36th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon

The 36th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon

What a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. A group of friends enjoyed a great race and a good time.

The day was a cool 40° with some wind, but no rain or snow. A bit of the Luck of The Irish for us I’d day!

About six of us from The Melrose Running Club made the one-hour trek to New Bedford. We ended up parking on the street as the lots and parking garage appeared to be full.

As we walked to the YMCA to get our numbers and race packets we began to realize how cold it really was. Glancing at the Atlantic made the wind feel colder.

The race organizers, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, were well-organized. They had a guy directing traffic to the entrance. Inside of the Y gym there was another guy looking up bib numbers for everyone to help move things along.

I stood in line for my number about 2 minutes and they had me on my way in another two minutes. Conveniently, they had about twenty porta potties in the parking lot across the street and that is where we headed next.

After taking care of business we all headed back to the car and changed into our running clothes. Because it was so cold I kept my long running pants on and wore my Under Armor shirt, a cotton BAA shirt that I love, my vest and my 2012 Boston Marathon jacket.

Only one person gave me shit for wearing orange on St. Patrick’s Day. But I seem to recall that orange in one of the three colors in the Irish flag. After all these years there is still some bad blood.

Gail Severt bundled up like I did, but Jeff Rushton wore shorts, shirt and a running jacket. As we walked to the starting line the mighty Atlantic let us know it was near-by.

I chowed down on a Cliff bar and tried to get RunKeeper ready for the race. Several times my phone reverted back to being a phone and I had to re-start RunKeeper. But, unlike my Garmin 410 watch, it found the satellites in no time and didn’t freeze up on me.

Here is a link to an article written by Tim Weisberg of The Standard-Times of New Bedford.  He was on the media truck and has a good account of the lead pack of runners in this race. The page for this article also has related stories of interest.

A media truck. How cool is that?

Running The New Bedford Half Marathon

Jeff and I lined up together for the start. The race was very congested for the first mile as we moved out onto Purchase Street. At about 1.25 miles we got to the I-195 overpass. I thought this was the hill that some people joked about and others seemed to respect. It wasn’t that bad. The road went down the other side of the highway and shortly after rose again. I thought, this must be the hill. I could feel my legs working now and Jeff started to stay in front of me.

At about mile 3.5 we hit the hill that everyone was talking about. The elevation went from about 75 feet to 175 feet in about a half mile. Now my legs were working! Other people were working harder and I passed a lot of people on this hill.

I took the hill a lot easier than I could have. I planned to save my energy and use it to cover some ground on the flat sections of the race. My buddy Jeff kept moving further ahead and part of me tried to keep up as part of me tried to run smart.

This is Garmin’s elevation map which somehow misses the last hill at mile 12 completely.

New Bedford Half Marathon elevation map

As I crested the hill I felt that easing of effort to move forward like the wind had changed direction. We had some downhill and then another hill at mile four. This was our last hill until mile 12.

But everyone had talked about one hill. Including the highway over pass I had just run up three hills? This surprise series of hills caused me to use up more energy than I had planned.

As I approached mile three I took my first GU. With two hills down, I could see the next one. I had a 500ml bottle of water with me and washed down the GU. My plan was to get over the “hill” without wasting too much energy, but that was not working out.  I hoped the GU this early would help compensate for my lack of course knowledge.

The course was mostly flat for the next eight miles with minor hills here and there. We were on main thoroughfares that offered us a grand tour of some of New Bedford’s neighborhoods.

New Bedford is an old New England city with a proud and storied past. At one time it had been the whaling capital of the world. Those days are long past and the city reminded me of Hartford in many ways. Like so many cities with once flourishing economies the streets are now lined with nail shops and hair salons, auto body shops and dicey looking corner stores.

These great old cities strive to re-invent themselves and adapt to the times. It is not easy and does not appear to be hugely successful in either New Bedford or Hartford. I saw a lot of empty store fronts with hopeful “For Lease” signs in the windows.

As we came down Rockdale Ave and turned onto Cove road I got my first good view of the Atlantic. I love the ocean and tried to look out at its beauty as much as possible. Many runners had their heads down and were digging deep as we passed mile seven. I still felt okay even though I knew several miles back that I would not be setting a new PR. Somewhere around here I took another GU and finished my water bottle.

