This is the third year that I’ve run the Melrose Y Spooky Sprint 5K. Somehow I keep getting slower! One year the course was short and this year I’m a little out of shape.
The Melrose Y Spooky Sprint has been around for seven years. The combination of a professional Y staff and seven years experience managing this race makes for a smooth operation. There was plenty of food and water after the race and by the time I left the food was gone and picked up.
They did need a better PA system, as most runners could not hear the pre-race announcements. But, the course was marked accurately.
Proceeds from the Spooky Sprint benefit the Melrose Family YMCA’s Growing Stronger Together scholarship fund which ensures no one in the community is turned away for inability to pay. The Fund also allows adults and families to participate in YMCA activities. Children can learn to swim, or go to summer camp.
Each year the Melrose Running Club has a large group in this race. Each year, several runners run with their children and in costume! This year I saw club members dressed as Wonder Woman and Superman!
The Melrose RC had 26 runners this year. Our top runners were:
Ed Bradford 7th over all, 1st in his age group with a time of 18:11
Katherine Kulig 18th over all, 1st in her age group, 2nd female over all with a time of 20:04
Judy Dolan 252nd over all, 1st in her age group with a time of 29:56
Jeanne Boisseau was 295th over all, 2nd in her age group with a finish time of 31:01.
I came in 77th over all, 4th in my age group with a finish time of 24:06.
Running My Race
A few years ago I came in 3rd in my age group. This year I had to really work to reach for a 24 minute finish. I was pretty consistent throughout the race and never thought about giving up and settling for what ever. It still wasn’t enough.
The key to 5K racing is to never have a doubt and run each step as hard as you can. While you are making bargains with your self, your finish time is slipping away. I’ve done this many times and almost always during a half or full marathon.
With a longer race you have time to recover from your moments of doubt. In a 5K, just a quarter mile of resignation and weakness will keep you from running at your capacity.
I’ve run many 5Ks faster than this one, but in this race I never had a doubt.
I was running as hard and as smart as I could and felt 100% in. All that being said, my best was still 24:06. I can’t complain because that was my best. I didn’t get that number because I slacked.
That is a result of being 10lbs heavier than last year and having not put in the miles. PRs are not for the inattentive, casual trainer.
My docs have given me the all clear. There is nothing broken in my knees. My patellas are a little out of alignment and my feet are flat, and probably always have been. Maybe they caused some of my issues.
These are minor issues that can be addressed mainly with focused exercises. No drugs or surgeries required. It is up to me.
Moving forward my goal is to get my base back to 25 miles per week. Just like running a race, this will take a conscious effort. And it wont be easy.
I hope you are enjoying the fall running season. The cooler temps make racing so much more enjoyable.
I’ve run the Fall Classic a few times, and the Winter and Spring Classic a few times also.
The course is always the same, and for some people that’s a problem. I like to run new courses also but there is something fun about running the same route at different times of year and over several years.
There is a fun familiarity that develops over the years. Knowing the course, I don’t get worked up about getting crowded at the start. Once I get onto Mass Ave I know I can run at my comfort level.
I know where to park. I know Jack’s Abby will take care of us after the race. I know a group of friends will be there to tell stories and laugh with.
I look forward to having a relaxed race and a good time with people who are becoming old friends.
Running the Cambridge Fall Classic
I rolled in to Landsdowne around 7AM because I forgot to pick up my number on Friday. No glasses this time and a cotton shirt.
I have an extensive collection of shirts and pint glasses, so I was happy to see them taking steps to keep registration fees reasonable. I like cotton Ts.
My buddy Andy Brown sent me a text after I posted that I was chillin on Landsdowne Street. I gave him my location and we sat in my car for a bit shooting the breeze. We could see the biergarten from my car.
Most of our usual crew did not show this time. Earlier this week, our Team Leader, Lisa Hines asked me about the names on our team. I didn’t know any of them, but they were friends of friends.
We have a nice rotation of regulars, our kids and colleagues. You never know who will show up.
Rachel Cuniberti and Jeanne Boisseau from the Melrose RC joined our crew this time.
