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BCBS Island Run, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA

Blue Cross Blue Shield Island Run 2018

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, pub-4167727599129474, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0