Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Long and Whining Road: 2012 in Review

"Even though time keeps a changing, I'm a bring it all back home" ~ Chuck D.

In the turn with about 150 yards to go, I opened it up to full throttle. I knew the two guys behind me had really good kicks and it would be all it took to beat them.  The slow building sprint that I had started was all out now.  Every step in my life had led to this moment.  This was the culmination.  I held on as Hector and I each opened on Chucky and the previous 10 minutes of lead were not wasted as I just out ran Hector the whole way.  Immediately the Herald reporter was asking me questions and I was handed a first place medal (and a fifth place medal for the shotput)...

That was of course the last time I was on this track: 20 years ago at the Boston City High School Championships.  Instead this was the BAA Half Marathon in October. My club was in charge of handing out finisher medals. So as I came across the line,  Urvi emerged from the pack.  She gave me my finisher medal and a kiss.  And there I got to unite another place with another shared memory with her.

"We came a long way baby, you know its amazing." ~ Chuck D

As 2012 began I had my biggest hope for a season since 1992.     A good Mill Cities in 2011, really created the feeling of victory after 20 years of sloughing through and not making my running a big deal.  

I didn't have long to wait for 2012 as the Hangover Classic was January 1st.  An eight minute PR in the 10K and jump into the ocean through me into what was going to be a great year.

But, this had only been the training for my big goal - Providence Marathon.  January and February saw four races with two Personal Records (and two distances I'd never run.)  With a 18:45 at the Super 5k and a 1:29:30 at the Hyannis Half Marathon, I felt for the first time I was racing near the caliber I had been in 1992. March was a fast 5k, fast half marathon and a victory in the Black Cat Relay ("Take that Salem Fire," ~ St. Anthony of Jersey).

Leading up to Providence, I prepped with yet another PR in the Half Marathon in a return to Great Bay.  Then hurt my chances at reaching my goals with an hour of trampoline dodgeball one week before.  Yet, Providence was still a 31 minute PR in the Marathon and put me at the verge of qualifying for Boston.  

"Consciousness went from platinum and shrunk down to gold."  ~ Chuck D.

Indeed, in 1992, I had been ready to continue my athletic career.  But, of course, took the easy way out with club Rugby, rejecting the work of Varsity Football or track.  It wasn't until 2004 that I even tried to run a race again.  And it still took 5 years of spits and starts to even make that.  The 2009 Maine Half Marathon will be the race I remember as the watershed.  From there on there was no returning to the old days.  Providence, however, will be the culmination of that.  2 and a half years of work finally placed me back in the ranks of "athlete."

I kept using my rank as athlete to over-race May and June.  While July and August were preparation for the too-soon but still rewarding Climb to the Clouds bike Century and Reykjavik Marathon.

"Twenty years, it's been a long and whining road." ~ Chuck D.

So, while the rest of the year was witness to a slow down in training and at a level slightly below the first half of the year with the smattering of challenges - e.g., Halftoberfest - it still was at a level of achievement higher than I had since that fateful year of 1992.   And, I'm ready to never again: take time for granted.

"Tomorrow's a long time... and still we rock on." ~ Chuck D.

Obligatory list of highlights below (feel free to ignore):

Personal Records (and time faster than pre-2012):

Adult 1 mile - Mass Ave Mile, 5:33 - 1 second PR
3 Mile - Paddy's Road Race, 18:43 - 4:34 PR
5k - Super 5K, 18:46 - 2:33 PR
4 Mile - Gobble^3, 25:56 - 5:28 PR
Casey's - 25:44 - 2:08 PR
Khoury's - 28:13 - 35 second PR
7k - Run the Goose, 29:37 - 3:39 PR
5 Mile - Doyle's, 31:19 - 6:06 PR
10K - Hangover Classic, 39:29 - 8:17 PR
15K - Boilermaker, 1:06:07 - 7:05 PR
10 Mile - Yankee Homecoming, 1:08:38 - 17:36 PR
 Half Marathon - Great Bay Half Marathon, 1:27:21 - 10:21 PR
Marathon - Providence Marathon - 3:14:09 - 31:33 PR

 High Category Finishes:

Super 5k (Feb) - 2nd, Linebackers
Martha's Vineyard 20 Miler (Feb) - 1st, Clydesdales
Hyannis Half Marathon (Feb) - 1st, Clydesdales
Casey's (Mar) - 1st overall - first overall win since high school
Black Cat (Mar) - 1st Relay
Great Bay (Apr) - 5th, Age Group
Playworks 5k (May) - 1st, Age Group
Casey's (May) - 1st, Overall
Jim Kane 5k (Jul) - 3rd, Heavyweights
Reykjavik Marathon (Aug) - 1st, Team Competition
Run the Goose 7k (Sep) - 3rd, Age Group
Applefest Half Marathon (Oct) - 3rd, Clydesdales AND 3rd, Age Group 
Jingle Bell Run (Dec) - 2nd, Clydesdales

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Whimper: Jingle Bell Run (12/16/12)

Race: Jingle Bell Run
Location: Somerville, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 19:54 (2nd Open Clydesdales)

Well, 2012 ends, In the words of TS Eliot: "Not with a bang but a whimper."

I had put so much into this race, targeting it as the big race of the end of the year.  Finishing 54 seconds behind my goal and 9 seconds behind where I was this time last year has just really called into question my ability for the coming year...

Urvi says its because I was sick, I don't know...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Well, that sucked: Winter Classic (12/9/12)

Giant trophy for largest team...

Race:  Winter Classic
Location: Cambridge, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time 20:52

Well, I knew my race was over when I stopped to vomit the first time.  It was really done when I stopped the SECOND time...

