BAA Half Marathon 2012 Race Recap

BAA Half Marathon Recap 2012

My string of new PRs has been broken, but hopefully I am not. My official time was 1:50:57 with an 8:26 pace.

The day after the race, race my legs are getting tight and the hamstring is letting me know it is there. I’ve done some stretching and will be doing a lot more over the next six days to prepare for my next adventure, the ING Hartford Marathon.

BAA Half Marathon

I parked my car in the T parking lot about a mile from my house at 6AM and rode The Orange Line all the way to the end, Forrest Hills.

From there the BAA had shuttle buses to The Franklin Park Zoo where the race started and ended. Since I was so early I got on the first bus which was the only coach. All the rest were school buses.

Being able to park my car near my house and take one train all the way to the bus pickup area was awesome. It’s rare to have such convenience when going to a race.


Pre Race and preperation

It was only in the 50s this October morning so it was a bit nippy. To prepare for the race, I slipped my running pants over my running shorts and wore my running vest over my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt. It’s long sleeved and seemed appropriate to wear to a BAA event.

It had been freakin cold standing on the platform waiting for the train earlier. Waiting for the race to start in even less clothing was just as brisk.

When I go to a race I like to pack as little as possible but still be prepared for anything. If it rained today, nothing would have helped. Any running jacket eventually leaks. If you have one that will not leak you will over heat and sweat your ass off. If a jacket won’t let rain in it certainly won’t let body heat out either. Either way, you’re drenched.

I brought extra socks and shirts and even brought and wore running gloves. I ended up running in the shirt they gave us and changed into my running socks before the race. My clothing choices ended up being spot on. I never felt over heated or chilled during the race.

Running Tip

If you feel cool, or even cold before a race, you are probably dressed appropriately. It takes about a mile for your body to warm up during a race or training run. Wearing a hat or gloves before a race will help you keep warm. These are items that are easy to take off once you do warm up and can be tossed or stuffed into a pocket or running belt.

If you are warm at the start you are going to be miserable after the first mile.

Over heating during the race is one of the worse things that can happen to you. Overheating will cause your body to sweat out fluids that it needs for your run.

I have found that managing my body heat makes a big difference in my performance.

Kudus to the BAA

BAA half marathonAs usual the BAA was very well-organized. I can’t say enough about how well they manage a race. Today the buses were waiting for us; people knew where to direct us and could answer questions. There were plenty of signs directing us to the start and along the course. The road closures were taken care of. I never had to share the road with a Buick or a Porsche as I ran through Boston. I felt safe, and that is more than I can say about some other races I’ve been in.

The Start

I waited too long to line up for the race and ended up about 100 feet behind the last official corral. The road through the park was very crowded and I kept having to put on the brakes and weave around people. My first mile pace was 8:48

At mile 1 the race goes over the Monsignor William Casey Overpass which is a narrow road for 5,459 runners. The overpass was also our first hill and many people slowed down. On the first hill.

It was so tight that I had a hard time getting around people. Some runners ran outside of the cones and pushed a little more than I did. After this “hill” things thinned out a little bit and I started to make some progress.

At the Mile 2 marker my pace was 9:04. Yikes. I had set my goal pace at 8:10 on my watch. I knew this was a stretch, but that was the pace I needed to achieve a PR. So with two slow miles under my belt I stepped it up. For the rest of the race I never ran less than an 8:44 mile and did two 8:12 miles. There were some down hills that I took advantage of and I generally felt pretty good.

The race is very scenic and runs along the “Emerald Necklace”. At about 4.5 miles the race loops back on The Riverway. While I thought I had started the race in the back, I could now see that thousands of people were behind me. I knew I passed some, but many more must have started even further back than I did.

Hydration Management

I started the BAA Half Marathon with a 500ml bottle of water. I’ve incorporated this into my racing routine. I don’t drink anything the last hour before a race and then I start sipping water a few minutes before the gun goes off. This allows my system time to process all of the fluid I drank earlier, and anything I drink just before or during the race will come out through sweat.

Having my own water also allows me to skip the first few water stops. At any race, the first water stops are usually a mob scene. Instead of stopping, I move to the middle of the road and slow down or walk so it is easier to navigate the crowd who have stopped for a drink.

In a race there are things you can control and things you cannot. Hydration is something that you can control. You can’t control the weather, but bringing your own beverage gives you a lot of control. If it is hot, you have extra to drink as you need it. If it is cool your drink will allow you to get through water stops at your pace.

Walking a water stop can be part of a running strategy. With a water bottle you can avoid the first few water stops at your race. The first stops are usually crowded and can be disruptive to your pace. Moving to the middle of the road and slowing or walking allows you to control your pace, hydrate and run your plan.

