100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon 2020

The nice thing about a virtual race is that you can roll out your front door when ever you feel like it. You won’t be late and you never have to worry about parking.

With the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon, I even avoided the twelve-hour flight to Hawaii!

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you know it’s worth the flight to get to such a beautiful place.

Running 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon

I love coffee and on more than one occasion I’ve actually run with a coffee in my hand.

Great Bay Half Marathon 2020, Dunkin Donuts, Iced CoffeeYou just can’t beat an iced-coffee as a refresher on the run.

I’ve had 100% pure Kona coffee when I’ve visited Oahu. When it is fresh it is a delicious and well balanced cup.

And strait up is the best way to appreciate the flavor profile.

Well, enough about coffee!

With the uptick in COVID-19 cases and the Governor’s new mandatory mask policy, I wanted to get an early start.

I’ve been running evenings in my neighborhood and trying to stay on well lit roads that are in good condition.

Unfortunately, everyone else seems to like those streets for their evening stroll or dog walk.

I left my house at 8:04 AM which is pretty good for me. Hopefully most people would still be at home!

The previous day I had cleaned up my garden and got things set up for Spring. This involved some digging and lifting.

I also raked leaves which involves lots of twisting of the back.

As I ran down my street I could feel the results of all that yard work.

I wasn’t out to set any records and told my self to settle down and figure out where you are going to go.

100% Pure Kona Coffee Course Medford Style

The night before I looked at a few of my recent virtual half marathon runs.

I wasn’t too excited about running these exact routes again. But I didn’t have a full course mapped out for today.

In Malden there is the Northern Strand Community Trail which is an old rail bed.

I’ve run plenty of hilly courses of my choosing, this time I chose to avoid hills.

I knew that the Community Trail would be virtually flat, I just didn’t know where it went or how long it was. I’d run a short part of it before, but there was the other direction to explore.

100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon, virtual half

I added a jog down Commercial Street in Malden and hit two miles just after crossing The Malden River.

I knew I was near where I ran the trail before, but from the street I didn’t see any signs. So I took a left onto Canal Street.

In about 100 yards I could see the trail and people on it. I crossed the street and got onto the trail.

It was still early so I only saw about ten people on my run into Malden Square.

When I got to Malden Square I didn’t see any signs for the trail so I ran down Eastern Ave. Again, very few people.

Since I didn’t have a course planned out, I wanted to run down Eastern Ave until I found a good place to turn.

After I passed the Malden Police Department I took a left onto Maplewood Street.

I’ve run 5Ks in this area before, and knew I’d hit a main street heading back into the square if I just stayed on this road.

The idea was to then take Main Street from Malden into Melrose.

But shortly after making my turn I saw signs for the trail!

I should have turned right, but I didn’t know where the path went to and didn’t want to run to the coast. A bit more planning would have helped here!

I took a left onto the trail and headed back to Malden Square.

Foot traffic was still light but picking up.

At Malden Square I hit five miles. Only 8.1 more to go!

I was a little worried about what I would have to do to get those miles since I was so close to home.

When I got to Malden Center I kind of knew where I was. I drive through here often and have run in the area a few times.

I got to an intersection I thought I knew and took a right.

Wandering the Hills of Malden

Besides running the distance my main goal was to avoid hills.

Malden has hills everywhere and if you don’t know where you are going you are bound to find them.

As I ran up Dexter Street I admired the old homes. In San Francisco some of them might qualify as “Painted Ladies”.

I could see hills around me and the street was starting to rise a bit.

At the next intersection I took a right, then another right and then a left onto Clifton Street.

I really had no idea where I was except that I wasn’t on a hill!

If I had gone strait at my first right I would have been on my way to Oak Grove T station. From there I could have headed into Melrose, an area I know well.

Instead I was on a street I barely know. When I got to a familiar rail road bridge I took a right. Why not, eh?

After a series of turns I managed to get back to Malden Square, cross Eastern Ave and found the Northern Strand Community Trail again.

My plan was to run the trail to “The End” and see where I was for mileage then.

I was very happy to be at 7.5 miles.

My supplies were holding up and so was I. Kind of.

As I ran the trail I realized that I was dragging my feet and scuffing with each foot fall.

This is a highly inefficient way to run since your feet are catching so much drag from the scuffing.

I took a Honey Stinger and made a greater effort to correct my form.

Other than that nothing really hurt.

End of The Trail

The trail seemed to dead end at West Street. A guy on a bike looked like he was heading down West Street and perhaps the trail went that way?

Again, I kind of knew where I was and went in the opposite direction.

West Street dead ends behind the Best Buy parking lot and I hit nine miles as I started across the back end of their parking lot.

Sacramone Playground is next to the parking lot. A bunch of young kids had soccer practice or something. I saw a dad go into the men’s room of their field house and for a second I thought that looked like a good idea.

But I was close to home and decided to push through.

Fortunately I was on the right side of the street to get through a very busy intersection. I ran over the Malden River again but on a six-lane bridge this time.

Since I was so close to home, I decided to run the trail along The Malden River. I’ve run the trail three or four times before.

I knew where it went and that I’d still be short on distance.

