Friday, September 27, 2013

Around the World and Back: Francis Drake and the 5k (9/26/2013)

SRR Series winners - Joe - 3rd overall, me - 1st 30-39 age group, Gordon - 1st 50-59 age group, Kieran - 1st overall 
Race: Thursday Night Run #6
Location: Boston, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual time: 19:24

On September 26, 1580, Francis Drake and 59 other crew members sailed their ship, the Golden Hind, into Portsmouth Harbor.  Drake became only the second mission to complete the circumnavigation of the Earth - the first famously being Magellan (who of course actually died en route).

On September 26, 2013 The Race Menu Thursday Night Series had it's finishing.  After six circumnavigations - May, June, July, August, September - of the Elliot-Arsenal Bridge Sections of the Charles River.

This sixth and last race was the nicest weather of them all.  Unfortunately I wasn't in tip top shape for it.  About a mile and a half in, I kinda gave out and spent the last mile and a half hanging on.  I did manage a good sprint from the quarter pole in....

My 19:24 is probably still one of my top 10 5k times and was able to secure me the Series age-group championship.

Drake was knighted and became a rich man; I won a t-shirt.

The after party was at Tommy Doyle's and included Rapscallion Honey.


Personal Records: Tommy B, Anthony, Bradley and Brendan C
Bradley won the age group for the race
Jenn won the women's race
SRR won the team competition
Kieran and Joe took 1st and 3rd overall for the series
Me, Gordon and Barbara won our age groups for the series

Anachronistic painting of Drake being knighted by Queen Elizabeth
Apparently the physical knighting was done by a French diplomat.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"I know thee not old race": Tavern to Tavern (9/22/13)

Finishing - and both feet off the ground
Race: Tavern to Tavern 5k
Location: Cambridge, MA
Goal Time: ??:??
Actual Time: 20:43

To be fair Tavern on the Square in Porter is no romantic image of the Boar's Head in Henry IV.

Also to be fair, after a 20 mile training run the day before - I should not have been ready to run too much.

But alas, that race hurt so much I just surrendered at 2 miles.  And by the end could only paraphrase Prince Hal turned Henry the V: "I know thee not old race."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flying the Gull: Lone Gull 10K (9/15/13)

Lone Gull; I'm in Black, Andy's in Blue and Matt is in Yellow on the left

Race: Lone Gull 10K
Location: Gloucester, MA
Goal Time: 45:00??
Actual Time: 42:11

I stood at the start line and realized: I'm a little tired.  The day before I had done the Reach the Beach relay with the Fighting Guppies.  Then, I did a warm up with Sean and Brian.  I realized my warm up was about the pace I planned to race at.  Well, we'll see...

Stupidly, (or ingeniously) I took off toward a PR in the 10k - either I could do it or I couldn't I figured.  At mile 1.5 I realized I couldn't.  Matt and Sean Sr. passed me.  Then it was 4.5 miles of just hanging on trying to stay below 7 minute miles (I failed in Mile 4).

There was a short hill at mile six and a long downhill into the finish.  Tim told me to "use my weight and pass Mariah."  I didn't.

5 out of 7 USATF races done.  Next up:

9/22 - Tavern to Tavern
9/29 - Nahant 30K (USATF Grand Prix)
10/13 - Wayland XC Festival (Cross Country Grand Prix)
10/27 - Mayor's Cup (Cross Country Grand Prix)
11/3 - Manchester City Marathon (USATF Grand Prix)

Bears, Beers, Battlestar Galactica: The Fighting Guppies Reach the Beach (9/13-9/14/13)

Fighting Guppies Beach Reached:
Back Row: Scott, Jim, me, Steve, John, Matt, Megan, Jason
Front Row: Korynn, Deb, Freddi, Emma
Race: Reach the Beach
Distance: 205.8 Miles
Location: Cannon Mountain -> Hampton Beach
Goal Time: 25:53:00
Actual Time: 25:09:08
Pivo Index: 2

So, it was my second relay in as many weeks (including two other Kings of Beer from last week's team)

I ran into the darkness, into the unknown.  Ahead the only thing I could see was a lonely light on the back of a reflective vest.  It slowly swung back and forth like a 1970s Cylon from Battlestar Gallactica. That light was the target.  Keeping one foot in front of the other and throwing my watch under my headlamp to be sure I was near speed...

