Honolulu Marathon 2017

Hawai’i Dreamin!

On occasion I’ve written about destination races. In 2017 I finally signed up for and ran my first official destination marathon: The Honolulu Marathon!

Hawai’i always seemed too far to travel and has a reputation for being expensive. Lucky for me, my sister recently moved to Hawai’i and I was able to book a reasonably priced flight. So the Honolulu Marathon turned out to be relatively inexpensive. Relatively.

Honolulu Marathon Training

I’ve run enough marathons to respect the distance. You can’t just will your self to complete a marathon. It will break you both physically and mentally. Grown men have been known to cry and I’ve seen more than a few runners hauled off in an ambulance.

As I was starting my training for the Honolulu Marathon the Sunday Long Run (SLR) program was winding down. The last one was October 15th.

Knowing that I wouldn’t have an organized long run each week, my plan was to run half marathons as often as I could.

The last of the SLR runs were 22 and 14.8 miles. One of my top goals was avoiding injury so I skipped those runs and ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on October 1st and the BAA Half Marathon and on the 8th. I ran the last SLR on the 15th and it was 14.05 miles.

Then on October 22nd I did a 14.26 mile run from my house. Getting out of the house by my self was the real challenge for that run.

Four good long runs over four weekends, I was off to a good start.

Then I didn’t run further than 6.6 miles at a time until the Howling Wolf Half on November 12th. That was the first long-distance race of 2017 where I ran under 9 minute miles. Running a 1:53 Half and not being beat up was the confirmation of my fitness level that I needed.

Just the week before, I face-planted at the Friends of the Fells 10K. During the Howling Wolf Half my right hand and wrist still hurt and I had a massive shiner under my right eye. The fact that I was able to run that half marathon confirmed that everything was okay.

On November 19th I ran The Cambridge Half Marathon at 1:56. That race didn’t beat me up too much either and the crowds kept me from going out too fast.

I ran most of the Sunday Long Runs over the summer so picking up my training for a marathon wasn’t that difficult. I was a little heavier than I wanted to be but in fairly good shape.

To avoid injury, I didn’t push my self too hard. I managed just over 100 miles in October and just under 86 miles for November. The first week of December I managed two short runs.

I was happy with 100 miles in October but wanted to get in 100 miles for November also.

For many runners, 100 miles a month is taking it easy. For a casual runner like me it took planning to hit those numbers.

The lesson I learned from this training cycle is that half marathons are a great way to train. While they never go beyond 13.1 miles, I always run harder at a race and I never stop for water or a bite to eat.

The next time I have an off-cycle marathon I plan to run a half marathon each weekend if I can. Four halfs was pretty good, but with better planning I could do a lot more.

Honolulu Marathon Morning

I flew into Honolulu on December 6th. This gave me a few days to acclimate and adjust for the 5 hour time difference.

My sister and I had a few days to tour Oahu and catch up. We haven’t lived in the same time zone for quite a few years.

Honolulu Marathon 2017, Hawaii marathonDecember 7th turned out to be a low key day. To see any of the ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, you had to be at the stadium by 5 AM to be shuttled to any of the ceremonies. While I really wanted to see a Pearl Harbor Day, I was there to run a marathon.

On Marathon day my sister and brother-in-law drove me into town and dropped me off near the start line around 3:15 AM.

The marathon starts at 5 AM and it was supposed to be in the 60s before the race, so I wore an old shirt to keep the “chill” off.

The temperature turned out to be quite comfortable even though I was wearing running shorts and a singlet under that old dress shirt.

The humidity wasn’t bad either. Reports on December 9th predicted a cooler than usual day for the race and possible rain. They also predicted a record finish for the race as well.

I really expected it to be much warmer. It was Hawaii and the race web site had all kinds of warnings about the heat. They even cautioned veteran runners. I guess I was expecting jungle conditions. Starting at 5 AM before sunrise didn’t hurt.

The Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana Boulevard, which in Hawaiian means “path by the ocean.” This phrase is an appropriate description for the entire race course. At the Starting Line is Ala Moana Beach Park, a local recreation area encompassing over 100 acres of park, beaches, swimming and surfing spots.

Honolulu Marathon 2017. Oahu MarathonsMost people took a bus from the Honolulu Zoo to the Ala Moana Park near the start. When I showed up most of those people were still in the park. I found a place to sit on a low cement wall and waited for the start.

The MCs for the event were the anchor from the local TV station and a Japanese woman making the same announcements for the Japanese runners.

As I sat on that wall waiting for the race to start I joked around with the runners next to me. They just smiled and nodded. Before long it dawned on me that they were Japanese and didn’t speak English.

For the past 30 years, Japanese runners have been more than 50% of Honolulu Marathon runners on average. In 1991, 70% of runners were from Japan.

Japan Airlines is the primary sponsor. I am guessing that they sell a travel package to Hawaii that includes the marathon.

Honolulu Marathon 2017, Porta PottiesThis was the 45th running of this race and they were well organized. There were plenty of porta potties and they assigned waves based on self reported finish times.

I was in the third wave behind the elites and the first wave. While I was in a good position near the front of my wave, runners from other waves kept walking past me to the front.

I guess there is no honor among runners with the honor system of self seeding!

