Road to Boston SLR 5

A great long run on The Road to Boston 2023. The weather was perfect, and I learned a few lessons along the way!

The Road to Boston continues!

I didn’t write about last week’s Sunday Long Run Number 4.

That was a hilly 14.6 mile slog over well trod roads. I climbed the equivalent of 70 flights of stairs or 754 feet and achieved an average pace of 10:11.

We ran the Fells hills in both directions, up Highland Ave and hills on other roads that Jim tossed in just to keep it interesting!

My hamstrings were tired and sore and my quads were maxed. On Tuesday night I cut my club run to 4 miles and my PT had to work on my knee Wednesday night.

Sunday Long Run 5

This is a pre-run group photo that Bobby Taylor posted on FB. I counted 39 people. A few are water stop volunteers, but I’m pretty sure we missed a few.

The weather was as good as it get’s in January for running: above freezing, no rain and no wind. Who could ask for more? How about a great group of people to run with and great support from Bobby and the team of volunteers he pulls together each week? Life is good!

This is Bobby’s photo with his stats, a nice 9:04 pace to run 6.53 miles in under an hour.

Road to Boston SLR 5,January 29, 2023

I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest so I started first. One of the new runners who I didn’t know soon caught up to me but didn’t respond when I asked him how he was doing.

But I did run the first two miles with Marty Hergert, our club President. We had a good chat about club goings-on and life in general.

Just after mile two we turned onto Main Street in Saugus and our first water stop. This one was mainly for the short runners, but I stopped in for a drink anyway.

My knee was acting up and I was hoping the brief stop would alleviate the pain. It usually does, but this time it just went down a notch and not away.

Main Street Saugus heading out to Wakefield High is deceptively hilly. They are long and not really steep. In a car you would barley notice them as hills.

Just after mile four we reached Wakefield High and the first official water stop for the long-runners. Paul Locke was there and on my return stop Linda Field had joined him.

I had a nice chat at both stops, but my goal was to keep the stops short. I won’t be stopping during the Boston Marathon, hopefully! And your muscles always tightened up when you stop.

Running Breakheart Reservation

Leaving the high school lot we hit our next hill in about 100 yards. It’s not a bad hill, but we had many more in front of us.

I knew that Dorota Bulik was right behind me and expected her to catch me on the hill. But I was all alone most of the way through Breakheart Res.

We always loose count how many hills are in there and we always joke that they added a new one since last time.

Depending on what you call a hill there are four or five hills. Several of them are undisputedly hills. The third or forth hill climbs 80 feet in less than a quarter mile. Yeah, that’s a hill!

On each hill I rose up an ran on my toes at a quicker tempo and shorter gait. It seemed to work as Dorota didn’t catch me until that last hill, and she’s a much better runner than I am.

We both used the facilities at the ranger station and headed out.

Dorota used the flatter terrain on the outbound side to take off. After the water stop at the high school she took a short cut back.

But I did catch up to Joe Winslow before we left the res. and even saw Jeff Rushton at the water stop.

I left the water stop and didn’t see anyone until I got back to the parking lot.

Running it in

The water stop was at about 7.5 miles. It felt great knowing I only had five miles to go and I didn’t feel like I was going to die!

As I ran down Water Street/Route 129 in Wakefield I noticed many new buildings and renovations. It always amazes me how many small businesses there are. And how much construction is going on in every town.

Just after hitting mile 9 I reached Wakefield Center. Traffic was light and very few people were out.

My goal this week was to run a 10 minute average pace. My watch said I was at 10:04 pace as I ran down Main Street in Wakefield.

Everything felt pretty good so I decided to give it a push. Nothing too crazy but mile 10 came it at 9:53 and the last 2.54 miles were all under 9:45.

It was great to see my overall pace tick back to 10 minutes and then tick down to 9:57.

My last 2.54 miles were quicker than my first three miles, which is great.

It’s awesome to get near the end of a run and still have some juice.

Last week I was talking to Bobby Taylor about doing some speed work. I felt I needed some to improve my marathon pace, but was afraid of aggravating something. Over the past two years just about every part of my body has ached at one time or another. I’d rather run Boston slow than not at all!

