Running Cambridge Half Marathon 2017

2nd Annual Cambridge Half Marathon

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.

Cambridge Half MarathonWave 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.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, porta pottiesThe 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.

Andy Nagelin, Cambridge Half Marathon 2017The 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.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2016We 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.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017At 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.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, overcast dayIt 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.

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, Memorial DriveI 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

Under the Longfellow BridgeAs 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

Notch Brewing, Cambridge Half Marathon 2017, Andy NagelinOne 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.

Notch Brewing, Cambridge Half Marathon 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!

Cambridge Half Marathon 2017 JacketThe 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.

COMPLETE RESULTS

Over 6100 runners completed the race. Use this link to view hundreds of great photos from the course and the party.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2017

The Smuttynose Rockfest Half is one of my favorite half marathons. 2017 is the third time I’ve run this seacoast race and the slowest I’ve run this race.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half

Racing to New Hampshire

The race director encouraged everyone to get to Hampton Beach by 6AM. Parking is always tight when you have 6,000 runners and their friends come to town!

Durm Cahill and I left Melrose just after 5AM and had an easy drive up the highway. As we took the exit off of 95 North to NH 101 East, I saw a coyote on the side of the rode. Alive. I’ve only seen one once before and that was up near Lake Winnipesaukee, also in New Hampshire.

As we drove into the town of Hampton Beach we saw a line of cars at a stop sign. I told Durm to follow them to the parking area. Even though it was a Sunday, Hampton Beach collects parking fees every day of the week until October 31st. Almost as bad as Newton.

It was a bit of a walk in the dark to the race HQ. But we kept following the crowd. I’ve done this race before but I was a little foggy on which way to go.

When we got there everything looked just like I remembered it. Big white tents and about 50 porta-potties all in a row along the edge of the parking lot.

When we went into the tent to get our numbers the place was lit by Coleman lamps and there were no lines. In no time we were at the porta-potties for round one.

We headed back to the car and stopped to get a muffin and coffee as our pre-race meal. I ate mine in about 10 seconds. It was good and I was hungry. I didn’t finish the coffee.

After we got our gear situated we headed back to the porta potties and the bag drop area. They gave out a nice fleece instead of a shirt. We stuffed our fleeces into a sling bag and gave them to the attendants.

Running Smuttynose Rockfest Half

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Start, new hampshire half marathonWe were quite a ways back from the front of this crowd. Durm ran the Lochness Marathon the week before and I had barely run at all. I was actually still dealing with a cold on race day.

We were also running the BAA Half the next weekend. The idea was to run a 10 minute pace and see how we felt.

Starting in the 2:10 to 2:25 group seemed like the wisest thing to do.

They played the National Anthem and most people took it seriously. There were a few people behind us who didn’t stop talking for a minute. Another dufas had some sort of speaker system playing fairly loud music.

After they told us to “Go!” it took about six minutes to cross the starting line. We’ve all been there before.

Durm Cahill, Andy Nagelin, Smuttynose Rockfest HalfThe first three miles or so were a loop down Ashworth Avenue and Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A. We managed to average just under 10 minute miles for those miles, even with the crowd.

Around mile Four we were headed North out of town on Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A. The pack had loosened up a bit and we started to settle into a pace that we would work to maintain.

We enjoyed the ocean breeze, blue sky and comfortable temperature all the way up Ocean Blvd. There were a few people along the course cheering us on and traffic was light.

Around six and a half miles we took a left onto High Street. The road was freshly paved and I commented how we wouldn’t have to worry about twisting an ankle on this road.

I took my first gel at mile five and just up High Street they were handing out gels. I took one and sucked it down with some water anyway. I wasn’t out to be a hero.

Now we were away from the beach and in a more residential area. Along this road we hit our peak elevation of 54 feet. It isn’t much but you could tell some people were struggling a bit. Durm and I run hills all the time so we kept up the pace.