As 5 AM approached the announcers kept calling the runners from the park to the start area. It took a long time for the area to fill up. Around 4:15 the announcers told us to clear the road so the wheel chair atheletes could get to the starting line. Around 10 atheletes made their way through the crowd.

Running Honolulu Marathon

Around 4:30 I got in line for the porta-potties one last time. The line was short and moved quickly. I was starting to make my way to my wave as they played The National Anthem. I walked across the grass median to the right side of the road. Somewhere in all the announcements I heard them say the Moana (ocean) side was for the 10K runners and the other side was for the marathon.

While there were a lot of runners in front of me, there must have been 30,000 behind me. The announcer said this was the 4th or 5th largest marathon in America. And I was in the 3rd wave! I’d never get this in Boston!

At 5 AM they announced the start with a volley of fireworks! The elite runners took off and we began to walk forward.

It took about four minutes to cross the start line. Like most big races, it was very congested at the start. A lot of those people walking to the front were not supposed to be there and some of them were walking already.

While Hawaii may be a chill California, I’m from Boston. I tried not to run into anyone but did brush a few shoulders as I squeezed between runners and walkers. I kept my comments mostly under my breath.

Honolulu Marathon Starting Loop

As we ran through downtown Honolulu the fire works continued. We were well into the loop back before they stopped.

In many ways downtown looked like any other downtown. They even had a few pot holes to look out for.

Even at 5 AM there were people cheering us on. Everywhere I looked there was something new to see. Running is a great way to tour a city!

The temperature and humidity were mild, but by mile two I was sweating. I had a 500ml bottle of water with me and took the occasional swig and avoided all of the early water stops.

To keep my self from over-heating even before the sun came up I took off my hat a few times. Occassionally we got a nice breeze off of the ocean. It felt so good!

As we crossed the Ala Wai canal into the Waikiki neighborhood I started to think about sun rise. How hot would it get? Would it rain?

As we approached Diamond Head we took a left onto Monsarrat Ave and passed the Honolulu Zoo. It was a unique experience to be running up that hill in the dark in the warm musky air. We had some elevation gain in mile two in downtown, but at mile 7.5 we climbed 131 feet in about a half mile on Monsarrat Ave.

We only had the left side of the road and volunteers held yellow tape to keep us on one side. I stayed to the right of the pack and managed to keep up with everyone.

Mile 8 came in at 9:24. All my previous miles were in the 8:40 range. I was doing good.

Doesn’t that diagram look frightening? The first big hill is that 131 foot climb around Diamond Head. It was a good climb but I felt very comfortable. Then we had about a mile of downhill with a net loss of 60 feet. The hill at mile 9, after Diamond Head, looks killer also but was actually a net loss of 50 feet. Miles nine and ten came in at 9:00 and 9:04 respectively.

Honolulu Marathon, hawaii, elevation map

Diamond Head, Honolulu MarathonOn the way out we took a left and stayed on Diamond Head Road. This took us behind the extinct volcano and back into residential neighborhoods. Then we took two consecutive rights and went through the Waialae Kahala neighborhood and headed for the H1.

I had envisioned seeing the sunrise as I crested Diamond Head and hearing “Let The Sun Shine” blasting from my internal boom box. Alas, it was all a romantic notion.

We ran around Diamond Head in the dark. When the sun came up around mile 12 there was a bank of clouds on the horizon shielding us from the full fury of the morning sun. It turned out to be a blessing from the cloud gods.

At this point in the race I was carrying my singlet and my shorts were totally drenched with sweat. While I had two 9 oz bottles with Hammer Head mix on my belt, I was now taking water at the stops. I also took my first kit of salt capsules and Hyland cramp tablets.

When we hit the half marathon mark it was daylight, getting warmer and beginning to feel like a race.

I felt okay and my energy level was still good. I had five Honey Stinger Gold gels with me and had taken two before the half-way mark. It’s always better to fuel early then to hit the wall early.

The H1 just ends and turns into the Kalanianaole Highway. Starting around 11.5 miles, the Kalanianaole Highway ran along the Maunalua Bay. The funny thing about Hawaii is that you can’t smell the ocean even when you are right next to it.

I could see water once in a while, but as we approached the half-way mark I was more focused on my running. Even with a relatively flat course my pace was dropping. My average pace was now around 9 minutes and I was getting worried about hitting my goal.

Honolulu Marathon 2017, destination marathons

Around mile 15 we took a left onto Hawaii Kai Drive which took us through a development that looked like Florida. Lots of water ways, docks and boats. As we made the turn I noticed the line of porta potties.

As we ran through the development my stomach began to really act up. I kept taking water and a little Gatorade once in a while.

My left knee was also acting up and I had to walk some. Mile 17 came in at 9:45. Not good. When we got back to the intersection where the porta potties were, I had to make a stop. Mile 18 came in at 11 minutes even. I told my self I lost two minutes in the porta pottie.

When ever I walk late in a race my muscles always tighten up. I know this and try to avoid stopping. But I had to stop this time. Some things just cannot be avoided.

Between my knee and tightened muscles, mile 19 came in at 10:04.

As we made our way back down Kalanianaole Highway it was now daylight. It had been raining for a while now and it felt good.

