Monday, September 21, 2009

Lone Gull 10k

photos by Ted Tyler of Coolrunning

Mark Hudson picked me up bright and early on Sunday and we carpooled up to Good Harbor Beach for the Lone Gull 10k, the USATF NE Grand Prix 10k. It was downright chilly when we left Reading, but by the time we got up there and started our warmup it was turning into perfect racing weather.

We did a little jog on the first and last couple miles of the out-and-back course with Dan Princic, Dave Dechellis and a few of the other Whirlaway guys. As usual before a grand prix race the atmosphere was festive, with most of the New England running scene on hand. Just before the start I got to chat a little with Dan Vassallo, the Colby grad now running for Adidas New England, whom I've known since he was in high school. Dan has been on fire lately and would go on to finish 2nd in 30:39.

After the usual pre-race chit chat I wisely buried myself a few rows deep on the starting line to keep from getting sucked out way too fast. The race got underway just a few minutes late and the pack of 800 runners thundered along Atlantic Road. I took it easy for the first half mile and let the crowd settle down before I started moving up through the pack to find my spot. My legs were by no means fresh, being in the heart of marathon training, but I figured if I could get through the first couple of miles without doing something stupid I would have the strength to close well. I wound up hitting the 1 mile mark in 5:45 and the race had settled down around me by that point.

I was 18:04 at 5k and starting to pick off a few more people. I passed 6 to 8 people between the 5k and 5 mile markers--it was good to have so many targets around as the pace was really starting to feel intense. Around 5 miles (photo below) I passed Robert Cipriano of Somerville RR and the 2nd place woman, Tammie Robbie of Whirlaway. My 5 mile split was 28:59.

The last mile featured no more passing, just hanging on with white knuckles. A short, steep little rise just before the 6 mile mark completely finished me off for the little run in to the finish. As I charged (wobbled) for the line I could see the clock winding toward that 36 minute mark but when I hit the finish mat the clock still read 35:56 so I felt confident I'd squeaked under. The official results had it a little closer, however.

The final tally: 79th place overall in 35:59 / 5:48 pace. Not bad for a USATF NE championships race.

It was my 2nd fastest 10k ever (granted I haven't run many of them) and my fastest 5 miler in 5 years en route. 5k splits of 18:04 / 17:55 indicate I have some good strength right now. The race itself was well done and features a beautiful seaside course. I would run this one again in a heartbeat.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

If a tree falls in the woods

Today I did huge run by my standards. I rarely do anything over 20 miles--even in marathon training--and I don't think I've ever done a training run over 3 hours, until this morning. At least I think I did a big run.
I didn't mean for it to be that far or take that long, really. I just set out with my Garmin aiming for "about 20" and planning to take my time about it. I headed over Bear Hill in Stoneham, past the golf course and into Stoneham center. Wound my way down toward the Spot Pond reservoir, and the Fellsway. I decided to pop into the Fells and run the orange trail which I hadn't really been on since I used to do a lot of mountain biking over there years ago. Running on the rocky, rooted single track of the orange trail is almost a different sport that road running. At times I got impatient picking my way along at 9-10 minute mile pace and a few times I popped off onto the fire roads around the reservoirs...but mostly I made my way around the entire orange trail and back to the entrance by the sheepfold parking lot and out onto the Fellsway.
There I kept going south and ran the loop around Spot Pond, back to Pond Street in Stoneham and headed the way I came. But near Bear Hill I turned onto Broadway and headed over to Wakefield Center and Lake Quannapowitt. At the Gazebo by the lake I was at 19 miles already and finally found my first water. I sucked down as much water as I could and the Gu that I'd been carrying for all 19 miles so far. I don't remember ever being so thirsty on a run.
From there I made my way down the lake shore via Main St and across the Wakefield rotary, past REI and up Salem Street in Reading to the square. I ran down Haven Street where the vendors were setting up for the street fair later today (which my daughter will participating in with her gymnastics academy), through the train station, up Prescott and home.
Garmie says it was about 22.7 miles and over 3 hours but here's the thing: my online training log at RunningAhead is DOWN right now and so I can't upload it. And I have to say I'm a little alarmed at just how much anxiety this fact is causing me. It was down before I went out--I know because I was planning to search for a route I'd created but couldn't thus the ad lib. And now it's still down. And so dependent have I become on my online tools that I can't even feel like the run is complete (i.e. be sure it actually happened) until I enter in my log and see it update my daily, weekly and monthly totals and make that tall orange bar on my summary graph representing today's run.
I need to feed my kids and shower now. I really stink. But I hope RunningAhead is up soon or I will start to freak out a little. And, yes, I hate myself a little for that fact.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cape Ann 25k

I went up to Gloucester on Monday morning for the 76th Annual Around Cape Ann 25k Road Race. It's amazing to me that I had never run this race before, but it seems like we've always got something going on on Labor Day weekend. I'm glad I finally did--this was a fun race on a great day for a 15.5 mile run.

At the start it was pretty clear the Greater Boston Track Club would be taking home the men's team title. I found myself in a pack that included at least 6 or 7 of their bright red singlets. Within the first mile I decided I'd better cut the balloon string and let them go or it would be a pretty awful second half of the race. I did, and after a 6:24 opening mile, settled into a good groove in the low 6:30's for a while. I found myself running with Diona Fulton of the Somerville Road Runners for a few of those early miles. She was looking strong and neither of us seemed to be working all that hard.

Everything was going fine and I was okay with the low 6:30's pace over the roller-coaster of a seaside course when around mile 5 or so a guy from the Cambridge Running Club caught up to us and broke up the party. He was working awfully hard for 5 miles into a 25k and between his feet slapping the ground and his breathing like a freight train I just for some reason decided I needed to leave. And so I did--out the front door. I dropped a 6:26, then a 6:18 and a 6:17 and suddenly I was all alone, having dropped Diona and the Cambridge guy and having caught and dropped the GBTC guy who had been about a hundred yards up the road from us. I caught a few more guys going through Rockport. I had gone from about 20th to about 14th in just about 3 miles.

It's funny but at that point I was still feeling fine and so I just went with it. I saw my sister somewhere in here and she snapped the photo below. I sure don't look like I'm working all that hard.

Around miles 10 to 11 I caught a BAA guy and a Somerville guy who were running together. I hung with them for a couple minutes and then moved on up the road. I could see two more targets up the road--a Wicked Running Club guy and the women's winner, Tara Wommack of GBTC. I would eventually catch the Wicked guy around mile 13 or so, but despite closing hard in the last mile I never did catch Tara.

I wound up 10th overall, in 1:38:56. I really didn't know what to expect going in and figured 1:40 would be a good effort on such a hilly, winding course--so I am more than satisfied. And I'm even more pleased with the fact I was clicking off low 6's at the end with relative ease. Any time you can negative split a long hilly race like that it's a big confidence boost.

It was a solid effort for me and should be excellent marathon training. I saw lots of Shamrocks, my sister and brother-in-law and their baby and a bunch of the usual suspects. Overall it was a great way to spend Labor Day morning.