Managing fluid intake is very important. You don’t want to get dehydrated and you don’t want to have to stop. You can actually do both if you do not plan properly. Just because there’s water in your bladder does not mean there’s enough in your body. Whatever you drink before the race, much of it ends up in your bladder.

Likewise, just because you peed right before the start doesn’t mean that your body is done processing the half-gallon of water your nervously drank before the race. All of that excess water is in your system and a few miles into the race all of the fluid you drank will catch up with you.

Running Tip

Hydration is crucial to your race. Here is my routine:

  • Drink plenty of fluids the day before the race and before the race
  • Stop drinking all fluids one hour before the race
  • Use the porta-potties at least twice, the last time as close to start time as possible
  • At a large race staying in the porta-potty line may be required
  • Practice running with a water bottle and use one during the race
  • Test sports drinks during training so you know what your system tolerates best

Our first stop

Our first water stop and porta pottie deployment was at mile two. I moved to the middle of the road to stay out-of-the-way and looked over to the johns. Eight people were lined up! After two miles! They exemplified poor hydration management and validated what I have been doing for the past few years.

These people may have been new to running and hadn’t figured out how hydration works yet. Even veteran runners make mistakes and sometimes the bowels are the problem, not the bladder. Think before you drink!

The Hills

This course was far from flat but was no Great Bay Half Marathon either. At about mile 7 and 11 the most challenging hills met us. The rise at mile 7 is about 50 feet over half-a-mile. It’s not steep but it is the first significant uphill and it is past the halfway mark in the race, a point when legs are getting tired. Mile 6 was 8:16 and mile 7 was 8:29 for me, so not too much slower.

BAA Half_Marathon_ElevationMap


At mile 11 we started our climb from 75 feet above sea level to about 150 feet above sea level over about a mile distance. The biggest elevation gain is between mile 11 and 11.5, probably 60 feet. This is very late in the race and many tired legs struggled.

The hills in a race are the great sorters. People who have done hill work and are otherwise prepared can charge up a hill and pass a lot of people. Anyone who has not put in the miles and done the hill work will fall back on the hills. Late in the race the hills are ruthless sorters.

I don’t focus on hill work as much as I should, but my club runs are full of hills. On race day that hill work pays off. I have come to love the hills.

BAA Half Marathon Official Results

The BAA results and commentary are here. The BAA also has a link to race photos on this same page.Full race results are also posted on

My time was 1:50:57 and my pace was 8:26. Out of 5,424 runners I came in 1,629th and out of 227 men aged 45-49 I came in 93rd. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that I finished within the top 30% overall, and in the top 40% of men my age.

A few notable finishes

The male winner was Allan Kiprono 22 years old from Kenya with a time of 1:01:44. The top female was Kim Smith 30 years old from New Zealand with a time of 1:10:57. Really amazing results.

The top guy in my age group was Wayne Levy 47 years old from Waban, MA with a finish time of 1:16:20. Bravo!

The oldest guy to finish the race was Anthony Cellucci 80 years old from Needham, MA with a finish time of 3:24:54. This man is my hero. I often say I want to still be doing this when I’m 80. Well, Mr. Cellucci is getting it done!

One of the announcers said 60% of the runners in this race were women. They were especially proud of that as we celebrate 40 years since Title 9 was passed in the US giving females the same access to athletics and sports as males have in school.

The oldest woman to finish was Rosemary Lasche 67 years old from Brookline, MA with a finish time of 2:12:47. This put her in 3961st place overall and 2nd out of six women in her age group.

Run well my friends!


© 2012 Andrew nagelin

Friday 5K Run

Esplanade 5K Run

I went out for a nice 5K run on The Esplanade this afternoon. My last training run before the BAA Half Marathon on Sunday.

It was in the mid-70’s and nice and sunny. Just perfect. I appreciated the fact that we wont have many more of these days and before we know it the cold weather will be here.

I wanted to go for an easy run and do about a 9 minute pace. As I ran over The Longfellow bridge I felt really good. No effort at all. When I hit The Esplanade I felt like I was gliding along. When my watch beeped for 1 mile I looked down and saw my pace had been 8:20 and that included going over the bridge, up and down the stairs and navigating oblivious folks strolling about. Mile two came in at 8:19. Way to fast for an easy run. I managed to reel it on for mile three and ran an 8:54 pace.

My total distance was 3.35 miles at an 8:31 overall pace. It was effortless. One of the easiest runs I’ve had in months.

Maybe things are falling into place for me and I will be able to finish this running season the way I had planned. I’d like to PR at the BAA Half Marathon this weekend. I feel like I can do it. On October 13th I have the ING Hartford Marathon and I’m a little worried. Six days is not a lot of recovery time, especially if I aggravate my injury.