Mile 8 had the most elevation gain and we ran an 9:53 mile. Nothing crazy, but we didn’t slow down. Mile nine was 9:43 and each mile got faster from there.

Around mile 10 we got back onto Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A South. We were feeling good. Nothing hurt and we just had the expected fatigue. I haven’t run much more than 5K at a time in about a month.

Finishing Smuttynose Rockfest Half

All the way down Rt. 1A we kept picking up the pace. Up until mile 10 I had kept a close eye on our pace and kept holding us back. For both of us the natural tendency is to run as fast as we can.

That’s not a good strategy for a half marathon. It’s especially bad for one guy who just ran a marathon and one guy who has barely run in weeks.

As we ran along the coast, more than once I reflected on my last race down this road. I hurt and I was exhausted. It was the Eastern States 20 Miler. At this point in the race I still had five miles or so to run and I was spent. I felt the level of pain and exhaustion that I’ve only ever felt at the end of a marathon.

This time, on this day I felt really good.

I could not have run nine-minute miles but we did keep passing people and increasing our pace.

The last three miles were: 9:13, 9:05 and 9:01. For the last sprint we managed a 7:21 pace for 0.17 miles. I’m always amazed at the last flash of speed when the finish line is in sight.

Durm said we should finish together. Then near the finish he darted in front of another runner that I could not get around. We finished hundredths of a second apart at 2:06 and change.

Apre Smuttynose Rockfest Half

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon 2017, lobster rollThe Smuttynose Half has an awesome apre race party. There is Smuttynose ale, of course. But they also have clam chowder and lobster rolls. You only get one of each but hot chowder and a lobster roll taste pretty good after 13.17 miles!

We headed to the beer area first. Had two beers, listened to the band and then went in search of lobster rolls. The food tent was down near the finish line. The beer tent was about a quarter mile south from there!

Fortunately we were okay to walk that far and it actually felt good. The line to get food wasn’t too bad and in no time we were drinking hot chowder from the bowl and heading back to the beer tent.

Smuttynose Rockfest Half, IPAThe crowd had grown and a few people were turned away due to lack of proper ID. Durm and I are old enough to be the card check guy’s father, so he just let us walk in with a hearty “Enjoy Guys!”

As we waited in line I spotted my friends from team “Slow and Thirsties.” Lisa Hines, Cheryl Varney and Susan Hanly. In a crowd of over 6,000 people I didn’t think I’d find them. But there they were near the beer tables! Imagine that!

We had fun comparing notes and our general silliness. I’m still not sure that the old gang is showing up for the Cambridge Winter Classic 5K. I had to hold down a team table all by myself at the Cambridge Fall Classic.

Durm and I decided it was time to head to one of the six bars that would take our beer tickets. I took out my map and spotted the first bar, almost across the street. It seemed to make sense to avoid the first bar.

So we headed to the second bar just across the street from the first!

We got in right away and went up three flights to the bar and quickly had another pint of the good stuff. Before we finished our beer our buzzer went off and we were seated on the second floor balcony overlooking the race area.

It was a bit chilly at times. I was still in just my race shorts and had cooled off by then. We enjoyed fish and chips, one more beer and some great conversation.

We slowly wandered back to the car and made our way back down the highway to Melrose.

Run well My Friends,

Andy

Howlin Wolf Half Marathon

On a frigid November ‘morn, 234 local runners turned out for the First Annual Howlin Wolf Half Marathon at the Stone Zoo.

The Howlin Wolf Half Marathon was a fundraiser for The Stone Zoo and cancer research. At the starting line the Zoo Director told us that the idea for the half marathon originated about two months ago. Race Menu and The Stone Zoo did a great job in a short period of time, and managed to produce a well run, challenging and fun half marathon.

Howlin Wolf Half Marathon

Howlin Wolf Half

This was a local race for me so I didn’t have to get up at Crazy O’clock. I grabbed a travel mug of coffee, headed across town and arrive at The Zoo while the Race Menu team was still setting up.