I had wrapped my toes in tape to prevent blisters, but something was going on in my right shoe. It felt like something was loose in my sock. Had the tape slipped off? Had I lost a toenail? As I ran I watched the water fling out the front of my shoe and waited for it to turn color. Thankfully it never did.

Mile 20 and 21 came in at 10:54 each. At mile 21 my time was 3:17 and I had 5.2 miles to go. There was no way I was going to run 8 minutes miles to the finish and get my four hour marathon.

Between mile 21 and the finish I had to make two more porta pottie stops. I used my second kit of salt capsules and cramp tablets, but they didn’t seem to help.

My knee hurt, my bowels were in full revolt and I even had stomach cramps. My energy level was typical for this stage of a marathon. This is the time when a runner normally has to muster their courage and inner strength to push on and give their best effort.

When your body has pain that cannot be ingnored and you are worried about shitting your shorts, there isn’t much you can do. Will power cannot over come these issues. I wasn’t going for a gold medal or a big check, so I wasn’t willing or sufficiantly motivated to be that guy running to the finish with shit running down his leg.

Finishing the Honolulu Marathon

I walked most of the hills on the way back. Normally I would have dug deep and passed a lot of runners on those last hills. I’m a pretty good hill runner. My knee was so bad that I even walked some of the down hill. The pounding was just too much.

I did my best to avoid injury while training, but something is going on with my left knee. I knew this when I signed up for this marathon. I used all the tricks I know to minimize issues with my knee, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

I’ve walked a lot of the last few miles of the Boston Marathon before in great pain. Over the years I’ve figured out how to eliminate those pains. This knee pain was something new and something I need to have checked out.

When we hit mile 25, I was that guy walking. So close to the finish, but no way to make a go of it. Every time I started to run I could barely lift my feet and the pain was unbearable.

I made up my mind to walk to mile 26 and then jog to the finish line come hell or high water.

As we entered the Kapiolani Park I started jogging and looking for the finish line. As I got closer I could hear the finish line announcer. We were running along Waikiki Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world, and I couldn’t have cared less.

The clock had something like 4:43 on it, but I knew that I had crossed the starting matt atleast four minutes after the clock started. I had finished the Honolulu Marathon with my dignity, but I had missed my goal by a wide margin.

I managed to get a cold bottle of water and found the finishers medals and people giving us shell necklaces. The area had lots of temporary fencing, so you had to walk a laborynth to get to the shirts and malasadas.

One of the many cool features of this marathon is that you did not get a finisher’s shirt untill you finished the race. Why give shirts to people who havn’t even crossed the starting line?

The malasadas are a local donut and sometimes have a fillling.The one I got was hot, greasey and covered in granulated sugar. Perfect! I could have gone back for another but there wasn’t any filling and I was worried about how the grease would effect my stomach.

It was one of the best damed donuts I’ve ever eaten. But I knew better. When I was making my final approach I was thinking more about finding a porta pottie than I was about getting water. I even worried about throwing up. It was that bad.

I knew that my sister and her family were somewhere in the park, but I was too busy to check my phone. I finally wandered out of the park and ended up sitting on a bench in front of the Starbucks at Waikiki Beach. When I tried to tell her where I was the street names looked the same to me and I couldn’t make them sound different when I read them outloud. It was like I was totally hammered.

I was on the corner of Kalakaua Ave and Kapahulu Ave. I just couldn’t make those words sound different when I said them.

I finally told her I was in front of the Starbucks. Soon enough I could see them walking towards me.

They had parked in a garage just a block or so away and the walking was good for me. I still didn’t have a shirt on and I didn’t really care. I wasn’t bleeding and that was the important thing.

Honolulu Marathon, Waiola Shaved Ice, Hawaii Five-0We drove to Waiola Shaved Ice which is supposed to be the best one on Oahu. It’s so popular that the show Hawaii Five-0 actually shoots street scenes there.

The owner told us that he had run the Honolulu Marathon a few years ago. We had a few laughs but no comp for my shaved ice on ice cream.

It was delicious and cold.

Hopefully I didn’t horrify my nieces with my flabby middle-aged gut.

Out of 20,350 finishers, I came in 3,038. In the Mens 50-54 group I came in 277th out of 1,204. All things considered, that’s not a bad finish. FULL RESULTS.

4,283 runners finished the 10K. Nine athletes completed the wheelchair division marathon.

I could write another 5,000 words about my trip to Hawaii and my time with my sister’s family. I will always have so many great memories from this trip. It was a moment in time.

Mahalo and run well my Friends!


Sunday Long Run Season is Over

Sunday Long Run 15

This year the Melrose Running Club made a few adjustments to accommodate our Chicago Marathon runners. Their race was on October 8th, so Jim Carson had to accelerate their schedule to get a 22 mile run in on September 17th, and still have time for an orderly taper.

Everyone else is running the Bay State Marathon on October 22nd. They had their 22 miler on October 1st. With Chicago over we had a noticeably smaller group today. Maybe 20 runners in total.

My marathon isn’t until December, so I’m totally out on sync with the program. I missed a lot of long runs this year, mostly due to work. Some runs I missed so I could go and run races.

This is a map of the route, but we headed north and not south from the start. And I added almost two miles to my run.

