July 2020 Run Down

July is a hot month. The pandemic has forced all of my races to go virtual which isn’t quite as much fun but I am committed to supporting the causes these races support.

My July 2020 Run Down

Jennifer Tinney 4th of July Virtual 5 Miller

Most years I run the Jennifer Tinney 5 Miler in Boxford, MA. The race is in memory of a young teacher who was viciously attached and killed by one of her students in their school. I can still remember the news stories.

My wife and sister are teachers. In addition to being a senseless killing, it hit very close to home.

Like all of my races, I ran this one from my front door. The temperature was no more than 75° F but the humidity was high.

Jennifer Tinney 5 Miler 2020 VirtualI did the big loop from my house, across The Mystic to Somerville and back again.

It’s a convenient run and it seems fairly popular for runners and walkers. The Mystic River State Reservation always seems to have a lot of people enjoying the outdoors.

The worse part is crossing Rt. 16/Mystic Valley Parkway. It’s three lanes in each direction and most people are on their way somewhere.

I finished in 43:16 at an 8:38 pace.

For the rest of the week I didn’t run at all.

Margarita Virtual Half Marathon

On July 10th I ran the Margarita Virtual Half Marathon.

For this race I ran from my house into Kendall Square where I work.

Running to work has been of interest to me for a few years. Often I see one or two people running to or from work and I have often wondered how the logistics work. You have to shower at work and somehow get your clothes to work without them looking like you just picked them up off of the floor.

The roads for this run are usually very busy. The route I take is one of the Margarita Half Marathon, virtual halfmajor commuter routes into Boston and Cambridge.

I’ve been hit three times in my car over ten years on this route.

I got started just before 9AM which is never a good idea for a runner in July.

The temperature was 73° F when I left my home and it was 83° F by the time I got to Kendall Square.

It was so hot that I had to stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. By the time I was finishing my drink, all of the ice had melted in less than 12 minutes!

While the goal was to complete a half marathon, my plan was to investigate the route into Kendall Square. My plan was to get to mile six and turn around.

My time was 2:32:37 at an 11:39 pace.

I typically run a two-hour or better half. It was a hot day and I ran during peak heat hours. And as opposed to running on a closed course with water stops, I had dozens of intersections and had to do some walking.

Tuesday Night Neighborhood Run

My next run a was a neighborhood run of 3.2 miles. After flaming out during my urban half, I knew I needed to try and run more consistently.

I ran hard and managed an 8:15 pace up and down the streets in my neighborhood.

July 2020 Run Down, COVID Hair

Gotta love COVID hair! I think it’s been seven months since my last hair cut.

And this hair is matted down from wearing a hat and sweating!

I was happy to have gotten out during the week for a quick run.

 

 

Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler

On July 17th I ran The Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler. This is a mid week race in Newburyport, so I’ve never been able to run it.

It seems silly now to think I could not have taken a half day from work and run this race in the past. Is work so important that nothing else matters between 8AM and 5PM?

I ran this one on one of my Friday vacation days. The weather was mild so I didn’t leave the house until 12:13 PM. The temperature was only 63° F and the humidity was mild.

For this run I took The Fellsway into Melrose. I didn’t have any cut in stone plan, but I knew where I was going and when I needed to turn around.

I ran the hills on the Fellsway in both directions. Definitely not required, but I kind of enjoyed it. Nothing like a good workout!

In Melrose I ran down Main Street and made a stop at Starbucks for an Iced Coffee. The place was deserted! No problem social distancing in there.

My time was 1:32:26 at a pace of 9:13. Not bad for a longer run and 414 feet of elevation gain.

Tuesday night Club Run!

Several members of the MRC Board have been doing a lot of work to get our Tuesday night Club Runs back.

With the state-wide social distancing rules and slight variations in each town, it has been a challenge. There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts and each has their own Board of Health who can make their own rules and their own interpretations of State rules.

In these situations, you realize the value of a more centralized government structure.

We met in front of Melrose High, 02176! There were about a dozen of us. We sent out small groups by pace and I was in the first group. I planned on under 9 minute rules, which didn’t seem overly ambitious.

We were kind of the catch-all group like the 80+ age group at a race.

I had a comfortable 3.22 mile run with Marty Hergert at a 10:22 pace.

It was nice to talk to someone during a run.

Juneau Half Marathon

I left my house at 7:15 AM for this run and it was already 76° F.

Juneau Virtual Half Marathon 2020, Dunkin, July Run DownI brought my full running belt with two water bottles and a gel. It turned out to be not enough.

