The time at a race waiting for the start, can seem to drag on forever. Then, all of a sudden, it is time to line up and you still have things to do. Things that are crucial to your pre-race routine.
All veteran runners have a pre-race routine. It develops over time as you find out what works best for you and enhances your performance. If you are new to running, you will develop a routine soon enough.
Many last-minute items require a bit of privacy. Things such as applying body lube, glide or what have you. Maybe you need to strategically apply band aids. Maybe you need to change shirts or into your sports bra.
To do these last-minute items, many of us head to the only source of privacy available at a race, the Porta-Potty.
A few years ago I ran the YuKanRun Half Marathon in Gloucester. I’m usually pretty good managing my fluid in-take and bathroom breaks. This time I got into the Loo Line too late. When I was about 10 people away from relief, the announcer started calling us to line up. Then they played the National Anthem. When they told runners to take their mark and I was 5 people from the door.
I had to jump out of line, run over to the start and find my spot before the gun went off. And I just made it. Off I was with a full bladder, no last-minute stretching or fuelling.
As I settled into the race, I realized that most of my urge to purge was just pre-race nerves and that I would be okay if I managed my fluid in-take for the rest of the race. I had a pretty good race but didn’t perform the way I wanted to.
My current pre-race routine was beginning to take shape in those days. One part was to drink as much as I wanted until one hour before the race and then stop. The other major part of my routine was to get into the porta-potties at least twice, and at least once in the hour just before the race. The closer to the start the better.
On this day I managed to drink all of my fluids, but missed my last break. I managed to get through the race without any issues, but it could have been a disaster alla Utta Pippig.
So what is the point of this rambler? Well, I was five people away from getting my last break before running 13.1 miles. Many times I have thought back to that day and thought that if the hundreds of people in front of me had managed their time in the magic box just a little more efficiently, I and probably several people behind me would have had sweet salvation.
How to manage your time in the Loo
Make sure you have your lube, glide or sun screen handy
Make sure you have the clothes you want to change into handy, and not in the bottom of your bag
Have your shorts or sweat pants un-tied and ready to go
Have your jacket un-zipped if you need to take it off
If you need to remove your shoes, have them untied. You know they will get tied in a knot when you try to take them off
It’s always good to have your TP started before you start your business. Trying to fish out the start of the TP roll can be a challenge
Things you really don’t need to do in the Loo
Change your clothes, for the most part. Runners are not bashful.
Mix your beverages
Inventory your pockets or running belt
Call mom on your cell phone
Sit back and relax
Have a smoke
Anything not vital to achieving the best run of your life
Now get the hell out of the Porta-John, there are 500 people in line waiting!
My daughter graduates from high school on June 4th and we’re having a party for her on June 21st. One niece is getting married August 2nd and another October 4th.
Every time someone asks me if I’m going to run a race I have to try to remember when all of these events take place. So far the nieces’ weddings are far enough off that I have not had any conflicts.
The weekend of June 21st is another story. I’m running a 1 mile leg in the Somerville Road Runners 10th Annual Club Challenge Relayat Tufts University. This is a marathon relay where a club puts together a team of at least 10 men and 10 women to run 1-mile legs of a 26.2 mile relay. I should be done in less than 8 minutes, hopefully 7.
The race is on the same day as my daughter’s graduation party, at my house. I asked my team captain to put me on one of the first legs of the relay. Tufts is about 15 minutes from my house. No problem. I’ll run my leg and then get home.
I think if I get the yard cleaned up the week before the party I’ll be in good shape. My main job is making sure the propane tank is full and then manning the grill.
On Sunday June 22nd I have a real challenge. At 8AM the BAA 10K starts. At 9:30AM the Smutteynose 5K begins. I’m signed up for both races.
My 10K PR is 46:32 on a course with a few hills. The BAA 10K starts on Charles Street in Boston and runs out Comm Ave to the Agannis Arena at BU, and then turns around. If I start near the front and run hard, I should be able to do 46 minutes again. The only hill is the half mile on Comm Ave heading out to BU. After the 10K, instead of grabbing a drink and enjoying myself, I need to get to my car ASAP and drive to New Hampshire.
I’ll have 45 minutes to drive a distance that should take 40 minutes. Then I need to find a place to park, get my bib and run a 5K. By the time I get to my car I’ll probably only have 30 minutes to get to New Hampshire. On a Sunday morning on Rt 95, I should be able to get there in time. Finding a parking spot and getting my bib will be the challenge.
I wrote about this a few weeks ago and everyone said to go for it. The Smuttynose 5K is chip timed, so I just need to complete the race. I’ve run 5 races in the series all ready so I’m good for the jacket. To be able to honestly wear the 5K shirt, I need to complete the race.
Adding the 1 mile sprint and my daughter’s party the day before just makes that weekend that much more interesting.
The weekend before, I’ll be in Lubec, Maine for the Bay of Fundy Marathon on June 15th. Hopefully I’ll come through that race without any injuries that will screw up the weekend of June 21st.
Summers tend to be busy. Between family get togethers, vacations and the occasional race, they can get a little crazy. If I can survive the weekend of June 21st, the rest of the summer will be a cruise.
