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.
When 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Around 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.
Instead 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.
The Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon was probably the best race I have run in over 14 years of running.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I get emails every day promoting races of all distances from all over the place. Some of them are very slick and corporate looking. Nothing wrong with that. But these sharp folks don’t seem to understand how runners decide which races to run.
Like most of you I get a deluge of email every day. I have six email accounts and they all get all kinds of email. Most of it is of no interest to me.
As you can imagine I get overloaded after looking through one or two of my email accounts. Before long, I’m slashing and burning emails like I’m hacking my way through a junk mail jungle.
It get’s to the point where I read the subject line and maybe some text just before I hit delete. It’s amazing how quickly you can get through hundreds of emails with only a cursory look.
I trust that I am not alone bushwhacking my way through the jungle of junk email. And I know that any email marketer worth their salt knows all of us have had it with poorly written junk.
That is why I am constantly amazed to get emails about races with the location, date and time buried in the text or not even in the email. You want me to click a link to find out when your race is? I’m more likely to hit “delete” and be off to the next ill conceived interruption of my day.
So when I get a well constructed email I like to take note. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Someone actually took the time to think how I or any runner would receive their plea to register for their race.
Today I received an email for The Wilmington Half Marathon & 5K.
I did a snippy-clippy from their email to show you how it should be done.
The subject like tells me exactly what race this is and when. I can make a quick decision just with that info. Beautiful! Do I want to drive to Wilmington and am I free on September 23rd. Pretty easy to figure out.
I did have to click to down load their graphic but that’s pretty standard these days. With a quick roll of the mouse button I know the time and location of the race.
I’m also enticed to “Register Early” as there may be a discount but only if I click through. A very nice and subtle call to action! To further pique my interest at the bottom they say the first 500 runners get a draw string bag.
Now who doesn’t have a closet full of these bags and who doesn’t always want more free stuff?
I with I could write succinct emails and even blog posts.
One of the great things about the Wilmington Half Marathon is that they’ve done this 13 times already. They made all of the classic mistakes years ago. They know what they are doing.
You can be reasonably assured that the race will be well managed and that they will keep an eye on traffic for you.
Wilmington has kept this a budget race over the years, I know a lot of people like the pomp and circumstance of a big production race, but all half marathons are the same distance no matter how flashy they are.
Wilmington will cost you $35 for The Half and $25 for the 5K. Add $5 for race day registrations. Students 18 and under pay $15.00. There are few bargains still available and this is one of them.
Their email tells you they are well organized and know their business. I’ve run this race before and can tell you that if you enjoy a low key, low budget event then you’re going like like this half.
Check them out. If you can make it I’m sure you’ll enjoy this race.
And if you write promotional materials and emails, don’t get lost in the weeds. Just the facts will do.
The 2017 Cambridge Half Marathon was a different race in many ways from the 2016 Inaugural Cambridge Half Marathon.
If I recall correctly we started in one big wave in 2016. This year they had three waves based on self reported estimated finish times.
Wave One was the way fast group. Wave Two was for the two-hour and under runners (ME) and wave Three was for anyone who planned to finish over two hours. I like this type of start as it helps reduce congestion at the start.
Wave One started at 7:30AM, Wave Two around 7:35AM and Wave Three around 7:40. Since the race is chip timed it wasn’t that important where you lined up.
I got to the race around 6:30 and cars were already backed onto Land Blvd. The garage in The Galleria was full and they were switching over to the garage across the street.
There were a lot of cars in the garage all ready, but I quickly found a spot. I soon realized that I had less than an hour to the race start and needed to get moving.
I pinned my bib on my Melrose Running Club singlet, and loaded up my running belt. My Cambridge Half Marathon jacket was stuffed in my drop bag, so there wasn’t much room for extras.
When I got into the mall things turned chaotic. Volunteers seemed scarce, but the few I saw seemed to know what was going on.
The bag drop and porta-potties were all outside, not in the mall. I guess I knew this, but last year everything was conveniently located in the Galleria garage. So I headed back outside and looked for the bag drop area.
