Running 2020

2020 was a challenging year for everyone. As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, my mother died. So I’m really looking forward to 2021!

It’s hard to believe it’s already December.

It seems like it’s still March 50th, and now that it’s cold again it feels like summer never happened.

I start every year optimistically with the goal of running 1,000 miles. The closest I got was 977.82 miles in 2014.

In 2015 I “only” ran 562.91 miles. After running three marathons, three halfs, The Eastern States 20 miler and many 5Ks and 10Ks in 2014, I think I was a little burned out in 2015.

But each year since 2015 I have steadily built up my annual miles.

In 2019 I ran 929.6 miles and thought I was on track to hit 1,000 miles in 2020. Just a little more effort each month would get me there.

So far, for 2020, I’ve only reached 671.83 miles.

Running 2020 YTD

2020 got off to a good start with 69.51 miles and 86.08 miles in January and February respectively.

Those are the coldest months to run so I felt I was off to a good start.

Melrose Running Club at 2020 Super Sunday Race

 

 

 

 

This our running club at the last in person race I ran, The Super Sunday 5 Miler.

Ah the goo ole days. No masks and everyone was huddled up to keep warm.

At the beginning of March I was optimistic that improving weather would lead to increasing mileage. Then things went off the rails.

My mother went into the hospital just as the COVID-19 lock downs began. If she had been sick a week later none of us would have been able to visit her in the hospital.

So that really sucked but at least we could be there for her.

She recovered enough to be discharged to a rehab facility and we were into a new normal with her.

With the new rules on social distancing, our club had to cancel our Sunday Long Runs and Tuesday Night Club Runs. And I didn’t run a single race in March, everything was cancelled.

I still managed to run 83.58 miles. With all the shit I had going on, I’ll call that a solid month.

2020 YTD Running Miles, COVID Running

Spring Running 2020

In April, without any club runs, I was on my own.

To get my butt in gear I started doing short runs from my house several times a week. Running from my house was easy and there were no excuses not to do so a few times a week.

On April 19th I ran my first virtual race, The MRC Virtually Insane Half. The race was organized by the Melrose Running Club and a lot of us signed up.

It was my first attempt at a virtual race and I hadn’t figured out a good half marathon course yet. I ended up running 14.52 miles.

While I didn’t even run 60 miles in April, I felt like I was settling into the new normal. I managed 10 runs including the 14.52 mile half and a 10.7 mile long run.

In May I only ran eight times. Most runs were under five miles and one was 11.75 miles. I also ran my second virtual race, The Cinco de Mayo QuaranTeam 5K. With just eight runs I only managed 41.15 miles. 10 miles per week! Yikes!

This was about the time I started picking up my daughter after she got out of work around 8:30. I also started calling my mother every night after supper. With three siblings I had to pick my time to call and stick with it.

After my mother got out of the hospital and went to a long-term care facility we were hopeful that she could go back to assisted living, but that didn’t happen.

She became a long-term resident at what we colloquially refer to as a nursing home.

Between eating supper, waiting for my time slot to call my mother and then picking up my daughter, I didn’t have an hour to go run and get cleaned up most nights.

And with my mother’s turn I wasn’t exactly filled with enthusiasm for anything.

Summer Run Time

Great Bay Half Marathon 2020, Dunkin Donuts, Iced CoffeeIn June the weather began to improve, the days were getting longer and I was adjusting to my own “new normal”.

I ran eleven times including two virtual races. The Stepping Stones For Stella Virtual 10K and the Great Bay Half 2020 Virtual on June 27th.

Total miles for June were 61.83. Not great but 50% better than May. On top of that my second virtual half marathon came in at 13.12 miles.

I felt pretty good about my ability to run this distance accurately and was enthusiastic about running more halfs.

In July it began to get hot and sticky like it always does in Boston.

I was doing more yard work and this often lead to aches and pains that kept me from running the next day.

Old enough to know better, dumb enough to still over due it!

I only managed eight runs, but two of them were virtual half marathons. I was getting the hang of running from home on courses I made up as I went.

On July 3rd I ran the Jennifer Tinney 5 Mile virtual and the next week I ran the Margarita Virtual Half.

Margarita Half 2020, Kendall Square, running 2020This half was a really hot run into Kendal Square in Cambridge. I had never run this entire route before but I know the area fairly well.

