On a frigid November ‘morn, 234 local runners turned out for the First Annual Howlin Wolf Half Marathon at the Stone Zoo.
The Howlin Wolf Half Marathon was a fundraiser for The Stone Zoo and cancer research. At the starting line the Zoo Director told us that the idea for the half marathon originated about two months ago. Race Menu and The Stone Zoo did a great job in a short period of time, and managed to produce a well run, challenging and fun half marathon.
Howlin Wolf Half
This was a local race for me so I didn’t have to get up at Crazy O’clock. I grabbed a travel mug of coffee, headed across town and arrive at The Zoo while the Race Menu team was still setting up.
I was among the first to pick up my number but still had to wait for the facilities. After business was taken care of I headed back to my car, pinned on my number and figured out what to wear. I planned to wear my club singlet, but the temperature was still 33° before the sun rose over the tree line. I went with my Boston Marathon long sleeve shirt and running vest over an Under Armor shirt.
I wore a head band to keep from getting an ear ache from the cold, and a pair of running gloves. These items would be easy to remove if I got too hot.
While waiting for the race I saw many friends. Somehow I managed to miss a few, even in the small crowd that we had. Around 8:50 we headed for the starting line.
By 9AM most of us were in the starting corral but the race director was no where in sight. I think they were busy making a few last minute adjustments. A little after 9AM Allain and the Zoo Director were at the start.
Allain asked how many people were cancer survivors, a few hands went up. He asked how many people were running their first half and a few hands went up. The Zoo Director thanked us for coming. When the race was first proposed she didn’t think anyone would show up. She seemed quite happy with the turn out.
We had a moment of silence for Paris and around 9:08 we started.
Growlin’ down the Parkway
My plan was to run 8:30 miles and do about a 1:50 half. I was running with Don Keren and Paul Locke for the first mile or so and we had fun chatting as we ran along. Eventually Paul and I pulled ahead and ran together for the next few miles. Then I pulled ahead of Paul.
For the first four miles my pace was around 7:57, which I knew was too fast. I felt good but I knew the first 6 miles of a half was no time for time trials. I tried to pull back and let people pass me. A few people did pass me but I was not slowing down enough.
At mile six we hit the Middlesex Fells hills. I’ve run them many times and know how challenging they are. I had wasted a lot of juice in the first six miles, but still felt pretty good. Nothing hurt and my energy level was still pretty good.
As I pushed up the hills I could see my current pace dropping steadily. Near the top of one hill my watch said 11:15! Yikes! As I ran down the other side, it was a relief to see my time drop to about 8:00 again.
Eventually Paul Locke caught up to me and we ran together for several miles. Lauren Cossette ran with us for a few miles also. On the second lap up the Fellsway West, Paul and then Lauren pulled ahead of me. It was all I could do at mile 11 to keep pushing up yet another hill! I didn’t care that they were getting further and further ahead of me.
It burns, make it stop!
At several points in the race my glutes burned. I knew I had been lazy with my cross training. The last hill on the Fellsway West made my quads burn. I had been lazy with my running. My breathing was fine and I made sure to breath deeply.
I was relieved to hit mile 12 but realized I was spent. My pre-race routine and clothing choices had been spot on. But I was running this race on rest and not training. It caught up to me miles ago, but now it was killing me.
I’ve run many half marathons and like most runners, it is my favorite distance. I knew I was un-prepared and had gone out too aggressively. What had I been thinking? This was getting painful.
As South Street turned into Pond Street I didn’t think there was enough road left to get in a full 13.1 miles. Part of me was hoping that had measured the course significantly short. Just make it stop!
As I ran past the first entrance to The Zoo I realized we were taking the next entrance and winding through the parking lot. As I approached the first entrance I saw a water stop. Maybe they had measured the race long and we needed a water stop close to the finish? I was a little bit worried for a few minutes. I didn’t have the juice for a 13.5 mile half marathon. I had to land this thing quickly.
As I took the right into the parking lot I could see the finish line. Being a small race there were only a few other runners with me. I felt like I was late to the party and everyone had gone home.
As I made the last turn for the final approach to the finish line I could hear friends calling out my name. It didn’t make me run any faster. I saw the time on the clock and just didn’t have the juice for a final kick.
I saw the camera man at the finish and raised my hands in victory signs as I approached the line. It actually took a conscious effort to keep my arms up. But it wasn’t my victory that I was raising my arms for.
Party at The Zoo
After I crossed the finish line I walked with Emily McDivitt. She rode her bike to the race and left her gear in my car. I needed to add a few layers before the cold set in, so we headed for my car. Then it was time to party.
They had sandwiches, chips, granola bars and water for us. There were also several beers to choose from. It was nice to see that Sam Adams was one of them. I don’t see Sam Adams at many races and they are one of my favorite brewers.
Twenty-six members of the Melrose Running Club ran the race. We were the largest group and our captain, Paul Locke, won an award for bringing the largest group. If it wasn’t for him I would not have known about this race. His award was well deserved.
The Mystics had a good showing also. The race was in the back yard for both clubs. Some members have dual citizenship in both clubs.
The crowd dissipated quickly with about a third of the crowd gone before the wards ceremony. By 1PM it was me and about 10 other runners left. I was so busy talking to people I lost track of time. One good thing about staying late to the party is that you get to pick up left over granola bars and such. But no extra beers to take home!
When I looked for my finish time I could not find my name. I knew I finished around 1:48, but my name was not listed. So I searched all of the sheets. Finally I realized only my bib number was listed with a hand written note to see the timers. I also noted they had me as the 1st place finisher! I obviously was not, but it made me laugh out loud.
Somehow I was given the wrong bib number. Race Menu sent an email the week before the race confirming my information and had the bib number I wore for the race. They fixed everything at the timing tent and everything was good.
Run well my Friends!
© 2015 Andrew Nagelin