Down the Merrimack: Mill Cities Relay (12/2/12)

Kings of Beer, Mill Cities, 2012

It was our second year running as the Kings of Beer.  Last year each of us had hit the cusp of great training seasons and were using this as the first race of a great 2012 season.  This year, it came on a low point in training.  Marc and Dan just finished Philly two weeks before and Aaron, Seth and I were just coming off the layoff from long training seasons.  We still had fun.

SRR Shoutouts -

Mens: Open (That Escalated Quickly), 1st; Masters (Master Blasters), 3rd
Women's: Open (En Fuego), 1st
Coed: Open (Nuke to a Gun Fight) 3rd; Masters (Masters of the Universe), 3rd; Seniors (Cooney's Flying Circus) 2nd.

We took second in the Club overall as well.

Four!: Turkey Day Four Miler (11/22/12)

Fearsome Foursome after the Gobble Gobble Gobble

Race: Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler
Where: Somerville, MA
Goal Time: 26:00
Actual Time: 25:56 (4 Mile PR!!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Post-Ride and Weights Protein Smoothie

Banana Vanilla Nutella Smoothie

8 oz Vanilla Soy Milk
2 oz Plain Greek Yogurt
2 scoops vanilla flavored Whey Protein
One Banana
1 heaping tsp (2/3 tbsp?) Nutella


serves 2 normal people or one Jesse...

Back of the Envelope math says: 41 grams of protein, 425 calories.

If I had actually had peanut butter like I thought I did and used it instead of Nutella - 44 grams of protein, 420 calories.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Off Season: 2012

As my 2012 season comes to a close (Season in Review to come), I have to plan my off season.

November will boil to down to 5 compnents:

Strength Training Circuits 3 Times a week
25 Miles a week (all easy pace) running
100 Miles a week (all easy pace) cycling
Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 Miler on Thanksgiving
Black Friday Hundred Mile Bike Ride

December - (preseason)
- Strength Training 2 - 3 Times a week
- Build running 30, 35, 40, 45 miles a week
- 100-125 miles a week cycling
- Track workout once a week
- Mill Cities Relay
- Winter Classic 5k & Jingle Bell Run 5k

Pittsburgh training starts December 25th...

Season Ender: Wolf Socks! (11/3/12)

SRR getting at the start of Wolf Socks!

Race: Jack London Trail Race 10K
Location: Nashua, NH
Goal Time: 45:00
Actual Time 43:08

The damp leaves strewn about the trails were a cool reminder of the end of season.  2012 that had been such a strong season for me was now but a few strides over the browns and reds of fallen leaves.  The older man who told me: "Looking good, only 300 yards left" was both pleasant and some what sad.

Fall was the third and busiest running season for me.  I ran 4 half marathons, a marathon and two Pub Series Races.  The Jack London 10K would culminate the 91 Miles in 35 days of the fall and the 2012 Season.

Walking about before the race Tim commented how some top quality runners were there: 4 from New Balance Boston and 4 from Team Hello Kitty.  "I won't even come in the top 25" he said.  Normally a low-key race there were quite a few fast people.

The race itself held nothing spectacular for me.  I ran the first four miles quite well.  In fact, by mile four I had caught up and passed Emma and Anthony.

Mile 5 told a different story:  Dan, Emma and Anthony all passed me.

I regrouped for the last mile, and was able to even make it easily over the last annoying Walter Payton type training hill:

I managed to dash the last 300 yards and almost catch Emma again, coming in well below my goal time and breaking 7 minute miles (unprecedented for me in a trail race).

Mama Larmuth's White Chicken Chili was a great way to finish off the race and the season.

Urvi and I sporting this year's Wolf Socks! (Anthony is in last year's)

SRR Shoutouts -

- Emma Kosciak almost defended her Wolf Socks title, finishing second overall and first in her age group.
- Korynn matched her 3rd place age group from last year
- Erin Morin and Florentien each took third in their age groups.
- John Wichers finished in second in his.
- Tim Morin DID finish in the top 25 - 15th.

Monday, October 29, 2012

39 for 39 β: Cape Cod Marathon, Halftoberfest, Part 5 (10/28/12)

Finishing the Marathon
"Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel!" ("Fate goes ever as she shall!").

Race: Cape Cod Marathon
Location: Falmouth, MA
Goal Time: 3:30:00
Actual Time: 3:27:48

For the second time of the weekend I was running down the hill of the Nobska Point Lighthouse.  I saw Hurricane Sandy's angry waves smashing off the rocks that lined the sea wall like angry fates. While the hurricane hadn't hit full force yet, I was looking forward to the tail wind from 22-26 that Deb Downs had promised me to finish race and finish the Clam Chowder Challenge.  

Over the month I had discussed the Chowder Challenge event with several people.  Most people just thought it was crazy to run a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.  Ray Charboneau told me he'd do it if it was the other way around and he could race the full and then do whatever in the half the next day.  Frank Georges attempted to convince me NOT to run the whole challenge and just run the full marathon in a third attempt to qualify for Boston.  (I missed by 4 minutes at Providence and then by 9 at Reykjavik.)  My Co-workers basically questioned why anybody would do that...

I didn't know how I'd feel running a marathon, considering:

a) I hadn't run more than 14 miles (or 16 depending on whose memory I use) at once since Reykjavik;
b) I raced a half marathon a week earlier; and,
c) I jogged a half marathon the day before.

So, I decided to go out conservatively.  Fortunately my race buddy, Mariah (who had run less than me since Reykjavik), was also into starting conservatively.  But one cannot control too much in life and one has to follow the fates as they are handed to you.

