Monday, March 28, 2011

Peachtree Lottery: Update (3/28/11)

Email hot off the presses from the ATL:

Dear Jesse Morrow,

Congratulations! Your lottery entry was selected for the 2011 AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2011.

Hottime in Hotlanta!

National Marathon, Part II: “Shock and Awe” or Wow and Oww! (3/26/11)

Race: National Marathon
Location: Washington DC
Goal Time: 3:30:00
Finish Time: 3:53:12

If you’re interested in getting to the starting line see National Marathon, Part I. I just in no way wanted the crappiness of the Metro to contaminate the amazing work done by the planners, organizers and volunteers of the event itself!


It’s tough to find a cooler course for a marathon (especially the first half). After the first mile down C and North Carolina, you spend the next mile run on closed to traffic East Capitol – straight at the Capitol building!

Just to list a few of the monuments in the first 17 miles:

US Capitol
National Archives
National Gallery
National History Museum
Washington Monument
World War II Memorial
Old Executive Office Building
DuPont Circle
Columbia Heights
Howard University
US Capital again
(The Half finishes)
US Capital again again

While the next 9 are not near as exciting in views, the enthusiasm of the volunteers made up for it.

Volunteers & Spectators

Except for the guy who questioned why we were running because the only reason to run was to get away from the cops – the spectators and volunteers were wonderful.

The volunteers who manned the water stops were constantly full of energy cheering on people by number (either their bib number or mostly in my case “Number 21” for my Primetime jersey).

On the lonelier stretches of the second half at least two police officers were clapping for the marathoners.

The large group at Howard playing Boogie Down Productions out of the station wagon kept me light on my feet for another mile or so.

My cousin volunteered at the 13-mile water stop.

And I give a special thanks to the Friendship Charter School Drum Line who played at mile 23! They kept a lot of us going at that moment when we didn’t want to.

My Race

Maybe it was my negativity toward running a marathon in general (For a few weeks I’ve been saying this will be my last marathon for a while); maybe it was my misconception of my own ability; maybe it was not being able to stretch since I was trapped in the Metro station; maybe it was all three. But something kept me from running my best.

While I stayed in control over the first half of the race, but 16 I knew it was not my day and I just packed it in, trying to match my previous 3:45. Unfortunately not even that was to be and the last 10K, I slid out of contention for any of my goals as even the packing it in slowed me down.

Well, I have said it the past few weeks, this is my last marathon for a while. Maybe, I’ll try a fall one next year; we’ll see.

National Marathon, Part I : Oh, I hope I can make it to the Start line on Time (3/26/11)

6:00 – Columbia Heights Metro Station

I couldn’t get into the station via the door nearest my cousin’s house. I glanced across 14th Street and saw a large group of runners surrounding the Station entrance on that side. So, I jogged over. Almost immediately a T worker comes and opens the gates and about 20 of us in running gear with our numbers already on are running down the broken escalator. (Well, it’s not actually broken – the escalator is just temporarily stairs.)

The Metro came almost immediately and we all ran into the train to find yet more people in running garb.

At each stop, another 10-20 people in running garb get aboard the train.

6:15 – L’Efont Plaza Metro Station

Its off the Green Line and downstairs to the Blue/Orange Line. The next train sign, however, is ominous! 19 minutes. 19 minutes? That would put us into Stadium at 6:45 with only 15 minutes to find our place at the starting line and stretch! Aaaagh!

6:34 – L’Efont Plaza Metro Station

The station has been filling up with more and more runners as each Yellow or Green Line train disgorges its Compliment of Marathoners, Half Marathoners and Marathon relayers.
I have been talking to a trio from NYC who had lost the lottery for the NYC Half and were running the National instead.

The first Orange or Blue Line train rolls in. It is stuffed to the gills with runners; there is no way all of us can get on.

After 25-30% of the runners on the platform get aboard the train leaves.

6:35 – L’Efont Plaza Metro Station

The remainder of us get aboard a nearly completely empty second train – 1 minute later!

6:46 – Stadium-Armory Metro Station

Uh oh!

As we detrain one can see the ENTIRE PLATFORM filled side to side and halfway down with runners, trying to get out of the station!

DC’s Metro has a stupid system where you pay different prices for different trips. This requires that you put your fare card through the machine to get out. This means laving requires each person to wait to get permission from the computer before sliding through one of the eight turnstyles – assuming they all work.

6:50 – Stadium-Armory Metro Station

I am now within reaching distance of the stairs.

6:55 – Stadium Armory Metro Station

I am now at the top of the stairs; and of course, not all the turnstyles are working.

7:00 – Stadium Armory Metro Station

I am now outside, and I hear the national Anthem. I start hustling. I get around the corner and I hear the start. Now I am sprinting to get to the start line! AHHHHH!

7:03 – RFK Stadium

Got to my corral as it was leaving now en route to the starting line. (surely, the fact I have no time to stretch won’t hurt me later in the marathon.

I have no clue how the Metro possibly thought that getting about ¼ of the runners to the starting line could happen in the time they gave before it opened. I had timed it the day before – 25 minutes. I, however, didn’t account for the fact that I’d have to wait for the first Blue/Orange so long (my fault) or that it would take so long to leave the station (WMATA’s fault). I suggest to the Metro

a) Open at 5:30, Not 6:00;
b) Leave the gates at Stadium Metro open for those two hours; or,
c) BOTH.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lottery for the Peachtree

For Bostonians not familiar with the Peachtree Road Race, it’s Atlanta’s Marathon. Yes, Atlanta does have a 26.2 mile race (it’s this coming weekend I think). But, “the Peachtree” is THE Race.