Bobby suggested doing strides. As he explained them, you basically do your normal run but add speed surges for short distances. He does them near the end of a long run and it really helped him last year.

As I ran through Wakefield towards Melrose I ran four strides using light poles as my begin and finish markers.

I did these when the road was flat. No sense getting too crazy.

What I found interesting was that after I strided for probably 100 to 200 feet, I had to slow myself down. My legs wanted to keep up a faster pace. Not the stride pace but probably 30-45 seconds faster per mile than my goal pace of 10 even.

That was pretty cool.

It was also pretty cool that I didn’t feel like I was going to die or had to stop. And nothing broke! And my breathing hardly changed at all.

It was very encouraging and I will be incorporating this technique into a lot of my runs from now on.

One of the benefits of running alone is that you can do something like that and not kill your running buddy.

It’s hard to have two people feel the energy at the same point in a run. While I hate to slow someone down, I also hate beating the shit out of myself to keep up. Sometimes you have to be big enough of a man to let the other guy go.

Finishing Week Five

I felt pretty good running the last mile heading to the parking lot. This week was a shorter run, but I think it was just as hilly per mile. Fewer miles just meant less elevation.

When I got back to the parking lot I saw Erik Cann. He’s been running with us most weeks and usually I see him off in the distance!

He told me that he wanted to join our club and we talked about the logistics.

After we hung out a bit he headed to Café Nero and I headed to CVS to pick up a few items including something good to drink.

Running Stats

The total distance for me this week was 12.54. Erik had over 11 on his Strava app. We compared maps and we ran the identical route so we were both scratching our heads on that one.

My heart rate peaked at 178 and that was when I was running the first couple of hills in Breakheart. I hit 172 during one stride late in the run and my average was 156 bpm.

Garmin said “this activity had enough intensity to provide a stimulus to increase your maximum aerobic capacity. It increased your high aerobic training load.” It also said my aerobic load was 5.0 on a scale of 0-5.

While it’s good to push it and max out once in a while. The app said 5.0 is “overreaching” and that this can become harmful without enough rest between these types of runs.

Noted!

But my anaerobic level was 2.0 which is at a “maintaining” level. This probably came about during my strides. These higher intensity efforts should only last 10 to 120 seconds. And my strides were probably less than one-minute each.

During my weekly runs I think I’ll start adding longer strides now that I know the parameters.

Overall, it was a great run, I learned a few things and I feel like it was a benefit to my training.

How was your run this week?

Andy

Saturday Long Run January 14, 2023

A Saturday Long Run

This week the Melrose Running Club held their Holiday Party on Saturday night, so we had our Sunday Long Run on Saturday. Some people don’t like to stay out all night and then go for a long run.

Since this is the third week of our program, the Saturday Long run dropped down to 10.5 miles. After the hilly 12.5 miles the previous week, it was a welcome distance.

Last week, my Garmin showed that I climbed the equivalent of 77 flights of stairs on that run. And my legs certainly felt it!

This week we left our starting area behind Brueggers on Main Street in Melrose and headed north on Main Street. Somehow, we forgot to get a group photo!

This Saturday the temperature was around 33F with an occasional breeze and a constant, light drizzle. I think the precipitation kept our group small, probably 25 people?

The first mile out I ran a 10:57 pace in an effort to warm up and see what was going to hurt this time. And I did run a bit with Marty Hergert this week!

Over miles two and three the group settled into groups of runners by pace and I ended up running with Joe Winslow and Dan Slattery. We ran around 10:15 over those two miles and my left knee was bothering me.

This early in my Boston Marathon training, this had me a little worried. Knee pain has been a constant issue but I have learned a few tricks.

When I first started back to running, my PT would have me walk four minutes and then run one minute and slowly progress to running a 5K without walking over the course of about five weeks.

When I got to the point in this process where I was running more than walking, almost every time my knee would hurt. So the walking breaks were welcomed.

What I discovered by doing this progression was that often my knee pain would go away after I took the walk break. Even if I did more than the usual pre-run warm up my knee would still hurt. But walking almost always made it feel better.

So when we got to our first water stop at about 5K I took an extended walking break to the men’s room at the local McDonalds.