We ran the first two and a half miles together at a slow easy pace.  We did the first mile in just under 9 minutes and the second in just under 8.  At the first water stop Mariah pulled off and said she was going to walk through the water stops.  I waved goodbye.

After finishing mile 3 in 8 minutes or so, I started picking up speed.  I passed Mike Joyce, who had started too fast, and then I passed the gang cheering out in front of the house we rented.  (Oddly, the lunatic neighbor was not out to cheer).  

By mile 7, I realized I was actually running well and comfortable.  I was putting in 7:15 - 7:20 miles with some ease.  This would take me to 3:12 or so and qualifying for the Boston Marathon, if I could keep it up.  I was almost trapped in the Anglo-Saxon wyrd.  Like a warrior in Beowulf, I had no choice but to continue on this path despite the fact that I knew I would not be able to. 

At the half marathon point I was at 1:38.  This meant if I continued at this rate, I'd be right under 3:12.  I also knew I wouldn't but had to try.  Alas, off to fight the Firedrake

Urvi was at mile 16 to cheer me on.  She and Amy determined that I was doing well, since I merely high fived and did not stop for a kiss. 

I felt good at 30k.  I thought the wyrd may be on my side for the marathon since this is where I had fallen apart in Lowell and in Reyjavik.  I passed Tim at 19 and felt bad.  I knew he was in for a long next 7 miles by his face and gate.  

21 is where the Firedrake struck me and my weapons were useless:

"Wielding his sword, he struck at the wyrm
and his fabled blade bit to the bone
through blazoned hide: bit and bounced back,
no match for the foe in this moment of need."
~ Beowulf

The accidental and unlikely dreams of BQ were gone.  But, I only had to make it over the Nobska Point Light and then there would be the downhill leading into a tail wind.

As I came down the hill next to the angry rocks and felt the HEAD wind, all I could say was: "Damn you, Deb Downs!"

I fought through it as best I could.  I slowed from 7:20 miles to 9:45 miles with now only the goal to finish the marathon, the Clam Chowder Challenge AND Halftoberfest.  Until mile 25 I fought through the headwinds and used the last bits of energy to say: "Damn you, Deb Downs!"

After 25 the course turns left.  A volunteer (who I later found out was Chris Spinney) told me: "turn left here and you are out of the wind."  Awesome finally I can stop saying "Damn you, Deb Downs."

Turns out, nope the wind is actually worse for a block or so!  "Damn you, Chris Spinney!"

Now, I just counted down the estimated minutes left until I finished.  At the 26 mile mark I realized 
a) I had passed 39 miles for my 39th Birthday; and
b) I might as well "sprint"

I pulled with the cheers from the gang at 3:27:48 for the Marathon and 5:19:52 for the Clam Chowder Cup Challenge!

SRR Shoutouts -

Jake Barnett finished 8th Overall
Diona finished in 6th Overall
Deb Downs finished 7th Overall "Damn you Deb Downs!"
The 50+ men's team won (Ray, Robert and Jeff)
Alison Lackey finished her first marathon 
Kit Newton had a one hour PR
Ruth Sespaniak had a PR of more than 10 minutes
Bradley had a MONSTER PR and BQed with a 3:05
The Women's Open team took 3rd.

39 for 39 α: Cape Cod Half Marathon, Halftoberfest Part 4 (10/27/12)

Half Marathon Finish

Race: Cape Cod Half Marathon
Location:  Falmouth, MA
Goal Time: ??:??:??
Actual Time: 1:52:04

All of the month was leading to this weekend...  

Halftoberfest's month long quest to 4 half marathons and 1 full marathon culminated with running 39 miles on my 39th birthday weekend.  (Well, 39.3 miles. Bradley wanted to make sure I didn't just stop running at 39 miles because that would have had me quitting 25.9 miles into the full marathon.)

Not much really to say about this race.  The entire goal of this race was to not tire myself - considering I had a marathon the next day.  

So, I had an easy jog for the first 10 miles, almost exactly at 9 minute miles.  Then at the 10 mile I picked up speed and ran the last 5k in 22 minutes.

Then a big delicious basic breakfast at Artie's - a hungry man with linguica.

SRR Shoutout -

Chris Smith took 3rd overall (2nd male).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Detroit-Rock City: Detroit International Half Marathon, Halftoberfest, Part 3 (10/21/12)

Race: Detroit International Half Marathon
Location: Detroit, Michigan & Windsor, Ontario
Goal Time: 1:27:00
Actual Time: 1:30:55 (10th in my Age Group and 104th Overall)

So I went to Detroit to celebrate Scotchtoberfest.  But then I found out there’s no such thing as Scotchtoberfest:


So, instead I continued Halftoberfest and ran the Detroit International Half Marathon.  My goal had been to run a 1:27 flat.  While I trained for this to be my A race of the season, I haven’t been taking the fall too seriously.  The real reason for the race was Urvi.  This was her first Marathon since she didn’t complete Chicago last year and her first Marathon that wasn’t New York.

We stayed in town at the Marriot Renaissance Center.  In the morning we only had to go ½ mile to the start line.  That was great.  I figured we’d leave at 6:15 and still have 20 minutes to do a couple of miles of warm up before the race started. 

This is where I lost my race.  The last corral was Corral “L”; I was in Corral B.  I said goodbye and good luck to Urvi as she left for gear check.  I then spent my 20 minutes fighting from Corral L to Corral B.  I got to the corral with 2 minutes to spare.  No chance for a warm up.

2 minutes after the wheelchairs and hand bikes went, combined Corrals A (like 5 guys) and Corral B were sent off westward into the morning darkness.  I ran down Fort at steady 6:30 miles.  The end of mile two begins the first tough bit of the race. 

