The Gold Star Honor Run is a 5K and 10K road race held in Saugus, MA in honor of Marine CPL Scott Procopio each Memorial Day weekend.
Gold Star Run for Honor 10K
This is the third year that I’ve run the 10K. It’s also my slowest time for this race so far!
The race starts on Central Street in Saugus in front of Town Hall. There are a few groups with tables set up and a WWII Army reenactment group.
The Army guys are in full WWII combat gear and set up a nice display. They lay out all of the gear a GI would have carried into combat during WWII. There are a lot of canvas packs, pouches and backpacks. Absolutely no electronics, Kevlar or night-vision goggles.
A lot of kids seemed quite fascinated with the display with quite a few hanging around asking questions.
Before the race I found a few of my friends and we had fun catching up and talking about the race. At 8:00 AM they played The National Anthem and all eyes were on the nearest flag. At 8:03 we were off.
I didn’t have any big plans for this race so I started off near the back. Between the 5K and 10K about 349 runners took off running.
At Winter Street the 220 5K runners took a left and the 129 10K runners headed up the hill to the turn onto Adams Ave. A few cars were held up at the inter section and some guy three cars back actually honked his horn. I had to chuckle. He probably had to sit there and wait five minutes for all of us to pass.
Adams in a winding road of rolling hills that connects Central Street to Essex Street just before the Rt. 1 bridge. We took a left onto Essex, moved to the right side of the road and headed for Cliftondale Square.
We hit mile one on Adams Street and my time was 8:18. A little fast but I felt comfortable. Essex is essentially flat so I was able to start picking up my pace a bit.
At the Fire Station on Essex Street, the Firemen were giving out cups of water so I took one. It was only a gulp of cold water and in a Styrofoam cup, but I needed it. It was nice to see the fire fighters supporting the race.
Just after the Fire House we hit mile two at 8:08. I knew the water stop was supposed to be at mile two and I worried that I had just passed it!
Fortunately around 2.25 miles they had the official water stop. This time I got about two gulps of water.
The water stop was just after Cliftondale Square and we were now on Lincoln Ave headed east. I noticed a few changes in the square and there seemed to be more empty store fronts. I guess the only constant is change!
Just after Seagirt Avenue in my old neighborhood we hit mile three at 8:20. Further down Lincoln Avenue we passed the World Famous Kane’s Donuts. I so hoped they would have Kane’s Donuts for us at the finish.
At the Ballard Street intersection they had an officer managing traffic and a volunteer waved me through the intersection.
Running in the Gold Star Run for Honor 10K
We were now about 3.5 miles into the race. The 10K runners were stretching out and we began to pass some of the 5K people who were walking the course.
Lincoln Ave was now sloping down to the Saugus River and I could smell the ocean a bit. Soon the turn onto Hamilton Street came into view. Some people cut through the parking lot, but I stayed on the sidewalk as we made the turn.
This is where this race begins. Hamilton has a series of hills that can get you if you ran too hard or haven’t prepared.
Knowing I wasn’t prepared for a great 10K I held back a bit for the first half of the race. About a quarter-mile after the turn onto Hamilton we hit mile four at 8:19. I was doing okay.
Just after mile four we hit the first hill near Pigeon Hill Estates. We gained about 60 feet in a tenth of a mile. There were a lot of walkers and I couldn’t tell how many were 5K or 10K runners. All I knew is that this is where you push for the finish.
Four miles into a 10K is where a lot of people start to loose their mojo. Anyone who runs 5Ks and went out strong is now beyond their comfort zone. For a casual runner doing a 10K this is the pain zone.
I’m not a 10K expert or well trained, but this is the part of a 10K where I pass a lot of people who passed me or kept ahead of me until this point.
At many places along this race there were spectators cheering us on. On Hamilton there seemed to be more, but I may have just been noticing them more.
At about 4.6 mile we took a right onto Saville Street. There was another small hill here and a few more people dropped off. At this intersection the 5K runners went strait towards town hall.
Saville has some small hills and seems to go on forever like Boylston Street. I caught up to two guys and we kept trading places as we ran down the street. Half-way down Saville we hit mile five at 8:41.
When we got to Elm Street there was a cop with his car running and the lights on. The three of us looked to him for direction and he looked at us like he was surprised to see us.
No other runners were in front of us and at this point I was leading the pack. I made a split second decision and took a left onto Elm Street and crossed the Saugus River.
I was reasonably sure this was the way to go. But, when we got onto Central Street we saw a few other runners coming down the street. Were we supposed to turn at Elm or keep going?
The three of us were pissed and it kind of took the wind out of our sails. We were going to run short and the race wouldn’t count.
After I chilled out I looked at my watch and thought we might be about to get 6.2 miles out of what was left of the race. I started running the curves and not strait down the street to try and lengthen out the run.
As we came around The Saugus Iron Works a Park Ranger was raising the flag. Our turn onto Prospect Street came into view and I hoped I could stretch this out.
As we turned left onto Summer Street I knew we were close to the end. I could see the cones marking our final turn onto Taylor Street. My watch still hadn’t hit six miles!
Just after the turn it hit six miles and my mile pace was 8:29. I wasn’t sure I’d get close enough to 6.2 to make it count, but I decided to run it in anyway.
For the last 0.12 miles I managed a 7:23 pace. After I crossed the finish line I saw I had a 6.12 distance. 0.08 miles short would constitute a poorly measured course, but this was my fault. If only that cop had waved his hand.
Apre Gold Star Run for Honor
I grabbed a bottle of water and walked off the race a bit. My friend Daniel De Oliveira and his wife Alex had run the 5K and I stopped to talk with them. I saw them at this race last year also. They are the nicest people you will ever meet.
They were talking to another runner and I thought maybe she was from our club. We have so many new runners and she looked familiar.
I asked her if we had met before because she looked so familiar. She said she didn’t know any of us. I told her she looked familiar but I couldn’t place her. She just laughed.
We headed off to the hot dog cart and the young lady headed off to her friends. I joked that a hot dog was going to be my prize for running the race.
I also ran into Liz Emerald and Emily McDivitt. Liz ran the 5K and was first in her age group. Emily ran the 10K and ended up as her Age Group winner and over all 3rd place female finisher. Not bad ladies!
They did the 5K awards first and I hung around with Daniel and his wife. We talked about our travels and summer plans. They had been to New Orleans recently and loved it. I had been there about 20 years ago we had fun talking about the French Quarter.
Daniel got called up to accept the 2nd place award in his age group! He was totally surprised to hear them try to pronounce his name, but knew it was him.
When they got to the 10K awards, I went for a second hot dog. No way they were going to call my name. I ran as well as I could, but I really wasn’t prepared to run a competitive race. But when they got to the men’s 50-59 group they called my name for second place!
I wasn’t sure I deserved it because of my course deviation, but the guy who came in third was about seven minutes behind me.
Our award was a free registration for another High5Em race! I thought that was awesome. Who needs another medal?
So after a few pleasant surprises and a great time hanging out with friends, I headed home.
Run well my Friends.