Five Easy ways to Prevent Windburn

What is Windburn?

Windburn is dry, chapped skin caused by prolonged exposure to cold, dry air.

Windburn is caused by your body’s response to cold, dry air. Wind accelerates this process by drawing heat and moisture from your skin.

Sunburn has similar symptoms but is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun. It’s not unusual to get windburn and sunburn together.

Moisture evaporates from your skin through a process called Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). Thisis part of the natural process your body uses to maintain your skin, the largest organ in the body.

When your skin is exposed to cold, dry air your body responds by dilating blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This increases blood flow to restore normal skin moisture and temperature levels.

Over prolonged periods of time and in harsher conditions, the rate of evaporation exceeds your body’s capacity to respond. When normal skin temperature and moisture levels cannot be maintained your skin becomes damaged and you get windburn.

In the short term, wind burn results in red, dry skin which may become chapped or crack. In the long term, repeated or extended exposure can cause permanent damage and pre-mature aging of your skin.

Sunburn is caused by exposure to the sun’s Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. Similar to windburn, UV rays also cause your skin to dry out from accelerated TEWL. More significant is the damage UV rays cause to the DNA in your skin cells. This accelerates the aging process and can also lead to cancer.

It’s not uncommon to simultaneously suffer sunburn and windburn. It’s not uncommon to experience dry, cold and sunny conditions together.

Five Ways to Prevent Windburn

preventing windburn, winter running

The best way to treat wind burn is to prevent it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

For athletes this means training indoors when conditions are harsh or changing the time of day you exercise outside. This is just like avoiding the hottest, sunniest parts of the day during the summer months.

For most athletes, over exposure to the elements is common. We cannot control the environment and sometimes we are unprepared to deal with harsh conditions.

It’s not unusual for conditions to change during a run. If race day turns into a bad weather day, most of us still show up.

Since most of us still show up for races in harsh conditions and still train in less than ideal conditions, we need to take steps to protect ourselves.

Here are Five Ways to Prevent Windburn

1.) Use a skin cream that locks in moisture. Products that contain petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, shea butter, lanolin or beeswax are good to use.

These ingredients are known as “Occlusives.” Occlusives form a thin non-permeable film on your skin which locks in your skin’s natural moisture and helps prevent TEWL. Check out these articles from Skin Therapy Newsletter and Botaneri for more information on occlusives and products to look for that contain occlusives.

Occlusives stay on the surface of your skin and are not moisturizers. They form a protective layer to lock in your skin’s natural moisture. Since occlusives cannot be absorbed, they can clog pores and cause acne.

A product containing occlusives will need to be washed off with soap and water.

Some dermatologists recommend using sun screen every day. When you know you will be exposed for long periods you should use a sunscreen containing an occlusive. The most common occlusive found in sun screen is zinc oxide.

This is the easiest tip to implement. Keep a tube of quality sun screen in your bag and in your car. Keep sunscreen out of the heat and check for experimentation dates.

2.) Don’t forget your lips. Our lips are exposed to sun every day and the bitter cold of winter does not help. Some chap stick and lip balm is made with bee’s wax and have a decent SPF. Beeswax is a natural occlusive that most people are not allergic to.

I often use chap stick when running. My lips always seem to dry out and it can drive me crazy. I don’t always use a product with an occlusive but I always look for the SPF on the package. Always read the label.

3.) Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time. In the summer time you want to avoid outside activities when the UV Index is highest. In cold temperatures you want to avoid being outside for long periods of time in harsh conditions.

You may have to run at different times of the day or drive the kids to school. When the days are short and the nights are frigid, a treadmill may be your best friend.

If you do have to run in harsh conditions, cover as much skin as possible. Use a lotion with an occlusive on your nose and exposed portions of your face. When it’s below freezing I try to wear lotion even in the dark.

Kids should wear gloves and knit caps for the bus stop or walk home. A baseball hat doesn’t protect ears from frostbite or windburn and has virtually no insulation for your kid’s head.

4.) Break up your exposure time. Your body responds to the conditions and can protect you over the short run. But it needs time to recover from exposure. See the chart below for frost bite. Cut those times in half for windburn and plan accordingly.

Your body will heat up from running but exposed skin is still vulnerable to wind burn. Try breaking a long run into shorter runs and give your skin time to recover in sheltered warmth. Re-apply your skin cream.

You can also break up your outside chores by taking a break from snow shoveling to re-hydrate and help your skin recover.

Breaking up activities is probably the most difficult thing to do. It’s hard enough to get outside when it’s cold. Taking a break could cause you to not go back out.

If the conditions are really bad you may have to use the treadmill or risk cutting your run short. Sometimes a little in-doors cross training is the best bet!