The first line I saw was for the porta-potties and it looked an hour long! God help me, I thought. It was now about 40 minutes to start time and I still had my drop bag.
Fortunately the bag drop was within sight and in no time I dropped off my bag and got into the porta-pottie long and winding line. It was like being at Disney. The line was long and then we turned the corner to see another long line!
The couple behind me was running their first half marathon and we had fun joking about the weather and the line. I told them the race was chip timed and this was the most important line to be in, so hang in there.
The race didn’t have any volunteers policing the porta-potty area. Some people tried to wander in front of us and pretend they didn’t see the line wrapped around the block! I saw several people who were in line block the cutters from getting into a porta-potty!
These people knew they were in the wrong and there was a large crowd ready to back anyone up.
Eventually a bunch of us started yelling when we saw a cutter wander towards the porta-potties. No one should mess with a runner who has stood in line for 40 minutes waiting their turn. I swear if someone got out of line 20 people would take them down!
When you have a black eye people just seem to take you more seriously!
I finally got my turn. It wasn’t disgusting and the person before had left both rolls of TP hanging so I didn’t have to try and get a roll started. This little detail is often lost on other runners.
I was now ready to run and headed towards the corral for Wave Two. It turned out I didn’t need to line up on a side street. A volunteer waved me through towards the start line and sent the Wave Three runners back down the street.
Cambridge Half Marathon New Course for 2017
Last year we started on First Street, and took a left onto Cambridge Street and headed to Harvard Square, then ran down 2A to Mass Ave and then went through the Alewife neighborhood.
We turned around under the railroad bridge in Belmont and made our way back past Fresh Pond, Harvard and then down Broadway to MIT/Kendall Square. Then took Galileo Galilie Way to Binney Street back to First to the finish line.
This year we headed West on First Street to Binney Street. I was trying to keep my feet dry for as long as possible, but there were a lot of divets on Binney Street. When Binney crossed Third Street it turned into Galileo Galilie Way and when we crossed Broadway the street turned into Vassar Street.
At Mass Ave we took a right for two blocks and then turned left onto Albany Street. The last time I ran Albany Street was for the Summer Classic 5K. This was where the torrential thunder and lightening storm began. For this race the rain seemed to be ending at this point.
A few more turns and we were on Putnam Street. We ran Putnam for about a mile and hit the 5K mark before taking a left towards the river. At the 5K mark they timed us. Very nice!
I thought we were going to be running on Memorial Drive, but they had us on the bike/walking path.
It was narrow and congested. Shortly, most of us were back on Memorial Drive. I was making good time and mile four came in at 8:28 and my overall pace was 8:30.
Shortly after mile four we had to get an the path to go under the Elliot Bridge. As I approached the underpass runners started backing up. Turns out there was a puddle under the bridge that left very little room for runners to get by without soaking their shoes.
I lined up behind some other runners on the right and went as fast as I could. A few people ran through the puddle and splashed all of us. A bunch of us yelled at them, but what could we do?
We were now on the path next to the river. This far up, the river looks like a wild area compared to below the River Street bridge. There were a few crew boats on the river and I wondered if one of them was my daughter.
Around 4.5 miles some of us got onto Greenough Blvd. for the next mile or so. At the 10K mark they timed us again. Mile six came in at 8:39 and my average pace was 8:41.
I was running with another guy for about a mile now. We were both locals and had run these roads before. His last run had been on a treadmill over a week ago. I joked that he had fresh legs and should do well.
I ran with him over the Beacon Street bridge but let him go when we got onto the path on the Brighton side of the river. He was a lot younger than me and I knew I had to run my race, not his.
We were now on the path next to Soldiers Field Road. I’ve run this one many times also. It was packed gravel in some parts but the runners were pretty well sorted by now and it was less crowded. At Arsenal Street we ran across the road.
After Arsenal Street we were on a paved path about 8 feet wide. A few holes and lumps, but overall not too bad. At the Elliot Street bridge we had to go under the bridge, but fortunately it wasn’t as flooded as the other underpass.