Sunday Long Run number 3, Boston Marathon training
Zelia Magliozzi photo

Don Cranley is the guy in the red jacket next to me in the above photo. We both have a Boston Marathon number through our club and both really needed to get this run in.

Don wasn’t really feeling it, so I told him I’d catch up and run with him after my pit stop.

Now, Don might not have been feeling it, but it took me almost four miles to catch up to him at the bottom of Lake Q. I ran all of four of those miles well under a 1o-minute pace. So he was cruising along.

Finishing the Saturday Long Run

As I ran down North Ave in Wakefield I could see Don’s red jacket way down the road. And I could see him taking walking breaks. When I caught up to him he asked me which direction to go in, so I think he had been checking the map on his phone.

This is the second week that someone has asked me for directions, which is generally not a good thing to do. Fortunately, I know these courses very well and they are some of our easiest.

But if you add in a few rotaries and intersections with five roads and poor signage, I could get you lost!

As we ran down Main Street in Wakefield almost every driver let us cross the street and were just great in general. I think both of us really appreciated that.

When we got back to the water stop Bobby Taylor was there manning the stop and the only person there. Then Zelia showed up and started snapping pics. Just like she did last week.

We were about seven and a half miles into the run at this point. I didn’t feel great but my back and left knee were manageable. And while my cardio wasn’t in marathon condition, my breathing was comfortable.

After a minute or so, Don and I headed out for the last 5K of the run.

Don was kind of struggling and he told me later that I helped push him along. He was only going to do the half distance.

Soon after we left the water stop we hit a small hill and both of us felt it, but we kept on going and talking.

It’s always a good sign when you can talk and run!

At around mile nine Don said he had to walk and that I should go on. We’ve all been there and it’s no slight to run on ahead of someone during a training run. Especially when you are almost done.

I ran in the last approximately 1.7 miles by myself around a 10 to 10:30 pace. It felt comfortable and my pain was manageable.

My total distance was 10.81 miles at an average of 10:02 which was the pace I wanted on this run. Now I want to try and run this pace at the longer distance next week.

I had to do some club business in town after the run, so I didn’t hang out for coffee afterwards. Maybe next week.

I hope your training is going well,

Andy

The Road to Boston SLR 2

Celebrating twenty years since my first training run, I ran the second Sunday Long Run with the Melrose Running Club and guests.

The Road to Boston has begun with the second Sunday Long Run. The Melrose Running Club has been sponsoring these Sunday runs for the past twenty years and all runners are invited.

The Road to Boston SLR 1

Since January 1st was the first Sunday of 2023 we didn’t have an organized club run that day. Many of us ran various New Year’s Day races, such as the Hangover Classic in Salisbury Beach.

Because I was running a New Year’s Day race I decided to do my first long run on December 30th.

For that run I started at my house, ran through Malden and out on the North Spur bike trail to Saugus.

This route in almost entirely flat, so it was a great way to start ramping up the miles. I ran 10.3 miles that day at a comfortable 10:05 pace.

Idle Hands Craft Ales Vienna Lager - Emelyn, Brew Pub
Idle Hands Photo

On the way back I stopped in at Idle Hands Brewing and had a nice half liter of Emelyn, their Vienna Lager. I also had a nice conversation with the bar tender, John. I was the only customer in the bar!

The Road to Boston SLR 2

January 8th was the first official Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run. And since it is technically the second week of Boston Marathon training, we ran the week 2 route which was 12.5 for the long run and 7.1 miles for the half distance. 

I know, not great math there. But when you’re not up for almost a half marathon, 7.1 still feels like half of the full. Or a short run.

Group photo on the 2nd Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run
Julie Galvin Photo

We had at least 44 people show up for this chilly run. I think a few more people joined us after this photo was taken.

When we started it was 24F and it really felt like it. We were lucky in that there was no wind or rain. That makes a big difference in the comfort level.

In this photo you will notice that several of us have our hands stuffed under our arms. Even with gloves my fingers were freezing.

It was so cold that I headed out with the first runners. I knew I would warm up eventually. And if I was in the lead pack all the faster people would catch up and I’d get to talk to everyone. I’d also not be at the end of the pack.