5.) Check the weather forecast; know the wind chill. Quite often winter forecasts will include the wind chill factor. Knowing the conditions is key to protecting your skin.

Use this chart to estimate the wind chill in your area. Click on the chart to get a National Weather Service pdf down load.wind chill, winter running, windburnIt’s important to keep in mind that conditions constantly change. If the air temperature is 20° and you get into a 30mph wind, you have a 1°F wind chill.

Due to the variability of conditions it is best to be a little cautious. Wearing a quality sun screen all the time is a good idea. If conditions are marginal, you should be prepared to seek shelter and change your plans if conditions worsen.

How to treat Windburn

Windburned skin is damaged, sensitive skin. Moisturizing lotion and avoiding further exposure will help your skin recover. Avoid lotions with fragrances or harsh ingredients and look for lotions for “sensitive” skin.

Aloe Vera is a good choice, but consult with your physician or pharmacist for advice on the best treatment for you.

While a hot shower may feel great after coming in from the cold, hot water is not good for wind burn or sunburned skin. If you want a hot shower try to keep the hot water off of your damaged skin.

Hot water and soap break up and wash away the lipids on the surface of your skin. Lipids are the natural oils in your skin that hold in moisture and help keep your skin soft. Try to wash your damaged skin with warm water and then apply lotion.

Run well my friends,

Andy

New England Marathons Winter 2021

Updated 21 December, 2020 – Winter is here!

While winter may be here, Winter New England Marathons are still hard to find.

With COVID-19 most races have been cancelled or have not opened registration yet.

The Roxbury and Millinocket marathons take place before the Winter Solstice and Millinocket is the only December marathon in New England. I’ve also included them in the fall directory where they belong.

Astronomical Winter 2019 officially begins on Saturday, December 21st at 5:02 AM EST. The “Winter Solstice” marks the beginning of winter. On the Winter Solstice the sun reaches the southern most point in the sky at Noon local time.

Click on race names for the latest details. Let me know if you know of other New England Winter Marathons.

New England Marathons Winter

15th Annual Roxbury Marathon

*.* November | 8:30 AM | Saturday

Effective 11/25/20 all organized road races are prohibited in state of CT

Hurlburt Recreation Area – 18 Apple Lane, Roxbury CT

This scenic, hilly, no-frills, early winter 26.2 mile foot race will cost you only $40 or $35 for the Half.

Race day registration is $50 for either race.

In 2019 there were only 47 marathon finishers. This race is not for the casual runner.

Here is a report on the 2017 race.

Registration is not open yet

Millinocket Marathon and Half 2020

*.* December | 10 AM | Saturday – This race has been cancelled.

33 Penobscot Ave Millinocket, Maine

In 2018 184 runners crossed the Marathon line and 1120 finished the Half!

213 runners from across the country ran the Marathon in 2017. Maine runners took the top three finishes. 942 runners completed the Half.

In 2015, six runners ran the marathon and 42 finished the Half.

This race continues to grow in popularity and make contributions to the Millinocket region.

Our FREE marathon & half was started in 2015 to help a struggling northern Maine mill town that has been devastated by the closing of their major employer. Do not run Millinocket for what you get instead RUN MILLINOCKET for what you GIVE. Please do not take spots in our race unless you are serious about doing your very best to show up (of course we know life happens) but please don’t register just because our race is free. All participants are required to generously patronize Katahdin area businesses in lieu of an entry fee. Our 2016 edition was a tremendous success and we look forward to growing our event in 2017 and all the positive influence it brings!

Millinocket used to be a mill town with two paper mills. When I was growing up the economy and the town were vibrant. The high school had competitive sports teams and they were just another city in Maine.

Now the mills are gone and times have changed in Millinocket. The organizers of this race seek to draw runners from near and far to help inject a little economic life into this Northern Maine town.

As they say in the quote above, don’t sign up just because it is free. Sign up because you want to run the race and provide some stimulus to the local economy while you are there.

Registration is not open

Arena Attack Race Series Indoor New England Marathons

Imagine running in a proper distance race, in the middle of a typical New England winter, but you can dress like its September. Awesome, right? We thought so too… so we made it reality. Introducing the Arena Attack Indoor Road Race Series! Utilizing the wide concourses found in indoor arenas, we run distance races ranging from 5k to the marathon.

This was a series of the running events, each consisting of a marathon, half and 5K.

Registration information for 2021 has not been posted yet. We have to assume that these events have been cancelled.

