When my kids were young we used to go away for Labor Day weekend. Now my kids are college graduates and we tend to stay home and relax over the long weekend.
Well, everyone but me! I did a month worth of weekend odd jobs around the house on Saturday and Sunday. I painted, hauled buckets of compost and repaired my lawn mower. I’ve never repaired an engine in my life!
Then on Monday I went out and ran two races.
Labor Day Racing
I was relaxing Sunday night when I got a Facebook message from my buddy Andy Brown. He was running the Martin Richard 8K (MR8K) on Monday and was asking who else was going.
I’d heard of the race but hadn’t planned on running it. I knew that the race started at the TD Garden and I figured it would be a nightmare to get there.
After I checked out the web site, I decided to register. Why not? It didn’t start until 9:00 AM and I figured I’d be up by 6:30 AM anyway. I set my alarm for 6:40.
Martin Richard 8K 2018
My alarm actually woke me up. I must have been really tired from all of that work. I gathered all of my gear the night before, I just needed to get dressed and fill my water bottles.
I was out of the house by 7:00 and parked in Cambridge by 7:20.
I can almost see The Garden from my office, but still used my GPS to set a course. It was about a mile walk to The Garden. And of course one of the streets the app directed me to was a construction site with no street in sight.
From where I was I could no longer see the Garden so I wandered in the general direction and looked for people in running clothes!
I started following a young lady who looked like a runner and knew where she was going. I followed her through the door into The Garden and then quickly found my way to the bib pick up table.
They were smart and assigned numbers when you picked up your bib. This is much easier than having people look through piles of bibs or packets for your pre-assigned number.
I got my t-shirt and headed to the bag drop. Since I didn’t know if they would have a bag drop I only brought what I could carry. And since I didn’t want to run with a t-shirt, that was the one item in my bag.
I headed for Legend’s Way to hang out with everyone else. As usual I was early. It was just after 8AM when I went outside.
There were a few porta-potties, enough for this small crowd.
I did a little warm up jogging and walked around under the Zakim Bridge and watched a boat go through the lock at the Boston Dam. I’ve run over the locks before, but had never seen them open or a boat go through. It wasn’t that thrilling!
By 8:30 the crowd filled in and got loud. I thought I heard an announcer but it could have been noise from the highway.
Eventually the crowd grew quieter ever so slowly and I could tell that someone was singing The National Anthem. I took off my hat and set my eye on a nearby flag.
Running the Martin Richard 8K
I couldn’t really hear the start at 9:00 AM, but the crowd moved forward. Then we stopped, then we walked and then started to jog. Finally I ran over the mats and started my watch.
At the turn from Legends Way onto Causeway Street there was a small crowd cheering us on. As I got closer to the corner I noticed a tall blonde man at the front of the crowd. He looked an awful lot like Governor Charlie Baker. Since Tuesday was Primary Day, it probably was him.
As I ran by we made eye contact. I waved and in my best Cockney accent said “Hello Gov’na!” It was all in good fun and if it was the Governor I hope he wasn’t offended. I’m sure others have yelled worse at him!
From Causeway Street we took a right onto Merrimack Street and ran past the Boston Municipal Court building. I had been down this street the week before on a Duck Tour and recognized the building.
At about 1K we hit Beacon Hill. We gained about 30 feet in less than a quarter of a mile. I didn’t think it was much of a hill but I heard a lot of groaning around me. I rose up on my toes, quickened my cadence and shortened my stride. One person said they saw me fly by them on this hill. I got a laugh out of that!
Eventually we got out to Beacon Street, took a right and ran past the State House. It was nice to run down the partially shaded Beacon Street hill next to Boston Common. The temperature was approaching 80° and in the sun it was even hotter.
Mile one came in at 8:58. Not bad for a crowded start on a hot day.
We continued down Beacon Street and passed The Hampshire House, famous as the location for “Cheers.” Then we took a right onto Arlington Street.
As we ran down Arlington Street I wondered where the name came from. Is it related to Arlington National Cemetery?
It seems that people way back had an affinity for names like Columbia or Jamaica also. There’s Jamaica the island, Jamaica Plain in Boston and Jamaica Bay in New York. Who knows how many other Jamaica locations there are.
Then there’s Columbia,Columbus, OH, British Columbia, etc. Oh the things we think about when we run!
Soon we turned onto Commonwealth Ave. I stopped thinking about names and started thinking of being crowded again. Then the first water stop and then I began to wonder where the turn around was.