Of course, things look different from the car. I had to stop at many intersections and go up about 30 steps to get over The McGrath Highway.

Margarita Half Marathon, virtual half, running 2020I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to turn around which was near the Starbucks on Main Street. That’s at mile six on the map. I just had to stop in for an iced coffee.

I’ve never been so happy to have my cell phone and the Starbucks app locked and loaded.

Kendal Square was a ghost town even for a Saturday afternoon.

On July 17th I ran The Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler. This is a Gloucester race which is too far for me to get to after work, so I’ve never run it.

It’s not quite the same thing, but running virtual I was finally able to participate.

I managed a 9:13 pace and 434 ft of elevation climb. Going out I knew my selected course was hilly but I’ve run marathons with less elevation!

Then on July 21st we had our first Tuesday night club run! We had to check with the Public Health Departments in Melrose and each surrounding town for their particular rules.

We wanted to run together but be safe and respectful of the rules that each town established.

We also tried to avoid as much of the al fresco street-side dinning in Melrose as we could. Who wants a sweaty runner breathing on their calamari?

I only ran 3.22 miles that night, but it felt great to see some fellow club members.

Juneau Half Marathon 2020 Virtual, AlaskaOn July 25th I ran the Virtual Juneau Half Marathon. It was one of the Melrose Running Club’s Racing Series events. A few of us signed up for $20! And they sent us a shirt and a nice medal!

On some previous runs I discovered a rail trail that went from Everett through Malden to Saugus and ended in Lynn.

It took some effort to find the trail headed north from where I previously saw it in Malden, but I ended up finding it as I was looking for it.

A new course that I wasn’t sure about and I ended up running 14.01 miles. No biggie.

Something must have been going on with Garmin that day. Garmin had me gaining and loosing 141 feet in the first mile which began in front of my house. That first mile is pancake flat.

Every mile had me gain and loose 90 to 259 feet. No flippin way! Most of the run was on an old rail road bed. They don’t do hills.

I wish it were true, my total elevation gain for this run was 2,339 feet. Almost a half mile of elevation! That’s serious hill climbing!

I reality I probably gained 50 feet total and I was happy to find another nice course to run.

I ran another Tuesday night club run and the Cambridge Summer Classic 5K, Medford style to finish the month.

The Summer Classic was another home run on flat streets so I decided to push it and averaged 8:09 miles. I hadn’t run that pace since April.

That felt pretty good also. July totaled 57.46 miles.

Running 2020 Goals

With the year more than halfway over and pathetic miles in July, I began to see my 1,000 mile goal slipping away.

If you fall behind in January, you have eleven months to make up the short fall.

When you are more than 300 miles behind at the end of July, things begin to look stark. I’d have to run around 150 miles each month for the rest of the year, and I still hadn’t reached 100 miles in a single month.

So 1,000 miles wasn’t going to happen.

I know that 1,000 miles is a stretch goal and I’m not getting any younger. On top of that I had some unique family obligations requiring my prime running hours.

August was another tough month. I only ran 39.58 miles.

I managed nine runs, five of them under five miles.

On August 1st I started with a 2.86 mile run that I managed to squeeze in before super. I thought I was off to a good start but I didn’t run again until the next week!

But I got to two more Tuesday Night Club Runs and ran the Black Excellence Virtual 5K on August 22nd.

August was just a matter of time slipping away from me. I had things to do around the house, family obligations and working over time.

I’d sit down in the morning and look up in time for dinner. Some days I even forgot to have lunch!

September started out well with a Tuesday Night Club Run on September 1st. What a great way to start the month!

I got in a short home run and ran the TNCR the next week. These weren’t long runs but I was building some momentum.

Virtual Boston Marathon and a close call

Boston Marathon 2020, Water Stop OneOn September 12th I ran with our running club’s Virtual Boston Marathon team.

They had water stops and a nice flat course mapped out. It was great to run with a small group of people.

We all wore masks and tried to keep our distance. I ran 16.05 miles which was a few more than I should have. It was still fun!

The next day one of our runners told us that their spouse had tested positive for COVID! She went for a test and it came back negative.

My company was trying one day a week in the office, which we thought was one step towards normal.

The day I went into the office I got a message that my friend’s test had been mis-read and she was actually positive!