Andy and I did a short pre-race jog and then split up. I entered the corral near the front and made my way back to about 12 people from the line. A little aggressive but I felt confident.
The crowd seemed thin this year, though the race director said we had 4,000 runners. In light of events in New York City Saturday night the race director announced several times that unattended bags would not be there when we came back, so use the locker or team drop location.
And they’re off
We flew down Sidney Street and I was in good position for the first turn onto Pacific Street. I was with the fast kids and running hard. As we turned left onto Albany Street my breathing became apparent.
I glanced at my watch and it said something like a 7:32 pace. I knew that I had to dial it back a bit and try to settle into a more sustainable pace around 8:00.
As we turned left onto Mass Ave people surged, but I kept trying to slow down. My lungs were telling me that sub 8 minute miles were not the right thing to do.
I was breathing so deeply I actually wondered if my lungs could pop. Can you breathe past 100% and rip your lungs apart? My legs didn’t hurt and I felt steady.
We hit the one mile mark around the intersection of Prospect and Mass Ave. My watch said 7:33. Apparently that was the pace for me. I was working, but it was manageable.
As we made the turn onto Putnam Ave I was in a good position and maintained my speed. I knew the water stop was coming up and tried to get into position. A benefit of knowing the course well.
Unfortunately, a lot of people had the same idea and I managed to grab the last cup being held out. That was freakin close. I NEEDED that water!
I managed to get two good gulps and only lost a few breaths of air. After I recovered I looked at my watch and we were around 1.78 miles. Over half way, but not mile two yet.
Soon mile two chimed in at a 7:45 mile pace. I was holding up pretty well. There was some down hill on Putnam Ave, so I let it take me along.
Deep into the run
After mile two a 5K is deep into the run. Deep into the run everyone has been sorted. Most of the aggressive passing is over and the top finishers have crossed the finish line.
Deep into the run, the faster runners who started further back start passing us.
Deep into the run, if I care, I’m running near 100%. There is nothing I can do to keep up with those folks. Deep into the run I don’t even care. I just want the race to end.
As we made the last turns and hit mile three my watch chimed in at an 8:05 pace. I knew I would beat my goal of a 25 minute 5K.
People kicked it and some roared past me. I was chugging along at close to an 8:00 pace this deep into the race. I had no kick and I didn’t care.
My official time was 24:20 or a 7:49 pace. I had achieved my goal.
As I was gasping for breath and looking for water I saw Liz Emerald. We did a fist bump and I wandered off to get water. Liz came in 2nd in her age group!
As I chugged down a 500ml I saw Dave McGilivray. He was talking to a bunch of friends and looked like I felt. I kept moving along and didn’t say hi. If everyone said hi he’d never get to enjoy himself.
Back at the Tent
By the time I got back to the tent Lisa was there and Andy was right behind me. We had three 12-packs on our table and Jack’s Abby had hundreds of cans of goodness waiting for us in the biergarten.
I grabbed two biers and headed back to the tent to break out home-made salsa and chips. Usually the ladies bring all kinds of good food, so I figured it was my turn.
The other members of our team gathered with us and we traded stories, drank some beer and had a great time.
Slowly people drifted off and it was still before Noon. Lisa headed out and took a few beers. We had over a case on the table and the biergarten tables were loaded.
Andy and I grabbed another beer and tried to ignore the tables weighed down with beer.
We hung out and talked about the joys of running and what a shame all of this left over beer was. All the cans were open so no one could take any home.
I tried to get Andy to take some beer from our table, but he didn’t have a bag and was taking The T back to his car.
Fortunately I had a bag for my salsa and chips, so I took a ton of beer home.
The Race to the Row 5K is a celebration of running and renewal.
Sponsored by the Somerville Road Runners, this race attracts runners from all over the GBA. Parents with strollers and college kids out for the win participate in this annual event held at the Assembly Row neighborhood in Somerville.
Now in it’s 4th year, this race has witnessed the renewal and development of a new neighborhood in Somerville. Once the location of a Ford Assembly plant the area went through a period of decline and years of stagnation.