I am going to go for it. I’m going to use everything I know about running and recovery and push my limits.

Run well my friends,


BAA Half Marathon Taper Time

BAA Half Marathon Taper Time

Four days to go until the BAA Half Marathon. I’m starting to get excited and my mind is more and more pre-occupied with the race. At this point I’m in taper mode and have been thinking about the clothes I might need. I need to be prepared for whatever weather we get on race day. I’m also taking an inventory of my GUs and other race food to make sure I have what I need.

Taper Time and Recovery Time

With only four days to go, I’m in maintenance mode. At this point any additional training is not going to increase my speed or endurance. If I sustain an injury this close to the race there won’t be any time for a recovery.

It is time to be careful and try to take care of myself. I ran 9.29 miles on Sunday and 5.69 miles Tuesday night. I’ll probably do 5k Friday afternoon and that’s about it. Enough to maintain my fitness level and keep my legs loose.

My hamstring injury is pretty much behind me. It still hurts some times and I still get leg pain if I sit in my car for more than 45 minutes. But, the pain is not as bad as it used to be and takes much longer to hit me. My left calf muscle has been bothering me for the past week or so. As they say, there is always a pain, it just moves around.

Training and Therapy

In my last two races, a 10K and a 5K, I’ve set new PRs. I haven’t been putting in a lot of extra miles. I peaked at about 32 miles one week but have stayed in the 20-25 miles per week range for the past few months. I give a lot of the credit for my recent success to my physical therapy.

In addition to all kinds of stretching exercises my therapist has given me some good strengthening exercises. I’m working on muscles that I’ve never really paid much attention to, the glutes and all of the hip muscles. I didn’t really think these exercises would do more than help me recover, but I have no other explanation for my recent successes.

Strengthening these muscles has to be what is making the difference in my performance.
Most of the hamstring and piriformis work I have done has been stretching and not strengthening. The focus there has been to work out my scar tissue and get those muscles flexible again. I’m excited to see such amazing results from this effort. I never paid much attention to stretching before. I’m beginning to see the light though.

The Nugget of Wisdom

As I’ve mentioned many times before, if you do not stretch on a regular basis do not start a massive routine on race day while you are sitting around waiting for the start. Do not do anything new on race day. Nothing. It will mess you up. If you never stretch or only do some light stretches, doing 20 minutes of hard-core stretching is going to tear your muscles at the absolute worse time for this, minutes before a race. Don’t do it.

I encourage you to start a stretching routine and work it into your cross training or cool off routine. If you do it right and push yourself you will be amazed at the results. Just don’t start on race day, okay?

The BAA Half Marathon should be exciting. I’ve never run it before, but I know how well the BAA manages a race.

Run well my friends,


© anagelin 2012

6th Annual Granara-Skerry 5K Walk/Run

This morning I ran the Granara-Skerry 5K Race in Medford, MA.

The rain held off and we ended up with just about perfect running conditions. When I drove home through Medford Square one of the bank clocks said 55 degrees.

running,race,granara-skerry 5k

The course is an out and back that starts at The American Legion Hall on Winthrop Street. It is mostly a flat course with a few rises in the road that help sort out the field a bit.

Over all there were 96 runners and I managed to come in 15th. My official time was 22:57 and my pace was 7:24! A new PR for me that beat my previous 5K PR, also set on this course, by 16 seconds.

The top male finisher was John Wichers of Arlington with a time of 17:58 and a pace of 5:47. And this young man is 45! The top female finisher was Ashley Bock of Wakefield with a time of 21:22 and a pace of 6:53. Very impressive times, I hope they are happy with their results.

7 of the 14 people who finished ahead of me were under 30. Jim Ryan of Medford ran a strong race and came in 9th overall and first in his age group. Jim ran in a time of 21:52 and a pace of 7:03. Not bad for a young lad of 61!

The race was managed by out of Scarborough, Maine. There was plenty of water at the finish line and plenty of snacks in The Hall. As a fund-raiser there were all kinds of raffles going on and face painting for the kids.

This was a nice local race raising money for a very good cause. This link will take you to a brief write-up about the Granara-Skerry Trust, and this link will take you to their website if you would like additional information.

© anagelin 2012

The Bonk

What is The Bonk?

Bonk is a term used by runners and other endurance athletes to describe the moment when their muscles have run out of glycogen. Glycogen is how your body stores glucose in the muscles and liver. Glucose can be quickly and efficiently converted into energy by your muscles during exercise.

Unfortunately, glucose is not a dense form of energy storage and your muscles contain a limited supply. Glycogen is an analog of starch which is a carbohydrate. Anyone who has counted calories knows that a gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories. A gram of fat contains 9 calories and therefore contains more than twice the energy potential of glucose.

