I’ve run The Great Bay Half Marathon four times.
It’s usually held about a week before the Boston Marathon and when I have a bib for Boston I don’t run Great Bay.
Tapering is supposed to be about cutting back and recuperating, it’s not good a time to run a challenging half marathon.
This year I didn’t have a bib for Boston so I signed up for Great Bay. I love the course, seeing all of my friends and the great party afterwards.
Great Bay Half Marathon 2020
Like almost every race since February, The Great Bay Half Marathon went virtual for 2020.
I had to make up my own course and run the race by my self, totally un-supported.
I went through my Garmin Connect dashboard and found a loop that I could make a 13.1 mile course.
This is a short run across Medford to The Mystic Valley Parkway.
The Parkway is a nice run along the Mystic Lakes with several parks and lots of activity.
It’s particularly popular with cyclist.
When I woke up around 6:30 AM it was already 66° and I knew we were headed for the 80s.
As such I didn’t waste much time getting ready to go. All of my gear was laid out and I was out the door just after 7:00 AM.
The sun was up and the temperature was now 68°.
As I ran down my street I could feel all kinds of aches and pains. I’ve been running less and my legs seem to be feeling worse. Go figure.
I knew that much of this would go away after the first mile and tried to relax and go slow.
The first two miles were 9:16 and 9:03. In West Medford I had to stop for the Commuter Rail train. I forgot to stop my watch and mile three came in at 10:32.
Mystic Valley Parkway
About a half mile after the rail road crossing I came to the rotary where the Mystic Valley Parkway begins.
Strait through the rotary is Arlington and to the right was my designated course up the Parkway.
When I stopped to take this photo just before 8:00 the temperature was already 73° . I was glad to know that most of this parkway is well shaded.
In Massachusetts masks are still required if you cannot maintain social distancing.
It’s impossible to avoid people and I know that I’m going to be close to people at some point during my runs.
It’s amazing how many people won’t give any room to pass on the side walk even with traffic. Am I supposed to run into cars and trucks?
For me, the possibility of death is better than near certainty!
Around mile four I took my Honey Stinger gel. I brought two just in case since it has been a while since I’ve run this distance.
These two miles up The Parkway were fairly comfortable. My aches and pains were gone for the most part. My left knee still bothered me but not enough to cause concern.
Mile 4: 9:03, Mile 5: 9:20
Winchester and Stoneham
Miles six and seven through Winchester were also fairly comfortable. I had been sweating basically since I left my house.
This section of my course had very little shade and it must have been close to 80°. One water bottle was empty and I had taken a drink from my second one.
My mind drifted back to Death Valley. There I learned to drink less than half of your water on the outbound leg of your hike.
I was more than halfway through my run, but I knew there were hills and more fully exposed road coming up.
I took a salt pill and a small drink.
With the Corona Virus pandemic, Dunkin Donut’s has closed all of their bathrooms. So no pit stops to take on or get rid of water.
I don’t take salt very often and I hoped that it wouldn’t make me sick.
But I was sweating heavily and knew I needed the sodium and potassium in that pill.
I passed our usual water stop on Eugene Drive and crossed Rt. 93 into Stoneham.
It was nice knowing that I was well over half way and still felt okay.
When I got to Main Street, my instinct told me to cross and go strait. But for this run I needed to turn right and head south on Main Street/Rt 28.
If I went strait, I’d end up in Melrose and have way too many more miles to run.
After about a half mile I arrived at the intersection of Main Street and South St/North Board Road just up the road from The Stone Zoo.
I stopped my watch and waited for a break in the traffic. I hate pressing the crossing light button. I can get across the road in 5 seconds, but those lights last much longer. Often I get across before the light even changes.
I continued strait on Main Street/Rt. 28 along the back side of Spot Pond. This was another two miles of almost no shade at all.
At mile 10 I had to walk a bit. I was hot and running low on water. With no water stops ahead of me I had to be careful.
Miles seven through eleven were between 9:34 and 10:12.
On the Home Stretch
Just before Mile Eleven I passed my normal turn onto Elm Street. This would have taken me over to Highland Avenue and added a mile or so to my run.
I kept running strait down Rt. 28 towards Roosevelt Circle. This is a busy entrance to Rt. 93 and for local traffic. Fortunately there is a sidewalk and traffic wasn’t heavy yet.
My kids went to the St. Francis Parish School and I was now in an area I knew quite well.
As I passed St. Francis Street I thought about all of the mornings I went up that road to drop the girls off for school in the morning. Good memories.
The sidewalk along this stretch of road has been heaved by frost and tree roots. I had to watch my step and considered running in the road.
But this section of road is like a speed way on the way to Rt. 93. So I kept my head down and my feet high.
At the intersection of the Fellsway West and Fulton Street the walk light was on! I ran the diagonal across six lanes of traffic for a beautifully executed crossing. That intersection must be 200′ across diagonally.
About half way down the Fells to Rt. 60 I hit mile 12 at 9:35. Not bad.
American Runs on Dunkin!
I was on my way to Haynes Square in Medford. There is a Dunkin Donut’s there and I decided to run to the Dunkin’s for a large iced coffee.
I was dehydrated and I knew that ice cold beverage would taste so good. And since there weren’t any water stops for the half marathon, I owed it to myself to have one good water stop!
I pulled up my mask and walked into Dunkin’s. There were only two people in front of me and I stopped my watch.
It only took about two minutes to place my order and be on my way.
I drank about a quarter of the coffee before I even crossed Rt. 60! I’ve run with an iced coffee several times and it’s much easier to do if it’s not full.
I slow jogged down Spring Street towards my home which was lass than a mile away.
I’m sure I was a sight to see, but hey, America Runs on Dunkin! Call me Captain America, I’ve got an iced coffee!
Just after I turned onto my street I hit mile thirteen at 11:21. Not bad for a guy drinking an iced coffee!
I jogged the next 0.12 miles at a pace of 10:09.
It felt good to be home.
Running in the heat is really draining. While I prefer heat over cold the heat does seem to take more out of me now. Some of that is probably age and some is probably my fitness level.
This definitely was my slowest Great Bay Half Marathon by well over ten minutes.
The real course has a total elevation gain of 424 Ft. while the course I ran only had a gain of 323 Ft. But it’s also about 20° cooler in New Hampshire in April!
It was good to get a solid long run in and the virtual race got me out there.
Have you run many virtual races this year? Have you run a virtual half or a full marathon?
Here are two recaps from from New Hampshire.
Run well my Friends,