Howlin Wolf Half, race menuI was among the first to pick up my number but still had to wait for the facilities. After business was taken care of I headed back to my car, pinned on my number and figured out what to wear. I planned to wear my club singlet, but the temperature was still 33° before the sun rose over the tree line. I went with my Boston Marathon long sleeve shirt and running vest over an Under Armor shirt.

I wore a head band to keep from getting an ear ache from the cold, and a pair of running gloves. These items would be easy to remove if I got too hot.

While waiting for the race I saw many friends. Somehow I managed to miss a few, even in the small crowd that we had. Around 8:50 we headed for the starting line.

By 9AM most of us were in the starting corral but the race director was no where in sight. I think they were busy making a few last minute adjustments. A little after 9AM Allain and the Zoo Director were at the start.

Allain asked how many people were cancer survivors, a few hands went up. He asked how many people were running their first half and a few hands went up. The Zoo Director thanked us for coming. When the race was first proposed she didn’t think anyone would show up. She seemed quite happy with the turn out.

We had a moment of silence for Paris and around 9:08 we started.

Growlin’ down the Parkway

My plan was to run 8:30 miles and do about a 1:50 half. I was running with Don Keren and Paul Locke for the first mile or so and we had fun chatting as we ran along. Eventually Paul and I pulled ahead and ran together for the next few miles. Then I pulled ahead of Paul.

For the first four miles my pace was around 7:57, which I knew was too fast. I felt good but I knew the first 6 miles of a half was no time for time trials. I tried to pull back and let people pass me. A few people did pass me but I was not slowing down enough.

At mile six we hit the Middlesex Fells hills. I’ve run them many times and know how challenging they are. I had wasted a lot of juice in the first six miles, but still felt pretty good. Nothing hurt and my energy level was still pretty good.

As I pushed up the hills I could see my current pace dropping steadily. Near the top of one hill my watch said 11:15! Yikes! As I ran down the other side, it was a relief to see my time drop to about 8:00 again.

Eventually Paul Locke caught up to me and we ran together for several miles. Lauren Cossette ran with us for a few miles also. On the second lap up the Fellsway West, Paul and then Lauren pulled ahead of me. It was all I could do at mile 11 to keep pushing up yet another hill! I didn’t care that they were getting further and further ahead of me.

It burns, make it stop!

At several points in the race my glutes burned. I knew I had been lazy with my cross training. The last hill on the Fellsway West made my quads burn. I had been lazy with my running. My breathing was fine and I made sure to breath deeply.

I was relieved to hit mile 12 but realized I was spent. My pre-race routine and clothing choices had been spot on. But I was running this race on rest and not training. It caught up to me miles ago, but now it was killing me.

I’ve run many half marathons and like most runners, it is my favorite distance. I knew I was un-prepared and had gone out too aggressively. What had I been thinking? This was getting painful.

As South Street turned into Pond Street I didn’t think there was enough road left to get in a full 13.1 miles. Part of me was hoping that had measured the course significantly short. Just make it stop!

As I ran past the first entrance to The Zoo I realized we were taking the next entrance and winding through the parking lot. As I approached the first entrance I saw a water stop. Maybe they had measured the race long and we needed a water stop close to the finish? I was a little bit worried for a few minutes. I didn’t have the juice for a 13.5 mile half marathon. I had to land this thing quickly.

As I took the right into the parking lot I could see the finish line. Being a small race there were only a few other runners with me. I felt like I was late to the party and everyone had gone home.

As I made the last turn for the final approach to the finish line I could hear friends calling out my name. It didn’t make me run any faster. I saw the time on the clock and just didn’t have the juice for a final kick.

I saw the camera man at the finish and raised my hands in victory signs as I approached the line. It actually took a conscious effort to keep my arms up. But it wasn’t my victory that I was raising my arms for.

