the mountain. This was music to my ears.  An hour later we headed to Ramuntos for dinner where I dove into a plate of Eggplant Parmesan.

Krissy and I woke up around 7:30 on Saturday. It was nice to be just 15 minutes away from the mountain. I grabbed a sesame bagel and a cup of oatmeal at Dunkin Donuts. CMS teammates, Abbey and Sam Wood trailed and sat down next to us. I was amused by the locals in and out.  Everyone knows everyone. We pulled into the parking lot at Prospect Mountain an hour before my 10K start. It was 90% full. The parking lot shadowed the ski center below. Audible was the announcer welcoming all Snowshoe athletes and spectators. Over 400 athletes from 18 different countries were in attendance. The buzz was positive on a cold Saturday morning under sunny skies in Woodford, VT. I handed out some new CMS hats that I picked up earlier in the week before getting ready for my warm up on foot around the parking lot with Ethan Nedeau and Brett Rickenbach. 

10 minutes before the start
Photo by KrissyK
I went back into the lodge and got my racing gear before taking a few light strides and got on the far right of the starting line. The start went off flying allowing us to eat the exhaust of a lead snowmobile. The sound of snowshoes stomping was awesome. I was surrounded by teammates which was comforting. We buzzed around the start a few loops making it very friendly for spectators like my brother, Chuck, who traveled three hours with friend Sandy. I rolled with the short ups and downs looking forward to wide trail to move up a few spots. Passing on any single track was a risky option that would be considered after 5K if needed. I let Richard Bolt get in front of me on the first section of single track and gave him some guidance on the CMS mates ahead (Todd Callaghan and Ben Nephew). I was next to Tim Mahoney for a bit as Krissy caught a few photos for evidence. We started the climb and got a chance to get around Todd and Robert Jackman. Todd was breathing hard. Ethan Nedeau and Ross Krause were not too far ahead. I managed to get past Ethan before we hit some single track and I settled in and waited for the next climb. I felt good and got a good rhythm, now on a wider carriage road taking us up a few kilometers to the top of Prospect Mountain. I trailed two guys that were holding their own and we all had the same cadence. My 5K split before the summit was 25:47. I heard some placing and heard that I was in 21st. Then I saw Tim Van Orden taking some video or pictures. He mentioned that CMS was kicking arse. I said something like “hell yeah” and zipped by him. We had some nice downhill and I opened it up. We hit the single track and the two I was following put a gap on me as we headed down the narrow track. I was being careful in my navigation on the narrow single track – reaching for trees and trying to keep balance. Dave Dunham came flying behind and gave me orders to keep on trucking down to the bottom. No pressure, just Dave ready to murder this section. The tone in his voice was clear. I picked up my act so to speak and got us to the bottom. I then offered to step aside for him and he said no.
Just ahead of Tim
Photo by KrissyK

I felt OK so I carried some momentum and caught up the two gents I followed up the mountain. We were now climbing up more single track. I found it very cool and notable to see signs and passing lanes. I did not need them but I am sure they came in handy for some. I soon lost any audible that Dave was behind me but know better so I pressed onward and upward. Meanwhile, I would let out a few grunts here and there to let the two gents in front of me to keep on pressing. They were tired. I wanted to pass but felt that I should wait until the fire road which I felt was a few minutes away. Indeed it was and I got around one guy once it was safe to do so. It was more or less all downhill from this point to the finish. I’d say this was about 4.6 miles into the course. The other guy in a green windbreaker was killing it on the downs – pulling away. I tried to keep up but there was no way. My left hamstring did not feel too good so I had to temper the strides. That left me battling the gent in the white long sleeve. He passed me so I just stayed close. These guys were going to pull me into the finish. 
About 250m to go
Photo by KrissyK
I approached the downhill single track switch back into the stadium loop full of spectators. The finish was less than 800m away. I was careful on my way down. I did not want to take a tumble. I zipped past Krissy and wrapped up the stadium loop into the finish. I finished 20th place overall with a time of 47:57. I placed 3rd in my age group (40-44). I turned back and Dave Dunham was exhausted and face down after the finish line. I walked over and picked him up. More CMS guys came through as I waited for our third master Todd Callaghan. We all regrouped and got in a quick photo (Todd and Paul Bazanchuk are missing). We cooled down for a few and shared our battles out there. I changed up and waited for Krissy’s race. My attention turned to her event as she was nervous. The Velcro bindings on her shoes gave her the business gave her the business so I ran inside and gave her mine with the stainless steel cleats that treated me well for my race. I picked up the camera and took plenty of photos for her for a change. She held her own out there. Chuck and Sandy hung out to the end which was cool. The awards came about and I managed to get on the podium for a medal in the age group and for the top masters team which was cool. 
20th overall