I sent a text to my manager and before I could stand up he had opened his office door and was pointing towards the door.

I collected my things and was out of there in minutes. That was the last time I’ve been into the office.

I went to a drive in test site that my healthcare provider had in Boston. It was on the top floor of their parking garage.

They checked me in and told me where to park. And within five minutes I was getting a deep brain probe just like you see on TV.

The Governor described it like they were tickling the bottom of his foot. And the look on his face as he said that made me a little squeamish as the nurse un-sheathed the swab to stick up my nose.

It ended up not being that bad and kind of made me feel like I needed to sneeze. And sneezing is the last thing you want to do at a COVID test site!

That was Friday and Saturday afternoon the owner of my company called to see how I was doing and if I had my results yet.

I told her I wouldn’t get them until Monday. She didn’t say it but she needed to know my results before she could decide what to do about Monday.

I felt bad that it would take so long but this was when the testing companies were getting buried. There wasn’t a thing I could do to speed things up.

From the tone of her voice I could tell she was genuinely concerned. But the call was as much about business as it was about me.

She told me about an urgent care office in Cambridge that did the rapid test with results in an hour.

Sunday morning I went and got the rapid test and thankfully it came back negative.

It made me think how much one person can effect other people’s lives.

A few more September Races

Wicked Half 2020, running 2020In September I also ran the Rett’s Roost 10K, Cambridge Fall Classic 5K and The Wicked Half Marathon.

The Wicked Half was pretty hilly, 488 feet elevation gain.

I ran the Fellsway Hills into Melrose and wrapped around Spot Pond.

This was a new half marathon course for me and after I turned around I realized I was too close to home to get in a full half.

So I started literally going up side streets to add some distance.

Some of the side roads off of the Fellsway have some wicked hills. I think I found them all.

This run kind of knocked the snot out of me and I averaged 9:47 per mile. While a lot of the course is relatively flat, where there was hill, there was hill!

I bought the mask I’m wearing in this photo at a running shop. It turned out to be the worse mask type I’ve run with.

I finished off the month with a 4 mile home run on the 29th.

For September I ran 13 runs for 67.50 miles. This wasn’t going to get me to 1,000 miles but it was better than August.

Oh October

October was a month that changed my life forever.

On the first I got a call from my sister in Maine.

My mother had been experiencing declining health all summer but seemed to rally now and then.

The nursing home had called to say that she was declining quickly and they had started palliative care.

We were lucky in that they never asked what state I lived in. Maine was in lock down like the rest of the country. Nursing homes had even tighter requirements. If they knew that I was from out of state, I’m not sure they would have let me in.

They had us wear gowns and protective eye wear even though I have glasses.

The first day my brother and I spent the whole day with mom. She got out of bed for a while and spoke with us.

She didn’t eat a thing but she drank two cups of ice water. We had hoped that she would eat something but everyone was thrilled that she drank anything.

She grew tired after about an hour and the nurses got her back into bed. She talked a little more but was exhausted and went back to sleep.

The next day my younger sister arrived from Germany. She was lucky in that her region of Germany was a green zone at the time.

Mom never regained consciousness but the four of us were with her every day. We took shifts visiting and when all four of us were there, two had to sit out side of her window.

The window opened and we could talk, but no one could reach in and hold her hand.

Being a resourceful group, we realized that we could remove the screen! My sister was able to hold mom’s hand for a while which I’m sure made both of them happy.

The next day we got a call from the nursing home around 5AM that she was fading quickly.

We all quickly dressed and headed to the nursing home.

I’m not sure how they did it but they let all of us in to see her and moved her bed into their library.

We spent the whole day with her until she passed at 8:16 PM on October 7th.

All of those calls each night after dinner were worth it. At times I worried she thought I was calling every day because I was afraid that she’d die in the night.

We were so grateful to everyone at the nursing home. They went out of their way to accommodate us and give us time with our mother.

So many people die alone in ICU or in a nursing home because no one can come in to see them. That just has to suck for everyone.

On October 9th I went for a 4.76 mile run on the roads near my sister’s house. I’ve run there before and I really needed a run.

Nothing clears your head like a good run.

The next day I went out again for a 7.77 mile run.

The next weekend I ran Saturday and Sunday. 8.41 and 3.77 respectively.

I did my Tuesday night run from home as I wasn’t in the mood to be social.

