Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Assault on Mount Hood 3.5 mile cross country snowfest

The snow started to fall before Dan Vassallo picked me up. We were heading to the Assault on Mount Hood 3.5 cross country race in Melrose. It was going to be fun. I have not raced on snow and with it falling in a long time without snowshoes. We got to the Mount Hood golf course soon enough and did a warm up out on the golf course sort of checking out the first two miles with Dan and Scott Mindel before I headed back to get into the racing gear. I carefully hand-picked a Brooks Puregrip 4 and was impressed with the traction on the snow covered grass which accumulated 2 inches. However, the cart paths or any pavement were sketchy at best.  We had a team of three and felt decent for a CMS team win.

The race immediately went down a hill. I saw a few people fall - in a safe slow motion kind of way. I was pretty careful to keep on my feet and stay away from those sliding down the hill on their asses. It was quite funny. I scored a guy from Mystic Runners a 8.0 on his tumble. Being as cautious as I was buried me behind at least 40 runners. I worked to move into the top 20 over the next mile.  I saw several orange singlets ahead from Cambridge Sports Union (CSU). I recognized Kevin Delaney and Terry McNatt. I ended up battling them for a while. Terry was quick and fearless down the hills. I was able to close any deficit up the hills. The footwear I had on was impressive for the traction but was crap on any pavement. I went out of my way to run on the grass even if it caused me to not get the best line or tangent.

The race had a tough climb toward the Mount Hood tower but never approached the base of it. As the race started to decline into mile three, Kevin was going after Terry and I followed with astutely. However, once we hit the driveway with 400m to go, I had to downshift into defensive mode. I lost any and all battles going into the downhill finish. Kevin and Terry ran 22:50 and 51 to my 22:56 (20th place). I went through the finish chute and confirmed that Scott and Dan went 1-2 overall. We immediately changed into some warm clothes and ran over the course for a cool down.


Upon return, there was plenty of beer, pasta, salad, bread, and chowder for everyone. In a bit of a surprise, our team never got called up as one of the top three open teams, hence striking out on reclaiming the top team as CMS has done in the past. After the awards, we approached the race director, Brian who is as cool as it gets. After researching the team entry forms, he found ours but it never got entered. He immediately let us pick out any Nutcracker on the table. And we did. 

CMS polar bears: Dan, Scott, and I

Polar Beverages getting free adverisement

Yes, Mount Hood Beer Glass, Nutcracker, and limited edition "Straight Outta Peabody" brew


Dan with the spiffy Nutcracker pick up

Hardware for the day

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

34th Annual Mill Cities Relay

I had leg 1 for the Mill Cities Relay race: 5 runner relay from Nashua, NH along the Merrimack River, finishing up in Lawrence.  27 miles, 5 legs, 2 states, 1 river is the deal here. This is a fun event as it is a great team event of the 19 running clubs that take part. The Somerville Road Runners put some time and effort into this and it is hard not to take part in the fun. I was fortunate enough to get onto a men’s masters team.  I got a good clean start and tried to determine who else was a master runner. My goal was to be as close as possible to the lead for the category after my 5.5 mile leg. I was running either in front of or behind fellow yellow SRR Kyle Pochini most of the way.  

Two runners went past me after 2.5 miles. The first was a GLRR runner who clipped my heels twice followed by apologies. He followed to crush the 2nd half of the leg. The other was a woman from WRT who held me off by 10 seconds or so in the end. I finished up with a time of 33:10, 5:55 per mile pace for the 5.6 that my Garmin captured. I am not certain but think I was in the top 3 for the master category after leg 1. I handed off to Sanjay D’Souza who ran 6:15’s for leg 2.

Dan Verrington, Dave Dunham, Joe OLeary, and Kieran at the boat house in Lowell (3rd exchange zone)

Kieran Condon and Jason Lachapelle were there at the exchange waiting for me. We drove to the next exchange zone along the course cheering on the runners of all teams. We dropped Jason off for his leg 3 (2.5 miles) and then drove to the boat house in Lowell where Kieran got warmed up and ready for leg 4. I snapped a few photos and caught up with some folks. It was nice to be a spectator. Jason came in and handed off to Kieran. Sanjay was cooling down from the finish of his leg over to us so we finally got in the car and I drove us  along leg 4. We watched an epic battle between Kieran and Todd Prokop who had made up a 45 second deficit. They battled after 3 miles into the leg 4 all the way to the exchange zone. I am glad I got photos of that. 545’s for Todd on that leg is solid. I am sure it pushed Kieran as well. He handed off to Eric Ahearn. Our team did not know what place we were in for the masters.

Todd Prokop and Kieran battling during the long leg


Once Kieran cooled down we got in the car and drove along the course to the finish. Eric had moved up several places. He passed Dave Long from Wicked in the process who was on a masters team. I am not sure if he passed the AARC masters team but his strong finish put our team on top in the end by a minute and seven. Pretty close! We got the brick at the awards ceremony at the Claddagh Pub which was cool. Below are the top four masters teams. Our team finished 10th overall in the Mill Cities Relay. Full results.