On the way home and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on The Jerry Jingle Highway in Melrose for an iced coffee and blue berry glazed donut.

I ran pretty much the same route that I ran for the Yankee Homecoming but managed to go from 414 feet in elevation gain to 2,339 feet. Almost six times the hills just by adding four fairly flat miles?

This was just before Garmin went dark. I’ll have to compare this run to another on a similar run, but it seems way off to me.

This was another hot run. It was 76° F when I left my house. I tried to run in the shade as much as possible, but it was still warm. Thus the stop at Dunkins.

Juneau Half Marathon 2020 VirtualFor this run I ran the Fellsway Hills in both direction and run out Main Street in Melrose. At Crystal Pond I hit 7 miles and turned around.

I hoped that I could find enough short cuts on the way back to get close to 13.1 miles. It was too hot to run long.

Except for a slight variation in the last mile, I ran the same route out and back.

When I got to 13.1 miles I noted the time and used that to report my results for the race.

Not that it matters but I told Juneau I ran 2:21 and change. Unfortunately, that time included my pit stop at Dunkin Donuts and into the woods.

Juneau Half Marathon 2020 Virtual, AlaskaMy total time for the run was 2:22:08 at a 10:09 pace. But that was for 14 miles! My actual 13.1 mile time was closer to 2:13.

The Juneau Marathon and Half Marathon folks were kind enough to send me a shirt and medal.

It is a great medal and I love the shirt. Hopefully next year we can get a crew from Melrose to go out to Alaska and run the marathon!

Tuesday night Club Run Take 2!

This week we had about 20 people show up! Again I was in the fastest group. But all of us run vastly different paces and distances.

I ran 5.77 miles on most of the longer of our summer routes. It was nice to be out on the summer course again and see what has changed.

One thing that I noticed is that it is starting to get dark around 8pm now! Noooo!

It was a good solo run and I felt better seeing people and hanging out for a bit.

Cambridge Summer Classic 5K Virt 2020

I ran this race on Friday July 31st. It seemed like a great way to end the month.

Thursday evening I went into Cambridge to pick up my shirt, super heavy duty Solo cup, coozie and sun glasses.

I had dropped my daughter at work and was early for the pick up. Paul Clark and his son were still setting up.  They actually pulled in behind me.

On any other afternoon I would have worried about getting a parking ticket. But it looked like 6AM on a Sunday morning.

We talked for a few minutes and I offered to help set up but they said they were all set.

I got out the door at 6:40 PM on Friday after supper.  While I just ran the streets in my neighborhood, I decided to run it like a race.

I wore my light weight Saucony racers and took off.  My first mile was 7:54 and my average pace was 8:09.

Not a bad way to end the month.

For July my total miles were 57.46. I just missed topping April by a half mile. July was my second shortest month after May’s 41.14.

August 2019 I ran almost 85 miles. So far I’m up to 2.86 towards beating that!

How is your COVID summer running going?

Are you still motivated to train even though all races are going virtual?

Run well and Stay Health my Friends!

Andy

 

 

What Runners need to know about Tick and Mosquito Season

Summer running season is also tick and mosquito season. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself.

Warmer weather brings with it tick and mosquito season for much of the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of illnesses caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites more than tripled in the United States between 2004 and 2016.

Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time.  These include Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya.  1

As runners, we often find ourselves on trails, in the woods or fields or near bodies of water where we are likely to encounter these pests.

Mosquitoes, black flies and ticks have been a menace to humans throughout history. But as the CDC reports, the number of diseases carried by these pests and the areas in which they can be found has grown considerably over the past decade or so.

With reasonable precautions we can protect ourselves and reduce the chance of contracting a disease from one of these insects.

Tick and Mosquito Season

Ticks and Tick Season

Tick season is generally April through December and peaks from May to August in Massachusetts. During these months you should be particularly vigilant for ticks on your body or clothing.

It should be noted that ticks do not die in the winter. They take cover in leaf litter under the snow. You may find them in debris or compost piles in your own yard.

When it is over 40° F ticks can be active and emerge from their winter homes. On warm winter days, you should take the same precautions that you would in peak season.

Tick season is essentially whenever the temperature is over 40° F. In some areas this is most or all of the year.

Last November I was in Maine for Thanksgiving.  On a mild day we went for a walk in the woods behinds my sister’s home.

My brother-in-law looked at me and said I had a tick on my pants leg. I looked down and saw a tick on my right leg just below the knee.

I had never seen a tick before and was surprised as I had been trying to be careful where I walked.

I knew that ticks are hard to kill, but I picked it off of my pants with my gloved hand and pinched it. I waited for a cracking noise, but through my gloves I could not apply enough pressure. I tossed it into the grass away from us.