It couldn’t be all the way out to Agannis Arena. That would be way to far. We hit mile two before Franklin Street and the BC turn would have been way too far. Probably another half mile to that turn. It would have been smart to have glanced at a course map before the race.
Oh well! I was running this race where ever it went!
We ran under Mass Ave. They are doing road work and the pavement was ground down to a nice level surface with no pot holes. Perfect. Except for the hill coming up the other side. More groaning, but I just reeled in a few more runners.
At Charles Gate East we made our turn and had another water stop. Even though I had water bottles on my belt I still took the water. It was getting really hot.
On the way back down Comm Ave we hit mile three just before Franklin Street. My mile pace was 8:37. A little faster than I wanted.
The run back down Comm Ave was shaded and on good road. I’ve run this road two dozen times or more between The Boston Marathon, BAA 10K and other races. I feel really comfortable here.
At Mile four, almost exactly, we hit the foot of Beacon Hill. We gained almost 70 feet in a quarter of a mile. Lots of people were walking and I kept reeling in more runners.
It was hot but I felt pretty good.
After the peek of 83ft it was all down hill or flat to the finish. Instead of going down Causeway Street we headed for the back of The Garden and ran up a long ramp into The Garden. A long and fairly steep ramp at the end of an 8K race was tough to take, but I dug deep and hauled up that hill.
It began to get cold and then we ran onto center ice in The Garden. There were some Bruins banners hanging low and it was cold! The ice was covered but it was still cold in there!
I grabbed a dog and a Harpoon UFO and was a happy man. As I walked around I ran into Andy Brown and Liz Emerald. They had a fun race but neither one broke any records.
Liz mentioned that Emily McDivitt was running The Irish American Race 10K today. I had forgotten that the race was that day!
I always run the Irish American 10K. I get to walk to it from my house.
I must have signed up for it. Now I was going to miss it because I was in Boston and the race was in Malden. Then Liz mentioned that the race started at 11 and that it would be really hot by then.
11 did you say? It was now just after 10AM. I just had a dog and a brew. I was ready to head for Malden! I said my goodbyes and headed for the exit.
With some help from security I found the bag drop and the exit and headed for Cambridge.
Somehow getting back to Cambridge was much easier than the walk to Boston.
Malden Irish American 10K
I was surprised how quickly I got to my building, into my car and out of the garage. I headed over The Longfellow Bridge and up Rt. 93 to the Rt. 28 exit. I knew exactly where I was going.
Lucky for me traffic was very light and I made good time.
As I drove down Davidson Way in front of the club I saw runners walking around and figured it must have been a 10AM race. Who would have a race at 11AM when it is often blazing hot on this date?
As I drove by a runner I asked if the race was over. With a funny look on his face he said it started in about 15 minutes.
I got a little nervous when I heard that. Frantically I drove around this crowded neighborhood looking for a parking spot. What an idiot. A parking spot in this area on race day?
I headed for The Fellsway and found nothing on the north bound side. So I banged an illegal U-turn and headed south. All kinds of parking.
I found a spot close to the street headed towards the club and started walking as fast as I could. I had just run a 5 mile race fairly aggressively for a hot day like this. My legs were tired and my left knee was saying hello.
As I approached the front door I saw my buddy Tom Gorman. I told him I had forgotten about the race but I thought I had registered for it. He asked if he had just seen me in Boston in a Facebook post. Yup, that was me!
He walked in with me and I headed for the bib pickup table in the hall. After a few tries they got the spelling of my last name right, but I still wasn’t on the list.
What an idiot! I rush out here to run a race I hadn’t even signed up for. I should have known right then that I was slightly altered from the hot run in Boston.
Before I left my car I made sure I had the $35 race day fee in my pocket. I wasn’t 100% sure I had registered. But I had left a race and driven to get here, so I wanted to run.
I went to the race day registration counter and no one seemed to be paying much attention. I grabbed a form, scrawled out my information, gave them my damp cash and took my bib.
Someone else was registering last minute but she only had $25. They seemed to hem and haw a bit but she persisted. Slightly over my breathe I told them to let her register and they did.
Tom and I headed for the start line behind the club. It seemed like an awfully long and hot walk. I saw Kelly Catallo, Thuy Dang and other familiar faces. Kelly also asked, “didn’t I just see you in Boston at the Martin Richard Race?” We laughed and she gave me a high five.
Tom headed for the front of the pack and I hung out. If I ran 10 minute miles I would have been happy. I was there and that’s all that really mattered to me.