The average person can store 380 grams of glycogen or about 1,500 calories in their body. Through training and carbohydrate loading, a conditioned athlete can store up to 880 grams or 3,600 calories.

Many athletes hit the wall after 1-2 hours of running or cycling, depending on their conditioning and how hard they work. At this point in their workout, or race, their bodies have used up the glycogen stored in their muscles and have switched over to burning fatty acids.

I will use myself as an example.

I weigh about 175 lbs and am in pretty good shape. Not Olympic athlete shape but I can run and finish a marathon. A highly conditioned athlete who has done carbo-loading can store up to 3,600 calories in his body. At my level of fitness and without carbo-loading I can probably store 2,000 calories.

If I run at a 6mph pace, or 10 minute miles, I will burn approximately 800 calories an hour. At about 2.5 hours my body will have burned all of the glycogen it has stored in my muscles and liver. Running at this pace (6mph) for 2.5 hours would get me approximately 15 miles into a marathon.

Most runners can make it to about 20 miles before hitting the wall by replenishing glucose while they run. Carbohydrate gels and drinks like these are typically what most athletes use.

How to avoid The Bonk

The best way to avoid “The Wall” and The Bonk is to consume carbohydrates as you exercise or race. As mentioned above, many athletes can get to 20 miles before bonking by consuming carbohydrates as they run.

For a half or full marathon I carry GU Energy Gels with me. These little packets have 100 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrates, or 80 calories that are quickly turned into sugar and absorbed into my blood stream. I usually feel a surge of energy a few minutes after taking a GU. Some people tell me they do not feel anything.

GUs and other energy replenishment products often also contain potassium and sodium which your muscles needs to work properly. Some products also contain amino acids or caffeine as a boost to your energy level.

I find that it is better to avoid The Wall. Once my muscles have become completely depleted I never seem to be able to regain my energy. My legs feel rubbery and it takes all of my conscious effort just to move my feet, let alone run.

Over the years I have learned to grab Gatorade at the water stops and to carry GUs with me. I do not drink Gatorade at all of the water stops but I always drink it at some of them. For a marathon I often consume 5 GUs. I feel that it is better to have too many carbs than it is to bonk.

Calorie consumption calculator

Here is a link to a web site with a tool to help you figure out how many calories you burn during a workout or race.
You can change the pace and duration of your exercise, you can even change your weight to see how that would affect your energy consumption. If you hit the wall at a race you could also use this tool to estimate how many grams of glycogen your body had.

I hope this information is helpful for you, and thanks for stopping by.

©2012 anagelin

BAA Half Marathon in 19 days

As of today I have 19 days until the BAA Half Marathon

It makes me both a little excited and a little nervous.

Anyone who has indulged me and read this blog for any amount of time knows I’ve been working through a hamstring or piriformis injury since early this summer. The physical therapists at Harvard Vanguard in Somerville have been doing a great job and I feel like I’m on the road to recovery.

After running the Lake Winnie Relay and the Lone Gull 10K this past weekend, my confidence has returned. I’m still in pain sometimes but it takes longer to hurt and the pain is less intense. Even with “competitive” running these past few weekends my leg continues to improve. I know that I’m not out of the woods with this yet, but I feel that I can salvage the rest of my running season.

The Lone Gull 10K turned out to be an amazing run for me. I didn’t spend a lot of time planning or specifically training for it, but everything worked. I’m going to follow the same routine for the BAA Half. No high fiber food but high glycemic food instead, like Fig Newtons. I want to have my blood sugar nice and high during the race. During the 10K I took a GU around 2.6 miles, less than half way. I’ll probably take 2 or 3 GUs with me on the Half and take one every 3 miles or so. The GU is designed to boost blood sugar to give that boost of energy.

I’ve learned to stop drinking about 30 minutes before start time. I get in line for the porta-potty and do not start drinking again until a few minutes before the start. This way I get all of the “processed” fluid out of my body before the race. The water I drink in the gate will be in my system to do what it’s supposed to do and will be eliminated as sweat.

Usually the BAA has paper cups for their water stops. I’ve learned to pinch the top of the cup, keep running and take a gulp. I often only get one mouth full, but it is usually enough if I hit all of the water stops. I’ve come to call this “The Runners Gulp”. Pinching the cup helps keep me from pouring water in my shoes as I run also.

So, 19 days to stretch and get a few “long” runs in. 19 days to avoid over doing it or getting injured. When the club runs on Tuesday nights it is now pitch black out. This can be very dangerous and last week one of my friends took a spill during our run. I’ve done it, just about everyone has. Usually it’s no big deal. But, a twisted ankle or worse can ruin a race if you do not have a few weeks to recover. so, it’s almost time to step cautiously and be a bit more careful.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great run!

©2012 andrew nagelin