A ways up the trail I stopped to have a Honey Stinger cookie. I hadn’t had any breakfast and my stomach was starting to grumble.

100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon, Malden RiverWith the fall leaves, it was a nice place to run. And with fewer leaves on the tree I could see more of the river. It’s a good sized river in this area.

I hit mile ten just before “Little Creek” and decided to run down Commercial Street when the trail ended.

I ran Commercial Street all the way down to Wellington Station.

The problem with running along a river is that you can’t just cut across when you want to. They don’t make bridges like side streets.

So instead of getting back onto Revere Beach Parkway and making my way through Wellington Circle, I ran through the train station!

I did notice one person sitting outside checking me out. She must have wondered what the hell this was all about.

Talk about running for a train!

And this dude is in running gear. Where the hell is he going?

The door was open, I ran up about 10 painful steps and across the station.

The great thing is that they have a pedestrian bridge over the tracks to the parking garage!

I’ve never run though here before, but it was pretty cool!

The bridge goes to the 3rd level of the garage and I got to run down the ramps!

Unfortunately, I did loose stellate signal in this nine-story concrete structure.

Then I ran through Station Landing and got a cross walk light to get across The Fells Way.

I hit eleven miles while running across the pedestrian bridge, so I was on the home stretch now.

On My Way Home

I was only about a mile and a half from home, as the crow flies. So I tried to stretch things out as I ran through the Mystic River Reservation.

Before I got to the end of Commercial Street in Medford I hit twelve miles. Only 1.1 miles to go.

This is my front yard so I know all the side streets to add a bit here and there so I can finish almost in front of my house with the exact distance I need.

I was really dragging now and the thought of walking crossed my mind.

But I thought of all the people who get geared up like I was just to run a 5K. How ridiculous would I look in this get up walking down the street?

So I ran.

I was tired and ready for it to be over.

Running down a street I drive almost every day, sometimes several times, is just not as exciting as running in Hawaii.

There was a severe shortage of lush green vegetation. And while it was a nice day, it would be considered a cool day in Hawaii.

I only had to run two side streets to get my distance and finish where I wanted to.

Apre Kona Half Marathon 2020

100% Pure Kona Coffee Half Marathon, After the raceAfter I took off my shoes, hat, gloves and gear belt I made an iced coffee!

It was Starbucks Guatemala blend and not Kona, but it was still cold and refreshing.

I made my way upstairs for a long hot shower. Surprisingly I had almost no chaffing and felt almost human afterwards.

I didn’t feel like eating, so I topped off my iced-coffee and settled down to write.

Run well my Friends,




Time for a Margarita Half Marathon

I definitely did not feel like having a margarita after this run. The heat really knocked the snot out of me and booze was the last thing I wanted.

The Margarita Half Marathon was originally scheduled for May 3rd in New Hampshire.

Due to COVID-19 the Margarita Half Marathon and 5K were turned into virtual races. I ran my half marathon on July 10th.

May is a great time to run a half marathon in New Hampshire, July is not such a great time to run a half marathon in the Greater Boston Area (GBA).

Running the Margarita Half Marathon 2020

This was my second half marathon in 14 days. On June 27th I ran The Great Bay Halfwhich was postponed from April 5th to a virtual half.

I had Friday off and decided it would be a good day for a half. No matter how unfit I was or how hot it was, I was going to do it.

At 8:56 AM I set off from Medford headed to somewhere in Cambridge. I had a general idea of where I was going. My sole criteria for a turn around point was the mile 6 mark.

It’s easier to add on distance on the way back. In May I ran a half and ended up walking almost a mile so I could stop my watch at 13.1 miles for my official distance.

Sometimes I learn from my mistakes.

Garmin lists the temperature at 73° F, but that must have been at 8:56 when I started my watch.

As I ran down my street I actually felt pretty good. And that’s unusual. Usually a knee or an ankle makes a few grumbles.

I should have recalled that when things start out well, they often do not end well.

The First Six Miles

I knew it was going to be warm, hot even. Over the past few months my training has been poor.

My only goal was to finish the race through an honest effort. There’s no cheating in virtual racing. At least not for me.

The first two miles got me to the Somerville side of the Mystic River bridge.

This segment, along the Fellsway, was mostly in full sun.

Margarita Half Marathon, virtual halfAfter the bridge I took a right onto Shore Drive towards Blessing of The Bay Boat House. They had the crew of summer work kids out front for their morning brief.

I was glad to see that at least some kids were getting the opportunity to earn a few dollars and learn how to work this summer.

I went under the Rt. 93 bridge and headed south on Mystic Ave/Rt. 38. The on-coming traffic kept me very focused as the sidewalk is narrow here and folks like to fly down this road.

I found a break in traffic and crossed Mystic Ave to run the back side of Foss Park. The pool was full, but the facility was closed.

I chose this route for a little shade.

To avoid the bridge over the rail tracks I went down Broadway to Cross Street and ran through East Somerville up to Washington Street.

I hit Mile 4 just before I crossed The McGrath Highway and headed for East Cambridge.

Eventually I ended up in Kendall Square and headed down Broadway to find my turn around spot.

Margarita Half 2020, Kendall Square
Broadway in Kendall Square

On my way down Broadway I passed a Starbucks. I wasn’t at mile 6 yet but one water bottle was almost empty and I wasn’t even half way yet.