Sunday Long Run, MRC, Spot PondThis week we headed north on Main Street in Melrose from Bruegger’s. At Melrose Street we turned left and then left again onto the Lynn Fells Parkway. I ran with a few people early on, but no one was doing my pace.

Before the first hill I passed everyone at the back of the pack and could see the lead pack off in the distance. The lead runners were long gone.

By the time we turned left onto Highland Avenue I was running alone. I wondered where my usual gang was, but figured they were racing or climbing a mountain somewhere.

Right after I got onto Highland Avenue I took my first salt capsule and two Hyland Cramp tablets. As I got them out of the packet it occurred to me that I was practicing getting them in my mouth without dropping them as much as I was testing to see how my system tolerated them. The conditions were not that harsh.

All went as planned and I took a drink from one of my running bottles to wash them down. I saw three club runners ahead on the other side of the street. I decided to cross to get into position for the next intersection.

As we approached the first water stop the three ladies stopped, but I kept on going. I was trying to practice race conditions which means no stopping unless absolutely necessary.

For this run we were running through the intersection by Flynn Rink and heading down Woodland Road past Spot Pond and the MWRA water plant.

As I ran past Flynn Ice Rink it dawned on me the The Irish were in the right place at the right time. Boston and the area have a high concentration of families with Irish ancestry and almost every thing has an Irish name. Flynn Arena, Callahan Tunnel, Tip O’Neill Tunnel, The McGrath and O’Brien Highway, The Boston Celtics.

There are plenty of public facilities and infrastructure named after people without Irish ancestry, but the Irish seemed to lock down a lot of them many years ago.

As I ran past the Boston Boating parking lot I could see two people down by the docks and a rack full of kayaks. I knew they were closed, but did they leave the kayaks there all winter?

Sunday Long Run Running Long

Since I am at least a month from my taper time, I decided to add to this run where I could. When we got to New South Street which hugs the shore of Spot Pond I went strait down South Street to the intersection with the Fellsway West and turned left.

It probably added about a tenth of a mile, but they all add up.

The Fellsway West goes behind Spot Pond and crosses over Rt. 93. There is also an exit off of Rt. 93 that we need to negotiate. You have to run across the exit ramp and watch for cars coming towards you headed east on Fellsway West.

I didn’t have any cars to deal with this week, but it can get hairy. Drivers don’t expect to see runners. And I don’t think most of them see us when they do see us. You gotta look sharp.

I met a few runners and a cyclist as I ran the Fellsway West. As I was running up the hill I could see a woman running down the hill towards me. It was one of our regular Sunday Runners, Amanda. She was just gliding along and made it look so easy.

We said hello as we passed and I was on my own again.

Shortly after Amanda passed I took my single gel. It was a Honey Stinger Gold. I think it is pretty much pure honey with a few vitamins and electrolytes added. It tasted like honey, which is much better than some gels I’ve had.

I’m trying to keep things simple and as natural as I can. It’s a challenge.

As I took the left onto Elm Street I thought about how much better I felt this time. I was now past mile 8 and I was still running 9 minute miles, give or take. Earlier in the year and in the heat I walked part of this route.

Now I felt fine. My energy was good and my knees and quads were holding up nicely. I pushed up the hill and considered that I may be pushing too hard since I still had to run the Fellsway East hills one more time.

I crossed the road near the rotary and took a right onto Highland Avenue. There was supposed to be a water stop there. I didn’t see it and I hadn’t planned to stop any way.

The route this week took a left up East Border Road. To add on to my run I continued down Highland Avenue to the Fellsway East and turned left to face the hills.

When you make that left off of Highland onto the Fellsway you are going up hill immediately. This was just after mile 10 which came in at 9:04. With the hills, Mile 11 came in at 9:43. Not bad and some good training.

Over that mile I had gained 101 feet of elevation. This is similar to what I will face at Diamond Head in Hawaii. I think Diamond Head is steeper, but any hill work will help prepare me for that.

For me running down hill is always the toughest part of the hill. I try to run like I’m on egg shells, but it takes a lot of concentration and I always loose it. I have some tendentious that down hill running aggravates. So downhill is no gift for me.

As I got to the bottom of the last hill I crossed the street and considered taking a right down West Wyoming Ave for one last mile, and calling it good.

Instead I crossed that intersection and headed for Main Street. Across from Melrose High there was youth soccer going on, which brought back many fond memories!

As I crossed West Wyoming I calculated that squaring the corners had added about a mile to my run so far.

When I got to the intersection with Main Street, I went to the intersection and not up the Melrose Street short cut. I had gone this far to lengthen my run, why start cutting corners now?

As I turned right onto Main Street, I knew I was on the home stretch. When I got close to the finish I realized I was going to be short of 14 miles. So I went down Essex Street, ran around the block and around the Shaws parking lot a bit.

I hit 14 miles and jogged a bit more to where I wanted to stop.

I ended up with 14.05 miles at an average pace of 9:23. This was only about 0.7 miles longer than a half marathon and slower than my last one, the BAA Half. It was still more than the 12.5 on the schedule for this week, so I was happy about that.

Now I need to find ways to get long runs in by my self for the next 55 days!