Party at The Zoo

After I crossed the finish line I walked with Emily McDivitt. She rode her bike to the race and left her gear in my car. I needed to add a few layers before the cold set in, so we headed for my car. Then it was time to party.

They had sandwiches, chips, granola bars and water for us. There were also several beers to choose from. It was nice to see that Sam Adams was one of them. I don’t see Sam Adams at many races and they are one of my favorite brewers.

Howlin Wolf Half Marathon, Melrose Running Club

 

Paul Locke, Melrose Running ClubTwenty-six members of the Melrose Running Club ran the race. We were the largest group and our captain, Paul Locke, won an award for bringing the largest group. If it wasn’t for him I would not have known about this race. His award was well deserved.

The Mystics had a good showing also. The race was in the back yard for both clubs. Some members have dual citizenship in both clubs.

The crowd dissipated quickly with about a third of the crowd gone before the wards ceremony. By 1PM it was me and about 10 other runners left. I was so busy talking to people I lost track of time. One good thing about staying late to the party is that you get to pick up left over granola bars and such. But no extra beers to take home!

When I looked for my finish time I could not find my name. I knew I finished around 1:48, but my name was not listed. So I searched all of the sheets. Finally I realized only my bib number was listed with a hand written note to see the timers. I also noted they had me as the 1st place finisher! I obviously was not, but it made me laugh out loud.

Somehow I was given the wrong bib number. Race Menu sent an email the week before the race confirming my information and had the bib number I wore for the race. They fixed everything at the timing tent and everything was good.

Race Menu Photos     Race Menu Results 

Run well my Friends!

Andy

© 2015 Andrew Nagelin

Boston’s Run To Remember

Boston’s Run to Remember 2014

boston's run to remember, bostons run to remember

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to the Expo on Saturday to pick up my packet and shirt. There were 20 or so vendors at the Seaport World Trade Center and at 2PM the crowd was still pretty strong.

Finding a parking spot was a challenge and I may have violated one or two traffic laws. Eventually I found a metered spot that cost 75 cents instead of $15 for the 30 minutes I was there.

bostons run to rememberAs I walked towards the Trade Center, I could not believe how many porta-potties were lined up on the sidewalks. For a race of this size I shouldn’t have been surprised. There is so much construction going on in South Boston, there are few lots left for porta-potties. The sidewalks are the only option.

I get to this neighborhood a few times a year and normally those sidewalks are empty. Seeing hundreds of porta-potties lined up just seemed so odd.

The sidewalks were full of fit people in running shirts from races from all over the country. Many BAA race shirts of one type or another.

As I approached the Trade Center, security became more obvious with several state and Boston police officers and cruisers in front of the Trade Center. It wasn’t intrusive and they spent most of their time stopping traffic for pedestrians.

Due to construction on the Longfellow Bridge the race organizers had to make a course change this year. In 2013 the race went over the Longfellow Bridge and took a sharp right down the ramp onto Memorial Longfellow Bridge ConstructionDrive in Cambridge. This year the course goes down Charles Street to Beacon and then crosses the Mass Ave bridge. We will then head East down Memorial drive, pass The Longfellow and then turn around. They had a map of the new route up in a dozen spots, or so it seemed.

I gained an appreciation for the length of a half marathon when I saw that we would be running out Memorial Drive past the Western Avenue bridge. And then back to Mass Ave before crossing over back into Boston. 13.1 miles is a long way, but we may actually finish the race in less time than it takes to drive Memorial Drive in heavy traffic.

They wind us through Boston pretty good on the way out and on the way back. It will be fun to run down the middle of these normally busy streets. 10 water stops this year and clocks at every mile. Nice.

I’ll try to have a race re-cap by Monday. I’ll also have frames for the finisher’s medal available on omnirunning.com.

Run Well my Friends!

Andy

Well done New Bedford

New Bedford put on another great half marathon on March 16th

It’s a bit of a long drive, but I went with Mike Hartin and Gail Severt and we had a good time.