I ordered a Trenta iced coffee on my phone and turned back to Starbucks.

As I approached the door I stopped my Garmin and then stepped into the dark coolness. My drink was being made as I approached the counter, so I only had a minute or so to cool off.

I grabbed a straw and stepped back into the heat.

The Long Road Home

I was now on my way home and short on distance. My watch hit mile six as I walked down Broadway drinking my coffee. Man it was good!

I took a leisurely jog back through Kendall and The Canal District down to Lechemere Station.

My shorts were so wet from sweat and water dripping off of my coffee that for a moment I thought I had a problem!

When it’s hot and you are sweating, that is a good thing.

I found a trash can on Cambridge Street and tossed in my empty cup. It only took about a mile and 12 minutes to drink the entire cup. And all of the ice had melted.

I pretty much took the same route back to Washington Street and then took a left into the neighborhood.

At this point my quads were exhausted and I was beginning to feel altered.

I checked my running belt for a salt pill, but I didn’t have one. That was a crucial error on a day like this.

My sports drink had some sodium, but I was dripping sweat.

I got back onto Broadway and ran the same route back to Blessing of the Bay Boat House.

Fortunately they had a porta-potty on the grass next to their parking lot.

It was like an oven in there, but I meant business!

I continued on the bike path next to Rt. 93 and headed for Medford.

I didn’t hit mile 11 until I had crossed The Mystic Valley Parkway and was less than a mile from home.

At this point I was doing a fair amount of walking and experiencing the worse part of what I had anticipated.

Virtual Margarita Half Finish, Virtual HalfWhen I got back into my neighborhood I started going up and down the side streets to get in my distance.

So close to home and I felt like I was running laps!

I managed to jog down my street and stopped my watch before I got to my house.

I was DONE!

I don’t think everyone has run and reported their results yet. But as of my run I was 131 out of 138!

Have you run any virtual races this year? How do you feel about them?

Run well my Friends!


Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon 2020

Since all of our races are cancelled our club decided to run virtual races this weekend in honor of The Boston Marathon.

Since the BAA 5K and Boston Marathon have been postponed, our former club president Dan Slattery came up with the idea of running virtual races this weekend.

He proposed either a half or a 5K.

I hi-jacked his idea and added these virtual races to the Melrose Running Club Racing Series. If we wait for real races we wont be running until July.

So I created the Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon and the Keep Your Distance 5K.

Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon 2020

I’ve been running about 10 miles a week, so running a half marathon seemed like a good idea.

I also thought it would be a good idea to run the Keep Your Distance 5K and then keep on running for another 13.1 miles. For a total of 16.2 miles.

It was not a good idea and I do not recommend this to anyone.

I’m under trained and well fed. Not what you need before taking on a half marathon.

I was smart enough to gather all of my gear the night before. I knew it would be in the 30’s when I left and in the 50’s when I returned. So I layered and wore gloves, winter hat and a neck gator or what ever you call those things!

I woke up around 6:00 AM and my phone said it was still 34°, so I rolled over for a snooze. Around 6:30 the temp was 36° and I knew it was time to go.

Out the Door You Go

My Garmin is a few years old and it took about ten minutes to lock onto satellites. It gets a little chilly standing around in shorts that long. But I was committed.

I planned to run the Keep Your Distance 5K and the Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon. The route I chose was a little over 15 miles so I ran down a side street to add some distance.

To do both races I needed to run 16.2 miles. I thought I could do it.

I’ve been averaging less than 10 miles per week, so this wasn’t the brightest idea.

I started running at 7:55 AM and thought I had started too late. The later you go out the more traffic there is.

Running through Medford Square I didn’t even have to wait for the lights.

I ran up High Street to Winthrop Circle and only had to contend with two cars!

I continued through West Medford toward The Mystic Valley Parkway.

Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon 2020, West MedfordWhen I hit 3.1 miles I stopped to take a selfie and paused my watch so I could count that distance.

Running The Virtual-ly Insane Half

The Mystic Valley Parkway is a nice run. On a Sunday there are usually many runners, cyclists and walkers. The breakdown lanes, or bike lanes, are wide most of the way.

There were more runners than I expected and fewer cyclists. Only about half the runners wore masks. I even saw three women running together without masks.

When I approached a runner or walker I’d pull up my neck gator. While an N95 mask is supposed to stop 95% of the bad stuff getting into your lungs, my thin neck warmer is probably an N5 filter.

Pulling it over my nose felt more like a fashion statement than actually doing something.

I’ve gone to the store in an N95 mask and it’s so hard to breathe I usually start sweating! Not a good thing to do in public these days!

There is no way that I could run in an N95 mask.

At about six miles The MVP takes a short jog onto Bacon Street and then a left back onto The MVP into Winchester.

When I stopped at 5K, my watch added a “lap” which added a virtual mile to my run.

Virtual-ly Insane Half 2020

I hit seven miles just as I turned onto Forrest Street by the Gingerbread Bakery. The next mile had 92 feet of elevation gain.

My left knee had begun to ache so I had to walk some of this.

At this point, my dreams of running 16.2 miles began to evaporate just like a PR on Marathon Monday.