Tick Born Diseases

The most common tick-borne disease in New England is Lyme Disease. Much less common are Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Rarer still are Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus.

All diseases carried by ticks start out the same way according to Massachusetts Deputy State Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown.

The four common symptoms are fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. More specific symptoms related to each illness develop as they progress, but they all start with these four symptoms. With Lyme Disease you may also see a rash around the bite location.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is wide-spread in Massachusetts, most of the Northeast and in Michigan and Minnesota. Lyme disease appears to be spreading to any area with ticks.

Lyme Disease is named after Lyme and Old Lyme, CT where the disease was first discovered.

Lyme disease came into public view when an epidemic of what appeared to be rheumatoid arthritis began afflicting children in Lyme, Connecticut.

A young rheumatologist at Yale named Allen Steere, who now conducts research at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, studied the children.

In 1976 he named the mysterious illness after its locale and described its main symptoms more fully: a bull’s-eye rash; fevers and aches; Bell’s palsy, or partial paralysis of the face, and other neurological issues; and rheumatological manifestations such as swelling of the knees.

After much study, Steere realized that the black-legged ticks that live on mice and deer (among other mammals) might be harboring a pathogen responsible for the outbreak. In 1981, the medical entomologist Willy Burgdorfer finally identified the bacterium that causes Lyme, and it was named after him: Borrelia burgdorferi. 12

Lyme Disease Human Risk Map, Tick and Mosquito Season
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts are hotbeds for Lyme Disease in the US.

40% of Nantucket’s 10,000 year-round residents have had the disease or are currently being treated for it! 3

It is so bad that they are considering the release of mice genetically modified to be immune to the disease. A team from MIT lead by Kevin Esvelt wants to use  CRISPR and Gene Drive to make the mice immune to Lyme Disease. 4

White-footed mice carry the disease and ticks transmit it when they bite the mice and then humans. Research and discussions continue but many people on Nantucket are ready to try anything to deal with this problem.

The most common early symptom of Lyme is a rash which can look like a ring around the bite site. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands may also occur.

Early treatment is crucial to prevent more serious problems as the disease progresses.

The joints, nervous system and heart are most commonly affected as the disease progresses.

• About 60% of people with untreated Lyme disease get arthritis in their knees, elbows and/or wrists. The arthritis can move from joint to joint and become chronic.

• Many people who don’t get treatment develop nervous system problems. These problems include meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), facial weakness (Bell’s palsy) or other problems with nerves of the head, and weakness or pain (or both) in the hands, arms, feet and/or legs. These symptoms can last for months, often shifting between mild and severe.

• The heart also can be affected in Lyme disease, with slowing down of the heart rate and fainting. The effect on the heart can be early or late.

Prompt treatment with antibiotics prevents later, more serious symptoms. 5

Lyme Disease is nothing to fool with. If you are in an infested area you need to check yourself often and take precautions to protect yourself.

The other tick born diseases are less common and generally less dangerous to your health. If you have been in a tick infested area and develop flu-like symptoms or develop a rash call your doctor right away.

Mosquitoes and Mosquito Season

Mosquito season generally begins when the temperature approaches 50°F.

Mosquito Season

As the temperature rises, so does the population of mosquitoes. It should be noted that some mosquitoes hibernate during the winter and some can winter-over in your house.

Closets are a common place to find mosquitoes in your home during the winter months. 2

In general, you should be safe from mosquito bites most of the winter in North America.

Mosquito Born Diseases

The most common diseases carried by mosquitoes are West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Less common in the US are Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

Tick and Mosquito Season

 West Nile Virus

The majority of people who are infected with WNV (approximately 80%) will have no symptoms.

Approximately 20% will have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. They may also develop a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

Less than 1% of people infected with WNV will develop severe illness, including encephalitis or meningitis.

The symptoms of severe illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

Persons older than 50 years of age have a higher risk of developing severe illness.

Since most people exposed to WNV have no symptoms it is difficult to determine the actual rate of infection.

Between 2000 and 2010, 67 people were reported infected with WNV in Massachusetts. Six of these people died. There is no specific treatment for this virus so we are fortunate that most of us have little to no reaction from the infection. 6

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The first symptoms of EEE are fever (often 103º to 106ºF), stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy.

These symptoms show up three to ten days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and frequent serious complication. The disease gets worse quickly and some patients may go into a coma within a week.

There is no treatment for EEE. In Massachusetts, about half of the people identified with EEE died from the infection. People who survive this disease will often be permanently disabled. Few people recover completely.