Sanjay, Kieran, Eric, I, and Jason


10   207 SRR - 40'S THE NEW 20                              SRR     MM  JIM PAWLICKI         SANJAY D'SOUZA       JASON LACHAPELLE     KIERAN CONDON        ERIC AHERN           2:41:22

12     7 VAYA CON DIOS                                      AARC    MM  MIKE VEILLEUX        JAMES PORTER         MIKE PORTER          CHRIS BERNIER        CHRIS CLAPP          2:42:29

13   328 WICKED REPETITIVE                                  WRC     MM  JASON MATULEWICZ     BRETT RICKENBACH     CHRIS NOLIN          JOHN AYERS           DAVE LONG            2:42:42

21   173 NMC MASTER'S MACHINE                               NMC     MM  ED CHARTIER          KEVIN CAVANAUGH      KEN CARABBA          ART BESSE            JOSH CURTIS          2:51:01

My Mill Cities splits below. I raced almost 2 minutes slower than last year where I ran leg one with a 5:41 pace.


Kieran, Jason, Sanjay, and I



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wild Turkey 5 mile road race

Thanksgiving Day brought on an opportunity to jump into the Wild Turkey 5 mile road race in Salem. I warmed up with Joe Shairs, showing him the first mile and the last mile of the race course. I warmed up another mile or so around the Salem Common with Nakri Dao. The race went out pretty fast putting me in the top 20 by the time we reached Derby Street. I made my way past a few guys into the mile (5:41) and holding tangents into Winter Island. 

I got passed by a runner in there as mile two went by. Joe was about 20 seconds ahead. I was flat through the turns behind the Willows. The slowest mile was leaving Salem Willows and through mile 4 with a 6:04 mile. We seemed to have a little head wind. The kid everyone was yelling for, “Billy” passed me before the last turn to the finish. I finished up behind him, good for 10th overall. My time was 29:26 and first in my age group. Mile splits were as follows: 5:41, 5:50, 5:54, 6:04, 5:52 for the 5 miles. I rounded up Joe (6th - 28:32), Nakri (31st - 31:18), and David Corbett (12th - 29:33) and we went out for a cool down which brought me over 10 miles for the day.

Joe Shairs, Nakri Dao, and I

Monday, November 20, 2017

Frost on the Fairways 2.5 mile & Gannon Golf Course 18 Hole Par 70 5K

In the mood to give a “new to me” race a try, I went to Gannon Golf Course next to Lynn Woods for the 18 Hole Par 70 5K. The venue is a stone’s throw from me and I was curious about running through all 18 holes. 

Boston is just at the end of the fairway

Dave Dunham (CMS) and Shawn Conway (GLRR) were in the clubhouse after getting their numbers. We went out for a warm up on the course. We did not run the exact course but we got the picture. Hills are plenty. It was going to be fun – like the Mt. Hood Cross Country race in Melrose every December.

I changed into the racing gear. Joe Abilon came in from outside and gave news that due to frost on the course, the race would be delayed for at least an hour. Dave asked Shawn and I if we would care to race the 2.5 mile Lynn Woods Relay course instead of waiting around for the delay. I was warmed up and ready to rock and roll. Shawn did not hesitate. We got on the start line of the old relay course – start and finish at the gate – the course from about a decade ago. We headed off with the read set go, pressing our GPS watches for the self timing. I took the lead, taking us through the mile. It felt like a weekly summer Wednesday night Lynn Woods race. Dave and Shawn were right behind me through the goat path.

I was gassed a bit at the end of the path but looking forward to the downhill. Dave went by me as we headed down the hill. He looked really smooth. I had to press to keep with him. This was good, I was racing. I was in the moment because the stretch back to the pavement went by so fast. I was so focused on keeping with Dave for as long as possible. I thought I might have a chance to have a push toward the end. I did just that getting to the line .5 seconds ahead of Dave. Shawn rolled in right behind us. I leaned on my knees for a few seconds. The effort hurt but in a good way. Despite the win,  I finished 3rd in the age graded results. Dave gave Shawn and I ATR fleece blankets. Awesome!

Gannon Club House in the background. Taken a few minutes after our 3 man race.


We ran back up to the club house and ran over to Lynn Woods via the golf course for some more miles on the trails. On our return to the club house, I heard that 5K was going to start in 15 minutes. I decided to hang out and give it a run. I knew it was going to hurt but the plan was to ease into it because I had no choice. A guy jumped out into the lead and I had to let him go. Up and down the race went. Joe was in a golf cart as the lead vehicle for Rich Lally (leading). I picked up the pace a bit in the second mile and worked to reduce the lead I had given which looked like 20 seconds.

In my pursuit, Rich went off course – up and over a hill instead of following Joe who took a left at the marker and down the hill. I paused and looked at Joe who stopped and looked back at us. I yelled for Rich but he did not hear me. I took the left and ran after the golf cart. Rich popped out back onto the course 30 seconds later. I said “no problem, we are 1 and 2.” I kept the lead and opened up a touch in the last mile to average a hard 7:04 pace for the win. Rich finished 25 seconds behind me.

It was a fun and tough course. No 5K records will be set on this one. A nice breakfast buffet awaited the runners and volunteers inside. French toast, sausage, and bacon was my cool down after 12 miles some quicker than others. I had a time hanging out with Stephen Martin (race director of the Lazy Dog 3 mile every January) and Joe Abilon. Joe does a lot for the sport so it was nice to talk some history for a bit.


