Gold Star Run for Honor 2023
We had another picture perfect day for a road race this year. Not a cloud in the sky and the mildest of breezes. But you could tell the day was going to warm up with each of those warm breezes.
It was great to see friends from the club and some race friends. I had a great time talking to everyone and catching up on race achievements and injury updates.
As always, the race organizers put a well organized event with plenty of cold water, snacks and hot dogs! Most years, my first dog of the season is at this race. And it always tastes so good.
Most of us were running the 10K this year and most of us have run the race before. So we knew all about the hills late in the race and how you had to conserve your energy for them.
Gold Star Kids Fun Run for Honor
Each year they have a Kid’s Fun Run for runners 10 and under. They run 1/4 of a mile round the rotary in Saugus, pass Town Hall and finish under the big finish line banner we all finish under.
If you are a parent looking for a way for your child to give running a try, put the Gold Star Honor Run on your calendar for the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
They do charge for the Kid’s Fun Run but they all get a t-shirt and possibly a medal or ribbon. We had to line up soon after they finished so I couldn’t see any of them proudly bouncing around with their awards.
I always enjoy seeing their little faces come flying by. Some of them have that look of determination in their eye and are really going for it. It’s just cute as hell.
Some are less interested in being first and some look like they are not enjoying this at all! One guy was being carried by dad bringing up the rear.
These fun runs are where kids can get a taste of running without taking on too much. You never know where it may lead !
Running The Gold Star Run for Honor 10K
All runners lined up together in the street between Town Hall and the Saugus Public Library. About 256 of us between the 5K (164) and the 10K (92). The street is nice and wide here and I didn’t feel crowded at all.
I don’t think they played the National Anthem this year. It’s hard to miss when they do it as everyone falls silent and takes off their hats. I’m sure I didn’t miss it.
But we all started and wound our way around the rotary and then up Central Street. At Winter Street the 5K runners took a left the and the 10K runners continued up the hill and took a right onto Adams Ave.
I ran up the hill with Linda Ford and Eric Bremberg onto Adams Ave. Then I caught up to Jeff Rushton and we ran together all the way out to Essex Street.
Jeff and I used to run together all the time. If there was a race, we were there. And just like all of those races we chatted the entire time up Adams Ave.
When we got to Essex Street I told Jeff to go ahead as I could not run his pace and talk! By the time we got to Cliftondale Jeff was out of sight!
We hit mile two just before the Cliftondale rotary. Mile one and two were spot on with my watch, but somehow things got out of synch.
I’m not that good at cutting the corners at races to cut over 0.2 miles off of the course. When I try to cut as many steps as possible at marathons, I often end up running more than 26.2 miles. So I know that trying to run smart doesn’t always work out.
Somehow I only ran 5.96 miles for this race instead of 6.2 miles.
The 10K Grind
At a 5K, people start to drop back after the first mile. Most people can run one strong mile. At a 10K, mile two starts the sorting process. Each mile continues to grind people down.
As we ran down Lincoln Ave it began to feel that my feet didn’t have as much force when I pushed off. My lack of speed work and training in general were catching up with me.
During the Boston Marathon the lack of force was from fatigue which was also the result of not enough training.
But this odd feeling felt more like a software issue. I had a good breakfast and had some Gatorade before the run, so I was fueled. And while I’m not running huge miles, I have been running and cross training. Nothing hurt either, not even the knee.
So I decided to pay more attention to my kick offs, the swing of my arms and breathing.
To run your best, you have to think about breathing and be intentional about it. You can go on auto-pilot and not pay attention, but you can get into trouble over time. Running requires a lot of oxygen.
I was also mindful of the pavement. In many places there were grooves from traffic and of course pot holes. If you step on one of those the wrong way you could hurt your ankle or knee.
When we turned onto Hamilton Street we were on the home stretch and the beginning of the hills.
I grabbed a cup of water just before The Saugus River and got two good gulps of sport drink down. I was going to need that for these hills.
Running in the 10K
As we turned off of Lincoln Ave onto Hamilton Street I stayed in the street and didn’t cut through the parking lot. I thought it would add to the distance, but it didn’t really make a difference.
All the way down Lincoln Ave I had been trading places with a couple of other guys and trying to catch up to the group in front of us.
As we approached the hill on Hamilton Street I thought I had these guys. I run hills all the time. During the previous four miles I had been running on my fore foot to get up the hills. It really does help maintain speed.
But as we ran the first hill a guy who looked much older moved ahead of me and both of us left a younger guy behind. As I got to the crest of the hill a much younger guy passed me at an impressive pace.
I knew there was a turn coming up in a 1/4 mile so I crossed the street when I wanted to so I could avoid slowing down for cars or other runners. It was something I could control.
When we got to Saville Street I was ready for the run down. There were three or four of us pretty close together. I got behind one guy and was going to use him to pace my self. But I kept gaining on him and by the time we got to the bridge I had to pass him.
Then on Central Street I tried to pace behind another guy, but after a minute or two he told me to go ahead.
Running from behind is the best position. When you are in front, everyone or anyone will be pushing you. Late in a race you are probably running at 100% already. If you are behind you can push the pace just enough to get them over 100% and eventually break.
It’s nothing personal, it’s just competition. I’ve been run down plenty of times. Don’t bother me a bit.
As we wound around The Saugus Iron Works I kept pushing these guys. I knew that after we passed The Iron Works we still had to run about three blocks to the finish line. This was not the time for the kick.
As we ran those blocks I just wanted to maintain my pace and try not to get smoked near the end. As the course marshals cheered, I could tell how close behind me the next guy was. It was close.
The final turn onto Taylor Street was welcome. But I knew I had to fight to keep my pace and avoid any surprises.
Some people looked totally spent and were not moving very quickly. I assumed these were 5K folks who went out too fast. I passed a few of them as I layed it all down for the last 100 yards or so.
As I crossed the finish line, I knew I had left it all out there and run my best.
I had hoped for 56 minutes, but managed a 53:42 on a 5.96 mile run for a 9:01 pace. I haven’t run the math, but I think I would have hit 56 minutes on a true 10K run.
After the Running
Bob Bruzzese and Jeff Rushton were hanging near the finish line. I grabbed a water and talked with them for a bit, but I had to walk.
Before I knew it they started announcing the overall winners and age group winners. While I was happy with my run, I knew it wasn’t going to win any prizes!
Here are the results for the Melrose Running Club finishers:
Anthony Gentile – Time: 19:15, 4th male over all and first place male 20-29 5K!
Linda Ford – Time 55:54, 2nd place female 50-59 10K
Regina Curran – Time 57:42, 3rd place female 50-59 10K
Bob Bruzzese – Time 43:28, 2nd place male 50-59 10K
Jeff Rushton – Time 49:24 10K
Andrew Nagelin – Time 53:42 10K
Eric Bremberg – Time 54:52 10K
Thuy Dang – Time 1:09:47
Carl Houde – Time 1:10:42 10K
Team MRC was the first place team for the 10K. The combined time for four of us landed us in the first place spot. I think we were all shocked since we are all in our mid to late 50s.
We went up and got our water bottles and posed for a picture or two. It is always nice to win in some category totally unexpectedly. A little icing on the cake!
Run well my Friends