Since 1938 fewer than 100 cases have been reported in Massachusetts, with 60% of cases in Plymouth and Norfolk counties. Outbreaks of EEE occur about every 10 to 20 years with the most recent Massachusetts outbreak starting in 2004 and ending in 2006. Of 13 reported cases, six were fatalities. 7

Zika

Zika is a relatively new disease to North America. Much like WNV, 80% of people exposed to Zika report no symptoms.

Those who do react to the virus report symptoms 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. If a woman is pregnant and contracts Zika the disease may spread to the fetus.

It is extremely unlikely that anyone could become infected with Zika virus from a mosquito bite in Massachusetts. The kinds of mosquitoes that are known to carry Zika virus are generally not found in Massachusetts. 8

Most people contract Zika when they travel to areas where it is prevalent. Zika has been reported in Texas and Florida in the past with a few neighborhoods in Miami listed as active transmission areas.

World Map of Areas with Risk of Zika 

Zika can also be transmitted through unprotected sex and can be transmitted by a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy.

Tick and Mosquito Bite Prevention

As the old saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here is what you need to know.

Preventing Tick Bites

ticks, tall grassTicks are most active in warmer weather and can be found in tall grass, brush and wooded areas.

Ticks do not fly or jump. They latch onto passing mammals when they brush up against grass or a plant where the tick is clinging.

DEET and permethrin are both recommended to repel ticks. You can buy clothing infused with permethrin and permethrin actually kills ticks, not just repel them.

Permethrin should be applied carefully and according to the manufacturers directions.

Long-sleeved shirts and light colored pants tucked into your socks or boots are also recommended. This doesn’t work very well for runners who typically have a great deal of exposed skin.

Staying on cleared trails while running and avoiding the brush and grass along the trail is also recommended. Ticks are literally hanging out on the vegetation next to trails and clearings waiting for a mammal to come by.

For runners the best advice is to put on some DEET or permethrin and to stay on the trails. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid brushing up against foliage while running, you need to do a post run tick check.

Ticks like warm and moist areas of the body. Areas to check include:

  • Inside and behind the ears
  • Along your hairline
  • Back of your neck
  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Legs
  • Behind your knees
  • Between your toes

You should also check your skin for new freckles which could be a tick.

The best way to remove a tick is with fine point tweezers. Do not use a hot match, petroleum jelly or any other home remedy. 10

You should save the removed tick and make note of the date and where on your body the tick was removed from. Ticks can be analyzed in a lab to discover if and what they are infected with. This can be crucial to your diagnosis if you end up with an infection.

Save the removed tick in a tightly sealed container.

Notify your doctor if you develop flu like symptoms or a rash.

If you run with your dog, this article from YourDogAdvisor.com has some good information for you.

Preventing Mosquito Bites

DEET and permethrin are recommended to repel mosquitoes. Since mosquitoes are active 24 hours a day, it is a good idea to use repellent if you are in an area active with mosquitoes any time of day.

You are more likely to find mosquitoes near bodies of water such as ponds or streams. But mosquitoes can lay their eggs in a table spoon of water, so you could have mosquito habitat on your deck or in your back yard.

It’s important to tip water out of flower pots or anything else that can hold water.

Most mosquitoes do not fly far from where they hatch. Eliminating breeding spots near your home is an important way to protect your family.

Dusk to dawn are peak hours for mosquito activity and using repellent at these times is highly encouraged.

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks are also recommended. Since these are generally impractical for runners it is best to use repellent, avoid high mosquito activity hours and locations.

Unlike ticks, mosquitoes do fly. While running, you are probably safe from getting a bite. But when you stop running the little buggers are sure to find you and all of that exposed skin!

How to Choose a Repellent

The EPA has a great site where you can select a repellent based on your needs. You can specify how long you need protection for, what you need protection from and which ingredients you are interested in.

You can also look up specific products, companies and EPA registration numbers.

They also provide instructions on how to apply repellents which may be difficult to read on a can.

Click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page to look for your repellent.

Tick and Mosquito Season Running Go Bag

I always keep a bag of running gear in my car. In the winter this is often just a pair of gloves and a winter hat.

In the summer it is easier to spontaneously go for a run after work with friends. So in addition to keeping some running gear in my go bag I also keep sun screen and a can of insect repellent.

If you are running after work in the summer, it is likely you will be out at dusk. While you are running you will probably be okay. But when you stop for a drink or to hang out after your run, you could be swarmed by mosquitoes, black flies and possibly horse flies.