Cove Road turned right onto West Rodney French Boulevard and headed out onto the peninsula. After tucking inland for a half mile or so we were back along the ocean from about mile 8 to mile 9. For the first seven miles we had been in town and off the water. It may have been 40°, but with the sun and absence of wind I was way over dressed.

Somewhere around mile four or five I had to execute a complicated move to get 3 GUs from my jacket pocket into the pocket of my vest which was under my jacket and running belt. I managed this maneuver while holding onto my running gloves and a bottle of water. I did all of this because I was so hot I was thinking of taking my jacket off. Fortunately I left my un-zipped jacket on.

Running out onto the peninsula, the cool breezes hit us and I was happy to zip up my vest and tuck my jacket back into my belt.

As we approached the turn onto South Rodney French Boulevard, I saw The University of Massachusetts Marine Research Station on the water front. That’s what I saw on the building but the official name is UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST). That was exciting to see.

UMass Dartmouth in New Bedford
UMass Dartmouth SMAST

We always hear about the dot-com whiz kids and hackers who make a million dollars on a smart phone app. The less sexy engineering, biology and other pursuits going on in this facility will produce a corporeal result that will not fill the shelves of Best Buy but may fill your plate and the buildings along Main Street in New Bedford and countless other seagoing communities. This is a place where ideas are turned into reality: money, jobs and occupied store fronts. There isn’t much that’s more exciting than that.

SMAST was almost exactly at mile 9. About a quarter-mile down the road we passed the US Coast Guard Station and as we turned left onto South Rodney French Road the Butler Flats Lighthouse came into view. It’s an odd low-lying light that looks like it is anchored in an enormous iron pipe. It’s not on an island or shoals even. It’s just sticking out of the water. Not the most attractive lighthouse in New England by far.

We hit mile 10 on this road and at some point an enormous seawall arose on our right to block our view of the ocean. As East Rodney French Road turned into Cove Street this enormous wall turned left and we actually ran through the flood gate opening in this wall. The wall continued on the other side of the road and must have been thirty feet high. I had seen a huge wall like this on the other side of the peninsula but it never dawned on me that this held the ocean back when a hurricane or ‘Nor Easter blew through here. I was awed by engineering once again on this trek.

Cove Street brought us off of the peninsula and back into town. The road then turned right onto County Street and we ran through a residential neighborhood. The people of New Bedford deserve a lot of credit for coming out to support us. There were people on the curb in most residential areas and they were enthusiastic. Some handed out water or orange slices. They were just great. Thank you.

County Street turned right onto Kempton Street and then we turned onto Pleasant Street for the final hundred yards or so. As we passed mile 13 on Kempton Street the road started to decline and I said out loud to no one in particular, “where is that finish line”, and the guy next to me said “I don’t really care to see it”.

I was surprised to hear a statement like that but even more surprised when I recognized the voice. It was my buddy Chuck who I ran the Hartford Marathon with. We were both shocked. What were the chances? He said he had been following me for a while but did not know it was me.

We chatted for a bit between strained breathes and as the finish line came into view we both got down to business and hauled ass in for the last 50 yards or so. I was spent and he finally got ahead of me about 50 feet before the finish line. We had missed each other in Hartford but in New Bedford I recognized his voice!

My regular readers know what happened in Hartford. It was an adventure and test of will power to say the least. You can read my Hartford recap HERE.

Apre Race

After the race we went to the Y for some great food including fish sandwiches and fish chowder. It was good and hot and filled me up. Perfect. The cold drinks were Polar seltzers. Love the local flavor!

As we left to go to a bar, I needed to hit the porta potties again. The first four were occupied to I went to door #5. These were in a parking lot next to a busy street. I heard a large truck and figured it must be stopped at the light. But it began to sound like it was in the parking lot and I could hear two guys walking around outside and they sounded busy. So I’m standing there and it begins to dawn on me that they are here to collect these things and I’m standing inside of one! I began to pee with greater urgency and got the hell out of there.

