Thursday, December 31, 2009

That's a wrap

My last run of 2009 in in the books. It was a slow jog in the snow around the 6.5-mile "Norden Summer" loop that I've run a million times. I'd hoped to lay a good one down to close the year but you take what the weather gives you sometimes.

The final tally:
  • 3,224.6 miles
  • 14 races
  • Zero PRs
My best race was probably the Lone Gull 10k in September where I snuck under 36 minutes and under 29 minutes for the 5 mile split in the midst of marathon training. Neither of my marathons were stellar--a 2:54 at Boston and a 2:53 in brutal weather at Baystate--but they weren't disasters either. All in all I came close enough to some PRs to know I still have some in me and I came out the other end happy, healthy and still on the road.

2010 will be interesting. I've got a solid base of 2 years of 3000+ miles under me and, most importantly, I'm healthy. But work is starting to go better and be a lot busier than it's been in a while. I expect to be challenged to find as much time to train as consistently as I have been, but I think I've got the base to be able to do some really good stuff if I can find time. The constant balancing act between work, family and training is part of what excites me about the whole thing so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Right now, I have one specific racing goal for the year: finally break 17 for 5k.

Keep on truckin' friends. Onward.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mill Cities Relay

Relays are fun. On Sunday I met a bunch of Shamrocks, including my teammates Randy and Val, at the Woburn library and drove up to Nashua, New Hampshire for the 26th annual Mill Cities Relay. Our lead off runner, Mike, and our 2nd leg, Crystal, would meet us in Nashua.

We broke it down like this:
Leg 1, 5.6 miles -- Mike
Leg 2, 4.75 miles -- Crystal
Leg 3, 2.5 miles -- Val
Leg 4, 9.5 miles -- Me
Leg 5, 4.75 miles -- Randy

All of it ends, appropriately, at the Claddagh Pub, in Lawrence. All in all things went pretty well. the logistics of a 2-state, 5-person, point-to-point relay always offer a few challenges and this was no different. Crystal decided to jog a lap around the building as Mike was finishing his leg--leaving him nobody to hand off to and costing us somewhere around a minute and a half (not a big deal in the grand scheme, but pretty disconcerting to a guy who'd just run his ass off.) Later, after the leg 3 exchange, there was a small disagreement between me and the guy directing traffic at the exit of the Greater Lowell Technical School. Since Val was ahead of me and I was supposed to take the baton next, I didn't have time to stop and compare and contrast my credentials as a runner versus his credentials as a traffic director, but some colorful language was exchanged. However, I made it to the exchange before Val, with just enough time to throw off my sweatshirt and pants and get lined up.
I told Randy my goal was to pass 10 more people than passed me. That turned out to be a conservative goal as I lost count how many people I'd passed in the mid-to-high teens and nobody passed me. I just tried to aim for half marathon effort for the first 8 miles or so and then figured I'd bury the needle. The first 4 or 5 miles were mostly on an icy, snowy bike path along the river through Lowell before we returned to he road for the end. Despite (or maybe because of) my slacker training schedule lately, I felt great. I fed off the energy of having lots of targets up ahead and just rolled along. I wound up covering the 9.5 mile course in 57:53 or 6:06 pace and I'm pretty sure the last 1.5 miles were sub 6 pace. I came really close to catching Noel on our Men's Open team--I think the gap was about 30 seconds when we handed off. The great thing is nothing really hurt. My cranky hip made a few complaints in the late miles, but nothing serious.
Randy ran a great last leg and we wound up 26th out of 201 teams overall and 4th of 14 teams in our division, covering the 28.6 mile course in 2:54:38. We were the highest point-scoring team among the Shamrock entries. (Yay us!) If not for the little mishap at the first exchange, we would have been fastest Shamrock team overall. Oh well. Good times, nonetheless.
The best part, of course, is that this race ends at a pub. And even though we were done by 11 and they didn't serve beer until noon, we found a way. It was good as always to see a lot of the regulars of the New England running scene and overall a great way to usher out my 30's. That's right, my next race will be as a masters runner. Yikes.