Tuesday, October 11, 2016

BAA Half Marathon

This was my first race since July (excluding any fun runs and relays) that was not designated as Championship via USATF or USATF New England. I put the BAA Half Marathon on my radar over the summer for a few reasons. First, Krissy was running it. Secondly, I wanted a tune-up race in case I lost my mind to enter a Fall Marathon. Lastly and selfishly, I planned on going to a car show at the Larz Anderson Museum in Brookline which was just a few miles away from the race. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for the car show. Rain and wind consumed the day but I refused to let it dampen the race.

I was not thrilled about the logistics of getting to and from this race. There is no parking at Franklin Park. Almost 7K runners are required to park at one of three designated parking garages and shuttle in and out. Krissy and I parked in one of two South Boston garages offered. The bus rides was about 20 minutes to the race at 6:20. I arrived to the soggy Franklin Park more than an hour before the race start at 8AM. I grabbed my race shirt and hung out with Krissy, Maryanne, Katie, and Liz under a tree to shelter from the rain as much as possible.

I got into my racing flats and warmed up one mile before getting right into the front of the race with at least twenty five elite runners who were seeking the top 10 cash prizes for men and women. My bib number 156 hardly gave me any credibility to line up with men who can run 1:02 for a Half Marathon so I backed off several rows back where surprisingly, it was not shoulder to shoulder crowded. The start of over 6K runners got going out of Franklin Park and headed toward Brookline with a generous downhill through slight ponding and puddles. 

I looked around for some familiar faces and or running clubs. Both were rare. I did see John Sullivan and Justin Renz from the HFC Striders. I hung in the back pocket of them down the hill to a blistering 5:48 mile. Too hot for a sustainable pace so I backed off in mile two to a low six minute mile. Titus Mitunda came by and I struck a conversation because I was scoping out the Monson Half Marathon race and noticed he finished in the money last year as a Senior age grouper. I asked him if he was headed to Monson? He was like, “what?” Yeah, “are you doing the Monson Half?” He finally caught on, smiled with a yes.

Soaked at the BAA Half Marathon among the umbrellas
With the HFC dudes up ahead and pulling away, I decided that Titus was good company. We went back and forth over the next several rolling miles without a word. The course rolled but nothing crazy during the “closed to vehicle traffic” course. I remember a 180 degree turn so that we were then running with the runners behind us on the other side of the street about 4 miles in. The Central Mass Striders were set up at the mile 6 water stop which was cool as I got some love with my team singlet. I grabbed a Clif Shot just before the stop. That was my only fuel other than Gatorade or Water replenishment throughout the race. 

Titus fell back at mile 9 on the approach to the golf course (up a hill) near Franklin Park. We did a one mile out and back on an access road. This road was tricky with a few spots almost flooded across. It rolled just like a golf course would too. Mile 10 was pretty much at the 180 degree turn around. I tried to pick up the pace and was looking forward to pushing the last three miles. However, I neglected to factor in the longest climb of the day past mile 11 as we rose back up to the main entrance of the Franklin Park zoo. I got a calf twinge at 11.75 trying to hold of a BAA runner (he went on to beat me by 10 seconds).

It was like another world in the Franklin Park Zoo. It was quiet and peaceful with animal exhibits on both sides.  The course exited into Franklin Park (recall having to jump off a curb which is dangerous). We were then running along the bike path past mile 1 of the Franklin Park Cross Country races. Less than a half mile remained before entering White Stadium for a 150m run on the track to a straightaway finish. My chip time was 1:22:52 (1:22:54 gun time), good for 70th place. 

I hate to compare recent results at the distance but I was almost four minutes slower than the New Bedford Half Marathon in March. Racing under 6:00 pace for anything shorter than 10 miles now might be a thing of the past. I got a BAA medal and walked with the other finishers through the grass and out of the stadium where photographers tackled us, giving us a Hollywood moment posing like a rock star. I got under a tent for a B.Good burger. 

I got cold and was soaked to the bone. I went after my checked in bag and was greeted with about 25 other runners digging through the pile of “1-500” checked bags. My bag got moved and I could not find it. I turned back and found it several feet from where I dropped it off. I had enough will to change my top layer and put my wet jacket back on and shuffle off to the shuttle about a half mile away. The heat from the bus felt so good. Everyone was in pretty good spirits. I was back at the car in the parking garage about 30 minutes later – now changed into my warm clothes.

In reflection, this is a good race. Nice hlly scenic course. Only one runner passed me in the last half hour of the race and I was not exactly running negative splits. It is as professionally run as the Boston Marathon so kudos to Dave McGilvary and the BAA. Logistics and all, not a bad event to try for next year with hopefully better weather.

2016 BAA Half Marathon Results

Place: 70/6205
Net Time: 1:22:52
In Division: 5/354 (M40-44)
5 mile checkpoint: 31:11
10 mile checkpoint: 1:03:03

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