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

It was my first night leg of Reach the Beach, a 200 mile relay from the White Mountains to the Atlantic. (Chrissy Horan breaks down the 5 Ws of Reach the Beach on pretty well.)  The race had begun nearly ten hours earlier.  In the driving rain at Cannon Mountain, Matt started with 10 or so others on the first leg. Matt set the tone for the team early by passing two people from the group that had started 20 minutes earlier.

Passing people is known as a "kill"; getting passed is called a snipe.  The night run was both best for "kills" and a good way to keep yourself moving.  After passing the Cylon, I could see the next flashing red light ahead in the night.  I kept my eye on the light on the lonely road hoping there was no dangerous wild animals lurking and ready to attack.

The second leg of the relay was given to Megan.  She of course ran a fantastic race.  But she had the first brush with wildlife.  Coming down a hill, just off in the woods a Bear was rooting around.  A guy ahead looked back toward her with the "Did you see that?" face.  Since I was the next leg, I did not get to hear the story until later.  My first leg was out of the Bretton Woods resort - home of skiing and the post World War II economic system.  Then it was a long 4 mile climb up toward Mt Tom and Mt Eisenhower.

While I was fearing the night leg for some reasons, I had been happy to actually do some down hill running. The whole race has a loss of 2000 feet, but my first leg was actually a gain of 300 feet.  So my second leg would be a breathe of fresh air into the cool night.  The downhill bits had me charging down through the night.  I started hopscotching from person to person (and tried to figure out what to say to people as I ran by them).

After Van 1 (me, Matt, John, Jason, Freddi and Megan) passed the baton to Van 2 (Deb, Scott, Emma, Korynn, Jim and Steve), we headed out for dinner.  We stopped at Moat Mountain where I had the Buffalo Quesadilla and the 6 Beer sampler flight (the Weiss and the American Pale were the best). Then we headed to the Van exchange where I got an hour sleep in a softball field.

Beers - Stout, Porter, Pale Ale, Pilsner, Blueberry, Weiss
Photo by John Wichers

At midnight I was on the road running from person to person and happily charging.  At mile 3 of my leg I noticed a line of 8 people.  I knew I had nearly two miles so I could take it measuredly.  I slowly moved through the group but the person who had been at the back actually was making his way through the crowd almost as fast as me.  Then with half a mile left, he took off.  Later I connected the dots and realized this was probably Brendan Caffrey.  I came in front of the church - having caught all but the last 2 - I passed to Freddi and then nearly vomited in the churchyard.

We finished the night runs and made our way to the next vehicle exchange, where I slept another three hours under the stars.  My final leg was 8 miles of rolling hills and then a steep uphill to finish the last half mile.  While I had passed 36 people, it's safe to say this is a team act - like Marx's theory of revolution, Moneyball or team defensive rebounding - the actually passing is only the last violent act of ongoing larger social or team process.  But the end of our third and last hand off to Van 2, we were 45 minutes ahead of the expected time.

As we were leaving the transition area, I ran into Barry who was standing there with his team's slap bracelet.  "You shouldn't have that" I said.  Apparently they had dropped off the runner for the 31st leg at the start of the 32nd leg - oops.

After a brunch including a Pabst Blue Ribbon, we made our way to Hampton Beach where we met up with the five Van 2ers not running.  We stood on the beach - getting sand throughout my shoes - awaiting Korynn.  We met Korynn with 50 yards to go and the other 11 of us followed her in to the finish.

Korynn finishing with Guppies in tow

Fighting Guppies finished 20th overall and 9th in the Men's Open.