The road wraps around as it joins the on ramp to the Ambassador Bridge.  The Bridge heads SOUTH to Windsor, Canada from Detroit.  It is a slow going more than mile climb of 152 feet to the 5k point.  I kept this steady.  Finished it right around 21 flat.

Down the bridge I kept my head trying not to go too fast (avoiding the edges of the bridge since there are no guard rails.  At mile 4 you leave the bridge and run through the customs booths (where someone with a mike was welcoming us to Canada – CANADA!)


Once we are off the ramp, we were there – CANADA!  The colours of the sunrise were disbursing on the river; but, it was still dark.  Despite the darkness, Canadiens lined the road sitting in chairs cheering runners from all over the world (including every state AND every province).  There were three miles in Canada, including the first relay hand off and the 10k point.  I was still doing well at 10k – 41:30. 

You left the waterfront with a left toward the tunnel and at mile 7, we were heading to El Norte again via the underwater mile.  Miles 7-8 are in the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel with its harsh slope down and gentle up back into Detroit.  Half way through the tunnel there is the border and they have place a line with flags in the wall tiles.  The guy next to me commented that he thought people got immediately ruder…
We came out of the tunnel next to the Renaissance Center.  The sun was fully up and the few angiosperms I saw were filled with their autumnal colors.  Across the road there was a sign that welcomed you back to the United States.


We ran down West down Jefferson and Civic Center Drive toward Joe Louis Arena.  We passed the 15k mark on 6th Street – 1:02:40, which would have been my 15k PR!  This is where the no warm ups really caught up with me.  By mile 10, I had a tight left hamstring and both hips with pains.  @#$&$%!!

While, I probably would not have run my PR, I knew I couldn’t now.  I figured at this point I would just enjoy the rest of the run.  This was of course depressing; I just hurt badly and everyone around me was now passing me as they built up speed to finish strong and all I could do was virtually limp.  I crossed 20k at 1:26:20 – losing 45 seconds a mile in that 5k. 

The 20k saw the Half/ Full Split.   I gained my composure briefly.  I put everything I had into the last kilometer.  Sprinting down Fort Street to the end, I brought in a strong finish passing half a dozen people in the last km.

I finished 10th in my age group and 104th overall. 

More importantly, I got to the 40km point in time to catch Urvi.  I ran with her up the last hard hill – up to mile 25!

SRR Shoutouts

Gwen ran the International Half also – 2:19:56
Urvi ran the full – 5:15:47
Andrew Darien and his “Washed up Wolverines” took second in the Master’s relay

Monday, October 15, 2012

“Some of That Pumpkin Shit”: Paddy’s Road Race (10/14/12)

A round of Some of that Pumpkin Shit

Race: Paddy’s Road Race
Distance: 3 Miles
Goal Time: 18:30
Actual Time: 18:43 (4 ½ minute PR!!)

I felt another twinge in my back as I passed mile 2.  This one was going to make me slow down.  I leaned trying to avoid whatever pain I could avoid…

Nobody ever starts their story of how they hurt their back with, “So I was trying to pick up a Volkswagon…”  No, it’s always picking up a cat, grabbing the remote, turning on a light.  Or, in my case it was putting paper in the copy machine.  I hurt it so bad that I spent all day Saturday laid up in my bed watching Battles BC on youtube.

Sunday morning my back was in serious pain.  I had trouble walking around.  If it was not the last race of the Pub Series, there was no way I would have made it to Paddy’s Road Race.  Yet, to finish the Pub Series I needed to run 5 out of 6 and I missed Common Fence because I ran the Reykjavik Marathon the day before.  (I know; I’m a slacker for not taking the redeye back from Iceland to run a 5 miler in Rhode Island…)

This would not be my first Paddy’s Road Race.  In fact, my other Paddy’s dated back to the time before.  In 2004, my cousin and my friend Grant and I ran this race.  A heavy smoker at the time, I was in my first incarnation of trying to reclaim myself.  In 2004, I had ran SRR’s An Ras Mor and the Malden Rotary’s St. Patrick’s Day race. I had easily defeated Jason in the race.  Grant had obviously not viewed the map since as we came toward the set of turns before the finish line, he thought it was the finish line and sprinted away.  As we turned onto Webster, I jogged passed the now exhausted Grant.

2012 was not the same.  The first mile I ran right at 6/min.  The second was a slightly slower 6:12.  That is when the twinges came into my back.  I lost Andrew who I had been trying to keep in sight if not on pace with.  Dan ran by me; and then Jess did as well. I finished up pretty strong and ran a respectable 18:43.  While not what I wanted, it was still 4 and a half minutes faster than 2004 and guaranteed a top 20 finish in the Pub Series!

The post-race was in Paddy’s Pub.  In 2004, it had been a beautiful day (2012 was NOT), and we spent the post-race on the side of the pub talking with a guy who was probably my age now.  We also had the most remarkable beverage – Pumpkinhead beer.  We had never had a pumpkin beer before.  In fact Pumpkinhead was relatively new, only coming out in limited supply two years earlier.  Grant and I were so amazed by the beverage we kept wanting more and more.  Grant even told the waitress: “give some of that pumpkin shit.”

Since then I have tried a variety of pumpkin beers, Harpoon's Pumpkin UFO, sweet pumpkin beers, imperial pumpkin beers, pumpkin IPAs.  8 years later I drank Pumpkinhead upstairs in the unfinished attic of Paddy’s Pub.  And, to this day it is still the best.  (Smuttynose’s Pumpkin is a close and acceptable second place).    

