Melrose Wakefield Healthcare held their Stride for Healthy Communities 5K on Saturday, September 29th.
The race started on the Lower Common at Church Street at Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield.
The Melrose Running Club is a community sponsor of this Wakefield 5K race. This year we had about half a dozen volunteers and about half a dozen runners participate. Most of us pulled double duty and had twice the fun!
Dan Slattery, MRC Club President, was the point man this year and pulled together the crew of volunteers and runners. This is the Club’s second year as the community sponsor and our participation continues to grow.
Melrose Wakefield Healthcare Stride for Healthy Communities 5K
I pulled into the parking lot around 7AM. It was still a little cool so I had three layers on including my running jacket. I was manning the bib pickup table and wandered over and meet the crew.
One of the people I met was born in Limestone Maine! We had a good conversation about Maine, Mainers and our idiosyncrasies. We’ve both been away for many years so we have some perspective and fondness for our home state.
Most of the volunteers are nurses in the Melrose Wakefield Healthcare System. What an organized and motivated team! Our little team gelled quickly and we had fun talking and working together. Things went unbelievably smoothly. We had the usual and expected issues and no one missed a beat smoothing things along. You’d think we did this every weekend!
The Melrose Running Club all stopped by to say hello and headed out for their assignments. We manned the tables, the water stop and were course marshals.
Running The Healthy Strides 5K
About quarter of nine I noticed most of my friends were either doing a warm up jog or stretching. By now the box of bibs was mostly empty and our job was mostly over.
I did some stretching at the table and then took off my jacket, stuffed it into my drop bag and jogged to the start area. Thuy Dang and Mary O’Connell were waiting for the start and we talked about the MRC Racing Series. Neither one of them was too excited about running the Howling Wolf Half on October 28th. But I’m not adding a November race!
The lady from High 5 ‘Em made some announcements that I couldn’t really hear. Just after 9:00 we were off. I wasn’t expecting it, but as I crossed the start line I saw a timing mat. They said a “shot gun start” which I thought meant they yelled go and we went. No timing at the start. Not that I mind, but I was ready to run outside of the cones!
As I crossed the mat I started my watch and the race. There were only about 100 runners and we had one side of the street. As we crossed Church Street we went down to the side of the road and sidewalk. The crowd had thinned enough by the drop down to leave plenty of room for all.
I was running the Smuttynose Rockfest Half the next day so I tried to back off from my usual 5K pace. My goal pace was around 9:00 minutes but I knew that would be a challenge to keep.
I tried to settle into a comfortable pace and before long I was passing people! At times I’d try to settle in behind someone and back off my pace a bit. But after a bit I’d be almost in their shoes and would have to pass.
As I ran that first mile I thought how anyone can run a fast first mile. And that my first mile would feel easy and fast. I had to keep it cool or I’d pay on Sunday.
As we ran down North Avenue we had the nice wide bike lane, probably 6 feet wide. I really did think about my pace. But I wasn’t breathing hard and my legs weren’t getting tired.
We hit mile one near the entrance to the hotel on the lake and my pace was 8:36. Slower than I could have run that mile but faster than I should have run that mile!
Soon we made the turn onto Quannapowitt Parkway. Traffic was light and many of us ran in the street. The bright sunshine warmed the air into the low 70’s and it actually felt a bit warm!
As the Parkway turned left to go around the office building, we went strait down the sidewalk to the path around the lake. There were some walkers on the path and we were a little more crowded than before.
Instead of cutting through the park we ran out to Lowell Street to square the corner to make a full 5K course. There were a few people cheering us on as we ran by the park.
After the park the sidewalk narrows and the street is too busy to run in. So we got crowded a bit. When we turned onto Main Street, Wakefield, we had to run on the sidewalk.
This area is popular with both runners and walkers. Most people out walking seemed to be oblivious that there was a race going on. I certainly wasn’t the first person to yell “To The Right!” as I approached. People with dogs seemed to pay more attention and kept their dogs out of our way.
We hit Mile Two just before we turned off of Lowell Street onto Main Street. My mile pace was 8:38. There wasn’t any hill at all on this mile, so I had successfully managed to slow my pace.
Runners were pretty well spaced out now. I was running behind a woman and we kept pace together pretty well for about a quarter of a mile and then she seemed to slow down.
When I got to a spot where I could get onto the dirt path between the sidewalk and street I passed her. We were now at about 2.5 miles and I knew I could run this thing in.
As we got close to the turn into the Lower Common I got onto the dirt path between the sidewalk and the lake. Dan Slattery was there holding a big pointing hand sign. I yelled out “nice way to lend a hand!”
Coming off of the sidewalk there is a crushed stone path that goes down a short hill. My footing felt sure on the smooth path, so I ran down the little hill.
I could see the finish line and was running strong. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me but I still thought someone was going to blow past me.
My time at the finish was 26:15 for an average pace of 8:33. I’m sure I’ll pay for this during the half marathon.
Apre Healthy Strides 5K
They had plenty of water in kiddie pools at the finish. A great idea. The bank who was sponsoring even had their name on the label. Pretty cool.
As I drank my water I chatted with other runners and my friend Liz Emerald. She thought the course was short and asked me what I had for a distance. I had 3.07 miles. Just 0.03 miles short. About 158 feet short.
She seemed upset. I reminded her that The Olympic Committee was not here awarding medals today. She didn’t seem to appreciate the humor.
I don’t get too worked up about 0.05 miles or less of a deviation. I can screw up an accurate 5K distance on my own.If I run 3.15 miles, I’m okay with that. I can find the extra 264 feet all on my own.
Most races are measured with a high degree of accuracy. I’m pretty sure that this is an USATF Certified 5K also. If the race is off by 50 feet and I’m off by 100 feet you end up with 3.07 miles.
As I turned to head to the vendor tables and pick up my gear I looked around for a recycle barrel for the water bottles. None to be found!
A race run by a healthcare organization and no recycling? JRM Hauling and Recycling had a table so I headed in their direction. On the way I stopped to chat with my friends from Ameriprise. They thought recycling would be a good idea at a race also. Erica took my bottle and headed for the JRM booth.
By the time I got there she was in a conversation with the two ladies from JRM. They said that no one provided a barrel for them to use. I was puzzled by that response.
I told them they should have a large barrel that they take to all of their events. They could put all of their display items in the barrel for easy transport and then use the barrel to collect plastic bottles.
I hate to be critical, but this should not have been a novel idea. They are a waste disposal and recycling company.
We did have a good conversation about the challenges to recycling. Between the low cost for some materials, the decreasing use of glass and how some condo complexes do not want to pay anything extra to add recycling to their disposal options. It was a discouraging conversation.
Healthy Stride 5K Awards
Team MRC gathered in front of the awards area. None of us expected to win anything but here we were crowding the pedestals.
I managed to maneuver us off to the side a bit. Soon the person from High 5 Em announced they were doing awards and a crowd gathered around us.
Lisa Tysall won first place in her age group and finished 13th overall. Rose Fisher, the Race Director, won 3rd place in her age group and came in 29th overall. I won third place in my age group and was 21st overall. I purposely did not run my fastest at this race and getting an award was a total surprise.
I felt odd getting 3rd in my age group, but he guy who came in 4th place walked with his wife. So I didn’t feel like I kept someone else from placing.
As people started to leave I spoke with Steph Lawson about some running club business that the board has been discussing. She had an awesome idea. When our club President, Dan Slattery, wandered over I let Steph explain her simple, elegant solution to him.
Like the solution to a complex mathematical problem, her solution was truly simple and elegant. Stay tuned!
Run well my Friends and enjoy the fall running season!