It’s the Fourth of July and everybody gets up early and starts getting drunk lining Peachtree Street.

When somebody starts running in Atlanta, their goal is the Peachtree.

It’s been the US 10K Championship several times and always attracts the Elite level runners.

The Peachtree Road Race T-Shirt actually carries a bit of cache in Atlanta.

I have run the race twice. Both times I finished in around an hour. My 1986 time (I was 12) of around 58 minutes was my PR for the 10K until last year’s Bridge of Flowers race.

Last year I looked into running it for the third time, only to find out I missed the date. This year they started a lottery for entry and well, I've entered the lottery for lottery.

A Great Race: An Ras Mor (3/15/11)

Event – An Ras Mor (5K road race)
Location – Cambridge, MA
Goal Time – 21:32
Finish Time – 21:35

It is odd, BUT…

My best three 5K times were all set last year and they were all Cross-Country. Which to everybody else is completely irrational. The fact is I’ve never been “in shape” for a 5K on the road. This is why I have broken 22 minutes 3 times – all in Cross-Country and never on the road.

Well, that all finally changed on Sunday. I started out at an good pace just warming up my legs. Once we turned onto Mass Ave., I was ready to rumble. The first mile was at 7:02; the second at 14:01 – perfect.

As we passed the Central Square post office I started picking up a little bit of steam and then picking up a little bit of steam like I had “all pig iron.”

This turned out to be a wee bit too soon as I lost most of my sprint before the turn into the last 0.1 mile. But, I crossed the line at 21:35 (two seconds slower than my PR and one second slower than my second fastest.)

So it was my road PR, my first road 5K under 7min/miles and a good way to set my next 5K target – Jingle Bell Run in December – watch out!

3 sports makes it a triathlon, right? (3/5/11)

Took my new ride: Ajax Telemon (a Specialized Allez Composite), out for its first longish ride, stopping here and there for other activities.

Leg One – Bike 15 Miles (Cambridge to Milton)

I left the apartment at 11 en route to the Blue Hills. Down Mass Ave and then down the Orange Line trail to Forest Hills. I then cut through Franklin Park and met up with Blue Hill Ave. I fought through the mayhem that is Mattapan Square out to the Blue Hills.

At the Observatory Road, I rode up and down Great Blue (.9 miles at an average grade of 10%). At the bottom I locked the bike and took to the road on foot.

Leg Two – Run 5.4 Miles (Observatory Road)

I ran up and down the Observatory Road three times – getting in a hill workout. People do this all the time, and I always mean to do it. Well now I have and, in the words of Drill Sergeant Saunders, “Oh, What a Rush!”

Leg Three – Bike 22 Miles (Milton to Newton)

I drank down a full bottle of water and ate a Cliff Bar. Then I hopped onto the bike and went up and down Observatory Road one more time.

Then down Blue Hill back to Mattapan and rode down Cummings Highway into Roslindale. I caught the Emerald Necklace trail in Forest Hills and rode through the Arboretum and past Jamaica Pond before catching the Esplanade trail at BU.

As I got past Harvard, the thaw started to cause real problems. One guy coming my way told me to cross to the Cambridge side of the river because the Boston side was “hell.” I did so only to find the tunnel at the Eliot Bridge ankle deep in snowmelt.

After a dangerous crossing of Elliot Street, I was on Greenough heading toward Watertown Sq. Fits and starts and dumbass not remembering where the gym was lead me to cycling up and down Watertown Street looking for the gym.

Leg Four – 2 hours of Basketball (Newton)

37 miles of cycling and 5½ running had an effect on my basketball. Jumping and running the floor were far more difficult with those miles on my legs. I still got my boards and a couple of blocks. Won one: lost one.

Leg Five – Bike 7 Miles (Newton to Cambridge)

Tired and into a head wind, I fought my way back down the River, across Elliot Street, stopping for the Harvard Band as they made their way to the Princeton Game and eventually to Central Square.

I was asleep by 9; woke up in the morning for my last long run – 22 miles.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oh SNOW! Winter Half on the Cape (2/27/11)

Event – Hyannis Half Marathon
Location – Hyannis, MA
Goal Time – 1:38:00
Finish Time – 1:41:52

My usual readers will be “shocked! shocked!” to find out that I went out to fast in this race.

For some reason I had gotten it into my head that I could actually do 13 miles at a 7 min/mile pace. God, I’m a moron sometimes. At around 4 miles, my body was telling me that 7 min/mile pace was impossible to keep up.

Then I reached what I’ve always termed the Horse Latitudes. Somewhere in the middle of the race the pure adrenaline from the starting line has worn off, yet the finish line is nowhere in sight. In a half marathon, I always find this at around mile 7. Two years ago, I hadn’t run six miles at once since sometime in college, yet today I’ve already expended massive amounts of energy and now still have 6 miles to go! But the sideways snow made it way worse.

People I had passed earlier were now passing me. Slowly I began to fade back and back and back and back. I was fighting and fighting to get to the 10 mile mark (for at that point, you have only a 5K left).

Yet, the 10 Mile mark did not rejuvenate me. Unnngh.. It wasn’t until later as I reached near the peak of the last big hill that I caught it. An older couple was watching us run by at the edge of their driveway and the guy behind me said: “Hell of a hill you got here.”

To which the gentleman responded: “I’ve been walking up this hill for 30 years, you can run up it once.”

The smile released something in me and I was able to carry myself to the end. While it wasn’t a PR, I did win the Clydesdales 211-225 division.

One race; one win this year!

Tino Pai,