Here are some of the things that you can look forward to at your Arena Attack Race:

NEW FOR 2020! All marathon & half marathon finishers receive awesome Arena Attack shirts!
Finisher medals made from stainless steel, made by a CT-based explosion proofing company.
Race distances include marathon, half marathon, & 5k.
We control the climate, so we can make sure the conditions are optimal.
Perfectly flat course!
Absolutely spectator-friendly! You’ll see your runner on each lap.
Water stations and real bathrooms are never more than a half-lap away!
We digitally track your laps and project your lap count clearly in your line of sight.
On-course music keeps the runners and spectators entertained all day.

XL Center Hartford, CT

TBD January |9 AM | Saturday

Effective 11/25/20 all organized road races are prohibited in state of CT

Runners will complete 130 laps on the course with a 5 hour time limit. The marathon has a waiting list as of 2 December. Registration is $90.00 if a spot opens

Mullins Center Amherst, MA

TBD January | 8 AM

Marathon runners will complete 133 laps on the course within 5 hours. Registration is $80.00. There is also a half-marathon and a 5K option.

Boston Prep 16 Miler and 5 Miler

TBD January – 10:00 AM – Sunday

West Running Brook Middle School – Derry, NH

Registration is not open yet but they are hoping to announce their plans soon.

Derry 16 miler, winter running, New England Marathons Winter

I’ve run this race twice and it’s been very cold or freezing both times. The first time I ran the race the school parking lot was glazed in black ice. I kept sliding down the parking lot while waiting for the race to begin.

Bring your big boy shorts for this run!

The 25th Annual Northeast Delta Dental Boston Prep – this moderately challenging 16-miler is ideally scheduled for runners training for the Boston Marathon, any other spring marathon or a Runner looking for a mid-winter challenge! Are you a regular runner but not ready for a full 16? Try the “BP-Lite,” which offers a taste of the Boston Prep experience on a 5 mile course!

Registration was $65 through January 13th, then $70 and $75 on race day. a 5-Miler option is available for $30.00

Everyone should put this race on their bucket list. It really is an experience not to be missed.

Here is my 2015 race recap.

2019 Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & Marathon Team Relay

TBD February 10:00 AM – Sunday – a 2021 date has not been announced

Hyannis, MA

New England Marathons Winter, Hyannis MarathonRegistration was: Marathon registration is $65 through January 15th, Half is $57 and the 10K is $50. The Marathon relay is $115 per team.

The marathon has a registration limit of 400 runners, so don’t wait!

These races are USATF Certified:

  • USATF Certification # MA11001RN – Marathon
  • USATF Certification # MA11002RN – Half Marathon
  • Boston Marathon Qualifier – 6 Hour Course Time Limit

2020 ALL Race Results

PEAK Snow Devil Winter Races

5-6 February – 8:00 AM – Saturday REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

Pittsfield, VT

This is a snow shoe event where you can run a 100 miler, 100K, a Marathon, Half Marathon or a 10K.

The 100 miler begins at 6AM and the 100K begins at Noon on February 5th The Marathon begins at 7:30AM, Half at 8AM, 10K at 8:30AM and 5K at 9AM all on February 6th.

Snow shoes are required and this race is not for the faint of heart. The course is a 6.5 mile loop with 1200 feet vertical. Only 13 runners finished the marathon in 2018!

Registration is open! $175 for the 100 Miler, $130 for the 100K, $100 for the Marathon, $85 for the Half, $70 for the 10K and $35 for the 5K race.


New England Mararthons Winter

The Ocean’s Run Marathon, Half Marathon, 4 Miler & Kids’ Fun Run

TBD March – 8:00 AM – Saturday – a 2021 date has not been announced

Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, RI

All courses are USATF Certified and the marathon is a Boston Qualifier! This race has always been a great tune-up for Boston and other late Spring Marathons.

This race winds through the quiet Westerly beach communities of Misquamicut and Weekapaug. There are water views at nearly every stretch of the race. With hardly any climbs to speak of, this race is fast and furious!!

The race starts and finish at the Misquamicut State Beach! A portion of the proceeds to benefit The Westerly Track and Athletic Club!

Registration for 2020 has not opened. In 2019 registration was: Marathon – $90.00,1/2 Marathon – $60.00 and 4 Miler – $30.

This race received some bad reviews for 2019 and I do not see any information listed for 2021. It looks like this race may not be held in 2021. If you hear differently, please contact me.

The Hampton Half

7 March | 10:00 AM | Sunday – registration is open!

Hampton Beach, NH

I know it’s not a marathon, but who wants to sit around until spring?

I’ve run this half three times. It’s a great way to polish off winter.

It’s often cold and sometimes there is a cold breeze off of the Gulf of Maine. Sometimes it’s just a beautiful day.

Here is my 2019 race Recap.

This is a USATF measured and certified course.

Registration is open!

If you are a race director and I have missed your race please contact me at: info@omnirunning.com. If you are not a race director and know of a marathon that I missed, please contact me at the same email.