Having a DEET based repellent in your car is a great idea. I’ve been at races along The Charles River in Boston and seen runners freely passing around a can of bug spray. Stranger or no, no one can stand by and watch others suffer. Hanging out next to the river before a race can literally suck!

I hope you have a great summer running season and stay healthy.

Andy

This post was originally posted May 29th, 2018 and has been updated May 25th, 2020.

SOURCES

1 https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0501-vs-vector-borne.html

2  http://www.mosquitomagnet.com/articles/mosquito-season

3 https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/genetically-engineered-mice-reduce-lyme-disease

4 https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/07/nantucket-lyme-genetic-engineering/

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/lyme-disease

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/west-nile-virus-wnv

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/eee-eastern-equine-encephalitis

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/zika-information-for-the-public

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika

10 https://www.mass.gov/service-details/tick-borne-disease-information-for-the-public

11 https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

12 https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/09/life-with-lyme/594736/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190814&silverid-ref=NDg5MzY0ODg2MjY3S0

Blue Cross Blue Shield Island Run 2018

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Island Run 5 Miler and 5K were a great time and a great way to see Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts held their fifth annual Island Run on September 22nd. The race took place on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor.

To get to this race we had to be on the Provincetown II ferry by 9:00 AM. There was no other way to get to Spectacle Island unless you had your own boat!

I left my house just after 7AM and was on the waterfront by 7:30. My GPS had 200 Seaport Blvd punched in, but that took me to the Fish Pier. There is a parking lot at the end of the pier without any space numbers or meters, so it might have been free parking or my car might have been missing when I returned after the race.

I thought I found a parking spot on Seaport Blvd, but it turns out the meters are only good for two hours! I reluctantly parked in the MassPort garage and figured it would cost me $32 to park for four or five hours. As I cursed BCBS of MA and MassPort it dawned on me why a lot more people from the club didn’t sign up for the race: parking is a bitch is South Boston!

It was a short walk over to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and then to the bib pickup area. Besides expensive parking, my only complaint is lack of signs directing runners to the bib pick up/boarding area.

I’ve been to the area several times but I’ve never taken a boat. I had no idea where the boats left from. Fortunately I saw some people in BCBS of MA volunteer t-shirts and headed in their direction.

There weren’t a lot of people there yet so I was able to check in quickly, get my bib and get onto the boat. No one else I knew was there yet so I walked around the ship to see where everything was. It’s a pretty good sized ship!

The Crew Arrives

Slowly Melrose Running Club runners began to arrive. Eventually all seven of us were on board and ready to cast off. We were sitting on one of the upper decks and just below the deck where the DJ was. 

Melrose Running Club, Blue Cross Blue Shield Island Run 2018
Courtesy Andrea Kerton

When they fired up the tunes we decided it was time to head below decks so we could hear each other. It’s tough getting old!

My friends Lisa Hines and Cheryl Lynn from Team Slow and Thirsties also showed up! I wasn’t expecting them. Most of our team has been dealing with one injury or another over the past year and haven’t been doing much running.

BCBS Island Run 2018, Team Slow and Thirsties, Spectacle Island
 

Everyone had fun talking and taking in Boston Harbor as we headed for Spectacle Island.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Island Run 2018

We docked around 9:30 and everyone disembarked and headed towards the start area. As we walked down the pier we saw the finish line and timing mats. It seemed odd to finish on a concrete pier.

As we headed for the Visitor’s Center we saw a sign that said bathrooms were available on the ship. Fortunately there were bathrooms in the Visitor Center but apparently they were too small for a large crowd.

There was a large tent next to the Visitor’s Center and I figured we would have the post race party there. But no one was in there setting up and the place was empty. 

It seems like the island was shut down or in the process of shutting down for the season. The facilities probably were not capable of handling several hundred runners drinking beer and peeing all afternoon!

The food was served as we headed back to the boat after the race and each runner received two beers after we were on the boat.

It was a smart way to get everyone on board and control drinking. If you wanted food and drink after the race, get on the boat. And since the ride back was only about 20 minutes, it limited beer drinking time to about an hour, depending on when you finished the race.

Good planning, but I was hoping to enjoy a beer on the beach. I guess that would be public drinking since The Harbor Islands are a National Park. 

Running The Island Run 2018

The 5 Miler was supposed to start at 10:00 and the 5K at 10:25. Things were about 6 minutes behind schedule, so the 5 Milers began at 10:06 and the 5K runners at 10:31. No big deal. 

Alain Ferry, our Race Director, made some announcements from inside the Visitors Center, I think. We could hear him but he said he couldn’t see us from wherever he was. Soon he came running to the start line with his microphone head set on. He told us about the time delay and turned things over to the timers who had us started in no time.