I did another home run Wednesday night and that Friday I ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Half from home.

This was another run through The Fells and around Spot Pond. Instead of running up all of those steep side streets to get to 13.1 miles, I took some side streets in Medford.

My total elevation gain was 583 feet but I avoided steep hills so it seemed easier. My pace was 9:32 and my time was 2:05. With more hills than The Wicked Half I managed to cut three minutes off of my time.

A rounded the month off with another Tuesday Night Club Run and ran 48.95 miles for October.

Running November

I started November by running The Melrose Y’s Spooky Sprint. This is a Halloween run, but I didn’t get to it until Sunday the first.

That’s one of the problems with virtual races.

Since you don’t have to drive anywhere or make any plans it’s easy to forget about them.

Once I got a package in the mail and realized I had a 5K to run that weekend!

Some races were live events earlier in the year, were postponed and eventually went virtual.

Many races allowed you to run a race on a weekend, or gave you a week or month to run the race!

One race that I was sure I had registered for, I couldn’t find any of the usual email traffic for a registration.

It got confusing at times.

On the 5th I did a four mile home run and then on the 6th I ran the DAV 5K from home.

I had figured out some good half marathon courses and ran the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half on November 8th, the Rock n Roll Half on November 14th and The Livestrong at The Y Half on November November 21st.

I ran the Livestrong Half during the Melrose Running Club’s No Contact Relay.

We started at sunrise and ran until sunset.

Andy Nagelin at Straw Point on 3rd lapI ran three 4.76 mile laps for a total of 14.28 miles. When I got to the 13.1 mark my watch said 2:00:23. With more than 450 feet of elevation gain I finally got my half to the two-hour mark.

Unfortunately during the last two miles of that run my ankle started bothering me. Nothing new. Things often start or stop hurting during a run.

That afternoon I could barely walk up or down steps and the next day was worse.

It’s been over three weeks and I haven’t run since. My ankle is getting better but I may not run at all in December.

I don’t want to run on it too soon and aggravate my Achilles again and prolong the healing time. It’s taking long enough as it is!

Essentially my running year is over. If I’m careful and lucky I might run a neighborhood 5K before the end of the year, but I’m not counting on it.

Here’s looking to a brighter future!

Andy

Time for a Margarita Half Marathon

I definitely did not feel like having a margarita after this run. The heat really knocked the snot out of me and booze was the last thing I wanted.

The Margarita Half Marathon was originally scheduled for May 3rd in New Hampshire.

Due to COVID-19 the Margarita Half Marathon and 5K were turned into virtual races. I ran my half marathon on July 10th.

May is a great time to run a half marathon in New Hampshire, July is not such a great time to run a half marathon in the Greater Boston Area (GBA).

Running the Margarita Half Marathon 2020

This was my second half marathon in 14 days. On June 27th I ran The Great Bay Halfwhich was postponed from April 5th to a virtual half.

I had Friday off and decided it would be a good day for a half. No matter how unfit I was or how hot it was, I was going to do it.

At 8:56 AM I set off from Medford headed to somewhere in Cambridge. I had a general idea of where I was going. My sole criteria for a turn around point was the mile 6 mark.

It’s easier to add on distance on the way back. In May I ran a half and ended up walking almost a mile so I could stop my watch at 13.1 miles for my official distance.

Sometimes I learn from my mistakes.

Garmin lists the temperature at 73° F, but that must have been at 8:56 when I started my watch.

As I ran down my street I actually felt pretty good. And that’s unusual. Usually a knee or an ankle makes a few grumbles.

I should have recalled that when things start out well, they often do not end well.

The First Six Miles

I knew it was going to be warm, hot even. Over the past few months my training has been poor.

My only goal was to finish the race through an honest effort. There’s no cheating in virtual racing. At least not for me.

The first two miles got me to the Somerville side of the Mystic River bridge.

This segment, along the Fellsway, was mostly in full sun.

Margarita Half Marathon, virtual halfAfter the bridge I took a right onto Shore Drive towards Blessing of The Bay Boat House. They had the crew of summer work kids out front for their morning brief.

I was glad to see that at least some kids were getting the opportunity to earn a few dollars and learn how to work this summer.