Run well my Friends and try to keep warm!

Andy

Longest Run of 2020 so far

Sometimes a long run doesn’t go as planned. I thought twelve miles would be good then dropped back to ten. One wrong turn and I ran almost 14 miles! 19 degrees turned out to be the least of my worries!

Sunday was the Melrose Running Club’s 6th long run of 2020.

I’ve missed the last two runs due to conflicts with races. On February 2nd we ran the Super Sunday race and on January 26th, we ran The Great Stew Chase 15K.

My weekly miles have been pretty low so far and my longest run this year was The Great Stew Chase at 15K or 9.53 miles for me.

The full long run this Sunday was 16.2 and I decided that 12 miles would be enough for me. You really don’t want your weekly long run to by twice as long as any of your previous week’s runs.

I’ve read that the long run should be no more than six miles longer than your longest week day training run. I find that a tough rule to follow.

At shorter distances you can get away with increasing your long run to 150% of your longest weekly run.

So you could go from running 6 mile training runs to a 9 mile long run. You can definitely go from running fours to a 6 mile long run.

The key is to take the long run easier than your shorter week day runs. Most of us would not run a half marathon at our 5K pace. The same thing applies to your weekly long run.

Longest Run of 2020

When I reviewed the 16.2 mile route I figured that I could cut it back to twelve miles easily.

At about 5.5 miles I took a right and the long run people turned left. My plan was working.

I made my way back to the water stop and had two cups of Gatorade/water and headed out. One of the long runners left the water stop just ahead of me and I followed him. I knew there was a turn coming up that I always miss.

I made the turn and Mike Sikkema caught up and passed me. I managed to keep Mike in sight long enough to see him take the right turn onto Main Street/ Rt. 28 in Stoneham.

Sunday Long Run 6, longest run of 2020This took us along the back side of Spot Pond. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I wanted to go straight and run the front side of the pond.

That was my crucial error.

I was now running by my self but knew where I was and all of the turns.

Soon after the wrong turn my watch chimed in for mile eight.

After I left the long run group I decided that ten miles was a better idea than twelve.

This route is very hilly and my quads were beginning to feel it.

When my watch hit eight miles on the back side of Spot Pond, I knew I was in trouble. There was no way to turn this run into 10 miles from this point in the run.

I had left my phone in my car and only had $5 in my pocket. There was no way to bail on this one.

A Bridge Too Far

As my watch hit nine miles I went under a Rt. 93 bridge. It was definitely a bridge too far.

My pace was still pretty good at 9:24 but I was fading fast.

The next turn was a left onto Elm Street in Medford and another hill. I then took a right onto Highland Ave at the rotary by Flynn Ice Rink. I thought there was a water stop there, but I didn’t recognize the car.

I avoid trying to open trunks of unknown cars.

It was a cold day, so it was okay.

As I continued down Highland I knew the next turn would put me on East Border Road. This is another hilly section which would dump me onto the freakin Fellsway East.

When I got to the second rise in the hill on East Border Road I decided to walk. I hit mile 11 just after cresting that hill and began to run down to the intersection.

Mile eleven came in at 10:34. At this point I wasn’t too concerned with my pace. I was more concerned with surviving to run another day.

I wasn’t cold or depleted but my left knee was beginning to act up. My body just wasn’t prepared for this many miles.

I took the left onto The Fellsway and cursed my self for not turning left at the rotary instead of right. With that turn I would have run about twelve miles and avoided these bloody hills!

I walked some of these hills and ran the down hills as best I could. While running down the last Fells hill I hit mile twelve. That was my stretch goal for the day and I knew I had at least another mile and half to go!

I ran to the intersection with West Wyoming Street and was able to cross the street quickly. Traffic was light and people let me go.

I was now on the home stretch and my knee was telling me to stop.

After mile thirteen I decided to walk. I was beyond anything I had planned and who cared anyway?

As a runner approached I waved and they didn’t even acknowledge me. I guess you don’t look like a fellow runner when you are walking.

As I neared the rail road tracks I started running and kept on until I turned the corner onto Main Street. My ankle and knee were both killing me. Than I “ran” in the last bit to the finish but didn’t have the juice to round it out to 13.75.

13.72 miles was quite enough, thank you!

Hydration and recovery

I went into Brueggers, got an ice coffee and sat with friends for about ten minutes before heading home. As I sat there I could feel both calves getting ready to cramp.

On the way I drank a BodyArmor sport drink which has electrolytes and a variety of vitamins.

After a nice hot shower I applied some arnica gel to both knees and slipped my Body Helix knee compression sleeve onto my left knee.

I recently reviewed the Body Helix compression wraps. I’ve been using the knee wrap for a few weeks as needed and it seems to help.

