The road to Boston continues with SLR 11, a sixteen mile run out to Lake Quannapowitt and a loop inside of Breakheart Reservation. A few hills in the park but a mostly flat course with a few rises in the road.
Due to the time change over night, I woke up at 7:30. Our run begins at 8AM. I had stayed up a bit later than usual but I usually wake up around 6AM and had set my alarm for 6:30. When I checked my phone, the alarm was not set.
I quickly got dressed, slammed 160z of cold brew, and had a banana for breakfast. Fortunately I lay out me running clothes the night before every run, so I didn’t have to search the house for any thing.
I drove a little faster than normal and pushed a few yellow lights to try and get to Melrose before everyone left. But, since we were running the course on the map below I wasn’t too worried about having to catch up.
When I arrived in Melrose, Bobby Taylor had already begun giving instructions for the route.
Since I knew the route, I wasn’t too worried about missing some of the details.
As I approached the group I could hear Bobby giving all of these instructions which didn’t make sense to me.
Then I realized we were running the bike trail route that we had to abandon a few weeks earlier because it was icy in a lot of places. I guess a lot of people wanted a shot at running this route, and so we were.
I saw Bobby’s email earlier in the week and he did mention something about this. But I have been totally slammed at work and never looked at the map he provided. I never gave this alternative course a second thought.
Well, I missed the first minutes of his instructions and wasn’t even sure how we were going to start. I correctly guessed that we were headed north on Main Street, but had no idea what the first turn was!
Oh, the morning was getting off to a great start!
Because I had to accelerate my morning routine I barely stretched at all and didn’t get in my pre-run constitutional. I was just in the finest running shape I possibly could be! Not!
Running SLR 11
We had about 30 runners and probably 10 of us were running long. This concerned me a bit because I had very little idea of where I was going and this made it crucial that I run with someone who was running long AND knew where the hell we were going.
As usual, I started out with the lead group and before everyone else was ready to go. As the faster people take off, I still have more runners catching up to me.
I spent a few minutes running with Bobby and the pack. After several asks I was told that we were turning onto Franklin Street. So I was good for the next mile!
Franklin Street ran us through Stoneham and headed towards the bike path. I ended up following a guy running the short course and followed him up Maple Street in Stoneham. And I do mean up. We gained 130 feet on mile 5 and I think most of it was on that hill.
I kept telling him that I thought we needed to stay on the bike trail longer. At the top of the hill we met Rowena Hakkaoui who told us this was the course for the short run!
I wasn’t really pissed at him since it was my fault that I didn’t know where I was supposed to go.
I ran down the hill and gave my left knee a slamming that it did not need, but added about 0.2 miles to my run. Everyone told me that was my bonus distance! I run with a very positive and encouraging group, for sure!
The Road to Boston goes through many towns
My little detour turned out to be my good fortune. When I got back onto the bike path I caught up with four other runners who were going the distance and at my pace. I was happy to have the company.
After running about five miles by myself, I was getting deep into my own head. Paying attention to my wonky knee, my breathing and overall energy level. I only ran 4.2 miles since my 20 miler nine days prior. So there were a lot of things that could go wrong.
Now that I was running with people, I had to respond to questions! And have a conversation that made sense to someone besides me. And this was still early in the run!
Just after mile six in Woburn, we had our second water stop with Paul Locke. I had a large Snickers bar in my pocket and took a bite around mile three. At this stop I finished what was left of the first piece and had a cup of Gatorade.
We thanked Paul and headed off to weave our way through Woburn to Winchester and to loop Horn Pond. About half a mile before the pond we hit mile 8, or I hit mile 8 since I had about an extra quarter mile on everyone.
The parking lot at the pond was a construction zone and the restrooms were boarded up and fenced off. No water fountains either.
But there was a porta-potty for the construction crew, so I decided to make a pit stop. It was remarkably clean and didn’t reek.
Everyone else kept on going on, so I had to catch up. Fortunately, when you are going around a pond, it’s difficult to get lost. After mile nine I caught up with the gang.
There were a few people out walking, sitting by the pond and walking their dogs. It was good to see people out and about.
Finishing up the Road to Boston SLR 11
As we rounded the north shore of the pond my watch chimed in at 10 miles! Only 10K to go. By this point my left knee had settled down to pain level 2 and I could put it out of my mind.
But I was feeling the run. My legs were getting tired and I could tell that my energy level had dropped considerably. We all mentioned how it would have been nice to have a water stop in the parking lot at the pond. But we’re big boys and girls. We can hack it.
As we ran away from the pond Jose and I consulted the map several times. No one was 100% confident in their knowledge of the route and no one wanted to run extra!
We had our 3rd water stop around 11.5 miles. This was also our 2nd water stop on the way out and we had a nice chat with Paul as we refueled.
Eventually the ladies ran ahead of us and I ran with Jose and AJ for a few miles. After we turned onto Park street and started the last 5K of our run, I found my self running alone. By this point I knew where I was going.
I was happy to know we had less than three miles to go. At the Stone Zoo I was on the wrong side of the street and missed our fourth water stop. It didn’t bother me at all. I was headed home.
As I ran down West Wyoming Street in Melrose I envisioned running down Comm. Ave in Boston. When I turned onto Main Street I envisioned Hereford Street. After Grove Street I envisioned Boylston Street.
It was great to finish a 16.26 mile run. Just three weeks before this, it was all I could do to run 13.1 miles.
The twenty-mile run last Friday was encouraging and this run enhanced my confidence. My knee seems to be stabilized with the knee brace and my stamina is building!
Run well my Friends