Frost on the fairways - Lynn Woods 2.5m
Lynn Woods, MA, November 18, 2017
Gannon race delayed so impromptu race on the CLASSIC Lynn Woods 2.5 mile course
  
Place
Time
Name
Age
Team
Age Graded
1
14:52
Jim
Pawlicki
43
CMS
75.68
2
14:53
Dave
Dunham
53
CMS
81.62
3
15:08
Shawn
Conway
47
GLRR
76.89

Gannon Golf Course 18 Hole-Par 70 5K
Lynn-Gannon Golf Course, MA, November 18, 2017

                            18 Hole-Par 70 - 5K
           Lynn,MA  Gannon Golf Course November 18,2017 8:30 am
     Results by AB-MAC Finish Systems 781-593-6562  jsa777@verizon.net
Place Name                No.  S Div Ag City       St Team         Time    Pace 
===== =================== ==== = === == ========== == ============ ======= =====
    1 JAMES PAWLICKI        90 M   1 43 LYNN       MA CENTRAL MASS 21:57  7:04
    2 RICH LALLY           106 M   1 34 LYNN       MA              22:22  7:12
    3 PATRICK FAY           29 M   1 58 WINCHESTER MA              26:14  8:27
    4 PAUL QUINN           142 M   2 58 LYNN       MA              26:38  8:35
    5 JAMES LAMOTHE         40 M   3 59 LYNN       MA              27:39  8:54

Gannon Club House

Golfers waiting

Views from the club

More views

Off the dining area

Awards

Hungry?

Post race


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

USATF New England Cross Country Championships

I got a chance to lace up for the USATF New England Cross Country Championships. The weather was about perfect for a cross country race – a cloudy mid 50’s, dry, and no wind to whine about. I got there early with Joe Shairs. Dave Dunham and Dan Verrington pulled up as I backed into the parking spot. We set up the CMS tent behind the starting. One by one, CMS runners arrived and huddled at the tent. It is nice to have a new club tent to promote the club and allow a centralized area for the team. Thanks to Kim Gordon and the board to make that happen.

I warmed up and got back to the tent about 20 minutes before the 10am start to prepare into my Adidas road flats (no waffle racers or spikes needed) and singlet. I got on the line with six other masters (age 40-49), seven seniors (50-59), and one 60+ runner.  There was no pressure but was a bit concerned how the legs would feel after some time off in September and no races since August.
A few minutes in, I got the taste of racing right back. 

Mile 1 went by in 5:51. I did not want to go out too fast and that was just about right. I slowed down but was passing a few people during mile two (6:13) which includes the up and over Bear Cage hill. Mile 3 was a trip through the Wilderness loop bringing me out to the 5K. Mile 3 was passed in 6:09 (5K around 19:19). I could make out two CMS singlets ahead:  Tim Van Orden and Martin Tighe. The chase was on. 

I gave Tivo some encouragement as I went by. He too was toughing out his first race in a while. Martin was hanging tough too when I snuck by just before 4 miles. In the last mile, I recognized Shawn Conway from GLRR. Good guy who puts the kudos out to the CMS dudes on Strava. I caught up while cresting Bear Cage Hill. We flew down the backside. He put a little gap on me in the roots in front of the team tents holding that second lead on me all the way to the finish line. I finished in 52nd place, right about in the middle of the race with 106 finishers. My time was 30:27 on the day. 2017Results.  I ran 29:07 last year.


Not only was it good to be racing, I had fun and walked away feeling that competitive juice. I ran a smart race and slowly passed some runners in the field throughout. No one passed me and beat me to the finish after 800m into the race. The masters and senior teams finished in 2nd place having a pretty good day among the teams. The open team was short for a scoring team. 

Martin and I at mile 4
Photo by Rodney Hemingway


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

No so Around Cape Ann 25K

With a plan to run the Bay State Marathon, I wanted to put the legs into a steady state of uncomfortable miles. The ACA25K, Around Cape Ann 25K, road race sounded like a good idea. The course rolls around the perimeter of Cape Ann via Gloucester and Rockport. There are some hills but the scenery usually takes that concern away until the later stages of the course where there is no shade.

The weather was outstanding, a comfortable 60’s and sunny. I was with Nick Taormina (CMS) and Kieran Condon (SRR) after a minute into the race – a good spot I figured and only six runners ahead of us. Kieran dropped us after 5K to reel in those ahead.

After we passed 5 miles in 31:20, Nick asked me how I was doing? I had just felt a twinge and dull ache behind my left knee about 10 seconds earlier. I backed off the pace. A mile later, a sharp stabbing pain attacked the troubled area and ended my effort right there. I could not put any pressure on the leg. I pulled off to the left shoulder on the road and had a seat in a hurry. Matt Curran stopped by on his bike to check on me but not much could be done. I told him I would flag down a ride one way or the other. I hobbled over to the other side of the street and had a seat on a rock.

