Monday, March 19, 2012

Tied up in Knots: New Bedford Half Marathon (3/18/12)

This is somewhere around Mile 6, the woman in the green hat is the one who kept trying to shove me out of the way from joining the group she was too slow for.

“The sailor, from the very nature of his craft, has a dependence upon rope and a consequent familiarity with knots that is demanded by no other workman. It follows that most important knots we owe both their origin and their names to the requirements of a ship at sea.”
Clifford Warren Ashley, The Ashley Book of Knots

Race: New Bedford Half Marathon
Location: New Bedford, MA
Goal Time: 1:27:19
Actual Time: 1:29:47
It is not surprising that if anyone was going to write the book of knots, it would be a native of the old fishing and whaling port of New Bedford. In 1944, Clifford Warren Ashley did just that. His work, The Ashley Book of Knots, is the Gray’s Anatomy of the knot world. Before Sunday’s half marathon - while waiting for the restroom in the National Park’s visitor center – I carefully studied the massive sailing ship model in the main room. (complete with tiny knots throughout its rigging.)
Shroud Knot:

Shroud Knot – Ashley’s Book of Knots (ABoK) # 1575 - Start
The Shroud knot can be used to bind a cluster of ropes together. While the Shroud knot appears to be the double all knot, it is not. Additionally it is “less apt to distort.”
Mayhem and Clusterfuck are two words that aptly describe the starting line. Jammed into a block were nearly 3000 people – 850 of whom were about were to run under 8 minutes. While a third of them would run under 8 minute miles there was only room for about 300 of us between the 8 minute mile sign and the start line. I stood OUTSIDE the starting corral with half a dozen other SRR runners as we awaited the start.
It was only once the race started that I was able to get into the corral and then into the actual race.

Water Knot
Water Knot – ABoK #296: Miles 1-7
Ashley calls the water knot a “compact and reliable” knot used to combine two or more ropes together.
After fighting through the crowds, I caught up with Megan, Mariah and Bradley about a mile in. I figured this was a good group to work with and who were running near my goal pace. I would attempt to bind myself to the other three and we could balance back and forth. I knew I would come in handy through the head winds when we reached the sea.
Until the hills at 2 and 3 I was a hanging well and bound with them through my water knot. But as I fought my way up the hill at Mile 3, they slowly started to get away from me. I kept both Bradley and Megan (and I assume Mariah, but she is shorter than the other two and can hide well) in sight for mile after mile (although they were getting smaller and smaller).
Mile 7 is not where I lost them from my sight, but where I gave up with ever catching them. It is also where the wind hit.

Bowline – AboK #1013: Miles 7-11
The Bowline is considered the “King of Knots.” It is mentioned by John Smith in 1627: “so firmly made and fastened by the bridles into the cringles of the sails, they will break, or the sail split before it will slip.”
Three things hit me in rapid succession to kill any momentum I might have had. First, the famous New Bedford Half Marathon headwind. Victor wasn’t lying that will kill your momentum. The headwind was just a battle for me. As each time I had tried to join a group leading up to it, either a) I had not been able to keep up, or b) kept being shoved out of the group by a BAA woman. The bowline keeps the sail tied that it can stay steady in the toughest winds.
Second, Alex White passed me. This was less disconcerting and more surprising considering he should have been 7-9 minutes AHEAD of me. “Hey, Jesse.” “What the fuck are you doing here? Prompt as always?” “Well… you know, good thing for chip timing.”
The third hit was Tim Harden passing me. I felt like crap and like my best miles were behind me. Tim meanwhile definitely had his best miles ahead of him. As he passed me he said something like: “Wow, this late in the race and we can still see Alex White.” (not for long)
Anchor Bend

Anchor Bend – AboK# 1723: Finish
The Anchor bend is for tying the end of the rope to another piece – such as the anchor. I definitely was using this on the last two miles.
I had the image of Mile 12 being a long hill. And it was. The four miles around Rodney French Blvd had finished off any image of having a great race and now the hill pretty much destroyed any sense I would have a good race. Up the hill felt like I was dragging a two-ton anchor behind me. I was damn near just pulling off and walking in when I came across Sean nearly at the top. Perhaps the best positive advice I’ve ever gotten from someone mid-race. (Normally you hear crap like “You can make it!” or “Almost there!”) Sean however said: “Almost at the top; now is the time to work.” Rational, clear and positive. And I did. I fought my way to the “top of the hill” and then through the false flat at the top. Finally I poured down the last 400 that was straight downhill and a right into the finish line. As I approached the announcer said: “They come in all shapes and sizes to run the New Bedford Half; here comes Jesse Morrow from Somerville.” (I don’t know if he was being funny or a jerk – I didn’t care.)
1:29:47; not a Personal Record, but my SECOND fastest Half Marathon ever.
Taut-line Hitch – AboK #62: Bringing it all together
Somerville Road Runners teams took 4th in the open male and open female and third in the master’s male and senior male categories.
Robert Cipriano won the Male 50 category
Kate Hails won her age group.
The PRs I know of included: Bradley Harris, Sara Radkiewicz, Seth Maleri, Mariah Tinger, Korynn Stoyanoff, Keiran Condon, Daphne Cardamone and Aharon Wright.
Also, Scott Abrams broke 1:30 for the first time at the Quincy Half.
Congrats to Brendan who won the Quincy 5K.

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