At mile one my fingers and toes were feeling a little better, but I was trying to figure out if they were warming up or if I was loosing feeling in my fingers and toes!

At mile 1 we were close to the intersection of West Wyoming Ave and the Fellsway East. The road was clear so we crossed the Ave like a stampeding heard of beast breathing frost into the air.

At the intersection we took a left and headed for the hills of the Fellsway East.

At this point I began to adjust my running pace and approached the hills by my self. I’ve been doing this twenty years and I know what running hills can do to you if you’re not prepared.

As I made my way up the first hill our former club President, Bobby Taylor, caught up to me.

He noticed that I was wearing trail shoes on a road run and asked if I always wore them for road runs.

I told him I have been for the past few months.

I started wearing the Brooks Cascadia shoes about 10 years ago. At the time I was looking for a shoe to keep my feet warm in the winter. At the time these shoes featured Gore-Tex which helps insulate the shoe.

Trail shoes are generally stiffer and heavier than road shoes. The outsoles are designed to give you extra traction and support. They do not flex as much and are good for landing on stones and tree roots.

But they are stiffer, don’t have as much cushion, and are very loud on the road. Like many runners, Bobby prefers more cushioning. I agreed that I should pick up a pair of road shoes to use on nice days. It’s good to rotate shoes and the Cascadia are a bit much for a road run.

Eventually Bobby moved along and the group prepared for and made our move across the Fellsway so we would be ready for our next turn onto Highland Avenue.

Highland is a nice wide avenue with a wide bike lane to run in. It’s also a hill for the first half mile.

5K and Water Stop One

Shortly after turning onto Highland we hit 5K. Only 9.4 miles to go!

At this point all of us still felt good and both the long and short runners were still together.

Julie and Gail had the first stop set up for us. When you get a group of runners together, it can be hard to get them going once again. We have so much fun catching up.

Zelia Magliozzi had run down the Fellsway and met us at the water stop. She was doing a recovery run after doing her long run on Saturday.

Sunday Long Run at the first water stop.
Zelia Magliozzi Photo

I left the water stop by my self. If you hang out too long the muscles tighten up and you get cold.

As I headed out of the Fulton Street rotary I could see a few runners ahead of me heading up the Elm Street hill. They had crossed the road already and were moving along nicely.

I put my head down and dug into the hill. About half way up the hill I made my crossing to be in position for our right onto the Fellsway West.

As I approached the turn I saw a runner in a 2017 Boston Marathon jacket. He was standing there looking at his phone.

When I reached him I asked if he was okay and he said he thought he was lost. He had downloaded the half-map and thought he needed to turn left.

I assured him that we were taking a right and off we went. His name was Eric and he was with The Mystic Runners. Eric is also training for Boston 2023.

This piece of road has a number of challenges. The breakdown lane is nice and wide in most places, but there is hill. There is also a ramp to Rt. 93 South and if someone is coming up behind you and doesn’t care about hitting you, it can get dicey.

Fortunately we waved someone on who was coming towards us to take the ramp.

The run over the Rt 93 bridge wasn’t too bad. Some days this wide open area can be windy and cold.

Shortly after the bridge we hit mile 5 and approached the exit ramp from Rt. 93 North. People come flying up this ramp, there isn’t a cross walk and no one would expect to see runners crossing their path.

Once again, we were fortunate and there wasn’t any traffic.

10K and Water Stop Two

Just as we hit mile 6, we made our turn at Straw Point for water stop two.

Nicole Jacob was our goddess at this stop. We weren’t especially parched or anything but it’s always nice to see a friendly face.

After a quick drink we continued on our way and hit 10K before we left the parking lot.

Eric hadn’t run much beyond 10 miles in quite a while and as we told Nicole, “it’s beginning to feel like a run.”

We ran down Pond Street in Stoneham and made our way past the Stone Zoo. Running past the parking lot we had to run another hill.

The Road to Boston SLR 2 course map

Shortly after we hit mile 7 the road turns into Woodland Road. This is one of those curvy, hilly roads that our forefathers designed for Sunday driving in the suburbs. We managed to stay pretty close to our average pace running the hills they designed for amusement.