There is a reason that this race is rated a top twenty-five Half-Marathon in the United States by Runner’s World magazine. And rated the top Half-Marathon in New England by New England Runner magazine.

The organizers; The Friendly Son’s of St. Patrick and Yankee Timing do a superb job with this race. As we walked into the YMCA there was someone there to direct us to toilets or registration.

As we walked into the gym there were five people standing there with the list of runners. One of them looked up my name in no time and directed me to pick up my bib and race shirt. The three of us walked over to the tables and within 5 minutes we were headed out the door.

They had the entrance door at one end of the gym and the exit door at the other end. This prevented any congestion. Brilliant.

We headed back to my car and did our final race prep. It was about 34F/2C with a 10-20 mph wind. It was brisk. As experienced runners we knew that it is okay to be cold at the beginning of the race because we will be working up a sweat within the first mile. It was still difficult to decide to be so cold for the 20 minutes before the start.

On the way to the start we hit the porta potties one last time. I have to say that the men who used the porta potties before me had poor aim. I’ll leave it at that.

New Bedford HalfGail and I lined up with the 10 minute group and froze while we waited and set up our watches. Mike went up further to be in one of the faster groups. The race director spoke for a few minutes, the mayor spoke and thanked us for coming to their city and hoped we would stay after the race and come again someday.

We had a moment of silence for a fallen local Marine and a young lady with a good voice sang God Bless America and The Star Spangled Banner. Live – no recording. Class.

And they’re off

The starting horn went off and it took about a minute and a half to get to the starting mats. Gail and I split up within the first quarter-mile. The first mile or two took some effort. I was warming up and it was crowded. Lots of weaving and trying to get through people running 3 or 4 abreast.

Around mile two I began to feel comfortable and ran strong. My splits were very consistent with an average of 8:00/mile according to Garmin. My slowest was mile 11 at 8:23 and my fastest was mile 7 at 7:43. Not too bad of a deviation, most of which was due to the terrain.

At mile 12 we hit the last hill. It doesn’t even show up on my Garmin, but it is there. I managed an 8:15 mile by tossing my feet in front of me like they were cinder blocks. They just pulled me along. Nothing really hurt, I had plenty of breath and it was just a matter of will power to finish. As I came to the finish I had some kick and ran the last 0.22 miles at a 6:53 pace!

RESULTS

Coolrunning and Garmin had me finishing at 1:46.09. Garmin has me running 13.22 miles so my pace was 8:00. I’ve never run the exact race distance and usually I am over.

Gail came in around 1:50 and Mike came in around 1:37. Gail was very happy to be under two hours and Mike was a hurting pup. He didn’t eat much and he was sweating and freezing on the way home.

Ruben Sanca topped the field in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 52 seconds. Kim Smith finished first in the women’s division in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 9 seconds. I met Ruben once and he is a nice guy and a great runner. I watched Kim Smith receive a massive check from the BAA for winning the BAA Distance Medley a few years ago. Both are very impressive runners.

SouthCoastTODAY, has a great article for more details and some interviews.

After Race

Since this was a Y, they had showers. Since this was New Bedford they had hot clam chowder and fish sandwiches. The chowda was awesome and the fish sandwiches were real fillets, none of that surimi stuff we get from the grocery store.

new bedford half marathon
The Crew at work feeding 2,500 runners

This year they had a lot of tables set up for us, which was great. I ate off of my lap last year. They had lots of iced Polar seltzer and soda. I actually had a ginger ale and enjoyed it. They had mountains of PowerBars and we loaded up. There were still tons on the table when we left.

new bedford half, runners
Lunch for 2,500

The food was great. The logistics were flawless and the race was well-managed. Hat’s off to New Bedford. Well done!

Run well my friends.

© 2014 anagelin

9th Annual Wilmington Half and 5K

2013 Wilmington Half Marathon Recap. The 9th annual running was my first time for this race and I ended up running a PR and placing 3rd in my Age Group.