I went under the Rt. 93 bridge and headed south on Mystic Ave/Rt. 38. The on-coming traffic kept me very focused as the sidewalk is narrow here and folks like to fly down this road.

I found a break in traffic and crossed Mystic Ave to run the back side of Foss Park. The pool was full, but the facility was closed.

I chose this route for a little shade.

To avoid the bridge over the rail tracks I went down Broadway to Cross Street and ran through East Somerville up to Washington Street.

I hit Mile 4 just before I crossed The McGrath Highway and headed for East Cambridge.

Eventually I ended up in Kendall Square and headed down Broadway to find my turn around spot.

Margarita Half 2020, Kendall Square
Broadway in Kendall Square

On my way down Broadway I passed a Starbucks. I wasn’t at mile 6 yet but one water bottle was almost empty and I wasn’t even half way yet.

I ordered a Trenta iced coffee on my phone and turned back to Starbucks.

As I approached the door I stopped my Garmin and then stepped into the dark coolness. My drink was being made as I approached the counter, so I only had a minute or so to cool off.

I grabbed a straw and stepped back into the heat.

The Long Road Home

I was now on my way home and short on distance. My watch hit mile six as I walked down Broadway drinking my coffee. Man it was good!

I took a leisurely jog back through Kendall and The Canal District down to Lechemere Station.

My shorts were so wet from sweat and water dripping off of my coffee that for a moment I thought I had a problem!

When it’s hot and you are sweating, that is a good thing.

I found a trash can on Cambridge Street and tossed in my empty cup. It only took about a mile and 12 minutes to drink the entire cup. And all of the ice had melted.

I pretty much took the same route back to Washington Street and then took a left into the neighborhood.

At this point my quads were exhausted and I was beginning to feel altered.

I checked my running belt for a salt pill, but I didn’t have one. That was a crucial error on a day like this.

My sports drink had some sodium, but I was dripping sweat.

I got back onto Broadway and ran the same route back to Blessing of the Bay Boat House.

Fortunately they had a porta-potty on the grass next to their parking lot.

It was like an oven in there, but I meant business!

I continued on the bike path next to Rt. 93 and headed for Medford.

I didn’t hit mile 11 until I had crossed The Mystic Valley Parkway and was less than a mile from home.

At this point I was doing a fair amount of walking and experiencing the worse part of what I had anticipated.

Virtual Margarita Half Finish, Virtual HalfWhen I got back into my neighborhood I started going up and down the side streets to get in my distance.

So close to home and I felt like I was running laps!

I managed to jog down my street and stopped my watch before I got to my house.

I was DONE!

I don’t think everyone has run and reported their results yet. But as of my run I was 131 out of 138!

Have you run any virtual races this year? How do you feel about them?

Run well my Friends!

Andy

2019 Race Directory Updates

2019 Race Directory Updates are on-going. Be sure to check back for updates and additions as the year goes on. Have a great 2019 running year and run well my Friends!

As we roll into 2019 I’ll be making Race Directory updates with new dates and hopefully a few new races.

The most popular race directory that I keep is the New England Marathons Fall. I started tracking these marathons in 2015 and last year the post just took off.

Now that winter is officially here I’ll be changing the name to New England Marathons Fall 2019 this week. Not to worry, I will keep the same URL for the blog post. If you have it book marked you won’t have to make any changes.

I’m glad that the Fall Marathons directory became popular and not the Summer Marathons post. Fall has enough marathons in New England to keep things interesting without it becoming a full time job for me.

5K Race Directory Updates

I will also continue to update the 5K race directories for local cities and towns. Just like for the marathon listings, I’ll keep the same URL and change the title only.

Unlike most directories published by the big web sites, I will not inundate you with ads and pop ups. I will mention the My First 5K medal on occasion. Many 5Ks only award the top three runners over all and often age-group winners.

Unlike the corporate web sites, I often speak with the race director. This lets me get dates listed quicker and get the latest updates.

Without all of the ads and clutter, it is much easier to find a race in your town on my directories. Here are two popular listings that I will be updating shortly:

Somerville 5K Race Directory

Cambridge 5K Race Directory

GBA St. Patrick’s Day Races

Most other cities and towns only have a handful of races, so it’s hard to put together much of a listing. I may consolidate some of these other directories into regional directories.