The Plan for the Next 55 Days

Honolulu Marathon 2017

As of today, there are 55 days to my marathon in Honolulu. It’s both exciting and terrifying!

I haven’t run a marathon since the 2016 Boston Marathon and I’m dealing with issues.

I’ve got two half marathons, a 10K, 5 Miler and three 5Ks scheduled.

I’ll be stretching my Tuesday night Club Runs past six miles and my lunch time runs will have to be no less than 5 miles. Getting in an 18 or 20 mile run is going to be a challenge.

I find that consistent running seems to work well for me, but for marathon running, you do need some long runs in the schedule.

Let me know if you have any weekend long runs coming up or know of a good long trail race.

Run well my Friends and good luck at Baystate!


Sunday Long Run Number 6 for 2017

Sunday Long Run Number 6

Now that I’m committed to a 2017 marathon, the training must go on.

I rely on the Sunday Long Run program to get in my weekly long run. If it wasn’t for this program, getting in my miles and these long runs would be much more challenging.

This week the official course was 16.2 miles for long and 8.2 miles for the short course. Since I’m in full blown marathon training mode, I opted for long.

It felt warm when we started out and I think more than half of the runners only did the 8.2 mile course. At our first water stop on Eugene Drive, just after the Rt 93 over pass, I was roasting. In the few minutes I stood there I sweat so much my shorts were drenched!

Durm Cahill and I hooked up a few miles before the stop and we decided to stick together through thick and thin, and the air was pretty thick with humidity.

Sunday Long Run, marathon training

We kept up a pretty good conversation until the hills began when we turned up Reservoir Street in Winchester. It was cool running next to the forest surrounding the reservoir, but the hills continued.

We run this route twice a year. I know it just well enough not to need a map. I am unfamiliar with the course just enough to need a map.

Durm and I managed to keep a runner in view for most of the run, but followed the wrong person one time and added about a quarter-mile to our run.

Do to our screw up we entered an intersection from the wrong direction and were not certain which way to go. Fortunately we chose the correct direction.

By now my shirt and shorts were completely soaked through. While I don’t have six-pack abs and a great tan, I decided to take my singlet off. I felt much better.

I tucked it into my running belt, but it was so heavy with sweat that it pulled on my belt with each step. Eventually I had to just hold onto it.

As we made the loop behind Spot Pond I asked Durm if he wanted to walk, and luckily he said yes. As we walked along Jessi Marquardt passed us looking very fresh. We were both shot and just wanted to survive.

When we crested the hill on Fellsway West, we ran down to Elm Street, took the left and started walking some more.

We looked like two old dudes out for a Sunday stroll dressed in ridiculous out fits. Only runners wear the colors we had on, and we were walking. I’m hoping we looked like hell and people realized it was a hot day.

Silent Running

You know that a run has become a run when everyone shuts up. When all energy is focused on moving legs and lungs, you know you have a kick-ass run on your hands.

We were almost totally silent. Besides checking directions and asking if the other guy wanted to walk, we were pretty quiet for a lot of this run.

There were four water stops for this run. The last water stop was like finding an oasis. We were running on fumes and a few times I thought I might be getting heat stroke. I felt funny and my head wasn’t too clear. But I snapped out of it and realized that’s pretty much par for the course!

Durm and I walked and jogged the rest of the way in. When we walked we could talk, when we ran that was about all we could do.

We ended up running 16.62 miles at a 10:46 pace. A little long, but we made it. Jeff Rushton said he cramped so bad abound mile 9 that his foot was actually twisted a bit and not landing right. Now that could be dangerous.

The heat and the distance made this one grueling. I hit my goal and am on track to hit my mileage goal for the month. So, I’ll take it.

As of this run I’m at 37.21 miles for August.

Run well my Friends!


Saturday Running Sunday Kayaking

The Melrose Running club began their “Fall Sunday Long Run Program” this week. We call it the Fall Program because local runners use it to prepare for their fall marathons.

Because the MRC had their summer party Saturday night, we had our first run on Saturday. We didn’t want anyone staying up too late and have to run hungover or anything.

Saturday Running

We had a great turn out for our first run of the series. There had to be 50 runners, mostly from The Mystics and Melrose. The run was only 8.8 for the long run and 4.2 miles for the short run.

sunday long run, marathon training, week one, wk 0, wk 1, saturday runningBetween the good weather, short distance and being the first run we had a great turn out. Many familiar faces and as always a few new ones.

Jim got us started just after 8AM with a quick run down of the route and we were off.

I’m trying to get geared up for and decide on two marathons. For this run my goal was 9 minute miles. To qualify for Boston I need 8 minute miles, but you have to start somewhere.

Since this was more of a test run, 9 minute miles ware sufficient. To ramp up properly and avoid injury, exercising patience and smarts is crucial.

I have lingering issues that I need to be careful with. I’ve been examined by a Physical Therapist and an Orthopedist who both said there is nothing wrong with me. Somehow, my knees still hurt when I run long distances.

I made it though the run with an average pace of 9:04. Most of my miles were within 10 seconds of 9 minutes, so I was pleased with my consistency.

No heroics, but a good start to a long training program.

Sunday Kayaking

My wife and I signed up for Boating in Boston this year. For the past two years my wife has had an individual pass which gave her several friend passes also. This year we did a family plan which is good for two boats.