I don’t get a commission, but you can get 10% off any Body Helix Compression Wraps you buy with code BH10RUN.

I hope you had a good long run this weekend and one that went according to plan.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Super Sunday 2020

What a great day for the Super Sunday 2020 5 miler and 5K.

It was usually warm for February 2nd and we even had some sun! I tell people this race is always cold and some times it’s god damned cold! This year was as good as it get’s in February in Cambridge.

I’ve been running this race since 2015 and they have always had teams. It’s a great way to drive registrations and it’s a lot of fun to run with a group of friends.

Super Sunday 2020, VIP Tent RowLast year the Melrose Running Club had 31 runners. In 2020 we had 40 run the 5 miler and 9 more run the 5K. We had 11 more non-club members join our team, so we had a total of 60 people!

We got a VIP tent for the second year in a row. Special thank go to our Team Captain, Judy Dolan. Judy worked hard last year to get us a tent and this year took it to another level in getting 60 people to sign up!

Judy also brought hot coffee, pastries and chocolates. Last year she wrote a note for each runner, but with 60 runners, she just couldn’t do it this year. Can you blame her?

I think everyone had a great time and even with the “nice” weather, we enjoyed the shelter of the VIP tent.

Running the Super Sunday 2020 5 Miler

Along with 39 of my fellow MRC runners, I chose to run the 5 miler. I ran the 5K in 2015 but have enjoyed the longer race each year since.

Athenaeum Street is always a wind tunnel. This part of Kendall Square is only a few hundred yards from The Charles river. So there is always a cold breeze blowing down these side streets.

This year was as good as it had ever been. They start the 5K ten minutes after the 5 miler and my first year I had to wait in a freezing howl off of the river. Maybe that’s why I switched to the 5 miler!

There was a huge crowd and I could hear understand a word that the race director, Alain, said. Apparently he asked the crowd to step back because the crowd started pushing us back.

In 2019 we ran towards Third Street, but this year we ran towards First Street which is towards Boston. No big deal, but a bunch of runners had lined up on the front side of the starting line.

Super Sunday 2020 start and finish areaWe didn’t really hear the start either, but we strained our eyes and saw the front of the pack start to move and in just a minute or two all of us were crossing the line and starting our watches.

It was pretty crowded but even the first turn went well. I didn’t have a full head of steam yet so there wasn’t much slowing needed to negotiate the corner.

Then we turned onto Binney Street which must be six lanes across. A wider road than much of the Boston Marathon route.

It was great to look around and see purple MRC shirts of all varieties. Last year the club bought 100 winter hats and I could see them all over the place.

I always love running through the intersection of Binney and Third Street. Each night I drive through this intersection and during the race I get through the intersection faster than driving!

Third Street in Cambridge is a total mess. This part of Cambridge has been under construction for at least the past ten years. If the city is waiting to fix the roads, it could be ten more years.

Super Sunday 2020 5 mile course mapThis road beats the shit out of my car and as a runner you need to watch where your feet land. I’ve replaced my shocks, I can’t replace an ankle.

From Third we took a right onto Broadway for our long slog out to The Harvard Art Museum where we took a sharp right onto Cambridge Street for the long slog back.

I’ve been on Cambridge Street many times, but I always feel disoriented when I’m running down this street.

About the Super Sunday 5 Mile Course

East Cambridge is a very flat area. The two “hills” had an elevation gain of 27 and 20 feet! The 20 footer came in the last mile of the race and I actually got to pass a few people.

Binney Street is nice and wide and Broadway and Cambridge street are pretty wide also. By the time we got to Broadway the crowd had thinned enough that the narrower road did not feel crowded.

As we ran west on Broadway the crowd continued to thin. At the first water stop, I was actually able to get a cup of water and they only had about five people manning the table. I’m not too proud to grab some water on a short course. I know I need it to run the way I do.

It was fun to run out Broadway and actually be able to look at the shops and restaurants. In a car you have to focus on cars, bikes, pedestrians and lights. It can be exhausting.

The Harvard Art Museum is quite the impressive modern building. They have an exhibit of Japanese art and I thought my youngest daughter might be interested in seeing that.

As I was admiring that building and reading the sign for the exhibit all of a sudden our turn was there!

I had been running with Marty Hergert and Pam Walcott. We kept trading places but at the turn we were close by.

We were now half way and headed toward mile three. This is where the folks who stick to 5Ks start to run our of gas. I knew that over the next two miles I’d be passing some of these people. All I had to do was maintain my pace.

Just keep pushing.

My first three miles were 8:02, 8:13 and 8:07.

I was working but everything was working. Nothing hurt and my breathing was pretty good.

I wasn’t breaking any land speed records, but I was doing pretty good for a guy running less than 25 miles a week.