My Legs

Leg 3: 3.88 miles; 27:19; 7 kills
Leg 15: 4.91 miles; 33:38; 13 kills
Leg 27: 8.57 miles; 1:00:51; 36 kills

Random Old Post
Krka Loop - Cycle and Hike - Sibenik, Croatia July, 2009

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Winni, Winni, Chicken Dinni: Lake Winnipesaukee Relay (9/7/13)

Team Picture (back Dan, John, Marc, Tim; front - Steve, Aaron, Seth, Jesse)
Race: Lake Winnipesaukee Relay
Location: Lake Winnipesaukee, NH
Goal Time: 1:20:00
Actual Time: 1:17:04
Relay Time: 8:37:58
Pivo Index: 1; apparently it's already invented and it's a snakebite, not a "shander." (Not enough people like Portmanteaus - portmanteaux?)

Seth, Tim and I were standing in the parking lot of El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant awaiting Aaron to run by.  We were talking to two people from the Wicked Running Club.  The woman asked us: "What running club are you guys from?  You're so much bigger than most runners."

Indeed.  Each of us are over 6 foot 200 lbs.  Not your typical runners.  The Kings of Beer - as the Clydesdale team - are the big guys.

We ran it last year; but with Johnnie O on daddy duty and Tim Harden in St Louis on uncle duty we needed to pick up two new Kings. Enter Tim Sullivan and Steve Smrcina.  The eight of us brought it ...

Along Leg One
This year we mixed up the legs so that everyone could do different ones.

LEG ONE – Jesse
Distance:  10.7 miles
Time: 1:17:04

LEG TWO – Seth
Distance: 11 miles
Time: 1:30:13

Obligatory picture of the Kings on thrones
Distance: 9.3 Miles
Time: 1:11:42

Distance: 4 Miles
Time: 31:20
Aaron and Marc right at the 5/6 exchange (John and Dan in the background)

Distance: 10.4 Miles
Time: 1:37:55

LEG SIX - Aaron
Distance: 6.4 Miles
Time: 52:11
A six pack of kings - complete with Vuvuzela
Distance: 8.5 Miles
Time: 56:43

Distance: 4.4 Miles
Time: 40:49
Steve "The Toledo Torpedo" running the anchor leg
There are rumors this may have been the last Lake Winnepesaukee Relay, which would be distressing.  But I'm already looking into new venues for the Kings of Beer: Vermont? Nova ScotiaNevadaNorway?

SRR Shoutouts:

Beer of Kings (clever play on our name) - 3rd overall
Aged with Attitude - 1st 50+
En Fuego and Chafin the Dream - 1st and 3rd womens'

Friday, September 6, 2013

No Sweat: Well, Less Sweat and the Thursday Night Race (9/5/13)

Race: Thursday Night Run #5
Distance: 5k
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 18:59 (Course PR, Second Fastest ever)

I passed the one mile mark and didn't feel like I was going to die.  It seemed - shockingly - that Amped Up Jesse hadn't shown up for this race.  I say this is "shocking" because I have a system. My 5k system is to run the first mile as close to 6:00 as possible.  Some day, I will then the next two at near the same speed.  Unfortunately, most time it's as effective as Ignatius J. Reilly's "filing system."

Almost immediately, Quitter Jesse slows down to a horrible uncomfortable 6:45 or so while I recover from the blistering pace of Amped-Up Jesse.  

Throughout the summer, I have found that this keeps happening - no matter how much I train. Why?  The easy answer is that I'm not getting better. But, some of it was heat and HUMIDITY.  The body attempts to cool itself by sweating.  This sweat then evaporates and cools the body.  In humid weather, there is no evaporation and not only does the body not cool as much, sweat can act as an insulator.  

Well, Race Number 5 saw both the temp and humidity plummet.  (It is after Labor Day.)  