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Weekend

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Weekend

As a GBA local I got to have an entire Boston Marathon weekend experience. On Friday afternoon I got to go to the Boston Marathon Expo and be among the first few thousand people to walk the floor. The vendors were generous with samples and the crowd was just trickling in.

I picked up my race packet and shirt and walked the Expo floor. One of the first vendors I saw was “KT Tape.” There was a small line of people and someone was sitting in the booth talking to people. I thought I recognized the guy.

Meb Keflezighi, Boston Marathon 2018As I looked a second time I saw that he was signing autographs and that it was Meb Keflezighi! He won Boston in 2014, the year after the bombing. He became an instant American hero!

I almost kept walking, but I noticed that the line wasn’t long. It was cool standing in line and watching Meb talk to everyone. He was patient and seemed genuine as he spoke with each person.

Everyone was excited to meet him and had a story to tell. I felt star-struck. When it was my turn to sit with him I tried to explain that I ran in 2014 when he won. When I crossed the finish line they said an American had won, but I didn’t find out who for almost an hour.

I asked if he would sign my Marathon bib, and he wrote a nice note. I was so happy to meet my marathon idol!

BAA 5K

On Saturday I ran the BAA 5K. Nineteen people from my running club also ran. My buddy Derm Cahill dropped his car at my house and we parked at my office in Cambridge. It’s a quick walk across The Longfellow bridge to The Boston Common and Charles Street.

There wasn’t a whole lot to do before the race so we picked up our shirts, went to the bag drop and then to the porta-potty line.

The lines weren’t too bad and moved along quickly. It was a beautiful spring day in Boston and everyone was in a good mood. As we headed to the start area we ran into fellow Melrose Running Club member Regina Curran. She was in line so we spoke briefly and headed towards the start area.

Derm is recovering from a really messed up shoulder injury from last fall! He though he just broke ribs but recently had to get treatment for his shoulder. I had the Marathon on Monday, so neither of us were looking to PR.

As we walked up the sidewalk to a slower corral we kept seeing people moving forward. Many of them did not look like 6:00 pace 5K runners, but that’s where they were heading. We didn’t wait too long before they played The National Anthem and we all stood silently. There were plenty of American flags to look at.

We were in the 9:00 pace group and planned to take it easy. The first group took off and our group began to move up. Instead of stopping us at the line, we just crossed the start as we got there.

The start was still crowded but so much better than starting in Copley Square. There were still people walking three and four abreast. The same people we saw walking forward to the faster corrals. I tried not to get pissed, but I did say a few things mostly under my breath.

We ran out Comm Ave to Charles Gate West and turned around. One of the coolest parts of this race is that we got to take a right onto Hereford and a left onto Boylston Street. As we ran towards the Boston Marathon finish line I could feel my excitement building!

There were very few people around but it was still cool to cross the freshly painted finish line.

As much as we tried to hold back, we failed. Mile one came in at 8:56 which was mostly due to the crowding. Mile two came in at 8:22 and mile three came in at 8:00. Our race average pace was 8:26. Nothing crazy but still faster than we needed to run. The BAA timed us at 8:35 pace and 26:37 total time. Pretty close.

After we got our medals and walked along we found another MRC runner, Michele DiAngelo. We missed just about everyone else.

As we were heading out we met the Tysall family. Charlotte Tysall ran a 20:28 race and she is only 14! She was disappointed not to break the 20 minute barrier. I’m sure she will soon.

Boston Marathon Expo Volunteering

The Melrose Running Club had about twenty people volunteer at The Expo. Most of us did number packet or shirt distribution. Mike Quigley and I volunteered to give directions and information.

We stood a few feet away from the shirt distribution tables, the last required stop before runners headed for The Expo. Since I had walked The Expo on Friday, I was somewhat familiar with the vendors. The also gave us a map and directory.

I think I only sent a few people across the hall to the wrong place. I felt bad but I was a volunteer with a crash course where everything was. Sorry folks!

It was a lot of fun talking to people from all over the world. Some people just needed directions but a few people were asking for running advice.

One guy from California was really concerned with what to wear. I must have talked to him and his wife for ten minutes. Lots of people were looking for any vendor who still had gloves, sleeves or anything water proof.

As I took a walk around the Expo floor to stretch my legs I checked in with a few vendors. The guys at Brooks said they brought everything they had, but the winter season is over so they didn’t have much to sell. Everyone else was sold out also. I found one booth selling headbands. That was it.