After I crossed 93 I took a right onto Park Street. I should have continued down the road to Main Street. I always miss this turn when I run this course alone.

Park took me to North Border Road where I took a left onto Main Street in Stoneham. Not far down the road I passed Nicole Jacob.

Due to the pandemic and people not staying out of the woods and walking crowded trails, the Sheep Fold parking lot was closed.

I saw on the news that the DCR had closed some areas of The Middlesex Fells. I didn’t realize that they had closed the road from the Sheep Fold all the way down to Elm Street in Medford!

They were not fooling around either! There was a State Trooper in his car and a snowplow truck in the other lane. This was in addition to those steel fences they use on Marathon Monday.

As I ran down the empty road I began to venture into the middle of the road. Normally I would not dare to do this.

As I got to the turn onto Elm Street I saw Dan Slattery. We ran together for a bit but he took off on the hill!

When we got to the rotary by Flynn Rink He went left and I went right onto Highland Ave.

At this point I knew I was only going to get in the half. My knee hurt and my hips were tight. A sure sign of not enough training and stretching.

About half way down the avenue towards Fellsway East I walked and had a Honey Stinger cookie. So good! They need to be a little larger.

As I walked I saw a turkey standing in someone’s front walk gobbling away. Someone was standing in the doorway with the storm door closed. Not sure if the guy was amused or scared to leave his house! I was amused.

Finishing my Run

There wasn’t any traffic so I crossed The Fellsway and continued down Highland Ave into Malden. I still had hopes of adding on a little bit here and there to get me to 16.2.

I passed a few other runners and they all waved.

Just before Pleasant Street I hit 13 miles. I was going to get the half done at least!

I hit 14 miles running down Spring Street towards home. I thought about jogging a few side streets but things hurt too much. I thought maybe I could run the 5K on Monday if I don’t mess myself up too much on this run!

So I managed 14.52 miles in 2:28:55 with an elevation gain of 364 feet. On an easier course I may have managed the last 1.8 miles.

My first virtual race hurt just as much as any other race!

Run well my Friends and stay Healthy!


Harborside Half Marathon 2019

The Harborside Half Marathon was a chilly run for about 1,000 runners. A great, mostly flat course through the countryside and great after party.

The Harborside Half Marathon 2019 was the first cold race of the year.

The race took place in Newburyport, MA which is where the mighty Merrimack River enters the Atlantic Ocean. There were lots of open fields, farms and ponds where the breeze delivered the fear of Jack Frost deep into our souls!

Hearding of The Cats

The Harborside Half Marathon is part of the Melrose Running Club’s 2019 Racing Series. The idea of the series is to encourage people to run races they might not otherwise and to encourage new runners to get out there and do it.

Megin Hemmerling; Cynthia Berger; Harborside Half Marathon
Megin Hemmerling – Cynthia Berger

The Harborside Half Marathon was David Doherty and Megin Hemmerling’s first half marathon!

There is also a social aspect to the series. Each month we get to hang out with a different mix of people. When there is a nice after-party like we had in Newburyport it’s that much more fun.

I always encourage the car pool to enhance the socializing and fun. Plus it seems crazy for each person to drive themselves to a race.

This time I drove up with Michele DeAngelo and got a ride back with David Doherty and Aine Lunney.

For this race many people had family or work obligations and some were already up north. So getting a car pool together was like hearding cats.

The party was on two levels at Michael’s Harborside and out on the deck. I knew some people were leaving right after the race and a few times I looked around and didn’t see anyone I knew. I didn’t have a car in the parking lot and was worried I was stranded!

As time went on more cats kept showing up! It seemed that every time I turned around there was another familiar face. I was far from stranded!

Running The Harborside Half Marathon

As Michele DeAngelo and I left the parking garage and headed to Michael’s Harborside to pick up our bib and shirt we saw David Bryson. He was parked on the street right in front of the restaurant!

The place was crowded but we were able to get in and out quickly and make a pit stop. We headed back to Michele’s car, put on our bibs and sorted our gear and clothes.

It felt like 20° but we knew we would warm up. We headed back to Michael’s for another porta pit stop and then hopped on the bus to the start area.

As we walked around the start area we saw most of the crew. David, Michele and I got out of the breeze by standing in a doorway for a while.

Here is a group shot before the race. We were freezing!

Harborside Half Marathon 2019, Melrose Running Club

We could not tell what the announcer was saying and we didn’t hear a National Anthem. As we stood there we realized that we were way to close to the start line and about a thousand people were behind us.

I told everyone to just stand still when the crowd moves up for the start and we won’t be so close to the start anymore. It worked.

A few minutes before 9:00 I started my watch. By the time we had to start running I still didn’t have a good signal but hit the start button as I crossed the start line.

I ran the first mile or so with Aine Lunney and David Doherty. We were having a good conversation but eventually I realized I was talking to my self! David was running his first half and I’m getting ready to taper for the Philadelphia Marathon.

My first mile was 9:03 but all the rest were under 9:00 with six miles under 8:30. Overall I had a great run and my official finish was 1:50:35 for an average pace of 8:27. My best half marathon for 2019!