About 25 runners went by when Nick’s sister, Katie Misuraca stopped by and offered a ride. We continued to drive along the race and cheer the race on. Kieran moved up a spot and Nick was right on top of catching a Colgate runner near Good Harbor Beach. They looked exhausted. Katie got us back to the finish line about 20 minutes ahead of the race so I changed into some warm clothes where I found Krissy confused. I hobbled over to the finish and waited for the runners to come in. Nick finished in 6th place with a 6:35 pace. Kieran took the top 40+ spot, 4th overall with a 6:16 pace.

Below were my splits.

Mile 1    6:10
Mile 2    6:08
Mile 3    6:11
Mile 4    6:14
Mile 5    6:24
Mile 6    7:07
0.3          7:29

Over the course of the next few days, I got an MRI. Initial diagnosis was a lateral tear of the meniscus. The official word was a minor tear of the medial meniscus (inside toward the back of the knee). It is odd because the pain I feel/felt is on the lateral side.



“Abnormal high signal from the posterior horn medial meniscus with increased signal extending to the lateral aspect of its superior articular surface consistent with a tear.”


The good news is surgery is not needed and it was suggested to give it a few weeks. I spent a day on crutches. Each day the knee is getting better. I went out for a bike ride six days later. I am still walking gingerly and I will feel some pain if I twist or land on the knee wrong while walking. I am not going to rush it but have a feeling I will be back on the road by the end of the month and full contact football by end of October. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lynn Woods Relay

Last night was the Lynn Woods Relay. Four people make up a team and each run 2.5 miles. I put the word out to the team, CMS, to see who was interested. I got interest to fill a masters and senior team. Chris Smith, who has been racing at Lynn Woods all summer, was nice enough to put down his SRR singlet and chip in for the CMS Senior team. Meanwhile, Nick Taormina saved the masters team as we were short one person and he stepped up late last week. 

Patrick Rich led off the masters team with the lead leg running 14:34. I had the second leg and took off up the hill. I was breathing pretty hard at the top of the hill so I knew the effort was good. I went through the mile in 6:01. I caught and passed the co-ed team. Shortly after that, I caught another runner going down to the turnaround spot. The next runner ahead was the 1st place team, Erich O’Neil from Wicked. I was closing the gap but I could not catch him through the goat path and back down to the finish. I got within 6 seconds at the end (my split was 15:07) before passing off to Nick Taormina who ran 15:04. Nakri Dao kept the 2nd place position in the end by just 5 seconds with a 15:47. The 3rd place team (Filthy James had a 4th leg race a 14:11). Our masters team won the division with a combined time of 1:00:32.


The Central Mass Striders 50+ team of Dave Dunham, Chris Smith, Martin Tighe, and Paul Young broke the Lynn Woods Senior team record, won the division, and placed 5th overall. 

In summary, it was a fun evening for the teams. The low key atmosphere yet competitive enough on the trails make it fun for all, In addition, the team picked up half zip “The Woods” sweatshirts. This was the first time that I got a sweatshirt (1st place team award) and twenty years after picking up what might have been my first Lynn Woods open team trophy that I gave back to Bill Mullen recently so he could recycle for the future. The night was capped off with a Pizza party with Krissy and the Wicked Running Club at Polcari’s on Route 1.

CMS 40+ team: Nick Taormina, Nakri Dai, Jim Pawlicki, Patrick Rich

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bobby Doyle Summer Classic 5 mile

Joe Shairs and I soaked to the bone after the race.
Photo by Nakri Dao
Joe Shairs, Nakri Dao and I headed down to Narragansett, RI for the Bobby Doyle Summer Classic 5 mile. It was the USATF 5 mile championship the last two years. It was not so for this year but all club representatives got invited down several months ago. The race has been really good to CMS based on our performances and Linda Hurteau is so nice to work with. I put it out there to CMS and got some interest to field a team.

The course was to change back to a former course and I must say I like it better. It offered a little more shade and fairly flat for the last couple of miles. I got out with a 5:37 mile out to the ocean. I hung out with WTAC’s Jeff Walker as we seemed matched well for the pacing. We have been battling at a few trail races this summer. Mile 2 had some climb to it and I recall a 5:59 split. Three miles brought me a 6:14 and I was dragging from there on. I lost Jeff and he rolled away into mile 4 battling Kayla O'Neil from the BAA.

I faded where I should have been cranking back down into the 5:50’s but  I was all done battling. I got to the finish line in 30:08. I managed 6th in the 40-49 age group and 5th CMS master runner. The team ran really well with Josh Perks, Robert Jackman, Joe Shairs, David Principe, and Kevin Gorman scoring the open team all within 20 seconds (28:40 to 29:00)! The Open and Masters teams took first place. Nakri ran a PR too. It was quick and fun road trip on another humid day in RI. Here are the results. Quick 5 mile period! I can't wait to see Scott Mason's photos of the race. 


Monday, July 31, 2017

Fred Warren 5.5 mile road race

Krissy and I headed out to Holden and the home of Stephen Laska who was hosting a post-race BBQ. He lives .3 miles away from the Fred Warren road race which is listed as 5.5 miles. 54 years have gone by with the race on the calendar. I have seen it on the Central Mass Striders list of races for years as they host, run, and time it. Both Stephen Laska and Kim Gordon have done a solid job on the social media to promote the race. When I asked Krissy if she would consider the race, given that it is on a Sunday evening, she was game.