Over the past few years a new T station has been built along with many apartments, retail and dining establishments. Assembly Row is the new place to be in Somerville.
Race to the Row 5K
For me, this is another great local race. The starting line is just over a mile from my house, and you know I love that!
Bib pick up and day-of registration began at 8AM and the race started at 9:30. I had an easy morning of coffee and a leisurely drive over to the race. The Somerville Road Runners had everything set up and ready to go by 8AM, and I picked up my bib and shirt in no time.
By 8:30 AM it was already very hot. My phone said 74° but in the full sun it felt like 85°, at least. I had applied sun screen before I left the house but the Race Cancer Foundation had their sun screen dispensers deployed. I applied another coating!
We lined up on Grand Union Blvd and were off and running shortly after 9:30. The roads are wide and well paved so it was easy to get up to speed quickly. For me it is was more of reaching maximum cardio capacity quickly.
I knew going into this race that my cardio fitness would not allow me to really push. Within the first quarter-mile I was at my max. At about 0.43 miles I looked at my current pace and saw that is was 8:17! I made a conscious effort to back off and mile one came in at 8:31.
At this point in the race the lead runners were coming back from the first loop in the race. They looked pretty strong and many people cheered them on.
We made the loop out on Assembly Square Drive twice and wisely, the Somerville Road Runners put the water stop on this loop. You could easily get water twice and four times if you really worked it.
We got to run through most of the neighborhood at least once, and even ran by the brand new T station. There wasn’t much shade, but I took advantage of any that I could find.
My 5K Race
My splits were pretty even in the 8:31 to 8:39 range and I finished with a time of 27:43 and an average pace of 8:32, according to Garmin.
I ran this race for fun and not to compete. This has been a light summer of running for me, so I’m really not in shape to run hard. But I still like to compete.
At the 2012 Boston Marathon I learned the value of running in the shade, even if it adds a few steps. Over he years I’ve learned about the congestion at turn arounds and this race had three. While I could not run hard, I tried to put my experience to my advantage.
It was fun just to be out running and feel my body working.
Our friends at Harpoon were providing cans of cold beer at this race. I tried the Harpoon Sweet Spot and Harpoon Flannel Friday. Sweet Spot is a golden IPA and not a shandy or anything like that. No fruit juice, but still a nice hope flavor.
When I saw the label for Flannel Friday I thought it would be a brown ale, porter or something else heavy. It turned out to be an amber ale with a nice hop bite to it. Both ales were well balanced and not too heavy.
Ernesto’s Pizza provided generous slices of some of the best cheese pizza I’ve ever had. I love a cheese pizza with cheese! I can’t stand a cheese pizza with sprinkles of cheese on it. I had to go back for seconds and tell them how good it was. Definitely looking these guys up!
How was your weekend running? Any plans for Labor Day weekend?
Calling all runners to Leesburg, VA on October 25th, 2015 to run in the First Annual LVFC Zombie XC 5K. Volunteer your services and help support your local volunteer firefighters.
Kids love zombies and fire trucks, you love to run. Enjoy a crisp fall day in Leesburg with your family and the local community.
The LVFC dates back to 1803 and is the first fire company in Loudoun County and only the seventh in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While Thomas Jefferson was making the Louisiana Purchase the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company was protecting the citizens of Leesburg.
Come and be part of this rich history on October 25th at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park in Leesburg, VA at 9AM, and support the folks who protect your community..
Several activities including a costume contest, kid’s fun run, touch a truck and more will be available throughout the morning. Bring the family and show your support for the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company.
After the race gather at the fire station to enjoy refreshments and treats for the children. A parked truck will be available for the kids to climb on, hats and goodie bags will be available.
Come burn up the course and show em what you can do. A crew will be stationed at the finish line to hose down any smoking shoes!*
Wear your favorite zombie costume and run through the park for this cross-country Zombie 5K race.
“My First 5K” medals are available during on-line registration. If this is your first 5K or your child’s First 5K a commemorative medal is a wonderful way to remember a great first race. Proceeds from your purchase support the LVFC and the DC Burn Unit.