Boating in Boston is set up at Spot Pond in Stoneham, Lake Quannapowitt, Newton Lower Falls on The Charles River, Hopkinton State Park, and Lake Cochituate in Cochituate State Park in Natick.

lake quannapowitt, kayaking, boating in Boston We’ve kayaked on Spot Pond many times, so we decided to try Lake Q for a change of pace.

Lake Q was a bit longer of a drive, but not by much. There was plenty of parking on Rt 129 and it was an easy walk to the pavilion. They checked us in quickly and after we fiddled around getting our life jackets to fit, we were on the water in no time.

Spot Pond is next to Rt 93 and Lake Q is close to Rt. 95. At some places on each lake you cannot hear the traffic and in other places it sounds like a speed way.

Spot Pond definitely has clearer water and is actually a back up reservoir for the MWRA. You can see the bottom in 10 to 15 feet of water easily. Lake Q is not a reservoir and it’s a good thing.

I’ve run around this lake 100 times easily, but I’ve never been on it.

As soon as you push off into the water you can see how murky it is. The water doesn’t smell bad, but you really don’t want to go for a swim.

I’ve seen people fishing and talked to a couple fisherman once. There are fish in the lake, but I’m not sure I’d want to eat them. I think this is a catch and release lake.

Soon after we cast off, I started my watch. I’ve done this before at Spot Pond and it’s always fun to see where you went.

Somehow, Garmin recorded my splits in meters and shows that we averaged 7:01 per 1,609 meter split. 1,609 is just about a mile, so we were moving at 7:01 per mile in a kayak!

After we got out of the boats my watch showed a time of an Hour and twenty minutes, and a distance of about 3.5 miles. That would be a more realistic pace of just under 22 minutes per mile.

So we had a leisurely and enjoyable 1:20 kayaking trip on Lake Q.

Spot Pond is cleaner and has move coves to check out. I think we both prefer Spot Pond, but were happy for the change of scenery at Lake Q.

Another great summer weekend!

Run well my Friends!


Memorial Day Weekend Running 2017

Memorial Day Weekend is a great weekend for running. There are races held in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and there are races held to celebrate life, the beginning of summer and do some fundraising.

Memorial Day Weekend Running

I managed to run two races this weekend. I had hoped to run three races but I could not find a Monday race that was reasonably close to home or not a driving nightmare.

Saturday I ran the Scott Procopio Gold Star Run 10K in Saugus. This was the second time I’ve run this race.

procopis gold star run, memorial day weekendI used to live in Saugus when my children were little. The Procopio Gold Star Run started in front of the Saugus Town Hall.

Over the years we attended many events at Town Hall. Seeing all of the youngsters running around brought back many fond memories.

The Library is across the street from Town Hall and the building in this photo. We spent a lot of time at the library for events and getting books. I was a Library Trustee and Board Treasurer for several years. It was a trip down memory lane.

Scott Procopio Gold Star Run 10K

memorial day weekend running, scott procopio gold star run 2017They had us line up just before 8AM. Over the start line they hung a huge American flag across the street. It was a sight to see. They played the National Anthem and sent us on our way.

The 5K and 10K runners started together and ran down Central Street to Winter Street. The 5K runners took a left onto Winter Street and we ran up the hill and took a right onto Adams Street.

I used to drive down Adams Street on occasion, so it was interesting to see the changes. At the corner of Adams and Vine Street there is a greenhouse/garden shop. I was glad to see that they were still in operation and seemed to be doing well.

We quickly turned left onto Essex Street and headed for the Cliftondale rotary where we continued onto Lincoln Street. A few hundred yards before the rotary we hit mile two and my pace was 7:57. A little faster than I wanted to run this early in a 10K, but I felt okay.

The first water stop was also just before the rotary and I was glad to see it. The day felt warm and Scott Procopio Gold Star Run, Memorial Day Weekend Runninghumid. A cop had traffic stopped in the rotary for us!

As I ran through Cliftondale and down Lincoln Ave I noticed all of the businesses that were gone. There seemed to be more nail salons and beauty parlors among the empty store fronts. The Century 21 real estate agency that I once worked for was also gone.

As we ran past Seagirt Ave I looked down the hill to my old home. It was still standing and still had the paint I put on it almost 17 years ago! I guess all of the time I put into scraping and patching really worked! Just past the intersection, mile three came in at 8:16.

Further down Lincoln Ave we ran past a Saugus institution, Kane’s Donuts. I was hoping they would have an iced coffee stop or hand out donut pieces. There was a small line out the door of the greatly expanded shop. I was glad to see they were still doing well.

As we ran down Lincoln Ave towards the Saugus River we passed what used to be an ice cream shop. It was now yet another Dunkin Donuts. Yeah!

Approaching the bridge I could smell the salty air and a bit of mud flat.

Going up Hamilton Street I knew that the hills were just beginning. We gained about 60 feet in exactly 0.25 miles starting right after mile 4.

My legs felt good and I had juice so I pushed up the hill and managed to pass several runners. Then we took a right onto Riverbank Road and hit our last hill. As we came down the hill and crossed over the Saugus River I passed five or six more runners. Mile five came in at 8:29.

