The nice thing about a virtual race is that you can roll out your front door when ever you feel like it. You won’t be late and you never have to worry about parking.
With the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon, I even avoided the twelve-hour flight to Hawaii!
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you know it’s worth the flight to get to such a beautiful place.
Running 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon
I love coffee and on more than one occasion I’ve actually run with a coffee in my hand.
You just can’t beat an iced-coffee as a refresher on the run.
I’ve had 100% pure Kona coffee when I’ve visited Oahu. When it is fresh it is a delicious and well balanced cup.
And strait up is the best way to appreciate the flavor profile.
Well, enough about coffee!
With the uptick in COVID-19 cases and the Governor’s new mandatory mask policy, I wanted to get an early start.
I’ve been running evenings in my neighborhood and trying to stay on well lit roads that are in good condition.
Unfortunately, everyone else seems to like those streets for their evening stroll or dog walk.
I left my house at 8:04 AM which is pretty good for me. Hopefully most people would still be at home!
The previous day I had cleaned up my garden and got things set up for Spring. This involved some digging and lifting.
I also raked leaves which involves lots of twisting of the back.
As I ran down my street I could feel the results of all that yard work.
I wasn’t out to set any records and told my self to settle down and figure out where you are going to go.
100% Pure Kona Coffee Course Medford Style
The night before I looked at a few of my recent virtual half marathon runs.
I wasn’t too excited about running these exact routes again. But I didn’t have a full course mapped out for today.
In Malden there is the Northern Strand Community Trail which is an old rail bed.
I’ve run plenty of hilly courses of my choosing, this time I chose to avoid hills.
I knew that the Community Trail would be virtually flat, I just didn’t know where it went or how long it was. I’d run a short part of it before, but there was the other direction to explore.
I added a jog down Commercial Street in Malden and hit two miles just after crossing The Malden River.
I knew I was near where I ran the trail before, but from the street I didn’t see any signs. So I took a left onto Canal Street.
In about 100 yards I could see the trail and people on it. I crossed the street and got onto the trail.
It was still early so I only saw about ten people on my run into Malden Square.
When I got to Malden Square I didn’t see any signs for the trail so I ran down Eastern Ave. Again, very few people.
Since I didn’t have a course planned out, I wanted to run down Eastern Ave until I found a good place to turn.
After I passed the Malden Police Department I took a left onto Maplewood Street.
I’ve run 5Ks in this area before, and knew I’d hit a main street heading back into the square if I just stayed on this road.
The idea was to then take Main Street from Malden into Melrose.
But shortly after making my turn I saw signs for the trail!
I should have turned right, but I didn’t know where the path went to and didn’t want to run to the coast. A bit more planning would have helped here!
I took a left onto the trail and headed back to Malden Square.
Foot traffic was still light but picking up.
At Malden Square I hit five miles. Only 8.1 more to go!
I was a little worried about what I would have to do to get those miles since I was so close to home.
When I got to Malden Center I kind of knew where I was. I drive through here often and have run in the area a few times.
I got to an intersection I thought I knew and took a right.
Wandering the Hills of Malden
Besides running the distance my main goal was to avoid hills.
Malden has hills everywhere and if you don’t know where you are going you are bound to find them.
As I ran up Dexter Street I admired the old homes. In San Francisco some of them might qualify as “Painted Ladies”.
I could see hills around me and the street was starting to rise a bit.
At the next intersection I took a right, then another right and then a left onto Clifton Street.
I really had no idea where I was except that I wasn’t on a hill!
If I had gone strait at my first right I would have been on my way to Oak Grove T station. From there I could have headed into Melrose, an area I know well.
Instead I was on a street I barely know. When I got to a familiar rail road bridge I took a right. Why not, eh?
After a series of turns I managed to get back to Malden Square, cross Eastern Ave and found the Northern Strand Community Trail again.
My plan was to run the trail to “The End” and see where I was for mileage then.
I was very happy to be at 7.5 miles.
My supplies were holding up and so was I. Kind of.