Harborside Half Marathon Course Description

Here is a slightly abbreviated course description from the Loco Running web site:

The Harborside Half marathon course offers runners a beautiful lollipop loop course with scenic views of rural fields, a reservoir, and nature preserves! The race starts at an industrial park in Newburyport (40 Parker Street) with the first mile on flat, wide, and easy roads through the park before heading out onto some of the prettiest roads in the area.

Just before Mile 3 you will run by the Town forest on your left. Then you will enter a spectacular country road that winds it’s way by the Artichoke Reservoir. At Mile 5, you’ll go right onto Indian Hill Road. Here you will pass many working farms and more reservation land. At mile 7 you will enter onto Middle Road which passes the Withers Parcel and over a very cool bridge back through the same Artichoke Reservoir.

Miles 9 to 12 will repeat Miles 1 to 3 and then you’ll venture down the Clipper City Rail Trail, a 1.3-mile paved running path through lush forests, all the way back to the finish at Michael’s Harborside.

Course Hills: This is a relatively easy course. The highest elevation is only 64 feet. There are no major hills and most hills are simply rollers that come and go quite easily.

This is an accurate course description. The scenery was great and the hills were gentle rollers. A lot of open space has been protected in this area and we did pass several active farms.

We may have started the race in an industrial park, but the open fields, thick forests and bodies of water made for a refreshing run for a city kid.

Harborside Half Marathon Course Map

The after party was well done also. They were serving hot clam chowder in the parking lot! I know that’s too heavy for many people but I love the stuff and it was HOT! Just a bit of heaven in New England.

I walked through the parking lot a bit to work the lactic acid out of my legs. The Ipswich Ale Brewing van was in the lot so I stopped and spoke with the driver.

The van is a 1950-something contractor’s van that looked like an old milk truck. There were about a dozen taps protruding from the side of the van! Not in use today, but what a party they must be able to put on!

I had to walk, so I moved on and then went into Michael’s Harborside for warmth and cold beer! That first beer after a race always tastes so good!

Slowly the gang showed up. I didn’t take a count, but we had way more than the 6-8 runners I expected. We never did get everyone into one picture. Here are two from the party.

Melrose Running Club at the Harborside Half after party


Melrose Running Club at the 2019 Harborside Half After Party

Harborside Half and 5K results.

Run well my Friends!


15th Annual Wilmington Half Marathon

15th Annual Wilmington Half Marathon recap with link to full results. September 29th, 2019.

Today I ran the 15th Annual Wilmington Half Marathon.

The forecast was for temps in the 70’s and some cloud cover. My Garmin says it was 68° but my body said otherwise!

Wilmington is about 15 minutes from my house and the race began at 10:00 AM. Some people didn’t like that start time because it was too later into the day. For me it was perfect.

I got up, had some coffee and hung out for an hour. I got ready to run at my leisure! Can’t say that happens very often!

I left my home after 8:30 and was in Wilmington before 9 AM. The parking lot at Wilmington Local Access Cable was already full! When I ran this race six years ago I just rolled into that lot and I don’t think I got there that early. Maybe I did.

They directed us through a street-side parking lot and crossed us into a lot across the street. The first person in line seemed flummoxed by a lot that didn’t have lines. As cars backed up across the road I wondered where they got their driver license.

I finally managed to park and head over to Race HQ to get my bib. They had plenty of volunteers and I had my packet and swag bag in no time. I used a porta-potty and headed back to my car.

It was still about 45 before race time.

As I got my gear together I struck up a conversation with the couple parked next to me. Anthony and Lynn Malisz had driven up from Wrentham for their first half! They asked a few questions about the course but I told them it had been six years and I vaguely recall the course.

I did tell them that every one gets the nerves before a race and not to stretch and drink too much. It doesn’t help and can cause problems.

Running The Wilmington Half Marathon

Wilmington Half Marathon 2019, Andy NagelinAround 9:40 I headed over to the start area and met Nicole Jacob and one of her friends. We were a little confused about the start. I thought the 5K and half started together but on different side of the start. We also thought the 5K runners had a different color bib.

Turns out the 5K started first and the people with the different color bib had done race-day sign up.

A little after 10 they had the 5K runners start and then the 5K walkers. Then at 10:09 they let the half marathoners start.

There were 254 half runners which seemed a little light to me, but they run an old school race which keeps expenses low.

As we ran out the driveway towards Waltham Street I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had only run seven miles the previous week and wasn’t in great shape.

Wilmington Half Marathon Mile 1-3

8:25, 8:32, 8:35

As soon as we got onto Waltham Street I tried to settle into a pace that I could hold. No sense going out blazing fast only to flame out down the road.

As you can see from my times above I managed to keep it around my 10K pace. A little fast for a half, but not too bad.

When we got to mile three I took my first GU.

Between miles three and four I began to feel like this wasn’t going to be a great race for me. Maybe I had gone out to fast and maybe I was just out of shape.

Wilmington Half Marathon Miles 4-6

8:33, 8:41, 8:27

We hit mile four in a neighborhood. Even though I had my marathon belt pretty well stocked, I had been getting water at most stops. It was in the mid 70s and not much shade.