As we ran along I tried to take in the scenery. Cambridge Street is in pretty good condition, so I didn’t have to pay strict attention to my feet.

I don’t recall much of this part of the race but I do recall enjoying the ability to actually see things.

As we headed down the hill at the end of Cambridge Street I was ready. I had pushed the last half mile and was ready for the final kick.

As we turned onto Athenaeum Street I could see the finish line! And there was a small crowd cheering us on.

I was with a good sized group of runners. So when we got to the finish line it was impossible to line up for the photographer.

Garmin had me at 41 minutes even. How unusual is that? My total distance was 5.08 for a pace of 8:04.

My official time was 40:47 at five miles exactly for an 8:11 pace. My 5 mile PR is 36:46 back in 2015 at the Harpoon Brewery Five Miler.

A Rockin Party

Our tent was packed. We had a huge crew and friends from other clubs kept dropping by. Like bees there was a constant flow of runners in and out of the group in search of beer. We’d go get some and head back to the tent.

Twice the race brought us three Za pizzas. They were nice and hot and really hit the spot. I missed the first delivery, but managed to get two delicious, hot slices on the second round.

I was riding with someone else, so I was on a mission to enjoy my self. And that is what I did.

The band was so good, I thought they were playing an Aerosmith tape over the PA. Even when I stopped to listen closely, they still were spot on.

Melrose Running Club at 2020 Super Sunday Race

With such a large crew there were people I hadn’t seen in a while and many new club members. It was really a great time.

When we went to leave the parking garage, we found out that it was free! We had no idea and it felt like such a bonus on top of a great race and great time.

If you’ve never run this race, I encourage you to try it next year. It’s well organized, the swag, food, band and beer are all great.

2020 Results

2020 Photos

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Great Stew Chase 15K 2020

It’s amazing to think that The Great Stew Chase 15K has been around for 46 years!

Several times over the years the race has changed a bit. Their web site doesn’t gave a lot of details, but in 2002 they started using the current Lynn/Peabody course and in 2010 they started using the current turn around spot.

Twice the race was postponed due to weather. It is a January race in Massachusetts, so you have to expect that once in a while.

When the race was postponed, participation dropped off substantially.

In the late 90’s into the 2000s the race drew between 200 and 300 runners with a high of 376 runners in 1998.

Since 2010 the Great Stew Chase has had more than 300 runners only once, in 2014. In 2018 and 2019 the race drew less than 200 runners.

I don’t have official numbers for 2020 yet, but I believe that the count was around 150 runners.

I can make a few educated guesses as to why participation is declining.

First, it is a 15K. This is an unusual distance, half-way between a 10K and Half Marathon. It’s too long for people who enjoy running 5Ks and are reluctant to make the leap to 15K.

It’s also too short for people who are training for Boston. At this stage in most training plans, runners need around 15 miles on a Sunday.

Second, the race takes place in January in Massachusetts. It’s not unusual to have ice and snow on the ground and cold winter air blowing in your face.

Third, this race is known for it’s hills. They are not really that bad, but it seems that’s what people hear and remember about the race. The total elevation gain for this race is about 250 feet with the greatest gain of 86 feet in mile 5.

This is the mile we make the turn around and people are starting to feel the race.

Who runs The Great Stew Chase 15K?

2020 marks my 4th running of this north shore race. From my experience, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of who runs this race.

When I first showed up in 2017 I was surprised to see tables full of local running clubs. Each club had a table or two. There were a few unaffiliated runners, but 75% wore club colors.

I’ve come to understand that this is a club oriented event which is fairly unusual. Many races now encourage building teams to get perks like a pop-up tent, but I don’t think Stew’s does this officially.

There are no awards for the largest team or any recognition at all for team size.

Maybe because this is an unusual distance it takes a club to encourage runners to come out? Maybe it’s been a club race for years?

All I can tell you is that there are about six or seven clubs who bring most of the runners to this race.

There are a lot of young hot shots who run this race and do well. There are also lots of older runners who do very well and would be competitive in lower age brackets.

Besides belonging to a club, I think many runners who show up are real runners.

By that I mean people who train in any weather and may have run in high school or college. This is what they do. Some people golf, these people run in any conditions and love it.

This hard core group of runners looks for the challenging races and runs races all twelve months of the year.

When I look around the table at the Melrose Running Club crew, that is what I see. Some of us ran while in school, but most of us came to running later in life and this is what we do.

Less than 10% of our club runs this race, so it is pretty much the hard core runners who show up.

Enthusiasm for running has ebbed over the past five years. There was a surge after the Boston Marathon bombing, but that surge has crested.

Participation in many races has declined and some races have faded away.