As I ran the trail I realized that I was dragging my feet and scuffing with each foot fall.
This is a highly inefficient way to run since your feet are catching so much drag from the scuffing.
I took a Honey Stinger and made a greater effort to correct my form.
Other than that nothing really hurt.
End of The Trail
The trail seemed to dead end at West Street. A guy on a bike looked like he was heading down West Street and perhaps the trail went that way?
Again, I kind of knew where I was and went in the opposite direction.
West Street dead ends behind the Best Buy parking lot and I hit nine miles as I started across the back end of their parking lot.
Sacramone Playground is next to the parking lot. A bunch of young kids had soccer practice or something. I saw a dad go into the men’s room of their field house and for a second I thought that looked like a good idea.
But I was close to home and decided to push through.
Fortunately I was on the right side of the street to get through a very busy intersection. I ran over the Malden River again but on a six-lane bridge this time.
Since I was so close to home, I decided to run the trail along The Malden River. I’ve run the trail three or four times before.
I knew where it went and that I’d still be short on distance.
A ways up the trail I stopped to have a Honey Stinger cookie. I hadn’t had any breakfast and my stomach was starting to grumble.
With the fall leaves, it was a nice place to run. And with fewer leaves on the tree I could see more of the river. It’s a good sized river in this area.
I hit mile ten just before “Little Creek” and decided to run down Commercial Street when the trail ended.
I ran Commercial Street all the way down to Wellington Station.
The problem with running along a river is that you can’t just cut across when you want to. They don’t make bridges like side streets.
So instead of getting back onto Revere Beach Parkway and making my way through Wellington Circle, I ran through the train station!
I did notice one person sitting outside checking me out. She must have wondered what the hell this was all about.
Talk about running for a train!
And this dude is in running gear. Where the hell is he going?
The door was open, I ran up about 10 painful steps and across the station.
The great thing is that they have a pedestrian bridge over the tracks to the parking garage!
I’ve never run though here before, but it was pretty cool!
The bridge goes to the 3rd level of the garage and I got to run down the ramps!
Unfortunately, I did loose stellate signal in this nine-story concrete structure.
Then I ran through Station Landing and got a cross walk light to get across The Fells Way.
I hit eleven miles while running across the pedestrian bridge, so I was on the home stretch now.
On My Way Home
I was only about a mile and a half from home, as the crow flies. So I tried to stretch things out as I ran through the Mystic River Reservation.
Before I got to the end of Commercial Street in Medford I hit twelve miles. Only 1.1 miles to go.
This is my front yard so I know all the side streets to add a bit here and there so I can finish almost in front of my house with the exact distance I need.
I was really dragging now and the thought of walking crossed my mind.
But I thought of all the people who get geared up like I was just to run a 5K. How ridiculous would I look in this get up walking down the street?
So I ran.
I was tired and ready for it to be over.
Running down a street I drive almost every day, sometimes several times, is just not as exciting as running in Hawaii.
There was a severe shortage of lush green vegetation. And while it was a nice day, it would be considered a cool day in Hawaii.
I only had to run two side streets to get my distance and finish where I wanted to.
Apre Kona Half Marathon 2020
After I took off my shoes, hat, gloves and gear belt I made an iced coffee!
It was Starbucks Guatemala blend and not Kona, but it was still cold and refreshing.
I made my way upstairs for a long hot shower. Surprisingly I had almost no chaffing and felt almost human afterwards.
I didn’t feel like eating, so I topped off my iced-coffee and settled down to write.
Any runner who had a Boston Marathon bib could participate in the Virtual Boston Marathon 2020.
The Melrose Running Club had six runners with a bib who decided to run the Virtual Boston Marathon 2020.
They started training in January like any other year and then hoped the race would not be cancelled.
Then the race was postponed and turned into a virtual race for the first time in Boston Marathon history.
While the club suspended Sunday Long Runs, they continued to organize Sunday Long Runs and other training runs to prepare for their race.
I didn’t have a bib for the 2020 Marathon, so I ran as a bandit for the first time! I also did not train to run a marathon.