I was near the front of the pack but had no intentions of running a World Record. Matt Kerton and I wished each other a good race and I told him I’d see him at the finish.

We started out on a nice flat stone dust path. I thought how much better this type of surface is than pavement which always has pot holes. It’s easy to fix holes or washouts on a stone dust path.

Since it was a nice smooth surface I began to look around at the scenery as I made my way along. It wasn’t very long before I almost twisted my ankle in a washout rut. At that point I decided to spend more time looking at my feet and a few feet in front of me and gave up on sight seeing!  

At about 1K we hit our first hill. We went from Sea Level to 49 feet in about a quarter-mile. It was a gravel path but I rose up on my toes, dug in and took the hill.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Island Run 2018 course map

Running on a loose surface is different than pavement. Even without pot holes to contend with, there are ruts and loose footing to deal with. 

I soon figured out that the island side of the path was generally smoother than the ocean side of the path. I guessed this was due to run off picking up velocity and moving more gravel as it moved over the smooth path. Who knows?

There were a lot of switchbacks and hairpin turns on this course. It was the only way to get a five mile course on this tiny island! 

At about 0.8 miles we hit our second hill and went from 16 feet to 67 feet above Sea Level in a tenth of a mile. It was still early in the race, but it hit people.

Shortly after Mile 1 we ran through the start area near the dock. It was fun to have some people cheering us on. The 5K runners had not started yet.

My first mile was 8:32 and I felt pretty good about that. Faster than I wanted to run this race at and I’m sure to pay for it on the Sunday Long Run!

Our highest and longest climb started at about 2.64 miles and rose from 0 feet to 79 feet in less than a quarter of a mile. This was a long grassy hill. It was challenging to run because most of us were beginning to feel some fatigue and the grass was in bunches and not mowed. It looked like a tractor had gone over the path a few times. But it was fun!

Finishing The Island Run 2018

Just before Mile 4 we descended from 79 feet to 0 feet above Sea Level. It felt good to be going down hill and the path was pretty good. I took advantage of the conditions and passed a few people.

Mile 4 chimed in at 8:30 and I only had a mile to go! Most of the last mile was fairly flat or low hills. I was able to open it up a bit and managed an 8:00 mile. It felt good to run that pace outside.

As we came down the path to the finish area I passed one runner who seemed to be struggling. As we ran down the pier I tried to over take a much younger guy who had passed me a mile or so earlier. I tried.

I managed to run 5.07 miles and had a Garmin time of 42:43 and average pace of 8:25. My official time was 42:40 for a pace of 8:33.

Finishing on the pier wasn’t so bad. It was a flat,stable surface and it was the finish!

I saw Matt Kerton on the other side of the barricade and he yelled out my name. I walked down to the BodyArmor people who were providing post race drinks for us.

Their drinks are pretty good. I like them because they are not sugary and you can taste a little salt. These are not a drink to have with dinner or while sitting at your desk at work. They really hit the spot after a race.

I hung out with Matt and Dave Register near the finish line for about 10 minutes. I believe that Dave ran under 40 minutes, but I need to check that.

I saw Lisa Hines finish strongly but didn’t see anyone else we know finish. Standing on the pier in the harbor breeze I was getting cold and decided to head in. Matt was waiting for his wife Andrea to finish. So he and Dave stayed at the finish line.

Apre BCBS Island Run 2018

Before we boarded the ferry, boloco was providing borrittos to everyone. They were a little small for people finishing a race, but they were tasty! A friend described them as large cigars. 

Before we went up the gang plank we each received two beer tickets. I went to the deck where bag check was and redeemed a coupon at the bar after I got my bag.

Mayflower Brewing was providing cans of Mayflower IPA. With IBUs clocking in at 77 it was a little much even for an IPA guy like me. Several of my friends don’t like IPAs so they didn’t really enjoy the ale. Daily Ration at 25 IBUs may have had a broader appeal to this crowd. Daily Ration also has 4.5 % ABV versus 6.1% for the IPA.

I was offered an extra beer ticket but the two I had seemed to be enough.

On the ride back to Boston I sat with Cheryl and Lisa and we got all caught up with each other’s lives. Like we always do. Matt and Andrea Kerton sat with us for a while also.

Before we knew it we were at the dock and it was time to go. 

As we left the ship Alain Ferry was there giving everyone high fives and hugs. You get the feeling he really appreciates people showing up for his races!

When I got to the garage I hopped in my car, found my ticket and headed for the exit. Then I saw a sign that said to pay the ticket at a hotel kiosk! I was in a freaking MassPort garage. Where the hell was the hotel? And I had to go all the way to the lobby?