The lady who was managing our group of volunteers told us to grab a drop bag. She said that near the end of the Expo many vendors will be looking to get rid of any food items they had left over. She wasn’t kidding.

The Expo ended at 6 PM, but by 4 PM the crowd hid thinned considerably. So around 5 PM I took a walk about. It was like Halloween for a runner. Almost all of the vendors were opening cases and putting out bottles and bars and other samples for us to take. One vendor saw my volunteer credentials and gave me a box of breakfast bars.

Before we left we had to check out and receive our volunteer pin. It was a nice silver BAA logo pin. I had so much stuff to carry that I almost forgot my jacket! They gave us volunteer jackets so a jacket really wasn’t on my mind.

A fellow “information desk” volunteer Wey gave me a ride back to Cambridge to pick up my car. That was awesome as I wasn’t looking forward to the T ride back to Cambridge. He was driving one of the new Teslas. It’s weird not hearing an engine start or run.

A great Boston Marathon 2018 weekend Experience

I had a great time helping out at the Expo, like I always do. If felt great to help runners who were probably a little nervous. To talk to a local person who’s run the race seven times probably helped ease their nerves. I know it would make me feel better to talk to someone who knew a little bit about the race and how things worked.

I also had a great time running the BAA 5K with Derm and running into some of our friends.

With those great experiences I was feeling great and looking forward to Monday. We started following the weather over a week before the race. It didn’t start well and it kept getting worse!

Friday at work we were seeing a 100% chance of rain. Possible gusts up to 40 mph and on-shore winds. On-shore winds come off of The Atlantic and are colder than off-shore winds.

I kept checking the weather on Saturday. It said temperatures would be in the 40’s and maybe 50’s. But the rain was still coming and the on-shore winds were still predicted to gust up to 30-40 mph.

Of course, the weather started getting worse Sunday night.

Check back for my 2018 Boston Marathon recap hopefully tomorrow.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Medford Long Run

The Melrose Running Club has a Sunday Long Run program for spring and fall marathon runners. In 2017 my marathon was in December and well after the Sunday Long Run program ended.

Without an organized program I had to come up with my own runs and one was the Medford Long Run.

 

Medford Long Run Destination Unknown

I’ve lived in Medford for about 15 years and know the area fairly well.

I also know most of the Melrose long run routes by heart. The challenge for me is stringing the two together. Starting from a different place and running to a familiar space can be disorienting.

I like to visualize my run before I go out. But when I change things up I can find it difficult to string things together. If I imagine one intersection incorrectly I could have an extra long run!

Where was I and how did I get there?

How many times have you been driving and suddenly realize you’ve arrived but don’t recall the journey?

While running it’s easy to focus on your shoes and not notice the surroundings. This is especially true on a long, difficult run. And just like driving, you can finish a run and not recall the turns. Some of this is from the shoe thing and some is from runner’s amnesia. Exhaustion and pain tend to make the mind focus inwardly and blur the world.

Sometimes a landmark gets torn down or painted. Its amazing how differently a street can look from the opposite direction. It’s amazing how different a street looks from your car as apposed to running.

I tend to notice these things more when I’m running, but only if I’m tuned in. It can be disorienting to suddenly realize that some building is gone but not be sure what had been there.

Starting from a different place, I felt disoriented trying to visualize the entire route. I was not entirely sure where I was going!

I was running into the unknown.

Starting the Medford Long Run

Medford-Long-Run, marathon trainingI left from my front door step, ran past the Crystal Campbell Memorial on Riverside Ave and through Medford Square.

From the Square I ran up High Street past the library and St. Joseph’s. At the rotary I stayed left and continued to West Medford down High Street.

In West Medford I crossed the Commuter Train tracks and passed St. Raphael’s.

A lot of West Medford seems out of the 1950’s. The square is full of small shops, there is a train stop and the houses are large early 1900’s style and look to be mostly single family still.

So far so good, I knew exactly where I was.

Medford Long Run Mystic Valley Parkway

At the rotary below the Lower Mystic Lake I took a right onto the Mystic Valley Parkway. As I approached the turn I saw several cyclist turn up the Parkway. This is a great road for cyclists and runners. On the lake side of the road there is a gravel path which isn’t too dangerous to run on.

