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Road to Boston 2023 – SLR 13

Week 13 of The Road to Boston 2023 was our 22 mile SLR 13 run. This is our longest run of the program and one that we both look forward to and loathe.

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Usually we literally run the Road to Boston from Hopkinton to Boston College for the SLR 13. There’s no better test run than on the actual course.

But since COVID, the BAA has told or asked clubs and other organizations not to have large group runs on the course. Three weeks before the marathon it can be like a mini marathon out there.

The towns along the way provide police officers to manage traffic, and occasionally medical assistance. It’s become too much of a strain on their resources.

Many people still train on the course and I’m sure that some organizations still have their group long run on the weekend three weeks before the marathon. But I think a lot of the energy and excitement has dissipated as the crowds have decreased. It was fun while it lasted.

The course that Bobby Taylor put together for us was great. We ran down Main Street in Melrose to Malden Center and picked up the Northern Strand Community Trail just after mile 2.

While we crossed a lot of streets, people were very good about stopping for us and the trail is very flat.

Road to Boston SLR 13 March 26 2013, marathon training, long run training

At mile 8 we reached Lincoln Ave in Saugus. If we had crossed the street, we would have been in Lynn.

We had a water stop here and the half distance runners went their way and I went mine.

At this point in the run the few long distance runners were either way ahead of me or just behind me.

I’ve run every foot of this course at one time or another and it was nice to not worry about getting lost. Twenty-two miles is long enough without taking a long detour!

The run up Hamilton Street in Saugus gave us 72 feet of elevation and my pace was 10:39. Not too bad considering it’s pretty much in the middle of a 22-miler. My heart rate reached 157 which was the highest so far.

Mile 10 started in front of Saugus Town Hall and just before the rotary in Saugus Center. I think most people in Saugus had never seen a pedestrian at this rotary and fewer yet had seen a runner. It was just short of a cluster F.

It was funny running out Main Street in Saugus. I used to drive that street often when I lived in Saugus, but I never ran that street.

I think in all my years with the club we’ve only run this part of Saugus several times at most.

Chugging along it was fun to get a close up look at homes and buildings I’ve seen for years at a distance. It was also interesting to see which businesses had closed and to see some new ones in their place.

As I approached the Route 1 over pass I remembered the lines of cars backed up to get onto Rt 1 and how sometimes people didn’t seem to be very considerate.

Approaching the on ramp, a black BMW was coming over the bridge. They didn’t have a blinker on so I couldn’t be sure what they were doing. They noticed me, slowed down and put on their blinker. Then waited patiently as I hobbled across the road. Humanity was redeemed!

As I passed the shopping plaza my watch chimed mile 10 at 10:39.

Road to Boston 2023 SLR 13 Heading Home

Psychologically, 10 miles is kind of the half way point in a twenty-two mile run. We had run as far East as we were going to and were generally headed in the direction home.

Heacha Donnelly was running the mile 10 water stop and it was great to see her. I didn’t stay long as I didn’t want to tighten up or get cold.

Road to Boston 2023 SLR 13, 20 mile long run, MRC Group photo

My next challenge was crossing the Lynn Fells Parkway intersection with Main Street. There’s always a ton of traffic here and just like getting onto Rt. 1, people have places to go and things to do.

I timed it right and was able to cross without pissing anyone off and I didn’t have to use the cross light. People probably don’t appreciate that, but if I had pressed the button they would have waited an extra minute to get to Dunkies.

Now that I was across The Fellsway, I had the long uphill slog to Wakefield High School. Shortly after making the crossing mile twelve began.

This is a great road for running as the pavement is still intact and there are wide breakdown lanes on both sides. It’s not unusual to see other runners and cyclists on this stretch of road.

But it is a long slow hill with 79 feet of elevation gain. The most for any mile on this run. It’s also a wide open area that can be windy and cold.

At about 12.75 miles I reached Wakefield High and another water stop. I didn’t stay long as I didn’t need much and at this point in the run I really needed to be careful about taking a chill and my muscles tightening up.

Now we truly were on the way back home with less than 10 miles to run.

Road to Boston 2023 SLR 13 Round The Lake

While we, or I, was on the back end of a twenty-two miler I still had to run through Wakefield Center and around Lake Quannapowitt.

After I left Wakefield High I took a left onto Rt. 129 and ran the rolling hills to Wakefield Center for 67 feet of elevation gain and a mile pace of 11:21. My slowest pace so far.

But to be fair, I did use a porta-potty on a construction site. I stopped my watch, but I had to slow down to make the stop and then had to get back up to speed. Probably adding 20-30 seconds to that mile. It was worth it!