On Sunday, September 22nd, 2013, I ran the 9th Annual Wilmington Half Marathon. This was a local race, about 15 minutes from my house, so I drove up by myself. When I got there I met several friends from the Melrose Running Club and the Mystic Running Club.

I arrived in plenty of time and was able to go through my full pre-race routine. The packet pickup was very easy with volunteers directing me to the right place inside the local cable access channel building. I could see some of the editing booths and I was impressed with the quality of the equipment.

After I got my number I headed for the porta-potty which at this point did not have a line and was pretty clean. I headed back to my car to put on my number, change into my Newtons and continue my pre-race routine. On the way back to my car I met my friends Bill Ozaslan and Mike Hartin. We grabbed a few pics and then we each went off to get ready.

I put my tape on my toes. Put on fresh running socks and double tied my laces. My new shoes have never come untied before, but I wanted to be sure nothing would go wrong today. The timing chip was an ankle strap which I had used once before in Saugus. This race was managed by the same company, B&S Race Management.

Various community organizations were handing out water bottles and having raffles. Back at my car I sipped on my ice cold water and ate fig and strawberry bars as I got ready for the race. I tried not to drink too much so that I could hit the porta potties one last time before the start and not need to make another stop during the race.

Fig bars have served me well several times before. They are substantial and keep me full for a long time. They also have several types of sugars which several articles and manufacturer’s web sites say is the best way to get maximum glucose into your cells. I was going to take four cookies with me in my running belt but took a GU and a PowerBar Performance pack instead. It was supposed to rain and the cookies would have been a mess in a down poor!

Running the Wilmington Half Marathon

The race started at 10:10AM. On the right they had the 5K runners line up and on the left they had the half-marathon runners line up. Somehow I didn’t figure this out until a few minutes before the start. I stepped sideways from the 5K corral to the half corral and found myself about 2 people from the starting line. I really didn’t plan to go out like a rocket, but here I was at the head of the pack.

They didn’t play the National Anthem or have a moment of silence for the Navy Yard shooting or for the two cyclist who had been killed the day before in Hampton, NH. I expected a moment of silence but I was okay with just getting on with it. There are senseless tragedies in this country every day. Even one death is tragic. We can’t be in tribute every day; maybe we should just thank our lucky stars that we are not directly involved and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives by being kind to those around us.

They did a verbal count down to the start. My buddy Bill was in front of me, hunkered down like a sprinter. He had his hand on the start button for his watch and I joked with him he looked like he was gonna fly out of the start. Several other people were in similar poses and we all had a bit of a chuckle. When they yelled “Go” I started my watch and off we went.

The first turn was about 100 yards down Waltham Street onto Middlesex Ave. Everyone was still grouped together and I was at the front of the pack.  Before Mile 1 we turned onto Glenn Rd and the group started to thin out. There were about twenty of us in the lead group and I could see my buddy Mike Hartin in front of me.

As we made the next several turns and passed Mile 3 I could still see the police car leading us down the road and my buddy Mike. I knew I was running too fast if I could still see Mike and the lead of the race. My first mile was 7:16 and I was shocked. My next few miles were under 7:31.

There were some hills along the way, but nothing serious. I tried forefoot running when we got to hills. Part of this was to get in some practice with this method and part of it was to propel myself up the hills. Somehow the mechanics of this running style make me run faster up hills. I used to just try not to lose too much speed going up hills. Now I can maintain my speed and usually increase it.

Going up hills like this does have a price. I could feel my heart beating and the strain on my muscles. The night before I set my pace to 8:00 and turned on the alarm for heart rate, pace and laps. I was running so hard that the heart rate alarm kept going off. After a few miles all of the racket was beginning to bother me. I thought it might annoy everyone around me, but they all seemed to be wearing head phones! After the race another runner and I figured 70% of the runners wore head phones, but neither of us did.