Sure enough, there was a huge truck and trailer in the lot and two guys getting ready to load up all the facilities and haul them away. Now that would have been one hell of a ride down the highway!

Since we had just run 13.1 miles and it was St. Patty’s Day we headed for a local Irish Pub just down the street from The  Y. The place was packed and they had two Irish bands. We were there for an hour or so and had fun chatting with other runners and quaffing a few ales and stouts.

New Bedford Half Marathon, Geoff Smith

Having a Guinness, Newbedford Half Marathon

Having a Guinness after the race, New Bedford Half Marathon

At some point my friend Gail started talking to this guy. I had no idea who he was but thought he must have been someone she runs with.

It turned out to be Geoff Smith. He seemed like a nice English guy and hung out with us for quite a while.

On the way home I learned that this Geoff Smith had won The Boston Marathon TWICE and ran for the UK in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics!

I didn’t get to talk to him much as my ears do not work so well in loud bars anymore. But I did get to shake his hand as we left.

A few years ago I managed to keep up with a runner who made it to the Olympic qualifying event a few years back. I was chagrined that I was able to keep up with her for several miles AND carry on a conversation.

Now I can say I’ve tossed back a few with an actual Olympic athlete and Boston Marathon winner!

I wish I could have talked to him more but I had no idea who he was and I was too tired to focus hard enough to partake in a conversation.

On the way home my “friends” talked me into running the Eastern States 20 Mile Race. I had just run a Half and not very well and was not in the mood to think about another race.

But peer pressure and my ale weakened will gave in to the cajoling and I said yes.

For me this will not be a race, but a run. I’m going to call it my LSD Insanity Run. LSD means, long slow distance. I’ve been thinking about what to wear for the past few days. I’m going for a good time, not a fast time.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

 

Will Run for Beer Series – 2013

Will Run for BEER 2013

I just signed up for the last two races I will be running in the #Will Run For Beer Series. This race series is managed by #LOCO Sports in New Hampshire. They have been running the series since 2007 and this will be my third year of participation.

The series of seven races takes place in Southern New Hampshire and North Eastern Massachusetts. The New Year’s Day Race and April Fool’s race are run by local running clubs but still count for the series. If you register for the series and then run five of the seven races you get a nylon wind jacket. It costs $5 to sign up for the series and then you need to register and pay for each race separately.

Not a bad deal, and a great motivator to get out there and run. There are two half marathons in the series, but you don’t need run either one to qualify for the jacket.

It’s a lot of fun and one of the race sponsors is #Smuttynose Brewing Co. Running and cold Smuttynose, what’s not to love? Last year I thought I’d run two or three of their races so I did not register for the series. I ended up running five of the races anyway. If I had registered I’d have another one of their jackets hanging in my closet.  This year I’m going for it.

Will run for BEER

If you and your friends are looking for a great series of races you should definitely check out “Will Run For Beer”. Smuttynose is a great sponsor and there is always plenty of beer after the race.

Road to Recovery

This week I started running again and had my last physical therapy appointment.

Tuesday night I ran about 10K with my running club and Thursday I ran 5K in the afternoon. Both runs felt pretty good and I now know that I came through my last two races without damage.

Tuesday morning I had my last PT session. My flexibility and strength were good and I have made a lot of progress since I started therapy for my piriformis injury this summer. When I told my therapist that I had run a half marathon and then a whole marathon within six days and was able to drive home from Hartford without pain, she knew I was healed.

Now that the crescendo of my running season has receded into the past I feel like I am transitioned into a new phase. Through injury and achieving goals I feel that I have learned a lot about my running and what I am capable of.  I’m looking forward to applying these lessons to next year’s running.

I’ve started to look for races I want to run next year and will be building my schedule over the next few weeks. I hope to run a marathon in Vermont or New Hampshire this year and maybe one a little further afield. I’m on a very slow course to run all fifty states.

So to keep this brief I’ll wrap this up here. If I get my schedule filled out I’ll post that next week. I also plan to write a series of posts for people who are starting running and are looking for a few good running tips.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by.