I ran by a house where the kids were handing out 500ml bottles that looked cold. They just looked at me as I ran by with my out-stretched hand. WTF? I can’t really complain since it was free and they only had so many bottles. Maybe because I looked like I loaded for bear.

So I continued to get cups of water at most stops. I was roasting.

I’ve been wearing an Under Armour compression tank to avoid chaffing. Today I wore my Summer Classic 5K cotton tank over that and it was too much. Still better than bleeding!

My watch chimed six miles before the race mile marker and I took my second gel. This was a Honey Stinger which I have come to prefer.

As we hit the 10K mark I just felt like crap.

Wilmington Half Marathon Miles 7-9

8:27, 8:47, 8:42

I thought about walking but nothing hurt. My legs and hips were fine. My left foot had been tweaking early in the run but had settled down.

My lack of cardio conditioning was becoming evident. My legs could out-run my lungs!

I began to focus on my breathing which I typically try to ignore. My feeling is that if I’m thinking about breathing, I’m probably in trouble.

I wasn’t about to crash and burn but some active management was needed to keep me going.

As I ran I tried to take long deep breathes. In other races I’ve had some shortness of breath when I’ve out-run my lungs.

At this point in the race I wasn’t worried about passing anyone. I just wanted to hold on.

Several time I tucked in behind someone. I just wanted to stay there and not pass them. But most of these people seemed to be in worse shape than me and I eventually passed them.

Finishing the 15th Annual Wilmington Half Marathon

9:41, 9:17, 9:40, 9:32 last 0.23 miles – 8:34

At 9.2 miles I had to walk. I was pretty spent and I just didn’t have the will to keep running. I decided to walk until my over-all average pace hit 9:40. At 9.3 miles it was time to run again.

Usually when you walk late in a race what ever hurt before is worse and your muscles tighten up. I was worried that I was going to run ten-minute miles for the rest of the race.

Fortunately when I began to run again nothing hurt! Mile ten came in at 9:41 but that included my walking spell.

Mile eleven came in at 9:17 which was encouraging.

That last two miles were a head-down slog. One foot in front of the other. No interaction with spectators or the police details. Couldn’t spare the breath. Literally!

I was so happy when we turned onto Middlesex Avenue! This was the home stretch.

At mile eleven my over-all time was 1:36. I had twenty-four minutes to run 2.1 miles or so. Using rough runner’s arithmetic I was able to “calculate” that if I ran twelve-minute miles I could hit my goal of two hours.

I knew that I was running well under ten-minute miles. All I had to do was keep on doing what I was doing and I’d come in under two hours.

Even though I was totally out of gas I managed not to walk. This was an act of will power as my last fumes seemed to have vaporized in the Indian Summer heat.

At mile twelve I figured people would start passing me as they kicked. I didn’t have any kick so I just got to the side of the road and waited.

Only a few people passed me and I was able to kick it for the finish, much to my surprise.

When I crossed the line the clock said 1:57 and change. I had more than met my goal!

Apre Wilmington Half

I got my medal right after I crossed the mat, but missed the water. My buddy Paul Locke was there and said hello. I could barely speak and told him that I needed to walk around.

15th Annual Wilmington Half Marathon, Melrose Running Club runnersInstead of giving out single-use bottles the race had re-usable water bottles! I had to go back to the start to get one, but I needed to walk. I thought just the winners got bottles, but I guess we were all winners.

Soon Nicole Jacob,Lynda Field and Monique Plourde joined us. I don’t think that any of us had a PR or won any age-group awards.

We had fun talking and eating ice cream and hot dogs. I found Anthony and Lynn Malisz before I left. They both came in just over two hours and seemed to be happy with that. I told them that they now had a stake in the ground and have their time to beat for next time.

While it was warmer than expected I think most of us were happy the way things worked out.


Run well My Friends!


Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018

The Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon was probably the best race I have run in over 14 years of running.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018 and 5K, Hampton Beach, NH, Loco Races

The Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018 turned into another one of my running adventures. Every race is a bit of an adventure, some more so than others!

I signed up for this race in October 2017. I’ve run the race three times already and I was pretty certain I was going to run it again in 2018. I also wanted to get the super low early bird registration price.

Rockfest 2017 Race Recap

Then a few months before the race my company told me that I needed to be in San Antonio, TX the day before the race! They were kind enough to let me get to San Antonio Sunday night and be ready to roll by 7:00 AM Monday morning. 

I was lucky to have a colleague cover what I needed to get done that weekend. Thinks to Gina I didn’t have a worry all weekend. It helps to work with great people.

Rolling down the highway to the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018

I had a 2:40 PM flight out of Boston. That meant I had to be at the airport around Noon, 12:30 at the latest. You never know what might happen on the way to or at the airport.

The race started at 8:00 AM and my plan was to run about a two-hour half and then hop in my car and drive from Hampton Beach, NH to Cambridge.

To make sure I could leave the race ASAP I needed to get a parking spot on the edge of town. I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic trying to leave the most convenient lot near the start line. 

I got up at 5:00 AM and was on the road by 5:20 or so. There wasn’t any traffic so I set cruise control to 65 and stayed in the second lane all the way up the highway.