We parked at Stephen’s house and walked down to the race. CMS just started to set up the registration tent. I helped (or got in the way) Jorge Landeo set up the club banner on the tent. The race is an ol’ fashion throwback to offer a scant $15 for a challenging course, a t-shirt, official results (still waiting for them to be posted), et cetera. I did not do any research on the course and profile so I got filled in from the CMS locals. In short, hills, plenty of them, period. Enough said. Maybe 75 runners lined up for the 6:30 start.

I went out hard, taking the race out with a generous downhill, in 5:41. No other takers so it was me chasing the patient police car up and down the rolling hills. The foot steps behind me went silent before mile 2. There was a volunteer at each mile marker, calling out the time. There was also a volunteer at each of the (maybe five turns overall on the course). It would be hard to get lost. Mile two slowed down to a 6:09 because of, some hills. 

The rolling hills and evening shade reminded me of the roads in Hamilton and Wenham (Weiner Run) out of Asbury Grove and through Bradley Palmer. Mile 3 rolled off the road and onto a paved trail leading past the Holden Reservoir. As I exited the path, a sharp right hand turn and hill slapped me in the chops. I was warned about this hill so I joked with the volunteer if this is where I start cursing?  

I crawled up the hill and through mile four with a, might as well retire, 6:39 split. The reward was a view of Wachusett Mountain at 4.5 miles. I did not expect that so it was nice. 

After the sight-seeing finished, it was time to roll down the hill. I did so in 5:31. The problem though was two shadows gaining on me. I was not in the mood to mix it up and kick to the line. I was a hurtin’ puppy and the two Wachusett Regional kiddos took no mercy, passing me before the last right hand turn as the course leveled out for a fast finish. I threw in a surge to pull even with them and make it a race. One of them broke down but the other (Isaac) was up for the battle to the line. I showed my cards and put them on the table. I had a losing hand and threw in. 

The Wachusett lads crossed the line holding hands. Four seconds later, I crossed the line for 3rd. Hey, 1st master right? It was all good. I congratulated the kids. Isaac turned out to be Tom Steele’s son. Tom and I warmed up before the race and I talked him into racing for CMS earlier this year. We went off for a cool down and he got me up to speed on his son’s talents – a 10:02 2 miler this past winter for Wachusett Regional. Good stuff. Let’s hope we see these lads in CMS uniforms in the future!

After the cooldown, I found Krissy who ran awesome, nearly breaking 10 minute pace over the hills. We spent the next few hours at the post race party BBQ at Stephen’s house. I caught up with come CMS folks while having plenty to eat and drink before the long ride home. I am glad I went and hope to take on the race again. Oh, and for the record, the GPS measured out 5.28 miles.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5K

I headed over to the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5K (30th Anniversary for the L Street hosted race) which is 10 minutes away from the office. I signed up earlier in the morning after confirming that my legs were up for it. The runner’s expo beside Carson Beach was active with vendors. I caught up with Michael McGrane and Bob Fitzgerald in the BAA tent (I did not get kicked out for wearing New Balance sneakers) after grabbing my bib number and shirt. I ran the course as a warm up – an easy, flat, out and back along William J. Day Blvd. I got back to the car and changed into my Asics flats and singlet – representing Poland for the night.

The first mile went well sneaking just under 5:30 for the mile. Just after the turn-around, Allison McCabe from GBTC went by me. I was slowing down and knew it heading into mile 2. I had no energy for even one surge in the last mile. No fight. Sorry. I was just trying to get to the finish line without getting run down by anyone. I got to the line 6 seconds behind Allison (first female) with a time of 17:52 and in 14th place, 2nd 40-49 (Matt Herman ran 17:40). I hung by the finish, drinking two bottles of water. I waited for Mike Paulin and Suzanne Chavez and we did a short cooldown. Full Results

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Run for the Beavers Trail Races

Teammate, Robert Jackman, had a one day flash sale over the winter for his Run for the Beavers 5 and 10 mile trail race in Casmir Pulaski Memorial State Park in Chepachet, RI.  I did not have a Beaver shirt in my wardrobe so I signed up welcoming a new trail race to my portfolio and an excuse for a road trip in the Volkswagen Scirocco. The drive to the park was about 85 minutes. I got my race bib and exclusive Beaver t-shirt and a sticker. Robert caught me up on what to expect out on the course which was noted on the web site as intermediate on the Jackman Scale of Difficulty.

We consider this course to be intermediate on the difficulty scale.  It is a good transistion from a cross country race or trails that do not have any rocks and roots.   The loop has a great variety of terrain.  You will run on some fast dirt roads and double track trails, but will be slowed down a bit with some technical single track trails to keep you on your toes.  If you can keep your head up when you come around Peck Pond, you might get a glimpse of the infamous beaver at which this race takes its name.

Chris Mahoney and Steve Brightman were in attendance to make up a CMS team (3 runners score) with myself.  I warmed up on the first mile and last 800m of the course to familiarize myself with the two loop for 10 mile course. I got on the starting line soon enough in the CMS singlet a step off the front row. A WTAC runner had some comments for Steve regarding his team affiliation to CMS (Steve was shirtless so someone did some research). I wondered where the trash talk was coming from. I bit my tongue not knowing that the two runners have had years of competition and sweat among them albeit in opposing uniforms. In the end, WTAC put a hurtin’ to us with me being weak link, minutes behind the 3rd WTAC runner.  WTAC has historically done very well at this race.