Running The Malden Irish American 10K
They played the National Anthem and we were off. Before we got to the end of Malden Street I was wondering what the hell I was doing. Could I even complete a 10K in this heat?
It was now in the mid 80’s and close to 90 in the full sun. As we took a right onto The Fellsway we were in the full sun. Oh my god it was hot!
I’ve run this race three times before and knew a big hill was coming as soon as we crossed Salem Street.
The hill topped off by the Fellsmere Park and then went down for a bit. Just after the park by Amerige Field the incline began again. By 1.35 miles we had climbed almost 70 feet. Not a lot, but most of it came over two short distances.
At the 5-way inter section we took a sharp right onto Highland Ave. Even with the elevation gain in the first two miles my splits were 9:39 and 9:40. Those times felt like a gift, but I knew I would pay it back later in the race.
We wound through Malden Center and headed down Pearl Street for about three-quarters of a mile. This road had very little shade and the temperature must have been close to 90.
I took a water or two at every water stop. I also had two almost full water bottles on my belt. I wasn’t taking any chances with dehydration. I had also taken a Honey Stinger gel just before the start to get some sugar and electrolytes.
We hit mile three just after our left onto Medford Street. My pace was 9:29. Really just shocking. I was pushing way to hard.
We ran Medford Street for a few hundred feet and then took a right onto Rivers Edge Drive. Every year runners talk about how hot and exposed this piece of road is.
This year it was brutal. It must have been 10° warmer than any recent year. There were people walking here and earlier in the race.
Before the 5K race split off from the 10K I considered making the turn. Apparently 20 people did! I guess it really screwed up the timing folks for a bit.
As I ran down to the turn at mile four I considered my options. I decided to run to the 4 mile mark and then walk at the water stop.
As I made the turn I headed for the water stop, took two cups and took a walk.
I felt like crap. My clothes were totally drenched in sweat, I felt like I was over heating and my head was swimming a bit.
I had taken plenty of water and a gel before the race. All reasonable precautions. But I hadn’t taken any salt tablets or anti cramp pills. My entire pharmacy was at home. Talk about poor planning.
After I finished my water I ran to an intersection and walked. As we approached Medford Street I ran and ran the bridge over the Malden River. Now that felt like a hill!
We hit mile five at the corner of Medford and Canal Street. My pace was 10:53! Yeouch! I could feel the burn and I was definitely crashing!
For mile six I ran and walked as needed. I was now beyond my goal pace of 10 minute miles, so it didn’t really matter. All I had to do was survive and cross the finish line.
I thought I was one of the last runners to cross the finish line. Amazingly I was 31st out of 62 runners to finish the 10K. And there wasn’t a starting mat so we all had the same start time. I was 8th in my age group at 1:03.
204 people finished the 5K. Emily McDivitt came in first in her age group and 5th overall.
The rest of us finished and that was good enough.
Tom told me that Sen. Markey was there and I should go say hi. He knows I’m a supporter, but I was too wiped out to make the effort.
After the race I walked around the air conditioned hall four or five times drinking cold water. I knew I was in bad shape. After what I thought was too much cold water my stomach began to cramp.
Tom and Thuy were at a table and called me over. Thuy had a beer and asked if I needed a ticket. I told her they didn’t give me any but I really didn’t need one. She basically insisted that I take a ticket so I did.
Tom went to his car to change his shirt and I headed for the hot dog stand and the beer table. Bud light is okay when you really just need some water and a few carbs.
We managed to get the gang together near the posted results. I finally met Emily’s husband and son. They were trying to stay cool in the shade of the building.
I was exhausted and didn’t feel like hanging out. Even good friends and cold beer couldn’t keep me there. Usually I walk to this race and can drink freely. Not this year.
If felt so good to take a cold shower. I must have been in there for 15 to 20 minutes. I kept waiting for my wife to ask if I was alright.
A few hours later the family came over for my birthday party. I sat with my father in law and had a beer while I grilled dinner, but that was about all the beer I drank. Other than that it was lots of water and iced tea and no needs to visit the bathroom.
What a crazy day. I signed up for the MR8K the night before and then did a day-of registration for the Irish American 10K. I rarely do last minute registrations and probably have done a day-of registration once before.
Poor planning and peer pressure can make you do some stupid things.
Even with a mild case of heat stroke, it was a fun day.
Irish American Road Races Full Results.
Martin Richard 5K: A Run for Gratitude Full Results.
Run well my friends,