So as I finished mile one at around 6:02, I was able to maintain a fast second mile - 6:09.  There is a quick sharp turn followed by 50 yards of steepness right after the 2 mile mark.  This is paired with a change in surface.  So, I did slow a bit running over the bridge and it did take a while to get back on any pace.  But, I still ran the third mile faster than any third mile of a 5k - including my PR from SuperBowl Sunday 2012.

I finished in 10th overall (5th in my age group) with my second faster ever 5k - 18:59.

Post party was all too little Clown Shoes Swagger (there can never be enough Clown Shoes). 


SRR had a double victory - Joe won the Open Race and Jenn won the Women's Race
Bradley finally beat out Kieran for the age group award 
Alison Lackey had yet another PR in the Women's Race

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Constructivist Running: Jesus Jones and the Social Construction of the 7k (9/2/13)

thumbs up for the 2013 shirt...

Race: Run the Goose 7k
Goal Time: 28:30
Actual Time: 29:35 ( 2 second PR)

The 80s ended and it seemed "the world could change in the blink of an eye." In the halcyon days of the decline and fall of the Soviet Empire, International Relations sought a new paradigm over the zero sum Cold War.  One scholar was triumphant in his declaration of "The End of History," while another forebodingly predicted a "Clash of Civilizations."

Lost in the broad, sweeping (and simplistic) declarations of epochial changes in international relations was Alexander Wendt's 1992 critique of neorealism: "Anarchy is what States make of it." Wendt introduces the idea of "social construction" as a driving force in decision making.  The best example I can think of is not mentioned by Wendt.  After World War I, the Allies treated the defeated German, Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires like they would have two centuries or 20 centuries earlier: conquered territory to be divided as spoils of war.  In breaking-up of the Ottoman Empire, the French and the British squabbled over territories that are now Syria, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.  One can exclusively view this from the realist perspective of trading territories and dividing maps like they were a Risk board.  However, one leader - British PM Lloyd George - came from a different social background.  His evangelical Christian upbringing taught him the Bible - old and new - and put the PM in a position where he demanded British control over the biblical Holy Land.  This led to bargains that changed the map more than pure power calculations of a realist trying to gain more land.

I know, I know:  What the hell does this have to do with a 7k?

Well, like Bilbo Baggins told the trolls: "Lots ... and none at all."  The Run the Goose 7k is the smaller and shorter partner race to the Around Cape Ann 25k.  It's step-sister status is coupled with it's odd distance and  odd course.  The first and last mile is down a typical suburban street.  But the 2.3 in the middle is run through a small reservation. ("Reservation" is NewEnglish for a large amount of public land that is between a park and woods...) It is a loop of the Goose Cove reservoir with trails of varying quality and material: asphalt, crushed gravel, near single track, leaping over rocks and wide bike paths.

I know, I know:  What the hell does this have to do with Constructivism?

Well, with it's step sister status and its odd distance, the Run the Goose can be seen as a "fun" race.  One that you do not train specifically for or even plan to race at your best.  This is where my social construction comes in.  I love odd distance races.  I also have a family upbringing that makes me love "duck related items."  The classic (and classy) shirts with the goose are a draw.  (like the best race shirt ever -  2011.)  I like to make a big deal of it.

I had a good plan for the race.  I was going to run the first mile easy and then kick it into gear in the reservation while everyone else was starting to slow because of the trails and trials...

I didn't.

My first mile was 6:12.  And while I slowed in the second and third, I didn't lose ground on anyone. I matched everyone else's slowing in the trails.

When we came out of the reservation, I was able to kick it back up a notch with a finishing mile of 6:02.  Unfortunately, this was never able enough to pass the group of three in front of me who only ran it slightly slower.

In the end, I didn't achieve what I wanted.  But it was 2 seconds faster than last year (whoohoo! 7k PR!!!).  I finished 4th in my age group - 3 seconds behind third.

"right here, right now,  watching the world wake up..."

25k/7k gang at the finish

SRR Shout outs

SRR ladies did awesome in the 7k:
Mariah and Eva took 1st and 3rd in the 30-39
Jenn took 2nd in the 40-49