I rolled into Hampton Beach a little after 6AM. In the darkness I saw a sign for a private parking lot. It was on the one-way road that lead out of Hampton Beach and was on the edge of town. I took a left off of the one-way road into Hampton Beach and was the first person to park in this lot.

It was only $5.00 and I parked right by the road so I could easily get out. What a score!

Bib pickup had just opened at 6AM and I had almost two hours until race time! I was in great shape.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018, Hampton NH, Andy Nagelin
Dawn at Hampton Beach, NH

I knew where pickup had been before, but as I approached that parking lot all I saw was parked cars and 10 porta-potties. Then someone told me they moved it around the corner and down the street. No biggie.

I walked over with another runner and we chatted about the race and the weather. She had run before also and was looking forward to a good day for running.

We found the big white tents lit by Coleman lamps, just like every other year. It is New Hampshire after all! Hardly anyone was there, so I got my bib and my fleece in no time and headed back to my car.

Walking over I passed several shops selling coffee and breakfast food. I could not tell any difference between them so I walked into what I thought was the last shop on the street.

They had about five employees and there were about a dozen runners. I bought a large coffee and a blueberry muffin and headed for my car.

As I walked back I thought how much a town like Hampton Beach must love getting 6,000 runners plus family and friends to show up during the off season. Leaf peeping season is just beginning and Hampton Beach probably doesn’t get much traffic from that.

But as I walked along I noticed several motels had no vacancy signs. I was surprised, but it made me think about getting a room next year. No long drive and you can party hearty afterwards. My friends would love it!

Prepping for the Smuttynose Half

When I got back to my car the lot was about a third full. A couple in their 60s owned the property. I couldn’t tell if they had a shop on the first floor or not. I didn’t want to peek into their house too much, especially if there wasn’t a shop.

I spoke with the wife and she said they usually charge $5, sometimes more sometimes only $3. I need to remember that. They weren’t that far from the beach and the price is right!

I got into my car, started it, turned on the heat and plugged my phone in. The coffee and muffin were pretty good but I was full and left half the muffin for after the race. I took a salt pill and an Imodium and washed it down with a 500ml Poland Springs. In also took two Hylands Leg Cramp pills. 

I’m a running pharmacy, but I know what works for me.

Don Keren, Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018
Don Keren

At 7:01 my buddy Don Keren texted me to see where I was. He and Durm Cahill were already in the corral near C Street. After I checked my gear and stowed things out of site I headed for C Street around 7:20.

I had two bottles on my belt with Hydralyte mix in them. I had two gels and my phone in my belt also.

As I headed down Bowman Ave I remembered to take a left onto Island Path so I could use the porta-potties one more time. I finally got into one around 7:40. Plenty of times and the nerves help move things along!

The race began on Ashworth Street near C Street. As I made my way through the crowd I heard Don call out my name. We were pretty far back and decided to move forward.

We didn’t get to far in the tight crowd. They played the National Anthem and I found a near-by flag. They made a few announcements but no one could really hear them. There was something about staying to the left or right depending on which race you were running. Everyone was confused. But when the crowd started to move forward we knew the race had begun!

Running The Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018!

It took almost four minutes to cross the starting mats. About a 100 feet before the start we broke into a light jog. A few hundred feet after the start we were probably running a 12 minute pace.

I usually don’t warm up before a half, so a slow first mile fits into my plan. Durm, Don and I traded the lead several times. Don kept goading me that I was taking off, watch out for that guy, or see you later as they moved ahead.

We ran down Ashworth and took a sharp left onto Ocean Drive, hit mile one and then took a left onto Island Path around mile two.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018, Andy Nagelin

Island Path turned onto Bowman and looped us back through the neighborhood. Lots of bungalows with a few convenience stores and restaurants. Bowman ended at Ashworth and we took a right.

Ashworth Avenue is also Rt. 1A and we took that all the way to Seabrook Beach for an out and back. Just before the bridge into Seabrook, NH we hit mile three.

Mile one had been 9:53 but two and three were 9:17 each. Not bad. I was settling into a good pace early in the race.

Heidi Caldwell, Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon Winner 2018
Heidi Caldwell – winner at 1:15

On the way down Rt. 1A to the turn we saw Heidi Caldwell come cruising by. She was in first place and no one was behind her! Usually a guy is in first place with the next runners close behind. Heidi had the field by at least two minutes. It was an amazing lead. She won first place overall by almost two minutes, with a time of 1:15:14!

Going over the bridge I saw Nick Kollett run by and we yelled out to each other. Nick finished in 1:39:53 and was 139th overall! So I never saw him again on the course!

The road to the turn around seemed like it went on forever. I tried counting runners, but there were too many of them.

Nick Kollett, Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018
Nick Kollett

Just after the turn we hit mile four and my mile pace was 9:23. My goal was 9:30 splits, so I was doing okay.

On the run back into Hampton Beach things began to thin out. Anyone can run a fast mile. Most people can run a fast 5K, we were now beyond that point.

Running The Plan

I knew what I wanted to do and I was doing it: I was running my plan. A few weeks earlier I ran a hilly 15.86 mile long run. It beat the snot out of me and I averaged around 10 minute miles.

To get to the airport in time I really needed to run a 2 hour half. I set my goal for an even 9:15 pace. I had enough supplies and I felt pretty good. 