It Takes a Village
Starting at Mile 2, The Boston Marathon has water stops at every mile. This year the crew had to arrange their own water stops and bathroom stops.
Maria Cavero was the team captain and master mind behind putting together the course.
Yvonne Liu-Constant put together the first draft of the course and then Maria found ways to avoid as many hills as possible!
Several miles had virtually no elevation gain and most had only 20-30 feet of elevation gain.
Together, Yvonne and Maria found people’s homes, parks and other spots where we could stop and re-charge.
Volunteers and Guardian Angels
The crew reached out for volunteers for the water stops and to provide on-course support.
They put together seven water stops and a crew of about twenty volunteers. On paper it was about twelve volunteers but many more turned out to help and provide support.
I think the volunteers were as excited to be there as the runners were!
Unlike Boston, we stopped at each water stop. There was no big clock on Boylston Street waiting for us. This year, everyone was just looking to run 26 miles and 385 yards.
It was very chill and less of a “dammed the torpedoes” vibe.
For most of the run there were three guys on bikes riding with us. They were in helmets, sun glasses and masks so I’m not sure who they were!
These guardian angels rode with the last person on the team, took photos and stopped traffic for us!
These guys stood in the middle of Alewife Brook Parkway, aka Rt. 16, into Cambridge and stopped traffic!
With authority they turned their bikes sideways on the median strip, held up their hands and shook cow bells! Drivers actually stopped for them.
They did this countless times so that we could cross busy roads with minimal hindrance.
This bandit would like to thank everyone who took time out of their Saturday to come out and run a water stop or stand in the middle of a road for us.
Running the Virtual Boston Marathon 2020
I was going to go to the start of this run but upon reviewing the map, I realized they were passing within a half mile of my house. So why drive to Melrose?
Over the past few months my weekly miles have rarely hit twenty miles. I’m not qualified to run a 5K. Running more than a four mile training run takes an act of will power.
I didn’t plan on running 26 miles, 385 yards so I told them I would meet them on the corner down from my house.
I figured they were running 10 minute miles. I left my house at 7:20 and thought I’d meet some of them on the corner.
When I got to the corner of Spring and Central Streets I didn’t see anyone. I decided to run down to the first water stop.
No one was there, so I decided to run around the neighborhood to make up some miles and warm up a bit.
I run in this area at least once a week, so I knew exactly where I was.
I ran from the water stop to The Fellsway, all the way back and up to Main Street. At Haynes Square I hit 2 miles.
I ran down Central Street to the water stop and in a few minutes Kristi and Bobby Taylor showed up. In no time they had everything set up and some of the cyclist began to show up.
It was great to catch up with Bobby and Kristi who have both started new jobs recently and have a new dog.
Soon we saw runners in the distance heading down Central Street towards us. This commonplace street corner began to feel exciting.
Some people came out of their houses to see what all the commotion was and everyone seemed happy to see us.
As everyone showed up we began to take over the intersection. Drivers were really good about waiting for people to step out of the way. And we tried to be good in keeping people out of traffic.
The runners had black and white bibs which did not stand out. The drivers had no idea that they were witnessing part of the 20020 Boston Marathon. These folks were decent to us just because that’s what people do.
After everyone was ready to go we headed down Park Street to Riverside and ran through Medford Square.
Medford Square is always busy and has six roads entering or exiting the square. A classic New England intersection.
I was running with Haecha Donnelly and one of our guardian angels helped us get through the square.
We ran up High Street and crossed The Mystic river on a little foot bridge that I’ve never been over.
Then we crossed Mystic Valley Parkway, another hairy crossing and headed towards Whole Foods to cross this road again into Arlington.
I started running with Jackie Ecker along The Parkway. As we crossed one of the streets a young women was clapping and cheering for us and Jackie took a spill!
She fell to the sidewalk in an a “Superman pose” with her hands up and to the sides. In that moment before she moved, I was worried.
I helped her up and she seemed fine. She had a cut on her knee, elbow and small cuts on her hands. She got up and kept on running. No big deal.