While many casual runners now stay home, the hard core runners still turn out in all conditions for races like The Great Stew Chase 15K.

So I believe it is the core of the running community that continues to come out and support races in January that might have an unusual distance.

Melrose Running Club at Great Stew Chase 15K

Great Stew Chase 15K 2020, Melrose Running ClubWe had twenty runners this year. This is our lowest turn out over the past four years, but it was mostly our hard core runners. People with grit and goals.

The people who ran this year had a good time even if the course kicked their asses. We’re funny that way.

Lynda Field and Mike Sikkema both won their age group and Marianne Chmielewski placed second in her age group.

Many others placed in the top five of their age group.

Paul Locke, Marty Hergert, Regina Curran and Linda Giesecke all set new PRs for the 15K.

I was just over a minute away from setting a new PR and really thought I had it. My early miles were good and I kept pushing on each hill.

When ever I felt like letting up I kept telling my self that this is the hill that will make the difference. If you let up here you will miss your PR by seconds.

My watch showed my average pace at 8:29 which would beat my PR of 8:33. But I ran 9.53 miles on a 9.3 mile course, and that made all the difference. Oh well.

Overall it was a great day. We had great weather, a challenging course and great people to hang out with.

What’s not to love?

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Hampton Half Marathon and 5K 2019

Heading for The Hamptons

There was snow in the Greater Boston Area Saturday with about six inches of accumulation. Fortunately New Hampshire only received about an inch of snow.

The race organizer, Loco Running, was concerned that the storm may slow down and continue into Sunday. They issued an advisory that the race would be postponed for safety if this happened.

Fortunately the storm blew through, the highway was clear and the roads were in good shape for running.

When we got to Hampton Beach there was plenty of parking and we pulled right in. We headed to The Ashworth Hotel to pick up our bibs and shirts. While there wasn’t much snow on the ground, it was still cold at 8:30 AM.

Hampton Half, Winter RunningAs we left The Ashworth Ballroom and headed towards the car my buddy Durm Cahill saw that the hotel had a restaurant.

We looked through the door and they weren’t very busy so we decided to go in for breakfast. I ate there once before and the food is good. We both got a double stack of blueberry pancakes and coffee.

Previously I had the triple stack and it was way more than I could eat before a race. We both polished of the pancakes in short order and Durm had a side of ham with his.

Fueled up for the race, we checked out the beach and headed back to Durm’s car for our final race prep.

Hampton Half Marathon Start

I sat in the warm car and sorted my gear while Durm stretched his legs. Around 9:45 we headed for the start.

The roads were busier and there were runners everywhere heading towards the start.

There was snow and ice on the ground in some spots. As we approached the start area we saw them shoveling out the start area! It was only an inch or so of snow but there was a layer of icy stuff left behind.

I was a little concerned about slipping at the start. There can be incidental pushing and bumping in the rush to get across the timing mats. And in the rushed crowd it’s difficult to see the road beneath your feet.

No one was closer than 25 feet from the start and I decided to stand at that point. Durm thought that was too aggressive for him so he headed back into the crowd.

I told him that my plan was to stay put when the race director called everyone to the line. We would be behind 500 people. It was still too far up for Durm.

As I stood there waiting two ladies next to me were talking about the 70° difference between yesterday and today. I thought they must have been from northern Maine. Turns out they were from South Dakota!

They flew in Saturday, were running the race and heading back home. Their goal is to run a half marathon in all 50 states. I was shocked that anyone would fly to New Hampshire in March to run a half marathon, but it made sense.

They also wanted to see a lighthouse and asked if Portsmouth was up the highway. I told them it was and they figured they had time to see the lighthouse and make their flight.

Just before the start they played The National Anthem and we all stood silently with hats over our hearts.

With a “Go,go,go!” we gingerly made our way across the starting line.

The First Half of The Half

Hampton Half MarathonThe race started just down the street from The Ashworth on Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A. As soon as we crossed the start we all headed across the street for the first sharp left turn onto Island Path.

Where we turn is a bit of neglected pavement that hadn’t been plowed. The crew had done their best to clear it for us, but there was still ice and snow to contend with. In 2018 they had to shovel this for us also.

The first two and a half miles of the race were through a side neighborhood in Hampton Beach. Most visitors never go there and I’d only been through there a few times for races.

There were lots of turns but I managed not to get bunched up.

We hit mile three just north of where Rt 101 joins Rt. 1A. The road was clear and we were on our way.

The feel of the run

I don’t know if it was the pancakes or all of the clothes I had on, but I just didn’t feel right right from the start.

Hampton Half MarathonI felt weighed down by the clothes and my body. I’m a little over my goal weight for Boston and had way more for breakfast than normal.