Fortunately there was a machine in the vestibule for the elevator and stairs. I scanned my ticket and it was only a $25 charge! What a deal. I figured at least $32 and probably $38. Either way, it’s way cheaper than a parking ticket in Boston and I didn’t have to worry about my car getting towed.

Running is the Great Elixir

My little My First 5K medals business had a challenging week. I lost my largest customer and another customer complained they did not get the engraving they requested. I don’t even offer engraving, so I had to make that clearer on the site.

I hate it when customers are not thrilled with the My First 5K medal, and loosing my biggest customer is a big set back. In addition to being bummed out, the week made me question why I do this.

Running this race and spending time with friends gave me a bit of a renewal. Everyone there loves running. For some of those runners the Island 5K may have been their first 5K and I bet they had as much fun as I did.

Why would I give up trying to encourage people to run their first 5K? For some people it may be just that little something they need to lace up and train. 

And no one can tell me that kids don’t love to get a medal at a race. Especially a nice one. 

So if my medal helps mom or dad get their child to join them for a 5K race, it’s worth the bumps in the road along the way.

A person I work with died last week. He had been over weight and had some health issues. Running wont make anyone live forever or avoid health conditions, ask Dave McGillivray. 

But if someone is concerned about their weight or health in general, helping them incorporate running into their fitness plan is worth it. 

It’s never easy, but a fun run and time with friends helped build my spirits back up.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Sunday Long Run Winchester Highlands 2018

Sunday Long Run Six 2018

This week I managed to squeak in a long run before it was time to head off to the airport. The route was supposed to be 16.2 miles from Melrose through the Winchester Highlands.

Winchester Highlands sounds like a grand tour, especially if you are from England or something. Around here it just means we get to run a bunch of hills! Ass busters you could call them. 

I started running with my buddy Dave and we hung together until the first water stop. Dave was doing the half route and turned back to Brueggers.

All of the other long run people had arrived and left the first water stop by the time I got there. I’ve run this route at least a dozen times but I always worry about missing a turn and running all day just to get home!

After a short stop I headed out by my self with the hope of catching up to someone who knew the route better than I. As I ran down the hill from the water stop, I hoped to see someone if front of me. No luck.

As I approached the next few intersections I remembered the turns and never had a moment of hesitation! I was pleasantly surprised at my self. Eventually I found Tom Gorman at water stop two.

fall marathon training, summer running
Sunday Long Run, Winchester Highlands, Fall Marathon training

I was really glad to see him. Not just because I needed a drink, but because it meant I was still on track. Tom and I chatted for a few minutes and I headed off on my mystery run.

I would through Winchester and headed back to Melrose. I know I took at least one wrong turn because when I finished my run I only had 14 miles on my watch.

The previous week I had only run about 6.5 miles, so 14 was plenty. As I sit writing this article, my legs are sore and my left knee is barking.

While I may have missed a few miles on this run, it still feels pretty good to have run the 14 miles that I did manage.

So somehow I feel like I’m training for a marathon or at least a half. Maybe I’m just kidding my self.

I’m also using a new editor while trying to write this post and the lest two. So if these past few have been a bit of a mess, I’m still figuring out Gutenberg and trying to decide if I’m going to continue to use it. 

So bear with me and run well my friends,

Andy

Saturday Long Run

Sometimes a nice summer run is just what you need to clear the cob webs.

This week I changed things up a bit. Instead of doing a Sunday Long Run with the Melrose Running Club, I did a Saturday Long Run on my own.

Getting up and out by yourself can be a challenge. When there is a group of runners expecting you, you kinda gotta show up or get some razzing the next time you meet up.

When I’m sitting on the couch clearing the DVR of shows I just couldn’t make time for but just can’t miss, it’s easy to watch just one more show and then go for a run.

I know my self well enough to know that I am susceptible to this laziness. 

To combat growing roots and never moving I changed into my running clothes during the commercial breaks. Instead of fast-forwarding through the breaks I used the time to move my self closer to the door.

Saturday Long Run?

As I headed down my street I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going. All I knew was that I was going to run through Medford Square and over to West Medford and head out The Mystic Valley Parkway. So I headed in that direction.

At the Wedgemere train station where the Parkway ends at Bacon Street I wasn’t sure where I would go. This point ended up being five miles from my home and you can see it on the map below.

I could have turned around and had a nice ten mile run. The last time I ran out this way I took a few turns and ended up too far from home and unsure of my location. With that run in mind, turning around would have been reasonable.