We continued along the river until just after mile 9 when we crossed the Harvard Street bridge back into Cambridge. Mile nine came in at 8:39 and my overall average was 8:43. I had plenty of time to play with.
I was beginning to feel tired and my left knee was saying hello. Around mile seven I took my only gel and the guy next to me looked at me like I was crazy. That juice was wearing off and my bottles were near empty.
Mile ten came in at 8:43 which made me feel like I was beginning to slip. My average was 8:49, so I was still way ahead of my 9 minute pace goal and only had to run a 5K.
At the BU Bridge we had to run up and over. The deck is steel and cement and always looks slippery. I’ve never slipped on it, but wet steel always looks like a slipping hazard!
It was only 16 feet up and down over the bridge, but at this point in the race it felt like 60 feet up.
Miles 11 and 12 came in at 8:59 but my average pace was still under nine minutes.
Finishing the Cambridge Half Marathon
As I ran mile 13 I thought about how much difference this mile can make in a finish time. If you push and cut 30 seconds off the last mile, you are up 30 seconds on your finish time. If you relax and add 30 seconds to the last mile, you have effectively added a minute to your finish time.
With 1.1 miles to go, why hold anything back?
A minute may not seem like much, but this thought helped me manage an 8:50 mile 13.
We ran under the Long Fellow bridge and took a right onto the Cambridge Parkway path along the river.
At the Broad Canal we took a left onto a gravel path. As we went under the Land Blvd bridge I noticed a homeless person trying to sleep on some cardboard and kind of behind a trash barrel. With all the crap this person has to deal with, 8,000 runners were passing his/her bed.
At the end of the Broad Canal we were behind the mall and the path turned wet and muddy. No one could avoid the puddles and soon I was just running through them. You can only get so wet.
As we ran down Thorndike Street to the finish I could see the clock. I gave it one last push and passed a few people before I crossed the finish line at 1:56:03.
I was a little surprised that I didn’t do better than last week’s 1:53 at the Howling Wolf Half. Cambridge hardly had a hill, but it was very congested in many areas. Under the flooded bridge I basically had to walk. So, I guess taking all of that into consideration I did okay.
Cambridge Half Marathon Apre Party
One thing that hasn’t changed since last year is the Apre Party! They had 26 team areas set up, just like the Cambridge Classic 5Ks. The line for hot falaffal was longer than the beer lines! After running in the rain for two hours or so, I guess everyone wanted something hot to eat.
KIND, Nature’s Path and That’s it. were giving out snack bars. All three are about simple ingredients. KIND is all about ingredients you can see and pronounce, That’s it. makes all fruit bars with two or three ingredients and Nature’s Path Organic uses Chia and Hemp seeds to pack energy into their bars.
Bantam Cider was there with two varieties. I tried one but it was just too sweet, and I tossed most of it. Sad.
One of my favorite brewers was there, Notch Brewing. They had a nice light and clear wheat ale, Infinite Jest. I usually drink Left of The Dial, but the lighter flavored wheat hit the spot.
I was a free agent at this party so I just wandered around. I only knew one other runner and that was our new club president, Dan Slattery.
The place was hopping and I never saw Dan or the six other runners from our club. I did meet a guy from The Mystic Running Club named Rich. We hung out, traded stories and had some beers. There’s always someone to talk with after a race!
The jackets they gave us were much more than swag. The were a nice nylon jacket with a fleece lining, zip pockets, Velcro sleeve enclosures and inside pockets. It’s always cold in that garage after a race, but this jacket managed to keep me warm.
Since I was on my own, I decided to limit my indulgences and headed for home before 11AM!
As I drove down Land Blvd and saw the time, I couldn’t believe it! A half marathon, a few beers and I’d be out of the shower and dressed by Noon! I wasn’t thrilled about the 7:35AM start. But the early start and close proximity made for a fun filled morning and I could now chill for the rest of the day.