Support your kids, the Fire Department and have a great race!
It’s time to finalize the design for the 2016 My First 5K Medal, and I need your help. For the past two years I have put the race year on the bottom of the medal. This has worked well, but it’s time to update the medal.
The idea behind the My First 5K medal is to provide a medal for runners to celebrate their accomplishment, and help races with fund raising. I want to provide a quality medal that is not prohibitively expensive. Getting the balance between quality and price is a challenge.
Catalog medals do not have dates because they are mass-produced. A race like The Boston Marathon has the full race date, but they hand out 40,000 medals and runners pay a lot of money to run that race.
What do runners want?
I’ve received plenty of catalog medals and I’ve run plenty of races without a medal. This year I ran The Great Bay Half Marathon and received the medal on the left of the photo below. The ribbon held a quality medal and the year was on the ribbon.
I thought this was a great idea. It’s much easier to see the year on the ribbon and knowing which year the medal is from is all I need to know. Then I ran the Hallmark Health Healthy Strides 5K and received the medal in the middle for being first in my age group. Only winners received medals, none of the kids or other runners who ran their first 5K that day received a medal.
I like the gold print on the blue ribbon. The ribbon only says Hallmark Health and does not name the race, year or say 1st place or anything. Hopefully twenty years from now I will remember when I ran this race. The medal is a catalog medal which is mass produced.
My First 5K Medal is on the right of the photo below. You can see the year on the bottom of this medal. To keep the medal price reasonable, the year is as specific as I can get.
The problem with this design is that any left over medals at the end of the year are scrap. Who wants a medal with the wrong date on it? This is to celebrate an accomplishment, it’s not just a trinket.
My plan is to use a ribbon like Great Bay and remove the year from the medal. In its place I will put the celebratory laurel leaves. The overall look of the My First 5K Medal will remain the same including the same finish.
The ribbon will be wider, use a similar white font and the ribbon hanger will be a bit more substantial. Anyone who has seen the My First 5K Medal knows how it feels in your hand and the weight: it’s a real medal.
My goal is to eliminate scrap medals, reduce costs and increase fund raising for races and the charities that they support.
I’m asking for your opinion and advice. Will you take my survey and let me know how you feel about my new design?
My wife and I decided that instead of gifts this year, we would give the family a cruise. Our girls are in college, with one graduating this spring. Once they graduate it will be a challenge to coordinate a vacation like this. If not now, when?
Treadmill Running at 21 knots
Being a runner, I had to run while I was on vacation. It wasn’t the most important thing on my mind, but I knew I had to get in a few miles.
The Disney Magic has a large spa area that I had to walk through to get to the gym. The gym looked a quarter of the space of the spa. Gym was free, spa was not.
The treadmills were in front with large windows over looking the decks below and out to sea. This would seem like an ideal way to run on a treadmill: the open sea before you.
Unfortunately I was too tall and could not see far. I did have a good view of the deck, which was rather boring.
When we were leaving the pier in Jamaica, I decided to go work out. What an experience.
As the ship changed directions my body weight shifted as well. With the side thrusters I shifted one way. When the ship moved forward, I shifted again.
Running at cruising speed
It may have been my imagination, but my weight shifted as the ship went “full ahead.” It felt like the bow dipped down and then came up again as the ship settled at cruising speed. For a few minutes it felt like I was running downhill and then a few minutes later there was a small incline.
As the ship turned to make its way out to sea, I continued to feel the fluctuations of my body weight.
I think it takes more than a few days to get your “sea legs.” I never really got my treadmill “sea legs.”
Fun with Garmin
On our last day at sea I decided to have some fun with my Garmin watch. One deck had low traffic and was set up for runners and walkers. I was told a lap was about 1/3 of a mile.
My watch quickly locked onto satellites and I was off for my sea jog.
1 knot equals 1.15078 miles/hour. Assuming the ship was cruising at 21 knots, we were moving at 24.166 mph.
I wanted to see how my running pace would look on my Garmin. I only ran around the ship twice, which should have been about 0.66 miles.