Everyone except her was worried.
We ran on a boardwalk next to the Alewife Brook. This was really cool and a place I’d never been to before. The brook was clear of brush and trash and the area looked to be set up as a flood plain.
Our next turn was a right onto Broadway in Arlington and to our second water stop.
Since I was a guest I only took water.
We headed back down Broadway and turned onto River Street towards Medford.
Another area had never run in. People were doing yoga in the park and enjoying the river.
Then we got to one of my favorite places to run in Medford.
Magical Mystic Valley Parkway
We crossed High Street and ran through the rotary onto Mystic Valley Parkway. Our guardian angel was able to stop the few cars in the rotary and we crossed safely.
As we ran down the Parkway we passed two groups of people who were waiting for their Boston Marathon runners to arrive!
It was like being in Framingham or Newton except we were in Medford. They all waved and cheered us on and it was fantastic.
The Parkway is shaded and cool as the sun began to beat down on us.
I hit mile 9 just before we turned off of The Parkway. While the pace was modest compared to how I would normally run a marathon, my total lack of training was beginning catch up to be.
When I’m training for a marathon The Parkway in one of my long run routes.
July is a hot month. The pandemic has forced all of my races to go virtual which isn’t quite as much fun but I am committed to supporting the causes these races support.
My July 2020 Run Down
Jennifer Tinney 4th of July Virtual 5 Miller
Most years I run the Jennifer Tinney 5 Miler in Boxford, MA. The race is in memory of a young teacher who was viciously attached and killed by one of her students in their school. I can still remember the news stories.
My wife and sister are teachers. In addition to being a senseless killing, it hit very close to home.
Like all of my races, I ran this one from my front door. The temperature was no more than 75° F but the humidity was high.
I did the big loop from my house, across The Mystic to Somerville and back again.
It’s a convenient run and it seems fairly popular for runners and walkers. The Mystic River State Reservation always seems to have a lot of people enjoying the outdoors.
The worse part is crossing Rt. 16/Mystic Valley Parkway. It’s three lanes in each direction and most people are on their way somewhere.
For this race I ran from my house into Kendall Square where I work.
Running to work has been of interest to me for a few years. Often I see one or two people running to or from work and I have often wondered how the logistics work. You have to shower at work and somehow get your clothes to work without them looking like you just picked them up off of the floor.
The roads for this run are usually very busy. The route I take is one of the major commuter routes into Boston and Cambridge.
I’ve been hit three times in my car over ten years on this route.
I got started just before 9AM which is never a good idea for a runner in July.
The temperature was 73° F when I left my home and it was 83° F by the time I got to Kendall Square.
It was so hot that I had to stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. By the time I was finishing my drink, all of the ice had melted in less than 12 minutes!
While the goal was to complete a half marathon, my plan was to investigate the route into Kendall Square. My plan was to get to mile six and turn around.
My time was 2:32:37 at an 11:39 pace.
I typically run a two-hour or better half. It was a hot day and I ran during peak heat hours. And as opposed to running on a closed course with water stops, I had dozens of intersections and had to do some walking.
Tuesday Night Neighborhood Run
My next run a was a neighborhood run of 3.2 miles. After flaming out during my urban half, I knew I needed to try and run more consistently.
I ran hard and managed an 8:15 pace up and down the streets in my neighborhood.
Gotta love COVID hair! I think it’s been seven months since my last hair cut.
And this hair is matted down from wearing a hat and sweating!
I was happy to have gotten out during the week for a quick run.
Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler
On July 17th I ran The Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler. This is a mid week race in Newburyport, so I’ve never been able to run it.
It seems silly now to think I could not have taken a half day from work and run this race in the past. Is work so important that nothing else matters between 8AM and 5PM?
I ran this one on one of my Friday vacation days. The weather was mild so I didn’t leave the house until 12:13 PM. The temperature was only 63° F and the humidity was mild.
For this run I took The Fellsway into Melrose. I didn’t have any cut in stone plan, but I knew where I was going and when I needed to turn around.