I stood among people who like me enjoyed the racing.  My back hurt a bit, but we were able to relive the race and our paces and the steps.  I got to talk with and meet Andrew and Jess. Once again I was able to connect yet another strand of the past to the person of the present; exorcise another set of demons and whittle them to the wisps of memory; ghosts of yesteryear.  Dan went to get another round and I told him: “give me some of that pumpkin shit.”

SRR Shoutouts -
Robert, Chris and Joe all finished in the top 10
Jess was fifth in women and locked up 3rd in the Pub Series
Dan added some more points to his total (enough for 17th?)
Bradley continued his great year - matching 10th in the Distance Medley with 10th in the Pub Series.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back to the Beginning: BAA Half Marathon, Halftoberfest Part 2 (10/7/12)

SRR's of all ages handing out finisher medals

"I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have."
-Inigo, Princess Bride

Race: BAA Half Marathon
Location: Boston, Franklin Park, the Zoo and Emerald Necklace
Goal Time: 1:40:00
Actual Time: 1:35:39

In the turn with about 150 yards to go, I opened it up to full throttle. I knew the two guys behind me had really good kicks and it would be all it took to beat them.  The slow building sprint that I had started was all out now.  Every step in my life had led to this moment.  This was the culmination.  I held on as Hector and I each opened on Chucky and the previous 10 minutes of lead were not wasted as I just out ran Hector the whole way.  Immediately 
the Herald reporter was asking me questions and I was handed a first place medal (and a fifth place medal for the shotput)...

That was of course the last time I was on this track: 20 years ago at the Boston City High School Championships.  Sunday brought it back to the beginning.  So I have, back to Franklin Park to the 2nd Stage in Halftoberfest and the 2nd Half Marathon of the weekend - The BAA Half Marathon.  I finished on the same track I'd run so many times next to the same field I'd played upon so many times.  My club was in charge of handing out finisher medals. So as I came across the line,  Urvi emerged from the pack.  She gave me my finisher medal and a kiss.  And there I got to unite another place with another shared memory with her...

The BAA Half course is very much another coming home event like the Hub on Wheels.  It starts from in front of the Giraffe Entrance to the Zoo, out along Arboway, Jamaicaway, and Riverway and back.  Then through Franklin Park, by the Shattuck and the Golf Course and then through the Zoo.  The last mile takes you out of the Zoo and around my old football practice field and into my old football and track haunt - White Stadium, to sprint the last 150 or so yards around the track.

As it might surprise you to hear, the second half marathon in a weekend (I ran Applefest on Saturday) - hurts.  By mile two I realized there would be very few miles that were 6 somethings. (I think only 1, 6 and 13 were, in fact, the only ones under 7 minutes.)  Neil Cronin - who I'd worked with years ago when we both smoked and before we ran again - passed me at 2 and we chatted a bit.  

By the five mile mark I felt like I had reached the 30km point of a marathon and had to fight through it to finish.  (Perhaps not so oddly, this was around the 30km point of the weekend).  Fortunately it was part of the out and back and downhill.  I was briefly able to zone out of running by cheering people on coming up to the turn around.

We passed by Forest Hills on the overpass (ridiculous running the overpass by the way) and reentered Franklin Park right at the 9 mile mark.  I looked at my watch and realized I was guaranteed to finish faster than 1:40 basically.  I  pulled in the throttle a bit and headed out to finish in 7:45s the rest of the way.  There was another turnaround about 10.25 miles.  Here my coasting dream was shattered.  I saw Matt Noyes coming and realized he was waaaay closer than the 5 mile turn around.  Shit.  

So, I picked it up.

Coming out of the zoo at the 12 mile mark, I knew what and how to run this last mile.  Every step was one I had taken a million times in either football cleats or waffle flats - or mostly both.  I stepped in the ghosts of my own self.  The self before my wasted 20s.  The self before I had virtually ruined my life.  The self of those final fitful joyful days in the Spring of life.  I was able to channel that long ago past with my current training.

The entrance to the stadium was the 13 mile mark.  After almost unconsciously turning right down the track, I went CORRECTLY left.  I kept my eyes on the football yard markers on the walls like I always had.  I outsprinted two people from the entrance to the finish line.  I finished with some Deion high-stepping into the aforementioned kiss from Urvi.

Later Matt said that he should make sure to race me every time I'm running my second half marathon.  That's the way he can keep up and maybe beat me.  But, really, once those ghosts of yesterday joined with my exercise of day to help exorcise some of those demons from that wasted ruined middle years, he never had a chance.  Maybe on another track in another stadium in another park...

I finished with a combined time of 3:09:40 marathon for the weekend.

SRR shoutouts

- Men's Team 2nd Place overall
- Women's Team 2nd Place overall
- Bradley Harris had a PR to lead the men's team and lock up 10th in the Distance Medley (only like 45 minutes away from beating Kiprono for that $100,000)
- Megan Hyland had a PR to lead the women's team, finished in 5th in the Medley and in 11th place missed the $300 for 10th in the race by one minute.
- Seth Maleri, Anthony White (my brother for the day) and Brendan Cafferey all had awesome PRs on the men's side
- Amy Dierberger, Korynn Stoyanoff and Sarah Bolt all had awesome PRs on the women's side.

DOUBLE PIE!: Applefest Half Marathon, Halftoberfest Part 1 (10/6/12)


Race: Applefest Half Marathon
Location: Hollis, NH
Goal Time: 1:30:00
Actual Time: 1:34:01

O' zapft is! - (It's tapped) - the traditional beginning of Oktoberfest.

And thus without the full fanfare of 12 Guns like Munich, the first (and probably only) Halftoberfest is launched!  Part one of my month-long quest to complete 4 half marathons and a full begins.