Saturday Long Run, Summer Running

Since I’ve been running on the light side lately I decided to head south on Bacon Street towards Medford. I wasn’t sure how many miles I’d end up with, but at least I was heading home.

What I think about when I Saturday Long Run

Running on a warm, humid summer morning is a gift. After my legs warmed up I began to feel good and confident. I knew that where ever I ended up on this trek, I was prepared. My belt had supplies, cell phone and two bottles of Hydralyte.

After I got over to The Parkway I had a wide bike lane to run in. The Parkway is next to The Mystic Lakes. Most of the time all I heard were my own shoes hitting the pavement.

The soft, moist breeze carried the pine and spruce forest into the air.  With just a few other runners, two cyclists and a handful of cars, I almost felt like I was running in the woods.

Since I didn’t push my pace too much it was a very comfortable and enjoyable run. It was a run that I hope will come to mind the next time I’m at home trying to visualize a route and build up the steam to get out the door.

The temperature seemed to be in the low 70s the entire run. And even though it had rained Friday night and sprinkled during my run it never felt humid. 

So what did I think about? Since it wasn’t a race or a long long run I didn’t have mission control in my head constantly doing systems checks and fuel assessments. It was all systems on cruise.

I thought about how polluted the Mystic Lakes and Mystic River are. That there must have been all kinds of factories over here in the old days. Who knows what they made besides a huge mess that no one wants to deal with. The sediment on the bottom is so contaminated that the experts figure it’s better to leave it be.

They may be right, but then, what mess are we leaving for our great-grand children to deal with. Are we always so short sighted and ignorant that humanity constantly screws things up?

I ran by some magnificent houses and imagined who lives there now and many years ago. Who built it and why that style? What were they trying to say, if anything? 

Lot’s of random thoughts and also time with a clear mind not thinking of anything other than the run.

Summer is setting like the Sun

It seems like just yesterday it was the beginning of June. Then my Father died on June 13th and it seems that ever since, I have cascaded from one event or task to another.

Work has me travelling a lot, my garden is a mess and my to-do list lies mostly un-touched. I enjoy being busy but I also enjoy living life and not just passing though it. 

Taking a nice Saturday long run in solitude gave me an hour and a half with just my thoughts. Maybe someday I will look back on those 93 minutes as a highlight of the summer of 2018. A moment when the foot came off the accelerator and a deep breath of life filled my lungs. 

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Melrose Sunday Long Run Four

Sunday Long Runs continue in the heat of summer!

Sunday Long Run Number Four

This Sunday we had Sunday Long Run number four for 2018. It is August and the weather did not disappoint! While it was officially 75 degrees, it felt much warmer in the sun. 

With all of the rain that we’ve had over the past few days the humidity must have been 100%.

We had about forty runners show up for the run. A few new faces and a few familiar faces from other local clubs. There are some regulars who I only see on Sundays.

When I left my house in the morning I had planned to run the full 14.1 miles. Due to a lot of travelling for business and a major airport delay, I haven’t been running much. Part of me wanted to get in some my missing miles and part of me worried that going the distance may be too much.

Decisions in the Heat of the Run

Early in any run it can be difficult to make the legs move. Sunday morning was no different. I was tired, it was hot and I tried not to complain. We complain about the cold all fall, winter and spring. Sometimes you just have to go with what you have been wishing for!

cambridge Summer Classic 5K

We ran down Main Street in Melrose and up West Wyoming towards the Lynn Fells Parkway. After we crossed The Fellsway we hit the hill on Pond Street. There is a paved path just under the tree canopy so I headed to the shade. My buddy Dave and I were surprised that we were already past the 1.5 mile mark. In a way it seemed quick.

As we ran down Pond Street towards The Stone Zoo we were completely exposed to the sun. It was getting hot. As we passed the zoo I saw one of our runners grabbing a drink at a fountain that is slightly hidden and not known to many. I thought about stopping.

Water Stop U-Turn

At the water stop I decided to turn around. Dave was running short and many runners who were running long had already left. 

I’ve run this route several times and had a pretty good idea where I was going but lacked the certainty I needed. It was really hot and if I took a wrong turn I could be out here for hours. 

Since I wasn’t sure that I’d have someone to follow, I decided to head back with Dave and call seven miles good.

As we ran back the running seemed easier. Part of it was the fact that we were heading home, part of it was that we were now warmed up. Our pace was still pretty slow but we were past the half-way mark!

For the short run there was only the one water stop. While we missed a cold drink and a chance to refuel, we just kept on trucking to the finish!

Run well my Friends,

Andy