I ran the hills on the Fellsway in both directions. Definitely not required, but I kind of enjoyed it. Nothing like a good workout!
In Melrose I ran down Main Street and made a stop at Starbucks for an Iced Coffee. The place was deserted! No problem social distancing in there.
My time was 1:32:26 at a pace of 9:13. Not bad for a longer run and 414 feet of elevation gain.
Tuesday night Club Run!
Several members of the MRC Board have been doing a lot of work to get our Tuesday night Club Runs back.
With the state-wide social distancing rules and slight variations in each town, it has been a challenge. There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts and each has their own Board of Health who can make their own rules and their own interpretations of State rules.
In these situations, you realize the value of a more centralized government structure.
We met in front of Melrose High, 02176! There were about a dozen of us. We sent out small groups by pace and I was in the first group. I planned on under 9 minute rules, which didn’t seem overly ambitious.
We were kind of the catch-all group like the 80+ age group at a race.
I had a comfortable 3.22 mile run with Marty Hergert at a 10:22 pace.
It was nice to talk to someone during a run.
Juneau Half Marathon
I left my house at 7:15 AM for this run and it was already 76° F.
I brought my full running belt with two water bottles and a gel. It turned out to be not enough.
On the way home and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on The Jerry Jingle Highway in Melrose for an iced coffee and blue berry glazed donut.
I ran pretty much the same route that I ran for the Yankee Homecoming but managed to go from 414 feet in elevation gain to 2,339 feet. Almost six times the hills just by adding four fairly flat miles?
This was just before Garmin went dark. I’ll have to compare this run to another on a similar run, but it seems way off to me.
This was another hot run. It was 76° F when I left my house. I tried to run in the shade as much as possible, but it was still warm. Thus the stop at Dunkins.
For this run I ran the Fellsway Hills in both direction and run out Main Street in Melrose. At Crystal Pond I hit 7 miles and turned around.
I hoped that I could find enough short cuts on the way back to get close to 13.1 miles. It was too hot to run long.
Except for a slight variation in the last mile, I ran the same route out and back.
When I got to 13.1 miles I noted the time and used that to report my results for the race.
Not that it matters but I told Juneau I ran 2:21 and change. Unfortunately, that time included my pit stop at Dunkin Donuts and into the woods.
My total time for the run was 2:22:08 at a 10:09 pace. But that was for 14 miles! My actual 13.1 mile time was closer to 2:13.
The Juneau Marathon and Half Marathon folks were kind enough to send me a shirt and medal.
It is a great medal and I love the shirt. Hopefully next year we can get a crew from Melrose to go out to Alaska and run the marathon!
Tuesday night Club Run Take 2!
This week we had about 20 people show up! Again I was in the fastest group. But all of us run vastly different paces and distances.
I ran 5.77 miles on most of the longer of our summer routes. It was nice to be out on the summer course again and see what has changed.
One thing that I noticed is that it is starting to get dark around 8pm now! Noooo!
It was a good solo run and I felt better seeing people and hanging out for a bit.
Cambridge Summer Classic 5K Virt 2020
I ran this race on Friday July 31st. It seemed like a great way to end the month.
Thursday evening I went into Cambridge to pick up my shirt, super heavy duty Solo cup, coozie and sun glasses.
I had dropped my daughter at work and was early for the pick up. Paul Clark and his son were still setting up. They actually pulled in behind me.
On any other afternoon I would have worried about getting a parking ticket. But it looked like 6AM on a Sunday morning.
We talked for a few minutes and I offered to help set up but they said they were all set.
I got out the door at 6:40 PM on Friday after supper. While I just ran the streets in my neighborhood, I decided to run it like a race.
I wore my light weight Saucony racers and took off. My first mile was 7:54 and my average pace was 8:09.
Not a bad way to end the month.
For July my total miles were 57.46. I just missed topping April by a half mile. July was my second shortest month after May’s 41.14.
August 2019 I ran almost 85 miles. So far I’m up to 2.86 towards beating that!
How is your COVID summer running going?
Are you still motivated to train even though all races are going virtual?