I’ve included the link here in case you need directions. Since we’ve had a lot of snow, parking may be a challenge so you should plan to arrive early.
It may still me cold and windy, but there shouldn’t be any rip tides on Ocean Blvd. this year! Registration for The Half is closed now, no race day registration. Yesterday someone asked me if I knew of an available number. If you have one please let me know.
Like many of you, I signed up for The Will Run For Beer Series this year. I always run at least five of these races and $5 extra to get a running jacket is well worth it. In keeping with recent tradition, here is the new look:
I’m not a fan of neon colors, but the blue accents make this jacket look pretty sharp. This is an artists rendering so the jacket they hand you may look slightly different.
A few years ago the jacket was white and made of a stiffer material. I think it was probably more waterproof and windproof than the 2013 jacket. In comparison to the 2014 jacket, the other two look a little boring.
What do you think of these new colors? Do you like the “new” neon colors? Are they just a trend or are they here to stay? Will we all look back in a few years and wonder what the hell were we thinking?
When I was a kid all fire trucks were red. People thought that was the best color to enable people to see them at a distance. Then sometime in the 80’s these neon trucks began showing up. The paint was not only bright, but also reflective. This really made a fire truck show up at a distance. As if lights and 150db sirens were not sufficient.
We are all concerned with safety. No one wants to die while out for a run or while participating in a race. Running may save your life, but it’s not worth dying over. I wear a head lamp and have one of those LL Bean hats with the built-in LED lights.
We have to be aware of our surroundings and take appropriate precautions based on the conditions and our location. Lights and reflective gear are the smart choice in low light or low visibility conditions. Wearing these types of items is no different than wearing a jacket when it’s cold or sun screen in the sun. It’s the smart thing to do. We all want to live to run another day. Cyclists aren’t the only ones who get to wear outlandish looking clothes!
On Sunday May 12th the Melrose Running Club held their Melrose Run for Women Mother’s Day race at Pine Banks Park in Melrose.
943 runners and walkers participated in the 15th running/walking of this women only race. Over 1003 women and girls had signed up for the race but some lingering showers kept 60 people from participating. That is a 94% participation rate. Very nice.
The race is organized and managed by the Melrose Running Club (MRC) with race director Liz Tassinari, assisted by a dedicated race committee and team of volunteers. I was amazed at the number of volunteers at this event and it became very obvious to me how important volunteers are for an event of this size. The goal of this event is to raise funding for Melrose Alliance Against Violence (MAAV). If we had to pay each of our volunteers even a small stipend the support that the MRC is able to provide to MAAV would be greatly reduced.
I would like to personally thank Liz and her organizing committee, all of the volunteers and the Town of Melrose for their time and efforts in producing this event. I would also like to thank all of the local businesses, the Town of Melrose and individuals who contributed money, food and time to this effort.
MAAV is a domestic violence prevention and education organization serving the Greater Melrose community. Founded in 1995, MAAV provides a number of important services and programs to the greater Melrose community. As evidenced by the un-ending string of violent acts, both domestic and public, being committed across our country the need for an organization such as MAAV has never been more evident.
The MRC has been supporting MAAV since 1996 and has provided over $130,000 in funding since then. This would not be possible without the support of the community and all of the hundreds of walkers and runners who come out each year to enjoy a great race and make a contribution to their communities. Thank you!
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 Clubmade 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Still having fun with this one. They are not classifying this storm as a Nor-Easter. And I don’t think it has a name either.
They cancelled The Half at the Hamptons this afternoon.
I ate a lot of extra crap today because I thought I was going to run it off on Sunday. I did run 5K at lunch but I just had a huge sandwich. Oh well.
The Half at The Hamptons race director is giving us a 10% chance that the race will go on. Yesterday I heard reports that they were expecting less snow, but that was in the Boston area. In New Hampshire they are still expecting 6-12″ of snow and most of that will fall during the race.
Their goal is to post a final decision by mid day Friday but may hold off untill 5AM on Sunday. I’m going to stick with my pre-race plans and get in a few miles on the treadmill today and enjoy some guilt-free carbs.
You know it is cold when you just can’t bring your self to ice a sore muscle.
You know it is cold outside when the treadmill seems to be the only option for running.
It has been a brutal winter for running. In 2011 and 2010 I ran the New Year’s race in Salisbury and we all jumped in the Atlantic afterwards. People still jumped in the ocean this year.
I ran the Lowell Ready, Set, Run 10K this year, but I’m not sure I would have done it. Contrary to popular belief, I’m just not that freakin crazy!
Today I ran will run 3+ miles on the treadmill to keep my 3 runs per week run alive. The New Year’s committment lives on!
My good friend over at Pursued by Angry Bees is running a 69 mile ultra race this June. The race is called The Wall Run and the course is next to Hadrian’s Wall. The Chinese aren’t the only people with a famous wall. Check out their website and the video. It is awesome. He is also raising funds for Doctors without Borders, so if you have a spare Quid, Dollar or Euro, toss one over the wall for a good cause.
Have a great weekend, stay warm and keep your running shoes dry!