There aren’t a lot of hills in this race so I felt confident in maintaining a constant pace. I didn’t want to go too fast and struggle near the end so paying attention to my pace was my core strategy.

On the way back into Hampton Beach I took my first gel. This was probably around 4.5 miles. I like to fuel early before I need it. Once you become depleted you can never get it back during a race.

At mile five we were back on Ocean Blvd and could see the 5K runners making their loop through town.

The next three miles down Ocean Blvd were all about 9:20. Around mile eight I started running with Rebecca Mayerson with The Mystic Runners. Our clubs run together a lot and share many members.

We were both running comfortably and had a good conversation about running and the course. She had only been running about six months! She was doing pretty good. 

Mile nine looped off of Ocean Blvd through a neighborhood. The road narrowed and twisted around. Rebecca and I kept our pace and moved through the crowd.

When we got back onto Ocean Blvd we were both feeling good and the pace picked up. Mile nine came in at 9:31 but each mile after that got progressively faster. 

I had water with me and skipped the water stops. Rebecca didn’t have anything with her and also skipped the water stops. I told her she should grab something but she said she was fine. 

We were now cruising down Ocean Blvd and consistently passing people. Mile ten came in at 9:09 and mile eleven at 8:56. 

I told Rebecca about my plan to run even splits. But I was feeling really good and nothing hurt. That was pretty unusual. We agreed not to kick until mile 12.

After mile eleven we picked up the pace and started picking people off left and right. I could not believe how fast I was running this late in a half marathon, and nothing hurt!

Somewhere before mile twelve we passed Durm who looked like he was having a tough day. Don took off on him earlier and was having a great day. 

I felt bad passing and leaving him, but I was having an awesome race!

Finishing Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2018

Mile twelve came in at 8:45! We both felt strong so we kicked it up another notch. We were now on eleven. 😉

My gait was long like I was coming into the finish of a 5K. My lungs felt great and my muscles were not tired. We were basically sprinting mile 13! 

Rebecca had no problem keeping up and we swapped the lead several times. 

Mile 13 came in at 7:48! That is faster than my pace for most of the 5Ks I’ve run in 2018! I was locked and loaded!

After mile thirteen we could see the finish and the crowd. Without a word we both kicked it up to twelve and had to weave around other runners. I knew she was trying to beat the old guy and I was having none of that!

I ran long and the last 0.31 mile came in at 6:31. Where the hell did that come from? I have crossed this finish line many times in great pain at a much slower pace.

Our gun time was almost exact but my net time was 2:00:29.9 and her’s was 2:02:21.8. I’m not sure how that works. My overall pace was 9:12, 3 second faster than my goal.

I had one of the best finishes of my life and there isn’t a finish line photo! I was so disappointed! I even waited to stop my watch so I could get a good photo!

Oh well. A good photo wasn’t the goal. A well run race was the goal and that is what I did. Almost two hours on the nose!

Apre Rockfest 2018

My running goal achieved, it was now time to execute my extraction plan. 

I saw Don soon after I finished. He finished in 1:57:24.9 in 870th place and looked pretty good. I think the weather agreed with him. 

I told Don that Durm wasn’t too far behind me, so we hung out a bit. Before we knew it Durm had crossed the finish line. His time was 2:02:20.7 and he had a tough run.

They were heading for a pizza place for some beers and food, but I had to get moving. We said our good byes and I found an opening in the barricades.

It wasn’t too crowded yet and I quickly made my way to the food tent. Some people were milling about like they didn’t know what to do. I gave the lady my food ticket and went into the tent.

Lobster sandwiches, Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon
Just a few Lobster rolls!

I grabbed a lobster roll and bowl of chowder. I ended up drinking the chowder out of the bowl and ate the lobster roll as I made my way through the crowd.

I had two beer tickets that I wasn’t going to use. Durm and Don didn’t want them, so I was looking to make someone else’s day.

As I moved towards a spot where I could cross Ocean Blvd I looked for someone I knew. As I crossed the street I stopped a stranger and asked if she wanted them. She seemed perplexed but took the tickets. Not the reaction I had been expecting.

As I headed back to my car I stopped at the porta-potties on Island Path. No crowd this time.

When I got to my car I quickly took off my shirts and used some adult baby wipes to clean up. Then I got back into my car, slipped under a towel and changed into fresh shorts to travel in. 

I’ve seen people strip down in a parking lot under a towel, but getting basically naked in public was a first for me. It was odd to look up and see people feet away stuck in the traffic jam!

Once I got situated I had some more food and water and headed on down the highway for my trip to San Antonio, TX.

FULL RESULTS       Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon and 5K Photos

I really felt like this was one of my best run races in 14 years. It was far from my Half Marathon PR, but everything went according to plan.

I could have run faster but I wasn’t sure I could. Based on my year so far a 9:15 pace seemed a manageable challenge. If I pushed harder and got hurt I would either DNF or have a much longer race. 

I could not risk being late to the airport, and I had to run my plan in order to get to the airport on time.

Fortunately everything, including traffic and security, worked out. To this day I still have a good feeling about this race. It’s not often that the runner’s high lasts this long!

Run well my Friends!