We ran past the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and took a right onto Pleasant Street. There weren’t many runners in sight.

As we took the left onto Summer Street I set my sights on the few runners in front of me. I pushed hard and over took several of them.

At the corner of Taylor Street I saw a school bus pull up to the intersection and start unloading ROTC cadets! I panicked for a second. How was I going to get through all of them? They seemed oblivious that a race was going on.

Thankfully there was a race official to guide me through a narrow corridor they had set up for us. The kids hardly noticed me as I went past. Like most military folks I know they probably dread PT and running in particular.

As I pressed for the finish I saw a few friends who either ran the 5K or finished way ahead of me walking the other way on their way home. It was nice to get a few shout outs.

Winning my Age Group

After the race I hung out with friends from the club and talked about travel and our lives. It was nice to catch up.

I was starving and the race provided griddle fried hot dogs. I think they were Pearle natural casing dogs. They were definitely awesome! I was going to get another one but they were closing up by the time I got there. That’s the price you pay when running the longer race at an event.

For fun I walked over the the All Sports Event truck to check my time. I saw on their screen that I was first in my age group! While that was exciting, I noticed I was the only male 50-59 runner.

I expected a few guys who started behind me to show up on the board ahead of me, so I didn’t get too excited. Then I went over to the tent and got a print out of my results. I was 1/1 in my age group!

They did the 5K awards first. A 7-year old girl came in 3rd in the 0-19 age group! How awesome is that? They waited about 15 minutes to do the 10K awards.

By that time 3/4 of the people had left, including some of the winners. When they got to my award even fewer people were there. My friend Daniel and his wife Alex stuck around to cheer me on.

I actually got to stand on the top box of the platform, all by my self! It was a bit weird and not as exciting as it would have been to have some competition.

Baldi River Run 5 Miler

The Baldi River run has been produced by the Girabaldi Club in Methuen for 20 years. This was my first year running the race.

I drove up to Methuen with Durm Cahill and met a few friends at the race.

This was my Memorial Day Weekend Sunday race.

I guess everyone knows where the club is because they had absolutely no signs. We saw a cop and someone in a volunteer shirt and asked where to park. I think we were right in front of the club!

We parked near the Merrimack River and started looking around for the club. They had the food and beer tents set up so we knew we were in the right place. But no signs telling us where bib pick up was.

Bib and shirt pick up were quick and easy. We used the facilities and decided to walk around and check out the area.

Methuen is an old New England mill town like Lawrence and Lowell. While Lowell has experienced a renaissance over the past twenty years, Lawrence and Methuen have been largely passed by.

We admired the old buildings and dreamed about being real estate developers. There is so much potential in those 1882 buildings. There is even a commuter rail stop right down the street. Why isn’t this area of Methuen completely redeveloped?

As we jogged back up Washington Street we crossed the street from the club. There was a cop and some police tape. We figured it was a construction site as we saw three people scrubbing the side walk.

We noticed that the workers were wearing Haz-Mat suites, so we asked the cop what was going on. She said two people had been stabbed there last night and those guys were cleaning up the blood.

I guess there was one good reason why this neighborhood hasn’t been redeveloped!

Running the Baldi River Run 5 Miler

We lined up behind the cross walk. Durm had us one back from the front. I thought that was crazy but Durm and Matt Kerton said, “why not, you’re fast.” Not that fast!

One of the runners asked if we should be behind the cross walk or on the leading edge. The race official said on the edge, so we all moved up a few feet.

This is an old school race, they didn’t even have a bull horn. Fortunately we were up front and could hear about some rough pavement. They did use a real starter pistol though.

With a sharp snap we were off! Almost immediately I could feel the fatigue in my thighs and hips. Durm and I stayed to the right and let lots of people pass us. It is difficult to keep a pace when people keep passing you!

Memorial Day Weekend RunningThe first mile was down Merrimack and Water Streets with hardly a view of the river.

Mile one came in at 8:00 even. My legs were feeling better but I was still trying to hold back.

Just after the mile Water Street was right on the river. It was nice to see the large old homes on the left and the mighty Merrimack on the right. So much history and living has gone on in this area since the 1640’s.

With no clouds in the ski, it was getting hot. I grabbed a cup at the first water stop and never broke my pace.

At almost exactly 2.5 miles we made our turn around. There was some shade in this area.

After the turn we went up a long slow incline that I christened the Haver-hill. The elevation gain was negligible, but you had to look up.

After mile three Durm said he was going to kick it in. Slowly he pulled ahead. With less than two miles to go I picked up the pace also.

Mile four came in at 8:13 which was faster than the previous two miles. As we ran the last mile I spotted two Mystic Runners and a Merrimack Valley Strider. I slowly closed on the Mystics. With less than half a mile to go I over took both Mystics and set my sights on the MVS runner.

She was young and had muscular legs. This was not going to be easy! I kept at it and somehow I managed to inch past her. As we approached the finish, I could tell she was close.

I ran the last mile at a 7:48 pace! Nothing like some competition!

At the Finish

Volunteers handed us coozies holding cups of ice water. Durm found me and we headed into the club in search of more water. While enjoying more water one of the race organizers asked us how the course was. We told him that we enjoyed the race and that the drivers were very good.