Hitting my pace

Mile 4 was 7:40 so I decided I needed to push a little hard on the next hills and run a little faster on the down hills. I stayed below 7:40 until mile 8. I brought a disposable water bottle with me so I skipped the first two or three stops. After mile 4 I took my GU and a gulp of water from my bottle.

Just after mile 5 we crossed over I-95 onto Woburn St. Off of Woburn we wound through a neighborhood and back down Woburn St and across the bridge again. Just after the bridge we hit mile 8. I felt pretty good considering where we were in the race. Just after we crossed the rail road tracks we hit mile 9 and I started to think about taking my PowerBar Performance pack.

Before we turned onto Lowell St. I took my PowerBar apple sauce pack. I like these because they taste like apple sauce and it’s like getting a swig of water all at the same time. We were down to the last three miles, less than a 5K to go. I was running hard but I felt ok. Nothing really hurt but I was throwing everything I had into this race.

The chase is on!

Looking down Lowell Street I could see a woman in a bright shirt ahead of me and I decided to catch up to her. I managed to catch her and Mike, and kept on going. Before the race, Mike said he was going to go out easy, because he has a marathon next weekend. I still didn’t expect to catch him.

As we turned onto Adams St. I spotted a runner in a bright yellow shirt and set my sights on him. At each rise in the road I was able to close the gap a little. With less than a mile to go to the finish I managed to pass him. He was running hard and after the race he told me he was completely spent after about mile 10 or so. He was running pretty well for a guy who was spent.

Finishing the Wilmington Half Marathon

As we made the last corner on Middlesex Rd. I knew that Waltham St. and the end were near. I was still running hard but was getting exhausted. As I turned onto Waltham the finish line seemed a mile away. I knew it was only 100 yards or so and decided to kick it in. I ran as hard as my body would let me but the clock turned to 1:40 before I could cross the timing mat.

At several points along the course they had people reading out our time as we ran past them. I was able to do the math in my head, miraculously! At the first timer I was about 2.5 minutes ahead, I knew I was going to beat 1:45 so I set my sights on 1:40. I have backed off on goals so many times during a race; it was nice to increase my goal for a change. I wasn’t just trying to finish this race, I was not out to crush my PR.

The second timer called 1:08 if I remember correctly. I was over 3 minutes ahead of my 8:00 pace goal and I had about 5 miles to go. I estimated that if I kept up my pace of 7:40 or so I would beat my new goal of 1:40. Five miles at the end of a half marathon is a lot of miles to cover but I knew if I pushed as hard as I could there was a chance I could hit my goal.

Post race

My official time was 1:40.07! I wasn’t sure I was under 1:41 when I crossed the mat, but I knew that I had set a new PR. Not bad for a guy who just turned 49. The guy in the yellow shirt came in soon after I did and we ended up talking after the race. His name is Chip and we discussed fueling and how to keep your energy up during a long race. I encouraged him to join a club to help improve his running. Like I’m an expert!

My buddy Mike came in right behind me also. I knew Mike was saving it for next week, but I still felt pretty good coming in ahead of a guy who I know is a very strong runner. He called me an “animal out there” or something like that.

At the food tent I ate 5 or 6 pieces of water melon.  Ever since having water melon at the St. George’s Day 5K in Tenant’s Harbor a few years ago, I’ve been convinced that melon is the best after race food. I kept checking with the lady at the table that there was plenty left for everyone else. There was she assured me.

I headed back to my car to grab my Gatorade 03 recovery beverage with protein. This stuff was more like Muscle Milk than regular Gatorade. I think I had a different variety at the end of the 2012 Boston Marathon. This stuff did not taste as good as I remember and I think Muscle Milk tastes better.