Robert Jackman provided hilarious, dry sense of humor, instructions for us, trail runners before sending us off. One loop was to be run for the 5 mile runners and for me and the folks who signed up for 10 – run the loop once more. I ran off the start line surveying the runners around me as we headed up a slight incline on the fire road. I settled into what I felt was a good spot before dashing into the single track. It was so good that I owned the 8th place for the whole race. I had a few visitors on my heels like Michael Daniels who won the 5 mile and Ed Cullen during the 2nd loop.

The course was a lot of fun. The mix of terrain was evenly dispersed so that you did not get sick of any one thing. The loop offered single track, wide fire road, hills, swamp, boarded bridges, roots, rocks, mud, scenic view of ponds, and reluctant Beaver sightings who wanted no business with the group of runners. Robert offered free lifetime entry to anyone who saw one during the race.

I would really like to see this race as a New England Trail Championship in the future. In the end, I ran 1:10:57.8, for 8th place. For what is worth, 9.5 miles on the Garmin GPS. As Robert says, it is a trail race! Check out the outstanding photography by Scott Mason (lap 1lap 2). I had just enough time to cool down with a group after the race and then rinse off in the local pond below the parking lot. For an added bonus, the cool down run of an out and back for 1.7 miles allowed me to run into CT for a few minutes.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

John Carson 2 mile road race

I recognized the bearded face but not the Volvo wagon pulling into the Hannaford parking lot. I barked “Holy crap, that is Patrick Rich” to Joe Shairs as we waited for the start of the John Carson 2 mile road race in Chelmsford -  a July 4th tradition of sorts recently. It was awesome to see Patrick. This race would be his first in a while (18 months?) and certainly his first as a master runner. The CMS masters team is certainly going to get a boost this year with the addition of Patrick, Jim Johnson, and Chris Mahoney.

The three of us headed out for a warm up. Each of us knew the course which is a rolling point to point 2 mile course along a parade route. We were on the starting line after a 2.5 mile warm up. My goal was to run a pair of 5:29 miles and sneak under 11:00. I trailed Patrick and Joe heading through 400m. The key is to not get tripped up after the start as so many young lads bolt right out.  
I passed the mile in 5:30 a step behind Joe and Patrick. The next 400m drops down a bit and I pushed past them. The last 400m seems so long as the course climbs back up into the finish around a corner. I was tiring out in the last 150m for sure. I finished in 22nd place, 4th master, and barely ahead of Joe (11:06) and Patrick (11:07). We collected ourselves with a quick drink and ran back to the start catching just the beginning of the parade vehicles.


I have to mention a friendly face that I have seen at this race for years. He is the "gunman" or official starter of the race. His name is Tom Hildreth. He went out of his way to run over and shake my hand after I picked my number up, welcoming me again to the race. He volunteers his time and I have seen him helping at other races in recent years such as the Lynn Woods Relay race in August and the Merrimack River Trail race in April. It is people like this that make this sport so great for everyone.


Almost done with the 2 mile in Chelmsford
Photo by Jim Rhoades

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Exeter Trail Race - USATF New England Trail Championship

Todd Callaghan picked me up and headed to Exeter, NH for the 10 mile Exeter Trail Race which was a New England Trail Championship for 2017. I knew zip about the course and terrain but was looking forward to racing on the trails which were sure to be competitive with $1K in prize money. Here is a nice description of the course (found after I ran the race).

"This a very technical trail race. There is arguably no better urban trail running and mountain biking network in the northeast than the Oaklands & Henderson-Swasey Town Forests. Located just minutes from downtown Exeter, NH these trails are better known as Fort Rock. If it’s technical trail running you are looking for…search no further. This may be the most technical trail race anywhere in New England!" - Visit Exeter New Hampshire

I warmed up on the course with CMS mates Ed Sheldon and Paul Bazanchuk and got a feel for what the legs would be in for. I would compare it to the single track found in Ravenswood in Gloucester or Greenwood Ave in Beverly Farms. One eye would be needed on the ground and the other up looking ahead for trail markings.

The start of the race narrowed down after 300m of road down to the single track trail in a hurry. I settled into about 14th place. I quickly determined that I had to move up and around the gent in front of me. I wanted to keep Ed Sheldon close and his orange shirt was quickly getting out of sight after a few miles. I passed the runner in front of me and was rolling pretty well. After 3.5 miles, I found Ed on the ground. He was in pain, taking a hard one to the earth. I asked if he was OK and he confirmed. I was not convinced yet I ran by certain he would be back on his feet chasing me soon enough.

My failure to have my Garmin watch on me was biting me big time. I was lost without it. I wanted to know how far into the race I was on several occasions. I had nothing to go by except for knowing water stops were at 3, 6, and 9 miles. The trails continued to roll. Not once did the course have a wide flat fire road. Miles of single track, navigating the turns, rock hopping, planks, and board walks got surprisingly tiring.