© 2012 anagelin

BAA Half Marathon 2012 Race Recap

BAA Half Marathon Recap 2012

My string of new PRs has been broken, but hopefully I am not. My official time was 1:50:57 with an 8:26 pace.

The day after the race, race my legs are getting tight and the hamstring is letting me know it is there. I’ve done some stretching and will be doing a lot more over the next six days to prepare for my next adventure, the ING Hartford Marathon.

BAA Half Marathon

I parked my car in the T parking lot about a mile from my house at 6AM and rode The Orange Line all the way to the end, Forrest Hills.

From there the BAA had shuttle buses to The Franklin Park Zoo where the race started and ended. Since I was so early I got on the first bus which was the only coach. All the rest were school buses.

Being able to park my car near my house and take one train all the way to the bus pickup area was awesome. It’s rare to have such convenience when going to a race.

 

Pre Race and preperation

It was only in the 50s this October morning so it was a bit nippy. To prepare for the race, I slipped my running pants over my running shorts and wore my running vest over my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt. It’s long sleeved and seemed appropriate to wear to a BAA event.

It had been freakin cold standing on the platform waiting for the train earlier. Waiting for the race to start in even less clothing was just as brisk.

When I go to a race I like to pack as little as possible but still be prepared for anything. If it rained today, nothing would have helped. Any running jacket eventually leaks. If you have one that will not leak you will over heat and sweat your ass off. If a jacket won’t let rain in it certainly won’t let body heat out either. Either way, you’re drenched.

I brought extra socks and shirts and even brought and wore running gloves. I ended up running in the shirt they gave us and changed into my running socks before the race. My clothing choices ended up being spot on. I never felt over heated or chilled during the race.

Running Tip

If you feel cool, or even cold before a race, you are probably dressed appropriately. It takes about a mile for your body to warm up during a race or training run. Wearing a hat or gloves before a race will help you keep warm. These are items that are easy to take off once you do warm up and can be tossed or stuffed into a pocket or running belt.

If you are warm at the start you are going to be miserable after the first mile.

Over heating during the race is one of the worse things that can happen to you. Overheating will cause your body to sweat out fluids that it needs for your run.

I have found that managing my body heat makes a big difference in my performance.

Kudus to the BAA

BAA half marathonAs usual the BAA was very well-organized. I can’t say enough about how well they manage a race. Today the buses were waiting for us; people knew where to direct us and could answer questions. There were plenty of signs directing us to the start and along the course. The road closures were taken care of. I never had to share the road with a Buick or a Porsche as I ran through Boston. I felt safe, and that is more than I can say about some other races I’ve been in.

The Start

I waited too long to line up for the race and ended up about 100 feet behind the last official corral. The road through the park was very crowded and I kept having to put on the brakes and weave around people. My first mile pace was 8:48

At mile 1 the race goes over the Monsignor William Casey Overpass which is a narrow road for 5,459 runners. The overpass was also our first hill and many people slowed down. On the first hill.

It was so tight that I had a hard time getting around people. Some runners ran outside of the cones and pushed a little more than I did. After this “hill” things thinned out a little bit and I started to make some progress.

At the Mile 2 marker my pace was 9:04. Yikes. I had set my goal pace at 8:10 on my watch. I knew this was a stretch, but that was the pace I needed to achieve a PR. So with two slow miles under my belt I stepped it up. For the rest of the race I never ran less than an 8:44 mile and did two 8:12 miles. There were some down hills that I took advantage of and I generally felt pretty good.

The race is very scenic and runs along the “Emerald Necklace”. At about 4.5 miles the race loops back on The Riverway. While I thought I had started the race in the back, I could now see that thousands of people were behind me. I knew I passed some, but many more must have started even further back than I did.

Hydration Management

I started the BAA Half Marathon with a 500ml bottle of water. I’ve incorporated this into my racing routine. I don’t drink anything the last hour before a race and then I start sipping water a few minutes before the gun goes off. This allows my system time to process all of the fluid I drank earlier, and anything I drink just before or during the race will come out through sweat.

Having my own water also allows me to skip the first few water stops. At any race, the first water stops are usually a mob scene. Instead of stopping, I move to the middle of the road and slow down or walk so it is easier to navigate the crowd who have stopped for a drink.