After long runs I’ve started to drink beverages like this to aid in my recovery. I’m not a kid anymore and I need all the help I can get to stay in the game. I know there is a lot of marketing hype behind these products, but I still believe in science. Current science says it is good to  consume protein and carbs to aid in the recovery process. Some articles say to drink low fat chocolate milk after a hard work out. These fancy drinks like Muscle Milk and Gatorade Recovery don’t cost that much more than a bottle of chocolate milk. I’m hoping the lab guys have improved what Mother Nature created.

A colleague of mine was also running this race. Larry Bradley is General Council at my company and one hell of a runner. Somewhere around mile 8 or 9 he passed me with little effort. We recognized each other from the gym and exchanged hello’s, and off he went. Larry has a smooth and fairly efficient running style. I always watch people run, and not just the women!

He cruised right along and eventually was out of sight. Larry ended up crossing the finishing line at 1:38:27 and clinched 1st place for his age group. We were chatting as the awards ceremony started and he said he had to go. He asked if I could pretend to be him and pick up any award he might get. I’m not a good “liar” but figured I could do it as long as they didn’t look at the bib number on my shorts. I know it’s been done many times before but I’m not good at pretending. I encouraged him to stay for a few more minutes as they were getting to our age groups.

I didn’t expect to win anything but when they got to the Men’s 40-49 group I heard them say, “And from Medford, Andrew…” as the announcer struggled with my name. I knew it was me and I couldn’t believe it. 3rd place in my age group?  I knew a bunch of people finished in front of me and 40 to 49 is a wide bracket with lots of strong runners.

As I shook the announcers hand and he asked if I was me, I must have looked like I was getting a gold medal. A PR and a medal? Holly Shit! After he released me from his firm hand shake I went to the two people behind him who handed me a medal. I went back through the crowd and stood next to Larry. They got to his age group and announced his name last as he was 1st in his age group. He seemed to know he was going to win something.

He came back all smiles and we had handshakes all around. I had been standing there with my medal and finishers ribbon in my hand. Then it dawned on me that I could put the medal around my neck. I was the 3rd place guy. It was okay. Wow!

Bill and I went back to the food tent where previously he found out that the guy managing the ice cream chest was the winner of the race in 1968 and 1969. It turned out the race was only 5 miles back then. In 1968 he was the only guy over 30; everyone else was in high school. In 1969 there were three guys in his age bracket. I think he said he won in 1972 also.

This was back in the era before running was big. I remember how running became popular in the 1970’s. I was a kid but I remember Bruce Jenner running into the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to win the Olympic Marathon and the Decathlon. It was huge.

As we walked back to our cars Bill said we should check the results. They were taped on the side of the B&S Events Management trailer. I noticed that I was 4th out of 28 guys. I was instantly deflated. Had they made a mistake? Was there another Andrew from Medford and in my haste I grabbed someone else’s medal? My friends all heard my name and no one asked me for their medal afterwards. What had happened? I don’t win awards often but I assume if the other guy went home they don’t keep going down the list until they find someone present who can take the medal.

On Monday I realized that the guy who came in 2nd overall was in my age group. Since you can only win one award, my 4th place put me in 3rd place. I’ve seen this rule on race web sites before, so it’s not unusual. But I still somehow feel less excited even though I know it happens all the time.

HERE is the link to the full Half Marathon and 5K results on Cool Running.

Planning for The Bay State Marathon

My next race is the Smuttynose Half Marathon. In Wilmington I proved I can run a 7:39 pace for 13.1 miles. For Smuttynose I need to work on my pace and see if I can maintain a 7:49 or 8:00 pace. I need 7:49 or better at Bay State to qualify for Boston. My 7:39 pace would have me ahead of my goal at the half marathon mark at Bay State. I could run the second half of that race at 7:53 and hit my 7:49 pace goal.

Any marathon runner will tell you that the second 13.1 miles are a lot different than the first 13.1 miles. After mile 20 anything can happen.

If everything goes right on race day, if my training goes well and I fuel and hydrate well on race day, I could actually BQ at Bay State.

The dream lives!