I wasn’t tired or sore but it was a real effort to move. I had fueled and hydrated properly. For a bit I worried I was having a cardiac event. I have no idea what that feels like but obviously my engine was having a hard time getting started.

I was having a hard time finding my stride. My pace was fairly consistent throughout the race and on target, but early on I felt like a bag of bricks.

At 5K I took my first supplement and that seemed to help a bit.

By the time we got to our turn off of Rt. 1 at mile 5 I was hitting my stride.

Miles six through ten were through the neighborhoods of Hampton and had most of the race’s hills.

Deep in the Middle

Just before mile six I took a gel. As I worked on it, out of the corner of my eye I saw my old running buddy Jeff Rushton. I’ve run so many runs and races with Jeff I can tell it’s him without even seeing his face or all of him. Some people I can ID with just their silhouette.

So I called out to Jeff and we chatted for a quarter mile or so. He said he couldn’t tell it was me but had been thinking that that guy must be hot in that jacket.

I was. I had anticipated winds off of the ocean and had dressed accordingly. Instead we had a 35° day with virtually no wind! I kept hydrating but could only take off my gloves and hat.

A few times I even wrong sweat out of my hat.

Jeff moved ahead and slowly out of view.

We were not quite half way and I knew better than to try and run someone else’s pace. We were deep in the middle of this race with lots of miles yet to run.

I’ve run this course probably six times, maybe more. I know the hills, turns and the roads.

I used this knowledge to run strait lines on curving roads and to push up the small hills. After a 69ft climb on mile seven, we were done with hills.

I continued to skip the water stops and drink the mix I brought with me and to take my supplements at the right times.

By the time we got to mile ten and back onto Rt. 1A, I was ready to kick it in.

On to The Finish

For the next three miles I locked into my pace between 8:33 and 8:45. My legs felt light and nothing hurt. I didn’t feel as good as I did last fall at the Hampton Rock ‘N Roll Half, but I was running a faster pace.

I passed a lot of people those last three miles. It became almost automatic and out of my control that I would run down who ever was in front of me.

Sometimes a runner would try to keep me from passing, then I would and then I’d put some space between us. Most people who were faster than me were already further down the road. I was the spider, I was the one who knocks.

I was running at my capacity and if someone challenged me I’m not sure I could have held them off.

Looking down Rt 1A from about two miles out there is a long curve in the road. You can see the buildings along the beach in Hampton Beach where the finish line is.

It’s probably worse than Boylston Street because you can see the finish area for two miles, not a few city blocks. You run and run and it feels like you’re on a treadmill.

As we got closer to The Ashworth the crowd built. Then we made the last turn and there was the finish! About 200 yards away.

For the last 0.13 miles I managed a 7:29 pace. It took everything to do that!

My finish time was 1:56 at an 8:52 pace. My goal was anything under 9 minutes, so goal accomplished! My buddy Jeff finished a few minutes before me and was still in the finish area.

We swapped stories and walked around a bit. I wasn’t sure where Durm was so I headed for the hotel, our agreed upon meeting spot. Jeff headed for home.

Apre Hampton Half Marathon

After I caught my breath, had something to drink and walked around a bit, I felt okay. The only thing that hurt was where the cuff of my tights rubbed on my ankles. It’s an elastic band designed to keep them tight against my leg which is good. They’re just too tight.

When I got to The Ashworth I was able to walk up the stairs, no problem.

I got a bowl of soup and headed for the beer table. No tickets for this event, just take a beer or two. I took one Smuttynose pilsner and looked for a place to sit.

The soup was hot, salty and good. I took one sip of my beer while I ate my soup. The guy next to me ran a 1:32 and placed in his division about the same spot as me.

After a few minutes I saw Durm walk in and get his food and beer. I caught his attention and he joined me at the table.

He had a pretty good race and ran about what he expected, 2:06.

At one point I looked up and saw Dave McGillivray walking by. No one seemed to recognize him and he was just walking through the crowd like any other runner. He doesn’t know me from Adam, but I always say hello when I see him.

I called out his name and stood up. He came over, shook my hand and we talked about the race.

Hampton Half MarathonThis was his first half since open-heart surgery last year! He ran a 10:17 pace and walked twice. For a guy who just had major surgery that is very impressive.

I told him my finish time and he asked if I was running Boston. I told him that I was and he asked if I was going to do it in 4:17. That’s a little faster than I was planning, but Dave knows running.

He headed off into the crowd and Durm and I finished our food. Thuy Dang dropped by and sat with us and I had a few more beers. I wasn’t driving.

Thuy is running Boston also and finished the Hampton Half in 2:31. We had a quick group photo and headed for home.

No awards or PRs at this race as far as I know. Just a good run.

Run well my Friends,

Andy