In a race there are things you can control and things you cannot. Hydration is something that you can control. You can’t control the weather, but bringing your own beverage gives you a lot of control. If it is hot, you have extra to drink as you need it. If it is cool your drink will allow you to get through water stops at your pace.

Walking a water stop can be part of a running strategy. With a water bottle you can avoid the first few water stops at your race. The first stops are usually crowded and can be disruptive to your pace. Moving to the middle of the road and slowing or walking allows you to control your pace, hydrate and run your plan.

Managing fluid intake is very important. You don’t want to get dehydrated and you don’t want to have to stop. You can actually do both if you do not plan properly. Just because there’s water in your bladder does not mean there’s enough in your body. Whatever you drink before the race, much of it ends up in your bladder.

Likewise, just because you peed right before the start doesn’t mean that your body is done processing the half-gallon of water your nervously drank before the race.  All of that excess water is in your system and a few miles into the race all of the fluid you drank will catch up with you.

Running Tip

Hydration is crucial to your race. Here is my routine:

  • Drink plenty of fluids the day before the race and before the race
  • Stop drinking all fluids one hour before the race
  • Use the porta-potties at least twice, the last time as close to start time as possible
  • At a large race staying in the porta-potty line may be required
  • Practice running with a water bottle and use one during the race
  • Test sports drinks during training so you know what your system tolerates best

Our first stop

Our first water stop and porta pottie deployment was at mile two. I moved to the middle of the road to stay out-of-the-way and looked over to the johns. Eight people were lined up! After two miles! They exemplified poor hydration management and validated what I have been doing for the past few years.

These people may have been new to running and hadn’t figured out how hydration works yet. Even veteran runners make mistakes and sometimes the bowels are the problem, not the bladder. Think before you drink!

The Hills

This course was far from flat but was no Great Bay Half Marathon either. At about mile 7 and 11 the most challenging hills met us. The rise at mile 7 is about 50 feet over half-a-mile. It’s not steep but it is the first significant uphill and it is past the halfway mark in the race, a point when legs are getting tired. Mile 6 was 8:16 and mile 7 was 8:29 for me, so not too much slower.

BAA Half_Marathon_ElevationMap

 

At mile 11 we started our climb from 75 feet above sea level to about 150 feet above sea level over about a mile distance. The biggest elevation gain is between mile 11 and 11.5, probably 60 feet. This is very late in the race and many tired legs struggled.

The hills in a race are the great sorters. People who have done hill work and are otherwise prepared can charge up a hill and pass a lot of people. Anyone who has not put in the miles and done the hill work will fall back on the hills. Late in the race the hills are ruthless sorters.

I don’t focus on hill work as much as I should, but my club runs are full of hills. On race day that hill work pays off. I have come to love the hills.

BAA Half Marathon Official Results

The BAA results and commentary are here. The BAA also has a link to race photos on this same page.Full race results are also posted on coolrunning.com.

My time was 1:50:57 and my pace was 8:26. Out of 5,424 runners I came in 1,629th and out of 227 men aged 45-49 I came in 93rd. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that I finished within the top 30% overall, and in the top 40% of men my age.

A few notable finishes

The male winner was Allan Kiprono 22 years old from Kenya with a time of 1:01:44. The top female was Kim Smith 30 years old from New Zealand with a time of 1:10:57. Really amazing results.

The top guy in my age group was Wayne Levy 47 years old from Waban, MA with a finish time of 1:16:20. Bravo!

The oldest guy to finish the race was Anthony Cellucci 80 years old from Needham, MA with a finish time of 3:24:54. This man is my hero. I often say I want to still be doing this when I’m 80. Well, Mr. Cellucci is getting it done!

One of the announcers said 60% of the runners in this race were women. They were especially proud of that as we celebrate 40 years since Title 9 was passed in the US giving females the same access to athletics and sports as males have in school.

The oldest woman to finish was Rosemary Lasche 67 years old from Brookline, MA with a finish time of 2:12:47. This put her in 3961st place overall and 2nd out of six women in her age group.

Run well my friends!

Andy

© 2012 Andrew nagelin