Just before the turn my watch chimed 3 miles. My average pace was 8:50. I told my self that I would get in at least a 6 mile run now. It was beginning to feel like a run but my pace was still good.

As I ran up the Mystic Valley Parkway I met other runners and several walkers. It was nice to see so much activity in my home town. I even saw an un-manned water stop for The Tufts Marathon Team.

As I got to the end of the Parkway I crossed the street near the Wedgemere commuter rail station and took a right onto Bacon Street.

I was still on my mental map!

Into the Wilderness

I’ve run this area many times and knew where I was. But I was having difficulty visualizing the next turn. I knew how to get home from here, but I wanted to get in more miles before heading home.

At the next rotary I recognized Symmes Corner and knew that I wanted to turn left onto Main Street. However, I still could not visualize my next turn. I took it on faith that I would know which way to go when I got there.

When Main Street split into Main and Washington Street, I went down Washington. I saw a sign for Rt. 38 and knew that went to Medford. It felt like dead reckoning.

At mile 7 I was in the Winchester Highlands. I’ve been here many times and recalled that I never recall the street to turn right onto. Each corner looks the same to me: houses and maybe a business of some kind. As generic as a Florida intersection.

Instead of turning right onto Forrest Street I continued into the Montvale section of Woburn. This is the southern edge of Woburn but the farthest distance from my house. I did not want to get turned around here! While running down this road I saw a sign for Tyngsboro! That caught my attention. Tyngsboro is on the New Hampshire border.

Around mile 7 I took my single gel. At the corner of Washington Street and Montvale Ave I found a Wendy’s and put my empty gel packet into a trash can.

While wandering across the parking lot like a zombie I took out my phone and checked my map. I wasn’t too far off of the beaten path, but I had missed that turn onto Forrest Street. It was time to find the most direct way home. I noticed that my water was well over half gone, but it never occurred to me to go into Wendy’s and get a drink. Too focused on that map!

Medford Long Run Home

All I had to do was turn right onto Montvale Avenue and head for the Stone Zoo. Going down Montvale I had to cross the ramps for Rt. 93, both north and south bound. Fortunately traffic wasn’t too bad and I never feared for my life!

After I ran that gauntlet I decided to check my map again. I recalled seeing a street that cut off some distance, but didn’t recall the name. Fortunately I was on the right corner and turned down Maple Street.

Maple started out okay and then turned into a bitch of a hill. I went up 100 feet in less than half a mile. I wasn’t even sure where I was going and this hill was kicking my ass! What a waste if I got it wrong!

Fortunately Maple ended at Main Street in Stoneham which is also Rt. 28 which goes to Medford. I was feeling a little better.

When I got to the corner I recognized the area and knew to turn right and head south. I didn’t really recognize anything running down Main Street. Then I got to the four-way intersection of Main Street, North Border Road, South Street and Fellsway West.

I saw the Friendly’s on the corner and the Fellsway West right in front of me. I knew where to go.

The Fellsway West has several long slow hills that just burn you up. They’re not steep, they just go on for ever. I knew where I was but had to figure out how to get home.

Normally we take a left at Elm Street off of the Fellsway and hit the last water stop before heading back to Melrose.

I did not want to go to Melrose this time!

As I passed my usual turn I entered very familiar territory. I was now in the Fulton Heights section of Medford and running past St. Francis. This was our parish when my kids were in elementary school.

The Fellsway West comes around the back side of Spot Pond and passes in front of St. Francis. Shortly after passing Fulton Street, mile 13 chimed in at 9:01! Not bad for being this deep into a greater Medford long run.

I wasn’t sure how much further I had to go distance wise, but I knew exactly where I was going. As I made my way down Spring Street mile 14 approached. I was spent and decided to walk after mile 14.

I never planned to run this far in the first place! Just before the turn onto my street mile 14 chimed in at 9:12. Still very good.

I walked the last quarter mile and lengthened my stride to stretch my muscles a little bit. I felt a little funny walking past the neighbors homes in my running kit and, well walking! My shirt was so thoroughly sweat through that the entire shirt was now several shades darker. The uniformity of color probably looked like I hadn’t even broken a sweat.

This was a great run for my training for The Honolulu Marathon and my memory turned out to be much better than I thought.

Run Well my Friends!

Andy