The first race is a classic Southern New Hampshire hilly challenge.  Much like Lake Winnie, Great Bay or Derry, the course if fraught with steep downhills, short steep uphills and long windy uphills.  It is not the best PR course in New England.  Of course, regardless of John Wichers' warnings, it didn't stop me from trying.

In the morning it looked like it might be one of those excellent autumn days for running.  By 10 am, at the startline we realized it was not.  Wendy and I stood sweating awaiting for the gun to go - temperatures were at around 70 for the start and probably 75 by the finish.  Between the hills and the heat I was beginning to question  my racing this as my first goal of Halftoberfest.  But, it did have a Clydesdale category, so I went racing for apples.

Fuji: Start - 5k

Fuji apples, a Japanese hybrid of Red Delicious and Virginia Gennets, are easily my favorite apple.  Sweet and large with a long shelf life.  With their crispy yet refreshing meat, they are so easy to eat.

The first three miles of the half were just like that.  Even the hill between mile 1 and 2 wasn't that bad since it was so early in the race.  I sailed through the first little loop at 6:30 miles (realizing this was too fast in general but okay for the downhill).  It was at the top of the hill that I noticed another guy probably over 190 who was running well.  Uh,oh this is my challenger in the Clydesdale...The loop passed the start finish again so we got the cheers of the crowd a second time.

Baldwin: 5k - 10k

Baldwin apples date from the 18th Century and the variety is a New England original.  It was found, other than developed, by a guy named Baldwin in Wilmington, MA.  At first bite they are sweet.  Yet, then the juice slips down your chin and then you are hit with wee bit of tart....

Miles 3-6 had a reasonably tolerable long hill, followed by a downhill.  Yet this downhill was far too steep to be a "clydesdale hill."  (The long reasonably flat downhill where the extra momentum of the weight and Newton's Apples are helpful.)  Instead I lost any advantage I might have had over others.  I couldn't even break away from my Clydesdale challenger on the hill.

Gala: 10k - 15k

Developed in the 1970s in New Zealand, I always think of Galas as "faux Fujis."  They aren't quite as sweet and aren't quite as crunchy as the Japanese hybrid.  If you find fujis a bit too sweet, you'll probably love Galas.  They still are what I buy if there are no fujis and the Golden Delicious aren't available.

At the end of the steep non-clydesdale hill at mile six the course is in the Nashua River valley with only little bumps and lumps.  It was not as flat as I thought it was going to be; so I was not able to break the elastic of the other Clyde.  I opened a bit of a lead, but realized that the next 3 were going to be a challenge for me...

Granny Smith: 15k - 20k

Granny Smith's are my number 2 LEAST favorite apple ever (mealy, waxy Red Delicious are number one).  Granny Smith are tart to sour, ubiquitous and worst of all occasionally fall into the Golden Delicious/Ginger Gold bins and a week later trick you into eating them!  Yet, once you've already bitten into them you have to finish them.  (To be fair, they are still apples... they are still high up in the hierarchy of delicious things to eat...)

Yep that's how miles 9 - 12 were.  There is a long series of mild-steep hills from 8.5 to 10.5.  I knew they were coming and I knew I would have to fight through them.  But coming up to it I also knew I had to be in the lead over the other clyde at the top of the next hill at 12.5 miles.  But I didn't want to destroy myself over either of them since I did have the BAA Half Marathon the next day.  I kept a good time over the first series, with the idea that if the other clyde caught me, I'd go with him.  The second hill of the granny smith section (which is also the hill from mile 1 - 2) was the one that was make or break.  I knew I would be okay if the worst thing I did was let Clyde number 2 catch up and not pass me.

Ginger Gold: 20k - finish

Ginger Gold is an accidental variety of the strong stout Newton Pippin and the Golden Delicious.  The pippin takes away the mealiness but keeps the golden's sweetness.  It is my second favorite apple.  

The other Clyde did catch me at the top of the 20k hill.  We talked for a bit and realized we were each other's competition.  Fortunately for me 20k to the finish is largely a clydesdale down hill past the Larmouth's house and then a left hander at 13 miles into the High School to the finish.  I was able to run the last 1.1 as a progression sprint.  I sprinted away from the Clyde and by another woman who had passed me on the uphill.  At the left hander I looked over the marshy field and saw I had lost the other clyde.  

I pulled in for a respectable 1:34:01.  On the hot day and hilly course, I'll take it.

It turned out I was actually racing for 3rd in the Clydesdales not first.  For which I won a medal and an apple pie.  As we were about to leave the awards ceremony we heard Wendy's name called (she had just left).  So, John and I went to get her medal and pie for third place in her age group.  As we were walking away again, "and in third place in Male's 35-39, Jesse Morrow").  That meant I got two medals and DOUBLE PIE!


- Wendy took third in her age group
- Urvi did better than she expected in her pre-marathon tune up
- Julie Dragon took third in the Filly's category.

Tino Pai (Tino Pie?)


October's Challenge: Halftoberfest!

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke: oi! oi! oi!

Often in my months off from specific training I like to give myself a physical challenge.  This month I have not only done that but come up with a clever name:


Halftoberfest will be four half marathons and a full marathon run all in the calendar month of October.  It will take me to 3 states, a province, 2 countries, 2 mid-race border crossings and two weekends of back-to-back racing.  

     Includes Clydesdale category

     Culmination of the BAA Distance Medley

     Includes running over a Bridge to Canada and back through a tunnel to USA

     First half of the Cape Cod Clam Chowder Cup Challenge

     Second half of the Cape Cod Clam Chowder Cup Challenge

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

3 Miles On the Road: Jack Kerouac 5k (9/30/12)

Working through the Pain because "it all ends in tears anyways" - Notice the only one smiling is Andrew (259), he's about to blow by all of us like we are standing still.

