Sunday, March 20, 2016

New Bedford Half Marathon

- Race # 2 for the USATF New England Road Race Grand Prix - 

Gregory Putnam drove Krissy, Joe, and I down to New Bedford for the Half Marathon. It was Greg’s first crack at the distance since 1999 in Melrose at the Law Enforcement Half Marathon. We hit up registration, got our numbers, caught up with CMS teammates and competitors. That was followed by a 22 minute warm up. It was cool and breezy. Ready for the race with the flats and racing gear, I filtered into the start corral further back than usual camping out a good 14 rows back. Gun off, I am off once I can move and crossed the start about 8 seconds later.  My goal was to run under 6:00 pace for a 4th consecutive year of a 1:17 and change here at New Bedford.

Mile 1 was just under 6:00 but the hills that would follow put me a touch slower than that. I rolled with Arthur Besse after 3 miles. After mile 4 is my wheel-house area but today was not the day for that or any risks. I played nice and even keeled through the 10K (36:38). I could not resist not tossing in a surge so I threw in a few after six miles but it was short lived. Dave Dunham and Mike Paulin pulled up with a healthy pack of wolves and I tagged along after mile 7.

The wind was all over the place while single file was the rule.  I struggled a bit but hung in with Dave getting ahead after taking on a Carb-Boom and two Endurolyte caps in the next few miles. The wind broke a bit for the last 2.5 miles which was helpful. My legs were tired but surprisingly just a few guys went by from there to the finish line. I finished in 135th place with a gun time of 1:19:21, chip time was 1:19:13 (6:03 pace per mile). I was lucky to be the 4th scorer on the masters team. The CMS teams did well: open was 2nd, masters 2nd, and Seniors were 5th.

My GPS splits are off as they were beeping after the course mile markers. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Black Cat 20 miler

I had an opportunity to run the Black Cat 20 mile race in Salem so I signed up during the week. I needed a long run (at least 2 hours) with the impending Patriots Day circus. The justification concept was to run the race between 6:35 and 6:55 per mile pace overall. I also planned on trying Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes for electrolyte replenishment. I have severe muscle cramps targeting me in long races like the marathon (Boston, Manchester City, & Vermont City). The Hammer product is similar to the Salt Stick product that I have tried in the last two marathons but still cramped after 15 and 18 miles respectively.  I took two caps 90 minutes before the race. For breakfast, I had oatmeal with Peanut Butter Granola, a cup of coffee and 30 oz of water. I drained a RedBull ten minutes before the start of the race. I got to the starting line with two minutes to spare after a 2 mile warm up with Dan Chruniak and Bradley Gates.

The weather was perfect;  sunny and temperature in the high 40’s with a warm up into the 50’s by late morning. I wore the Level Renner singlet as there was no critical mass from SRR or CMS for team competition (3 coed score).

The course is a 10 mile loop from the Hawthorn Hotel down Lafayette Street, past Salem State (Rt 114) into Marblehead for a turnaround at Devereaux Beach. The course runs back to Salem via 114 and a 2.75 mile loop to the Salem Willows and back to the Hotel. The 10 mile folks stop right there and the 20 mile folks go out for another loop. The B&S Fitness site, host event management, bills the race as flat and fast. I knew better but the ones to whine about is the one at the Salem and Marblehead line (heading into Marblehead) and the hill rising to Salem State University heading into Salem.

To recap, I will break the race into 5 mile segments. The first five contained quickest mile (6:24 for mile 2) feeling out my legs and determining who was in the race, who was doing 10 vs 20, and who is a master. I backed off the pace after two opening sub 6:30’s and ran solo for the most part. It was hard to watch the front runners move away but I had to stick to my plan which was really not to run too fast and be a mess beyond my fitness.

The 2nd five miles was more solo isolation with a few guys going by me. I took a PowerGel and two Endurolyte Caps before mile 8 near the entrance of Winter Island. I had trouble getting the caps out of my sandwich bag so I stopped at the water stop to finger them out and drink water. I added at least 15 seconds there creating  my slowest mile of the day (7:04). Dan Chruniak went by after 8 miles, asked how I was feeling, and proceeded to pick up the pace. He looked way too comfortable. I went through 10 miles right around 1:06.

The 3rd quarter of the race felt lonely and the legs were tired. I backed off the pace a bit, now running some 6:40’s. A BAA runner passed me before reaching Marblehead. Letting him go by and not racing him frustrated me but I stuck to my plan, having no choice. The leaders did their turn around and were coming at me, giving me a chance to count places and monitor who was behind me once I did the turnaround.  The Wicked tandem of Michael Paulin and Bradley Gates were about 20 seconds behind me. I yelled over “uh oh” joking but aware they were likely going to catch me. I was tired but looking forward to the last quarter of the race. 

Now heading back into Salem for the last five miles, I took my last PowerGel and last two Endurolytes caps. Michael caught me on the hill up to Salem State. I hung with him down Lafayette street to bounce back with a low 6:30 mile and feel my first muscle cramp – my right calf. I had four miles to go and was really concerned how many more times that was going to trigger. I told Michael about it and he told me what I knew – back off. I did and in turn, Bradley Gates caught up. He shared that he was hurting, as did I. Like two wounded birds, we stumbled along, supporting each other with company and a few words all the way to the finish. It was nice to see Krissy at Pickering Wharf and at the finish. My time was 2:12:44. I was not sure of the place, but Michael was a good minute and a half in front of me and Bradley was about five seconds behind me. I had to leave the race in a hurry.

To the finish line
The race is put on and managed by B&S Fitness. They hired Racewire for the timing. I checked the results yesterday and today and found several runners missing in the 20 mile results, including myself. Dan Chruniak, Jason Bui, Brandon Ring, and Bradley Gates are missing. I sent Racewire a message yesterday evening.  They have not returned a response, per their 24 hour policy. Too bad, but we’ll assume they have been working around the clock to fix the results. Meanwhile, B&S Fitness responded to my email inquiry about the issue today. They felt bad but deferred to Racewire to clean up the results. Let's hope they resolve the issue.

Fist bumps
Myself, Michael Paulin, and Bradley Gates

Myself, Michael Paulin, and Bradley Gates