Memorial Day Weekend is a great weekend for running. There are races held in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and there are races held to celebrate life, the beginning of summer and do some fundraising.
Memorial Day Weekend Running
I managed to run two races this weekend. I had hoped to run three races but I could not find a Monday race that was reasonably close to home or not a driving nightmare.
Saturday I ran the Scott Procopio Gold Star Run 10K in Saugus. This was the second time I’ve run this race.
I used to live in Saugus when my children were little. The Procopio Gold Star Run started in front of the Saugus Town Hall.
Over the years we attended many events at Town Hall. Seeing all of the youngsters running around brought back many fond memories.
The Library is across the street from Town Hall and the building in this photo. We spent a lot of time at the library for events and getting books. I was a Library Trustee and Board Treasurer for several years. It was a trip down memory lane.
Scott Procopio Gold Star Run 10K
They had us line up just before 8AM. Over the start line they hung a huge American flag across the street. It was a sight to see. They played the National Anthem and sent us on our way.
The 5K and 10K runners started together and ran down Central Street to Winter Street. The 5K runners took a left onto Winter Street and we ran up the hill and took a right onto Adams Street.
I used to drive down Adams Street on occasion, so it was interesting to see the changes. At the corner of Adams and Vine Street there is a greenhouse/garden shop. I was glad to see that they were still in operation and seemed to be doing well.
We quickly turned left onto Essex Street and headed for the Cliftondale rotary where we continued onto Lincoln Street. A few hundred yards before the rotary we hit mile two and my pace was 7:57. A little faster than I wanted to run this early in a 10K, but I felt okay.
The first water stop was also just before the rotary and I was glad to see it. The day felt warm and humid. A cop had traffic stopped in the rotary for us!
As I ran through Cliftondale and down Lincoln Ave I noticed all of the businesses that were gone. There seemed to be more nail salons and beauty parlors among the empty store fronts. The Century 21 real estate agency that I once worked for was also gone.
As we ran past Seagirt Ave I looked down the hill to my old home. It was still standing and still had the paint I put on it almost 17 years ago! I guess all of the time I put into scraping and patching really worked! Just past the intersection, mile three came in at 8:16.
Further down Lincoln Ave we ran past a Saugus institution, Kane’s Donuts. I was hoping they would have an iced coffee stop or hand out donut pieces. There was a small line out the door of the greatly expanded shop. I was glad to see they were still doing well.
As we ran down Lincoln Ave towards the Saugus River we passed what used to be an ice cream shop. It was now yet another Dunkin Donuts. Yeah!
Approaching the bridge I could smell the salty air and a bit of mud flat.
Going up Hamilton Street I knew that the hills were just beginning. We gained about 60 feet in exactly 0.25 miles starting right after mile 4.
My legs felt good and I had juice so I pushed up the hill and managed to pass several runners. Then we took a right onto Riverbank Road and hit our last hill. As we came down the hill and crossed over the Saugus River I passed five or six more runners. Mile five came in at 8:29.
We ran past the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and took a right onto Pleasant Street. There weren’t many runners in sight.
As we took the left onto Summer Street I set my sights on the few runners in front of me. I pushed hard and over took several of them.
At the corner of Taylor Street I saw a school bus pull up to the intersection and start unloading ROTC cadets! I panicked for a second. How was I going to get through all of them? They seemed oblivious that a race was going on.
Thankfully there was a race official to guide me through a narrow corridor they had set up for us. The kids hardly noticed me as I went past. Like most military folks I know they probably dread PT and running in particular.
As I pressed for the finish I saw a few friends who either ran the 5K or finished way ahead of me walking the other way on their way home. It was nice to get a few shout outs.
Winning my Age Group
After the race I hung out with friends from the club and talked about travel and our lives. It was nice to catch up.
I was starving and the race provided griddle fried hot dogs. I think they were Pearle natural casing dogs. They were definitely awesome! I was going to get another one but they were closing up by the time I got there. That’s the price you pay when running the longer race at an event.
For fun I walked over the the All Sports Event truck to check my time. I saw on their screen that I was first in my age group! While that was exciting, I noticed I was the only male 50-59 runner.
I expected a few guys who started behind me to show up on the board ahead of me, so I didn’t get too excited. Then I went over to the tent and got a print out of my results. I was 1/1 in my age group!
They did the 5K awards first. A 7-year old girl came in 3rd in the 0-19 age group! How awesome is that? They waited about 15 minutes to do the 10K awards.