I managed to pass a few more runners in the middle of the race, the last of which was one of the two Jeff Walker’s – this one from RI who is in his 50’s. He hung close behind me in the 2nd half of the race. His presence kept me honest and to keep attention to the course markings which were a bit sparse in several areas. We managed to keep course all the way but was not too confident on several occasions. The legs were junk over the last few miles. The goal was to not get passed and to stay on my feet.

I finished 10th overall with a time of 1:13:07.4. Jeff was just 23 seconds back. I finished a whopping 4 minutes behind the 3rd place master, Ryan Carrara and almost two and a half minutes behind 9th place (Scott Leslie).

After finishing, I turned my attention to looking for Ed. Soon enough, he would come in with a bloody elbow. I have said it before, and will say it again, this guy is tough as nails. I got him a bag of ice where I had to poke a hole to get water to clear out his wound on the elbow. He was in good spirits and carried a great sense of humor. If that were me, I am not so sure I would be as positive as he was. He deserves a hard hat of the race award!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ribfest 5 mile

Steps before the finish line
Courtesy of Millennium Running
I headed up to the 3rd USATF New England Grand Prix race in Merrimack, NH (Ribfest 5 miler) with Nakri and Krissy. It was cloudy but warm and humid. I met up with new CMS racing team member Ben Fazio and DJ Raboin to get some team gear to them. That was followed by a half mile bus ride from the parking lot to the race. The layout was easy to navigate so getting the race number and shirt was easy. I warmed up with Nakri and Kevin Gorman covering the 1st and last miles. I ran a mid-27 minute race back in 2014, thus familiar with the course.

I got to the starting line and settled in next to teammates about five rows deep. Getting a clean start with a few quick turns in the 1st 300m was the goal. I did hear someone go down right behind me at the first right turn up the hill. My first two miles were decent, around 5:45 pace and I was in CMS master company with Josh Perks and Arthur Besse. Kevin Gorman and Jason Dunklee were about 20 seconds ahead on the lollipop loop. I came out of that loop into 3 miles very flat and that set the tone for my last two miles milking 6 minute pace from there into the finish. I got a net time of 29:54.5, 96th place, and 14th in the 40-49 age group.



Passing mile 4 at the Ribfest 5 mile
Photo by KrissyK
Finish line video, thanks to the Millennium Running crew who put on a 1st class event. Wish I stayed around for the post race festivities.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Scamper for the Campers Camp Fire North Shore 5K

I got a flyer on the car at the Lynn Woods race for a local race on Saturday for the Scamper for the Campers Camp Fire North Shore 5K. The course map was on the back of it and was surprised to see that it ran through the Fays Estates neighborhood. I decided not to attend the US Mountain Running Championship at Cranmore Mountain so my Saturday was open for this as I was curious. I emailed the race director, Laurie Hamill, early in the morning and she confirmed that I could sign up at the race. I ran about a mile to the race and signed up 25 minutes before the start. It was a small field, over 30 entrants. 

I ran as hard as I could from the start getting the police escort through the streets that I train on (also Matt Veiga lives in the area too). The course was flat with the exception of the downhill start to Fays Ave and the hill to go up Western Ave to the finish where it all started on Belleaire Ave. I took the win for the 2.9 mile course in 17:16. It was a new course for the race. The post-race pizza, beer, soda, and awards were at the Camp Fire North Shore grounds a quarter mile up near the Salem/Lynn line. I would like to see the race get more runners next year. Overall, it was a decent low key event that for the entry fee, you get fed, a race shirt, and an honest 2.9 mile course through the flat Fays Estates. Yeah there is a hill at the end, but that is offset with the downhill start. Results

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wachusett Mountain Road Race

I kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with one of the first Mountain races I ever attended several years ago. The Central Mass Striders hosted the 25th Annual Mount Wachusett Road Race which is also part of the Mountain Series. It is about 3 miles up and 3 miles down and comes out to just about 10K. The last 2 miles are on trail with the rest on the auto road. There are few breaks on the way up to the top which is nice.

CMS had an impressive group in the race with the likes of Tim Van Orden, Matt Veiga, Todd Callaghan, Dave Dunham, Steve Brightman, Ed Sheldon, & Erik Van Dendries. These guys are consistently in the front of the mountain series races. I took a back seat in the first mile, trying to look good with Dave Dunham but the pace was too rich for my blood.

I found a pace that I could negotiate with up to the top and this put me a few strides behind Michael McGrane from the BAA. I put in a good push from 2 to 3 miles and got ahead of him rounding the summit “King of the Mountain” optional finish in 22:33. Then it was a good stretch of descent on the auto-road. This was tough on the legs while I put the brakes on to modulate the beating. It was nice to finally reach the trail where I felt I could extend a full stride.

19th place at the top of Wachusett


Someone caught up to me on said trail. I never turned back to peek, instead forged straight ahead. The steps behind me faded on one last hill to climb with about 800m to go in the race. I rounded into the finish with a time of 41:44 and in 10th place. I turned back and Michael was just four seconds behind me. He made up some time on me on the downhill showing how good he is running downhill.

