Monday, February 5, 2024

The Great Stew Chase 15K

I missed the start, heard the starting gun go off from around the corner. Guess I was too casual on the warm up over to the race, one and a half miles away. Krissy had my number waiting for me at the start. She could barely pin the number on my shirt as the race of 200 scattered off. I told her not to worry, my official time should get picked up. I looked over at the start and saw no timing mat. Crap! It is all about gun time today. I got on my way with no panic and caught the race a few minutes later. 

I moved through the race, trying to be casual about it and settled into a low 8 minute pace effort by 3 miles. The weather was in the mid-30 with plenty of sunshine. A bit of a breeze from the west. I backed off in the hills of Centennial Drive and out toward Rt. 1. On the way back, I was not feeling to great but managed to keep in the 8's for pace. The last few miles were just flat effort-wise. I came into the finish with a personal time of 1:19:29 (8:32 pace) and clock time of 1:20:49 (8:41 pace) meaning I missed the start by 1 minute 20 seconds. I managed to place 3rd in the age group. 

I changed into some dry clothes and sat down inside the Knights of Columbus for the Vegetarian Stew, Water and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I caught up with some folks and cheered on all age group winners who were snagging winter hats. At the end of the day, managed to cover 11 miles that gave me a touch over 30 for the week. Photo creds to Shannon Cram. 


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Wicked Frosty Four

Keeping with the New Years tradition, the Frosty Four Mile race hosted by the Wicked Running Club was in order. The weather was sunny, in the low 30’s with very little wind to complain about. I ran a mile and a half warm up with neighbors, Eric and Dennis. I got off to a good, clean start heading down Derby Street trying to keep Eric close but stay controlled. 

I settled into mile 1 behind a Notch contingent of singlets, including Eric, with a 6:48 mile. We rounded the neighborhood behind the Salem Willows and out past Dead Horse beach up the final hill. These miles slowed to 7:11 and 7:13 respectively. I caught Mike Vanne with a half mile to go and gave him some encouragement. We are often finishing our Wednesday Notch runs together so I felt right at home. I would lose one place with 400m to go but held on straight into the fast finish. 

I placed 38th with a time of 28:26, chip time 28:24 (7:05 pace per mile). I found Eric and headed back to the Village Tavern for some fuel before heading out for a 2 mile cool down via Derby Street, Collins Cove and the Salem Common. I capped off the even by chilling out with the Lynn Woods crew at the Tavern and supported the award winner ceremony in the back room to the diligent MC work by Alan Yen! 

Frosty Four Miles – Salem – January 1, 2024 race results

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Competitive struggles

Dave Dunham reminded me that I am approaching my 20th anniversary with the Central Mass Striders Men's Racing Team. That made me look up the CMS Bio from 2008 on the racing team blog written when just 34 years old. I don't climb into the archives too much but if I don't document it or look it up once in a while, let's face it, I will forget the years, times, and sweat equity spent. It is sad that runners almost lost their results from the late 90's to about 2019 on Coolrunning. (go check out the link on my blog to find them on the web-archive)

Racing with the team brought me so many memories. I represented CMS around the region and country on the roads, trails, mountains, track and cross country. My first national team race was in Squaw Valley California for the 2004 Snowshoe Championships. I am proud to share the singlet, start and finish lines with some awesome athletes and friends. I had the pleasure of managing the men's racing team for almost half of those decades. I witnessed open runners move to masters and then into seniors. I will be a senior late next year. 

The last few years have been tough competitively with a decline in keeping up with the miles, workouts and races. You get exactly what you put into it. Injuries can set one back and the road to recovery can be slow and arduous. I have seen many come and go from the sport - seen a few transition to other sports with no impact such as cycling. I will continue to pound the pavement, enough to satisfy mileage commitments to which ever wear test brand is on my feet. 

Looking forward into 2024, I am holding myself accountable to set some goals and step out of the comfort zone. I will try some workout sessions with Notch Run Club in Salem. I hope it pays off and can improve the 5K times and see if I can sustain some miles for a road half marathon!