Matt Kerton set a new 10K PR, which is amazing since he set 20 something PRs last year.

When we got to the parking lot, we noticed there was no line for beer and twenty people in line for food. So we grabbed a Coors Light and headed for the food.

In line we spoke with a local runner. He looked to be in his 60’s but was in awesome shape. He didn’t like the beer either. Durm and I took our food and headed for an empty bench by the river.

The sun was out, we just ran a great race and had a plate of good food. Life is good!

Since it was Memorial Day weekend and the beer was totally resistible we decided to head out.

I left my phone in the car, so I don’t have any photos for this race. Hopefully I will find some to add.

Run well my Friends!


Mystic Runners Lake Q 5k May 24 2017

Mystic Runners Lake Q 5k takes place every Wednesday evening in Wakefield, MA. It’s been going on since I can remember and is the weekly club run for The Mystic Runners.

Mystic Runners Lake Q 5k

I’ve run with The Mystics quite a few times. Two years ago when I was going for 50 5K races before I turned 51, I ran the Lake Q 5K 9 times.

One of my fondest running memories was running one of these races. Me and about five other guys were flying down Rt. 129 on the eastern shore of Lake Quannapowitt. For those of you not familiar with the area, Lake Q is surrounded by roads and parking lots.

It’s a large pond but it is an urban body of water with no camps or cottages and no power boats. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone swimming in the lake, nor would I want to.

Route 129 is a very well traveled road with cars doing up to 40 mph quite often. All along the road there is parking. When no cars are there it makes a great space to run in.

The night I was racing those guys each parking space was occupied, and often we were on or over the white line. We were pushing it in more than one way.

As we brushed mirrors with our right shoulders, often it felt like our left shoulders were being brushed by passing cars. It was tight, but none of us was letting up and heading for the side walk.

Running down Route 129 is between the one mile and two mile mark for this race. When you are still hauling ass at this point, you are in a race.

It was so much fun to be totally in the moment and a little bit in danger. Each of us knew what we were doing and each of us trusted that the guy right behind or right in front of us wouldn’t do anything stupid.

It was kind of like the stories my friend Big Daddy Jim tells about cycling. You push the limits, go to the edge and trust the guys you run or ride with won’t screw up.

Mystic Runners Lake Q 5k May 24 2017

Wednesday night was the first time I’ve run with The Mystics since August 26th, 2015. I ran a 22:02 that night and two weeks before I ran 22:00. That was the night I raced five guys down Route 129.

I’m not in the same shape that I was two years ago. Age is only part of that.

Wednesday night I ran a 24:20 race, which isn’t too bad for where I’m at right now.

When we lined up for the start my buddy Mat Kerton tried to get me to start in front with the fast people. I knew better and started about a third of the way back. I did a warm up jog and some stretching, so I was ready to go.

As we ran down Quannapowitt Parkway I got the feel for my legs. My quads were a little sore from running a hard 7.53 the night before, but no twinges in my knees. My lungs were clear and the weather was perfect.

I decided to go all in. Nothing new about that I guess!

I kept up with the people around me and by the time we got out onto Route 129 I began to pass a few people. I kept telling my self that anyone can run a good first mile and mine came in at 7:47.

Mile two is where the work begins in a 5K. The first mile gets you into your group and mile two is where you pull ahead or settle in.

As usual, I ran in the road down Route 129. The traffic was light and there was room to run in the parking lane. All the way down the road I looked around and admired the beautiful homes and the view of the lake. Lake Q may not be fit for swimming, but I still enjoy looking at it.

As we hit the bottom of the lake and took our right onto Church Street, I began to feel the run. I was pretty much maxed out. I set my sights on the runner in front of me and went after her.

Mystic Runners Lake Q 5KWe had hit mile two right at the turn and I managed a 7:57 mile. I wasn’t going to get a 24 minute 5K, but I was doing all right.

With about three-quarters of a mile to go I knew it was going to be tough. I traded places with one runner and another passed me and kept on going.

All I could do was keep going at 100%.

As we ran down North Avenue, once again I got into the street. The street pavement is even and I didn’t have to look out for walkers.

As I approached the turn for the finish I could hear shoes behind me. With only a few hundred yards to go I tossed it all in. When the shoes got closer my stride lengthened. Near the finish it sounded like the shoes were going to overtake me.

Photo Courtesy: John Mulroy

As you can see in this photo I was very focused on staying one step ahead of this young lady. It turns out that I tied with Jennifer Rolfes who is 27 years my junior. While she looks like she is effortlessly finishing, I look like every fiber of my body is fully engaged in getting to that finish line.

Immediately after the finish I was exhausted. Lately, I’ve been making note of how quickly I recover. In the first 30 to 60 seconds after a race I can barely talk. But after about two minutes, I’m ready for a great conversation or a cool off jog.

I did not get a chance to talk to Jennifer, but I think I gave her a fist bump. What a great run.

Driving from Cambridge to Wakefield at the height of rush hour can easily take an hour, as it did this week. Getting to these races is not easy and requires planning ahead. But they are so much fun!

To me, this race was the symbolic beginning of the summer racing season. What a great way to start the season!


I have two races this weekend, so look for my post on Tuesday.

Run well my Friends!