Monday, March 25, 2013

Running in Circles: The Longest 5k (3/23/13)

Race: Malden Rotary Race 5k
Location: Malden, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 23:01 (3.7 miles)

I lived in Malden for 2 years at the turn of the century and I ran the very first Malden Rotary Road Race in 2004.  Back then there was a 15k and a 5k; at some point it became a 10k and a 5k.  From these two experiences I thought I knew the course and was ready to run well on this 10th edition.

Apparently I didn't because after a good and easy first mile there were a lot more turns to get to Salem Street then I remembered.  Also, at one point it felt like we were heading away from Malden Center and instead back up the hill.  But, I was pretty sure I was wrong:  there were volunteers everywhere, I could still see 5th who must be able to see the leaders...

Then I got to the corner of Forest and Pearce: Someplace I'd already been.  I realized all my fears had been right - I am ridiculously off course!  I looked at the cop and he said "5k? go left."  To which I immediately thought - no, but I'm already off course and that is the fastest way back...

So, I ran back to Main Street.  As I took the left a woman caught up with and we ran down the center of the lane with no traffic control - since we had already ran this part in the other direction.  I looked at her and said, "Sorry we're way off course.."

"Really?" she asked.  "Since when?"

"We should have broken from the 10k before we did.  By the time we did, we were about a mile off course.  I'm guessing we'll run about 3 and a half miles."

"Shoot... I thought I would win this."

She was right.  We passed 5k according to my watch at 19:22, well enough for the women's victory in a small race like this.  We got back into the Center of town (next to the Chinese restaurant I had Christmas dinner at in 1999) and the cop at that intersection yelled toward one of the race people: "Here come two more that were sent the wrong way!"

Sarah, as I later found out was her name, and I went through the intersection.  I didn't try to sprint her or anything, hoping that her 23 minutes would stand up as race winner.

Later it was determined that we should have turned off of Sylvan Street a block before we did (splitting from the 10k).  One guy in a blue hat was talking to the RD and telling him how he saw three girls with signs the block after what was supposed to be the turn and how he thought all the leaders went the wrong way.  I interjected that I realized we were off course too late but me and the girl who would have won went down Main to get back - trying to make sure they at least acknowledged she was getting screwed.  As we cleared up that I was one of the "leaders" of the race (odd thought for me but I was in the Top 10, I guess that's a "leader") and that everyone from the leader leader to blue hat had missed the turn.  some had followed the lead bike who took them the way I went, 3 people apparently followed me because it looked like I knew where I was going, several others just ran with the 10k to the finish.

"So you ran more than 5k?" he asked.

I said, "yes" showed him my Garmin at 3.71 "everyone ran more because we ran back to Forest."

Officially, I came in fourth and Sarah came in third (1st woman).  There were three guys unaccounted for who had been in front of me at the fateful juncture...

Per Coolrunning website:  "There was a mixup at one of the intersections with directions Some runners ran off course and ran longer than a 5K"

As a sign of my improvement, despite running a 6k ~ I won my age group and it was STILL an event record for me, beating my 2004 by 2:33!

Shoutouts -

Sarah Phillips for still winning the women's race anyway

John Wichers took second in his age group in the 10k

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Whale of a Tale: New Bedford Half Marathon (3/17/13)

Slamu the Whale (notice, not a penguin)

Race: New Bedford Half Marathon
Location: New Bedford, MA
Goal Time: 1:27:00
Actual Time: 1:28:07

Call me Jesse.  Some years ago, having lost interest in the sports of grass and parquet, I set myself asail in the world of running.  A return to the basest and rawest of sports (along with wrestling...) was my own slip from the world of relying on others to show up for basketball or soccer games.

In continuation of that rawest of sport, I returned to the whaling city for another attack on my white whale - the goal of a 1:25 half.  (Yes, I'm making myself Ishmael AND Ahab in the same blog...) However, my goal is to work my way down toward it.  The first step is to break 1:27.

The beginning of the New Bedford Half is always a little crazy.  The corrals are too small for the number of people trying to fit into them.  I had issues getting anywhere near where I was supposed to at the start.  Instead I was able to get myself right up front.  Realizing this would probably put me both in danger and just in the way of people running sub - 1:10s, I scooted off to the side.  Kevin and Wendy soon joined me.

As the start approached they moved everyone to the starting mats, I slipped into the 8th or 9th row (still way to far up).  Slamu, the mascot of the New Bedford Bay Sox, was at the start rallying the runners.  I gave him a thumbs up and next thing I know... I'm hugging a whale to start the race (not a penguin...).

This seemed like it would be good karma for my assault on the white whale.

I mapped out a plan of attack.  First, I would take the first 3.5 miles in the 6:45 to 7:00 per mile range.  (The 3.5 mile mark is the highest point on the course.  The hill is early and long but more like one that will kill pretenders to the overall title than one that should effect most average runners.) Then the next four and a half was largely gentle downhill to the water where I would hit an easy tempo 6:30s.

I successfully summitted the hill at 23:45, within my 45 second goal window.  I then eased into stamping out the 6:30s and hit mile 7 still in my goal window.  This was not before I was passed by Tim Harden at around mile 6.5.

At the water is the first real challenge of the course.   It is a four mile loop along a peninsula. Victor always says it sucks one way or another.  Either out or back will be a massive head wind.  Tom Derderian says the head wind is like having a two mile hill.  My goal was to fight through the wind at 6:30 whether out or back and then easy 6:30 when it was at my back.

Once again, I achieved this for the most part; I had slipped to 6:40s into the wind through miles 10 and 11.  The issue was that at 11 when I was ready to explode toward my 1:27: if my chest had been a mortar, I would have burst my heart's shell upon it.  The wind kept blowing in my face.  Joe described it as fighting for so long into the wind, eventually you lose the battle and slow.

Indeed, by mile 12 and the last challenge - the big hill - I had virtually no chance at a PR.  I took every remaining bit of strength in me and spit my last breath at thee to charge the hill without redlining.  But, it was to no avail.  I turned toward home and hit the 13 mile marker right at 1:27:30.  I heard others sprinting behind me toward the finish, so I eased over to the right to get out of their way and ran a in the last of the distance.

The drama's done - 1:28:07 - second fastest half ever and a course PR.  But alas, I am not satisfied.  I stood at the finish high-fived Megan Hyland and talked with Brian Keefe who in a wave of Personal Records for others (to follow) were like me orphans of such glory...

SRR PRs (soon to be retitled: the Liz Cooney Report)

Liz Cooney, Brendan Caffery, Andy Marinelli, Jess Dombrosky, Amy Diertofupup, Tommy B., Tim Harden, (The Tommy-Tim race was apparently a knock down drag-out sprint) Alison Lackey, Claudia, Chris K., Bradley, Jake Barnett and Larissa.

Larissa also took 3rd overall - (precursor to a good showing in Pittsburgh?)