As we approached Flynn Rink we hit mile 8 and it felt like a gift. I hardly noticed the mile. I still felt pretty good but both of us had become more focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

We negotiated the Fulton Rotary again and headed for water stop 1/3.

It’s always nice when the club can use a water stop twice. It’s often challenging to get enough volunteers to man all of our stops. Sometimes one person will cover more than one stop.

Four miles to go at Water Stop Three

Eric and I were the only two runners at the stop this time.

Julie and Gail said they ran out of cups and had to go buy more. Based on the cup count they figured 40 runners were on the course. Amazingly, there were a few people behind us.

We didn’t hang out long. We were both sweaty and tired and didn’t want to get cold and have our muscles tighten up.

Stiffly we started out and crossed the road to get ready for our next turn.

This was onto East Border Road which is a hilly piece of road on the south side of The Middlesex Fells Reservation.

As we ran down the hill approaching the Fellsway East we hit mile 9. Only 3.5 miles to go.

The turn onto The Fellsway had us running up hill immediately.

Drivers tend to fly up this road also. Seems to be a common theme here!

But the pavement is only a few years old and there is a pretty good break down lane for most of this section of The Fellsway.

We continued to chat as we made our way over these hills. As we crested the second hill we hit mile 10 and still felt pretty good.

As we ran down the hill I knew I needed to make a pit stop at the Dunkin Donuts.

Eric asked if I wanted him to hang out, but I told him to go on and I’d try to catch up.

Fortunately the restroom door wasn’t locked and I was back on the road in no time.

As I left Dunkin’s parking lot I didn’t see any other runners. But I knew where I was going.

As I crested yet another hill I saw Joe Winslow ahead running on the sidewalk. It took me a bit to catch up with him, but when I did we ran the rest of the distance together.

Joe and I haven’t run together in probably three years. We did chat after a club run a few weeks ago, but it was still fun catching up. Both of us once had little girls and are now empty nesters.

As we approached West Foster Street I made sure we got to 12.5 miles. This early in a training program, you don’t want to be taking short cuts. Training is about doing the work.

Apre SLR 2

Before COVID we used to hang out at Brueggers after a long run. They had a few long tables and we could get twenty or so people seated. It was great and we left some cash in the till.

But Brueggers removed all of their tables during COVID and still hasn’t replaced them.

So we headed to a new coffee shop called Café Nero. It’s in a new building on Main Street and is a new shop in town. I think they are a local chain.

There menu looks like Starbucks but they have a wider variety of food and the décor is a bit more modern and hip than Starbucks.

I was celebrating twenty years since my first ever training run. So I got a grande coffee and an almond cressant.

As one of the last long-runners to come in, I found the table full. But AJ Drummond was gracious enough to offer his seat. He had to head out.

It was fun to hang out with everyone. Some people I knew, some I recognized and some I didn’t.

I finished my cressant, said my good byes and headed home. While I sat there my muscles had tightened up and I knew that I needed to get home and stretch.

Run well My Friends!

Andy

Thursday Night 5 Miler

Feels pretty good getting back to somewhat normal running.

I almost got to 60 miles for November. If I can keep this going I might be able to hit 70 for December.

I kind of enjoy running through the neighborhoods and seeing all of the Christmas lights. Some people really go all out and put on quite the display.

It livens up a solo run on a dark and rainy afternoon. And while I need to look out for pot holes, the lights help maintain posture by making look up more to take in the holiday sights.

Run well my friends,

Andt

Cambridge Winter Classic 5K

Running the Cambridge Winter Classic 5K

It’s nice to be getting back to feeling good while racing. Whenever you run a 5k you should always feel like you are on the edge. While my leg was killing me, I was far from pushing the envelope.

The past few races have allowed me to run at 100% of effort. While this has been a lot of fun, it’s also a great confidence booster.

I’m looking forward to increasing my miles and preparing for the January long runs.

Winter marathon training run

I’ve been slowly building my miles since September. Taking it nice and easy in order to avoid another setback.

I ran 50.6 miles in September and just over 57 miles in October and November.

As the weather gets colder and the nights darker, pushing to 60 miles will become more of a challenge.

But the first long run in January is 12.5 miles, so I need to get these miles in now.

Run well my friends!

Andy