At the end of mile 14 I was running down Main Street in Wakefield navigating traffic and pedestrians. In general, everyone was great.

Shortly after mile 15 began, I was on the eastern side of Lake Quannapowitt and getting blasted by a cold 20mph “breeze” off of the lake.

I only had a nylon running t-shirt and an Under Armor tanker on. Remarkably, I wasn’t cold. My body heat was enough to counter the cold lake wind.

Even my exposed arms and legs were okay. If I had stopped for a minute it would have been all over!

I made my way around the north end of the lake to the parking lot where Bobby Taylor was manning what turned out to be my last water stop.

The parking lot wasn’t windy and actually felt comfortable. As I talked to Bobby I bent over and stretched my hamstrings and glutes. At just short of mile 16, things were beginning to tighten up. The cold along the lake probably didn’t help.

As we spoke I mentioned how I always get hungry late in a marathon. My stomach actually growls and aches a bit. Those gels and Gatorade just don’t stick to your ribs.

Bobby mentioned that he had some muffins and asked if I wanted one. Turns out that they were from the Gingerbread Construction Company – some of the best muffins you will ever have.

He broke off a piece of a chocolate chip muffin and handed it to me. It totally hit the spot! I knew right then that I had found what I wanted to eat at the MRC Mile 21 stop.

While a twenty-two mile run is a win on the road to Boston 2023, finding something to eat that would meet all of my needs was probably the biggest win.

I left with a happy belly and started mile seventeen.

The west side of the lake was much more comfortable even with the long slow incline. I finished mile eighteen just after the Main St./Rt. 129 intersection in Wakefield and started the last long slog back to my car. Mile pace was 10:59.

After I crossed Nahant Street in Wakefield, again without using a walk light, I came to the next Dunkin Donuts. I wasn’t paying attention to traffic until I heard the crunch of coliding plastic.

I looked up to see that two drivers could not decide who was going first into the Dunkin Donuts parking lot. It wasn’t a bad accident but I’m sure both cars had hundreds of dollars in damage. Is a cup of coffee that important I thought to my self.

While they had the entrance blocked, I easily made my way past the coffee shop and started up my next hill.

The thought of walking crossed my mind. I mean, really? WTF?

I had already stopped more than I would plan to do during the marathon. Even at the MRC tent I only hang out for a minute or two.

But, I was exhausted. 18 miles is the third longest distance I’d run for this series and I had four more miles to go.

I told my self that this was a training run, I’d already spent more time standing around than I would during the race, so you have to keep running.

This is what training is all about. How much can you push your self and endure? If you can’t hack the training, what the hell is going to happen during the race?

I had missed Bobby at Nick’s Pizza for the last water stop. And I really needed the refueling. Usually missing a water stop is a bit of a let down, especially late in the run. Sometimes you hang your resolve on a bit to eat and a spot to drink.

But I was loaded for bear and had something in my water bottles and a piece of Snickers bar in my belt. Hoo-a! Damn the torpedoes, I was doing this!

Mile 19 was tough at 11:32 pace and only 50 feet of incline. But I managed to eat some candy bar between desperate breathes and avoided inhaling a peanut!

Bobby drove by somewhere during mile 20 and asked if I needed anything. I said I was okay. My legs felt like they were going to explode, but hey, I was okay.

Mile twenty came in at 11:03 and mile twenty-one came in at 11:01. So I was getting my mojo back.

As I approached the finish area I realized that I wasn’t going to get twenty-two miles if I stopped at my car.

So I had to loop around the block and parking lot. For good measure I made it 20.02 miles and mile twenty-two came in at 11:59. Yikes! But there were lots of turns that my tired legs found challenging.

My longest run since the 2019 Boston Marathon was now complete.

My total time was 3:56 at a pace of 10:43. Not great.

This could easily translate into a five-hour marathon. This is not my goal.

I still had two more taper time long runs and at least four more shorter runs.

There is no way that this time could stand.


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3 responses to “Road to Boston 2023 – SLR 13”

  1. Jane Fritz Avatar

    I can’t run anymore (arthritic hip), but I love reading your descriptions, Andy. I feel like I’m there running with you. I hope your knee’s surviving.

    1. OmniRunner Avatar

      I’m sorry that you can’t run anymore.

      When I go out for a run like this, it’s not lost on me that this could be the last time I run a race like this.

      Thank you for reading!

      Andy

  2. […] Twenty-two miles for week thirteen was a challenging run. Even though I was not happy with my 10:43 pace, it was faster than the previous three long runs including my solo twenty-miler on March 3rd which I ran at 11:10. […]

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