Race: Jack Kerouac 5k
Location: Lowell, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 19:33

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Kerouac has launched so many ill-fated adventures.  It’s as if we all have our own Dean Moriarty’s father to find.  I might be the only person in the country who hitchhiked across country as a young adult (probably 22) and then read On The Road afterwards.  But he touches something of the anti-establishment wanderlust whose desire is a rite of passage to all of us.  Somewhere deep inside ourselves we also have to ask: “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” 

The whither is not even that important at the time.  It’s the going. “There’s nowhere to go but everywhere…”

Well, Saturday we took Amy’s shiny car in the morning to Kerouac’s hometown – Lowell, MA for the Jack Kerouac 5k.  It was the fifth race in the Pub Series; and – as described by New England Runner – “in a ham-fisted decision” it was made race number six of the New England USATF series and New England 5k championship.

Today I identify as little with Sal Paradise as I ever did with Holden Caulfield (really you left the fencing foils on the subway because you kept looking at the map?).  Today purpose and reason for actions are important.  But that’s probably just getting older, like the old man’s basketball game that doesn’t take any extraneous steps. 

The purpose today was to get nearer my goal of finishing in the top 20 of the Pub Series (and earn my New Balance shoes for 5 out of 6 races).  This was going to be thwarted by the USATF’s “ham-fisted decision” since non-Pub Series runners would take places 1-50.  But, in an extra-ordinary decision, New England Runner ranked the Pub Series runners from 1 to 50.  This meant I still had to race it hard.

In my nervous passion to balance as fast as I can run to that eventual goal of 6 minute miles, I find I always go too far too fast in the beginning of EVERY SINGLE 5k.  This time, I wasn’t going to do it.  I was going to run behind Tim Morin for the first mile NO MATTER WHAT.

After the gun went off – I didn’t.

I did spend the first mile looking back to make sure I wasn’t too far ahead.  While I tried to stay between Tim and Bradley and ahead of Danny Mac, I felt like: “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop.” At mile one I passed Frank Georges reading off the times; 5:55.  5:55 really isn’t too fast (I told Tim that later.); but – as usual – he was right.  Because that’s 5:55 gun time – which meant I ran a 5:49 first mile! 

Well now it was time for Quitter Jesse to run the second mile.  Maybe it’s the fact that my runner persona is getting further and further away from the ephemerality of youth’s “ so frantic and rushing-about and even further rejecting Sal Paradise and Holden Caulfield.  But Quitter Jesse never emerged; slower Jesse did.

“What's your road, man? — holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.”  For the moment I felt like guppy road.  I figured if I could maintain until the mile two mark, I would be able to regain form. 

I didn’t.  I was lost trying to keep up.  By the time we got back to the Tsongas Center.  I felt lost.  Dan had passed me.  Tim and Tim and Bradley were long gone into the distance.  There was a little bump from the Tsongas Center back up to the turn and I had nearly quit.  Just gliding in was all I had left.

All that lay ahead was a little bit of road and I could still break 19:30 (and still be my third fastest 5k ever) – “the road is life.”  We got to the top of the hill and Martin had passed me; Andrew went blowing by me.  I had enough to sprint to the end despite the pain since “it all ends in tears anyways” (that might be from Dharma Bums or Big Sur actually?); I tried to encourage Jessica who had also caught me too.

I finished in a respectable 19:33 – third fastest 5k ever – and managed to move up to 20th in the Pub Series!

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” 
― Jack Kerouac, On The Road

SRR Shoutouts

-          Bradley PRed and broke 18 (and beat Daniel)
-          Kate Hails PRed and finished second in her age group
-          Robert Cipriano won his age group
-          Jacob Barnett took third in his age group
-          Tim Harden broke 18!
-          Jessica McGarty cemented her hold on 3rd in the Pub Series

SRR Teams:
-          Men’s Open, Masters and Seinors – 7th, 3rd and 2nd
-          Women’s – 6th, 5th and 6th

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hub on Wheels: A personal journey and an optional view (9/23/12)

Starting Line

Distance: 50 Miles
Location: Boston, MA

This year there was a little sign atop the road on Pete’s Hill.  “Optional View.”  Indeed.  Two years ago when I rode the Hub on Wheels everyone kept riding past the turn off.  I figured if I had forced myself all the way up that damn hill, I better get the view.  This year many people were at the turn off.

The Ride starts at Government Center right next to my current office.  In fact, I went into my Dunkin Donuts for coffee and the woman behind the counter was pouring my XL French Vanilla black before I even asked.  After, tt rides straight down Cambridge Street to Storrow Drive (which was closed off to traffic so that the thousands of riders could make the trip).

Unlike two years ago when I rode it by myself, Urvi and I rode the ride together.  It was great to share my city with her.  The Hub on Wheels is a journey both around the city, and for me a journey into my own past.  The whole ride was an optional view for me.

Down the Esplanade we rode past the route I ran over and over again for my first marathon in 2009, the University I’d finally graduated from in 2008, and the ball fields I and my parents (and once or twice Joe McCombs) had played softball on my mother’s department team in the summer of 1994. 

In the Fens we saw my high school, the track practice loop I tried to beat John McLaughlin every year, the basketball court that was my second home (and where, despite Peyton’s protests, a bunch of us got suspended during finals in 1990), the field where we had Friday football practices, the building where we took our first homemade Christmas card in 1991 and the Queensberry Street apartment I lived in for Senior Year of High School (and was my official address through the wandering years of 1992-1995).