I was 19th at the top. Some runners in front of me there either backed off considerably or did not take the option of running the 10K. CMS packed in 7 out of the top 10 places in the 10K.
Upon my finish, I see that Ed Sheldon is bloodied up pretty good from head to knee. As always, in good spirits, he took it in stride and kicked my ass after tripping up on the trail on the way down. Water and paper towels got him cleaned up. He is one tough SOB! I took on some water for myself and found Dave Lapierre about 20 minutes later in the parking lot for a short but needed cool down. I hung out for the awards and bought some new CMS fleece hats for the team from Karla.


10th place at the finish


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trav's Trail Run

I headed up to Trav’s Trail Run 3 mile trail race with Krissy and the gang at Maudslay State Park. It featured a newly paved parking lot. I warmed up a bit on the course after I could not convince Junyong Pak or Greg Putnam to do the full race course. I got on the line and bolted down the hill at the start getting in behind some young folk into the single track 800m in. I went back and forth with the lead female, Elizabeth Suda, before passing my GPS mile in 6:07. I passed maybe three more runners in the 2nd mile (6:13). 

I was trying to close the gap that Chris Kealy had on me (maybe 10 seconds).  I pushed down the hill to the bridge and got on his heels as we both started the long climb up to the finish line. I was lucky to have some left in the tank and barely got ahead of Chris who is a really fast master runner. I finished 11th with a time of 17:28. The time is my slowest in 5 races (4 straight years racing this one) but only 14 seconds or so slower than last year.  CMS had a nice showing up front. Nate Jenkins and Greg Putnam, like last year, took first and 2nd overall. I ran a cool down with Steve Dowsett and Junyong on a great loop out to the Merrimack River and back for the fun awards. I picked up a coffee mug and New Balance gift card. Full results


Sunday, May 14, 2017

ECTA Spring for the Trails Half Marathon - Ipswich

ECTA represents the Essex County Trail Association. Straight from their site, they exist to protect access to the trails and open lands throughout Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Topsfield, Essex, and West Newbury. Yesterday, ECTA hosted the 2nd Annual Spring for the Trails Half Marathon. This presented an opportunity for me to see the fun trails in Willowdale State Park from the Ipswich entrance off Linebrook Rd.

I warmed up on the course, seeing the opening mile and the closing quarter mile. The fire roads would be easy but the single track gave a hint that concentration and quick feet would be required. Someone said it would be similar to Lynn Woods. The biggest difference would be the crazy constant turns and switchbacks that kill momentum that you may secure on the wider fire roads.

Early on, I was in 3rd place. Junyong Pak was the leader followed by Dave Long. I  forget his name (was introduced following the race), but a tall gent from Beverly who teaches at Landmark School, with a blue Adidas top was glued to my heels. He got bored and passed Dave and I after a few miles which were mostly single track, quick turns, and pace limiters.

ECTA Spring for the Trail Half Marathon course map


I opened up my stride on the wider fire roads and passed Dave after 3 miles. I closed the gap between Junyong and I who relinquished the lead between miles 3 and 4. I was pushing pretty well, closing in. Then we came upon a three way intersection and no course markers (pink ribbons) were in sight. Left, right, straight? I yelled a few expletives. Junyong turned around and yelled that he found the course, which was a 90 degree left hand turn we both missed about 15 seconds back. The pink ribbon was low on the ground and the red arrows indicating a turn was not there. I guess you can’t get comfortable with the expectations that a marker will be quite obvious as it was perfect up until that point on the course. I was on alert from that point on to pay extra attention.

I lost some ground to Pak while regrouping but was curious how the runners behind me, would fare upon the same error that we made (I heard some other runners missed a turn in the race but I did not know if this was the turn they missed).

Dave was no longer behind me, at least visibly, so I forced on to stay with Pak as long as possible. This took us to the water stop at 6.3 miles. I was about 5 seconds back but needed to grab some Tailwind at the table. I walked through, drinking and gulping two cups. I lost a few seconds and contact with Pak from there on. I saw him just a few more times in the next two miles but that was it. The twists and turns on the single track were brutal. Look at the course map from mile 7 to the finish. The legs and hips were taking a beating.

There was just enough elevation change to break balls too. But it was all good. The occasional Mountain Biker said I was right behind another runner (Pak) but I knew better. That could be minutes ahead. The switch backs over the last three miles allowed you to look over and see you is ahead or chasing. I saw Dave Long at one point and figured I had a minute up. Still, no time to let up, I pressed onward with tired legs, hoping for some fire road and less single track.

The race photographer I came upon said that just a mile remained which hinted that the course would be less than 13 miles. He was right. In the end, the course measured out for 12.4 for me.  I heard 12.3 mile were tracked by others.  I finished in 3rd with a time of 1:28:13 which would have placed me 4th in the 2016 results.

Results are not posted at this time. I am not sure what the times were for everyone. Pak was at least a few minutes ahead of me and Dave Long was maybe a minute behind me. I got a beer glass and a beer ticket for Ispwich Ale (good to see you TJ!) at the Ipswich Clam Festival starting at 1pm from Carol a few minutes after finishing. The race was giving New England Runner gift certificates to the every 25th runner in the race.  The race director, Carol, said she recalled Joe Shairs and I running the first ECTA race 13 years ago. She remembered the snow flurry we had. Good memories indeed.