Garmin had me running 2.77 miles in 5:48 minutes! My pace was a blistering 2:05! My average moving speed was 28.8 mph. Take that Usain Bolt!
It was pretty hilarious when I looked at my watch.
I was probably running at a 9 minute pace, maybe less. I was on a cruise after all!
None of these numbers mean anything; the USOC wont be calling anytime soon, but it was a fun experiment.
Check out the two maps below. The first is a close of of the course I ran.
The wobbles are probably from when I was turning around on the ship.
The second map shows where we were in the Caribbean.
Castaway Cay 5K
Our last stop was Disney’s Castaway Cay in The Bahamas. I heard rumors that they had a 5K there for guests.
With the booming popularity of running it only made sense. The gym on the ship was much larger and had a lot more cardio equipment than our last cruise also.
On our first night out I went to Guest Services and signed up. Fantastic!
The morning we arrived in port they gathered the runners in one of the lounges. There were lots of families and people who did not look like runners.
There were about 80 people and it was easy to spot the runners. All week I had been looking at people’s shoes. Not everyone wears Brooks or Mizuno running shoes on vacation.
I struck up a conversation with a few guys who were runners. We were looking for water before the race. Disney had none! It was 85° and there wasn’t any stinking water! Mufasa would never let that happen. 😉
They had everyone check in, get a bib and make sure they had their ship’s pass. When the time came they assembled us. At the exit we had our own lane to check out and disembark.
The race started about a mile from the ship and it was 85º. I thought they would use one of those trams to get us to the start. Nope. We walked a mile in 85º temps.
This was a cruise. I didn’t have a water bottle or power bar. You couldn’t fall down on the ship with out finding a place to get a drink of some sort. Who needed a water bottle?
I tried to eat a higher carb breakfast that morning. But who can resist breakfast sausage? I may have had an extra pastry for good measure.
At the start they lined us up. We only hung around for a few minutes before they let us go. Me and a few other guys tried to do some warm up jogging, but we didn’t have much time.
And they’re off!
I ran Boston in 2012 when it was 85º. This 5K came in at 3.03 miles, but they were the hottest 3.03 miles I have ever run! The humidity must have been 100%.
About 20 of us took the lead immediately. We wound down the bike path to the air strip. As we crossed the airstrip to the bike path on the other side, I could tell I was going to lose the lead pack. They looked too good and I felt too hot to keep up.
It was just a fun run.
I managed a respectable 7:11 pace for the first mile. At the entrance to the bike path loop they had their water stop set up. They said they had two water stops, but it was the same one twice. I never use a water stop for a 5K. It’s a 5K!
As I came out of the bike path loop I stopped for a cup of water, chatted with the Activities Director and had another cup. I then proceeded down the runway.
On the way back down the runway I made a second water stop. I grabbed a cup, joked with the Activities Director and had another cup. Then I ran the second loop of the bike path, but I ran it in the wrong direction! Oops!
Did I mention that it was freakin hot?
There were runners of all abilities and lack of abilities. When I was running down the runway some poor kid was hollering out like he was going to die. “Why am I doing this”, I hate running.”
I was concerned and amused all at the same time. No one dies at Disney! I could just imagine this kid’s dad telling him he was going to run a 5K. The kid may have even thought it was a good idea.
Running your first 5K in 85º is not a good idea. The kid probably had not trained and probably did not have the right clothes and shoes. I wasn’t properly prepared and I know what I’m doing!
My mile 2 and 3 splits are not bad when you consider that I stopped for drinks and a quick chat with the Activities Director twice.
I was impressed to see that they had a real timing clock for the race. The bibs didn’t have a timing chip and they didn’t have any awards. it was a fun run.
Everyone did receive a Disney “medal” and a nice bib.
My wife joked that it was the most expensive 5K I ever ran, but it did come with a free cruise!
Running on a cruise is a challenge. When you are in port you usually want to do things. Quite often these activities can involve walking, climbing or swimming. Sometimes you don’t really know how strenuous the next day may be.
While there is the urge to get in a few miles there is also the realization that the next day will be active. It’s a balancing act, kind of like walking on the ship itself.