2023 Chanukah Run-A-Latke 5K

Last road race for 2023 in the books with the Chanukah Run-A-Latke 5K out of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore in Swampscott. The weather was decent for mid-December. Mile splits were 707, 723, 705 and 618 for the last 10th. Lost a pack of eight in the middle mile where I got gapped. Official results: 20th place, 6th in the old guy category, 22:15, 7:10 pace per mile. Needed some extra miles so I ran the course again after the race. I cheered on every runner and walker that I ran by while doing the course clock-wise. 

Krissy took photos. Chanukah Run-A-Latke 5K race results

Monday, December 11, 2023

The Mount Hood Nutcracker Challenge - 3.5 XC

Mount Hood Nutcracker Challenge 2023 Race Results 

Time for the famous “Nutcracker” cross country race held in December on the Mount Hood Golf Course in Melrose. You can picture it. A tower off in the distance, way above sea level with harriers in shorts braving any and all elevation changes over 3.5 miles. This one had balmy weather in the 50’s. A peek of the results show it loaded with Cambridge Running Club and Cambridge Sports Union on page 1. However, Nate Jenkins and Scott Mindel placed 3rd and 4th respectively for the Central Mass Striders. They teamed up with Matthew Baron who won overall for the team win. A good all start team if I must say.

I was sucking wind up and down the course. The first mile was the easiest, mostly flat which is not saying much. Mile two was brutal. Paces went all over the map. It was charge a hill, recover and open the stride all the way to the finish line. In the end, 8 minute pace for this one overall. 74th place, 28:02! I wore SRR colors but CMS had a few other gents in front of me: John Pajer and Adam Rundell for what might have been Team Pajer with a few daughters running and one a few ticks behind me.

Funny story while cooling down with the Lynn Woods guys. The CSU group was cooling down behind us. I heard the CMS names of Mindel and Jenkins – a mention of the team having NE Champions or at least picking them up during their careers. I will hide the rest of the context but I chirped them on the way by as to be careful about taking trash about CMS. All good fun. Patrick Bugbee put out a fist bump. The guys continued the cool down for the incredible view from the tower at Mount Hood. I bailed on the notable feast that awaited at the club house. Kristen managed to get me a mini-Nutcracker to add to the display at home where at least 10 already reside in various sizes.

Course Map

Start showing field getting ready

Mount Hood Nutcracker. With the Christmas Tree Shop out of business, where will they be sourced in the future?

All smiles coming down the first downhill next to Eric Bowden

Coming in hot to the finish

Crossing the finish line around 28:01

2023 Mount Hood Nutcracker Challenge Video. Footage taken about 400m into the race course. 

Thanks for the Trails 5K

ECTA put on another post-Thanksgiving cross country and trail race via Patton Park in Hamilton. This time it was held on the Saturday instead of the Friday. Same venue and same course used in the past. Weather was decent. Shorts, long sleeve and gloves. I saw some familiar SRR faces out there with Tinger, Bifano and Cullinan. CMS had Todd Callaghan tuning up before his trip to XC Nationals in Tallahassee. The hills on this one were painful as usual. I placed 35th with a time of 25:49. GPS captured 3.29 miles. I had a good finish, getting past four men that were ahead of me with 800m to so I felt good about that. A hot bowl of soup was the reward after the race. A lot of raffles were handed out but my number was not called. 

Thanks For the Trails Race Results 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Wild Turkey 5 Mile Run

Nakri signed me up a few days ago at New England Running Company in Beverly. Krissy and I took the RAM to the race and caught every red light on the way. I warmed up around the Salem Common, meeting Nakri to grab my number. The Common filled with over 1500 runners with bright sun cracking down on the yellow leaves on the dew filled grass. The 8AM started promptly. I could tell right away my legs were flat and not interested in carrying low 7’s for long. 

I soaked in the surroundings seeing Krissy and her walking crew several times along the course. There were at least three beer/mamosa stops run by the local neighborhoods. Music was blasting and people were really into it as usual. Just a great atmosphere. I was on a cruise control to the end, not fussing over place or time. 240th place, 39:32, 10th out of 48 in the 45-49 age group. 7:54/mi pace. I found Nakri and ran an easy 1 mile cooldown. Krissy was wrapping up her walk at the Hawthorne Hotel. We watched the race for a few minutes before heading out for another Thanksgiving Holiday!

Wild Turkey 5 Mile Run Race Results November 23, 2023 - Salem, MA