By that time 3/4 of the people had left, including some of the winners. When they got to my award even fewer people were there. My friend Daniel and his wife Alex stuck around to cheer me on.
I actually got to stand on the top box of the platform, all by my self! It was a bit weird and not as exciting as it would have been to have some competition.
Baldi River Run 5 Miler
The Baldi River run has been produced by the Girabaldi Club in Methuen for 20 years. This was my first year running the race.
I drove up to Methuen with Durm Cahill and met a few friends at the race.
This was my Memorial Day Weekend Sunday race.
I guess everyone knows where the club is because they had absolutely no signs. We saw a cop and someone in a volunteer shirt and asked where to park. I think we were right in front of the club!
We parked near the Merrimack River and started looking around for the club. They had the food and beer tents set up so we knew we were in the right place. But no signs telling us where bib pick up was.
Bib and shirt pick up were quick and easy. We used the facilities and decided to walk around and check out the area.
Methuen is an old New England mill town like Lawrence and Lowell. While Lowell has experienced a renaissance over the past twenty years, Lawrence and Methuen have been largely passed by.
We admired the old buildings and dreamed about being real estate developers. There is so much potential in those 1882 buildings. There is even a commuter rail stop right down the street. Why isn’t this area of Methuen completely redeveloped?
As we jogged back up Washington Street we crossed the street from the club. There was a cop and some police tape. We figured it was a construction site as we saw three people scrubbing the side walk.
We noticed that the workers were wearing Haz-Mat suites, so we asked the cop what was going on. She said two people had been stabbed there last night and those guys were cleaning up the blood.
I guess there was one good reason why this neighborhood hasn’t been redeveloped!
Running the Baldi River Run 5 Miler
We lined up behind the cross walk. Durm had us one back from the front. I thought that was crazy but Durm and Matt Kerton said, “why not, you’re fast.” Not that fast!
One of the runners asked if we should be behind the cross walk or on the leading edge. The race official said on the edge, so we all moved up a few feet.
This is an old school race, they didn’t even have a bull horn. Fortunately we were up front and could hear about some rough pavement. They did use a real starter pistol though.
With a sharp snap we were off! Almost immediately I could feel the fatigue in my thighs and hips. Durm and I stayed to the right and let lots of people pass us. It is difficult to keep a pace when people keep passing you!
The first mile was down Merrimack and Water Streets with hardly a view of the river.
Mile one came in at 8:00 even. My legs were feeling better but I was still trying to hold back.
Just after the mile Water Street was right on the river. It was nice to see the large old homes on the left and the mighty Merrimack on the right. So much history and living has gone on in this area since the 1640’s.
With no clouds in the ski, it was getting hot. I grabbed a cup at the first water stop and never broke my pace.
At almost exactly 2.5 miles we made our turn around. There was some shade in this area.
After the turn we went up a long slow incline that I christened the Haver-hill. The elevation gain was negligible, but you had to look up.
After mile three Durm said he was going to kick it in. Slowly he pulled ahead. With less than two miles to go I picked up the pace also.
Mile four came in at 8:13 which was faster than the previous two miles. As we ran the last mile I spotted two Mystic Runners and a Merrimack Valley Strider. I slowly closed on the Mystics. With less than half a mile to go I over took both Mystics and set my sights on the MVS runner.
She was young and had muscular legs. This was not going to be easy! I kept at it and somehow I managed to inch past her. As we approached the finish, I could tell she was close.
I ran the last mile at a 7:48 pace! Nothing like some competition!
At the Finish
Volunteers handed us coozies holding cups of ice water. Durm found me and we headed into the club in search of more water. While enjoying more water one of the race organizers asked us how the course was. We told him that we enjoyed the race and that the drivers were very good.
Matt Kerton set a new 10K PR, which is amazing since he set 20 something PRs last year.
When we got to the parking lot, we noticed there was no line for beer and twenty people in line for food. So we grabbed a Coors Light and headed for the food.
In line we spoke with a local runner. He looked to be in his 60’s but was in awesome shape. He didn’t like the beer either. Durm and I took our food and headed for an empty bench by the river.
The sun was out, we just ran a great race and had a plate of good food. Life is good!
Since it was Memorial Day weekend and the beer was totally resistible we decided to head out.
I left my phone in the car, so I don’t have any photos for this race. Hopefully I will find some to add.
Run well my Friends!