We took the left onto the Riverway by the Parking Garage, Gabe, Marc and Jesse X. climbed and Brookline Water and Sewer lot where Dan Handy and I had to ditch his ’67 Lincoln Continental that had lost all electrical power after pushing it all over Brookline where there is no overnight street parking.

Across Huntington/Boylston we rode along the backside of the Emerald Necklace that Ian and I had mapped in the Winter of 1989-90, the former skating rink down the street from the Apartment I lived in in 1989-1991, Jamaica Pond (a longtime running site of mine), and past the former home of the Arborway Natural Foods I worked at in 1996-7.

Up the Corkscrew

The first rest stop was in the Arboretum.  A place that is so close to me.  We saw my “cliff” if not my favorite tree.  We rode to the top of Pete’s Hill and I showed Urvi the sledding spot, Dan, Dennis and I went to that snowy winter of 1990-91.

In West Roxbury we went the backway I would go to my job as a stock boy at Value Village.  In Roslindale we rode through the Stony Brook Reservation where I rode my first “group ride” in the summer of 1991 with Rich Deguzman.  I rode my Columbia 10 speed and he rode a Peugeot Mountain Bike.  After Mattapan, we rode along the other side of the cemetery Joe and Jay and I lived next to on Mt. Calvary in 2000-2.

The next rest stop was after a jaunt through the Forest Hills Cemetery (where I still couldn’t find that damn eagle).  Following the stop was riding through Franklin Park and past my high school football stadium and the Doyle’s 5 miler route that I shared with Urvi and all my SRR compatriots.  Through Roxbury and Dorchester, we stopped in Codman Square where I always remember Jose realizing that Kazim still had his car keys.  (somehow Jose’s car operated if it didn’t have keys?).  We rode along the Neponset and by the Adams Inn where they wouldn’t let us into Dennis’ room the night after prom.

From the Neponset we went North along the harbor, (another running route from another age) and by UMass and the field I got pepper sprayed by the Boston police during the 2000 Presidential debate…

The last part of the ride before the finish was Southie – my first Boston home from 1987-1989:  Carson beach where I would swim, M Street Park where the gang from Emerson and H would play the baseball against the kids from M through O.  We passed where I worked through my second stint at college and the site where Richie wished the tire chairs could become mobile.

Before the finish downtown, we got stopped at the light next to 60 State Street.  While it was home to Fred Savage’s “Working”, it is also a building Urvi and I share.  Both of us had worked there.  She finished just recently and I worked there toward the end of the last Century.  We finished with shared memories of different times.

I didn’t want to bore Urvi with each of these memories and the millions more (and it would have taken us 15 hours to finish the ride), but each of them came back to me in fluid time. August this year was the 25th Anniversary of living in Boston; November will be my 20th year reunion; and next October will be my 40th Birthday.  And I wanted to thank all of those who have made it a wonderful life and who will make it continue to be so.

Atop Pete's Hill Arboretum

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tour de Stade: One Stade (9/19/12)

37 up; 37 down 

New goal: Run 100 sections of stairs at Harvard Stadium

Yesterday made the first step.  1 Stade - 37 up; 37 down (34:55 - a new Personal Record)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kings of Beer: Lake Winnipesaukee Relay (9/8/12)

Kings of Beer (back, Tim, John W., Marc, John O; front Dan, Seth, Jesse, Aaron)

Race: Lake Winnipesaukee Relay
Location: Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
Goal Time: 1:08:00
Actual Time: 1:09:37 (4 minutes faster than last year)
Relay Time: 8:26:17

“He was a wise man who invented beer”
Something Plato never actually had Socrates say

Dan and John at the 1/2 Exchange

I don’t get the picture that anyone actually “invented” beer anyways.  In fact, I picture some woman in Mesopotamia realizing her fruit and barley drink had gone bad and then making her sons pour it out. 

-          Son #1: “I dare you to drink it”
-          Son #2: “Oh yeah, I triple dog dare you to drink it!”

What normal person would drink something that has microbes growing in it?  Most of the time that means your food has gone bad!

Regardless of what pair of teenage sons in Iraq first triple dog dared each other in Akkadian to drink the first beer, it has come down to us as staple drink.  However, in the US there was a virtual dark ages in beer.  Between the end of Prohibition and the early 1990s, virtually the only beer we could get was crap.  So crappy that Miller could get away with calling themselves the “Champaign of Beers”; Schlitz could claim it “made Milwaukee famous”; and a St Louis company with crap beer and a big ad budget could claim they were the “King of Beers.”

Kings on their Thrones

Alas, from such advertising came the Clydesdale division of racing (190 lbs +) and the great relay team “Kings of Beer.”  In a continuation and extension of the Mill Cities team, we ran this year’s Lake Winnipesaukee relay:

John on Leg One
LEG ONE – John W.
Distance:  10.7 miles
Time: 1:10:38

Distance: 11 miles
Time: 1:20:54

Dan and Jesse at the 2/3 exchange
Distance: 9.3 Miles
Time: 1:09:37

Distance: 4 Miles
Time: 41:59

Distance: 10.4 Miles
Time: 1:15:13

At the 7/8 Exchange

LEG SIX - Seth
Distance: 6.4 Miles
Time: 51:01

Distance: 8.5 Miles
Time: 1:14:33

Distance: 4.4 Miles
Time: 40:09
Aaron running in the last quarter mile

Kings of Beer finished in 12th and 8th in Men's Open

SRR other teams also took high finishes:
1st Overall (Quadzilla)
3rd Overall and 1st Seniors (Redenbachers)
4th Overall and 3rd Men's Open (Thigh Popping Success)
1st and 2nd Women's Open (Stud Chicks and Chafin' the Dream)