Saturday, November 30, 2013

Slates and Votes: The Grand Prix

Slate – DeMar:
D. H. Jones 10 miler Amherst, MA Feb. 23 11 a.m.
New Bedford Half Marathon New Bedford, MA Mar. 16 11 a.m.
An Ras Mor 5k Cambridge, MA Mar. 30 10 a.m.
Ribfest 5 Miler Merrimack, NH Jun 15 9:15 a.m.
GMAA Labor Day 15k South Burlington Aug 31 9 a.m.
Lone Gull 10km Gloucester, MA Sept 14 9 a.m.
Manchester City Marathon Manchester, NH Nov 2 8:50 a.m.

Slate – Gibb:
D. H. Jones 10 miler Amherst, MA Feb. 23 11 a.m.
New Bedford Half Marathon New Bedford, MA Mar. 16 11 a.m.
Bedford Rotary 12 km Bedford, NH May 17 9 a.m.
Hollis Fast 5k Hollis, NH Jun 12 6:30 p.m.
Carver Cranberry 5 Miler Carver, MA Jul 26 9 a.m.
Lone Gull 10km Gloucester, MA Sept 14 9 a.m.
Manchester City Marathon Manchester, NH Nov 2 8:50 a.m.

Slate – Kelly:
D. H. Jones 10 miler Amherst, MA Feb. 23 11 a.m.
New Bedford Half Marathon New Bedford, MA Mar. 16 11 a.m.
Hollis Fast 5k Hollis, NH Jun 12 6:30 p.m.
Carver Cranberry 5 Miler Carver, MA Jul 26 9 a.m.
GMAA Labor Day 15k South Burlington Aug 31 9 a.m.
Lone Gull 10km Gloucester, MA Sept 14 9 a.m.
Manchester City Marathon Manchester, NH Nov 2 8:50 a.m.

Slate – Kuscsik:
New Bedford Half Marathon New Bedford, MA Mar. 16 11 a.m.
Bedford Rotary 12 km Bedford, NH May 17 9 a.m.
Hollis Fast 5k Hollis, NH Jun 12 6:30 p.m.
Carver Cranberry 5 Miler Carver, MA Jul 26 9 a.m.
New Hampshire 10 miler Auburn, NH Aug 23 9 a.m.
Lone Gull 10km Gloucester, MA Sept 14 9 a.m.
Manchester City Marathon Manchester, NH Nov 2 8:50 a.m.

The USATF-NE is currently voting for it's annual grand prix.  Above are the 4 "slates."  The Committee spaces out the races by date, distance and geography pretty well.  The two marathons pretty much put the monkey wrench into everything.  (Most people run Boston, thus putting April off the table; then you have to schedule everything around the fall marathon).

Friday, November 29, 2013

No Pet Turkeys: Gobble Gobble Gobble (11/28/13)

Amie Lynn and JZ turkeying it up for the Boston Globe
Race: Gobble Gobble Gobble 4 miler
Location: Somerville, MA
Goal Time: 26:00
Actual Time: 25:36 (PR!)

Thanksgiving means two things: Turkey and a 4 mile race.

I didn't feel great in the morning; but, I didn't feel terrible either. I figured I could go after my PR and maybe break 25 minutes.

Basically I was on target through the first 2.5 miles.  The first 2 were 6:13 and 6:12.  But the third mile is filled with short hills over Central Ave and then the tough right onto Summer Street.  So mile 3 was slower and then I cruised down Summer and back into Davis.

PR but not as good as I wanted.

Larissa was the women's winner
Rob, Chris and Rory went 1,2,3 in the master's category

Urvi's soup and SoRad's turkey - gobble gobble

Monday, November 11, 2013

HWAET!!!: Cross Country Grand Prix (11/10/13)

Master's race start
Photo by Joe O'Leary
Event: USATF Cross Country Championships
Race:  Masters' Men 8K
Goal Time: 35 ish??
Actual Time: 33:15


I was King Hrothgar in my fourth grade class's play Beowulf.  I'll let that sentence settle in.

But, since that time I have had an odd fascination with Beowulf.  I've read it several times in retellings and "translations."  (Since the epic poem was written in Old English, it is actually not correct to call it a "translation" into modern English.  But to be truthful, you'd have a better chance of reading Tasso's La Gerusalemme liberata in the original Renaissance Italian than you would reading the first known work in "English".)

Last Autumn, I discussed the connection of the Old English idea of wyrd - or, personal fate - as it related to Marathon Running.

While that might be weird to you (or even wyrd), I have found another odd connection between running and Anglo-Saxon epic poetry.

The first word of known English is - hwaet.  For as long as I've known the word it's been generally thought to have been used by a bard as he started his poem in front of a hall of drunks at the end of their meal.  And it was thought to have the meaning roughly analogous to: "EVERYBODY, SHUT THE $%&# UP, I'M ABOUT TO RECITE AN EPIC POEM!!!"

Often on races soon after tough ones or when I'm generally tired in a workout, I yell "HWAET" (rhymes with "bat") to myself.  Either because I need to focus or because I'm so tired I need to recite epic poetry to myself:

"I sing of arms and of a man, who - exiled by the Fates - 
 First from Troy came to these Latium shores..."

Sunday, in Franklin Park, another Canto in the Epic of 2013 USATF took place.  The last race of the Cross Country Grand Prix followed the last race of the Road Grand Prix - the Manchester City Marathon - by one week.  And my legs were definitely feeling the 26.2 from Man City.

The Masters' Men 8k was the first race of the day and it was the only race SRR had a full team for.  (We had exactly five masters.)  As I warmed up, I found myself trying to wake up my legs - HWAET - and trying to work out some pains in them.

At the horn, HWAET was not enough.  The usual ridiculous speed over the first lap took me to a 6:12 mile.  (The 8k course is the same as the 5k from the Mayor's Cup, just with a fourth loop that includes another trip through the Wilderness and another ascent of the Bear Cage Hill.)

In his 2000, version of Beowulf - now the Norton Critical Anthology Edition - Seamus Heaney did not use hwaet as an interjection but as a conjunction.  He merely starts his "translation" with: "So."  This actually was the only part of the entire work that bothered me; and it bothered me a lot.  Good thing there wasn't facebook because I would have been ridiculed for a 3 paragraph half whining half angry commentary on my favorite 20th Century poet because of his translation of this obscure word.

Easy into mile two, it definitely felt more like "so" than a yelling interjection.  While I slowed way down, I did pass 4 people who had run the first mile even too-faster than I.  By the first trip over and down the Bear Cage Hill - around a mile and a half - I was only 50 yards behind Matt Story from Greater Lowell Road Runners.  I determined that while I was more "so" than "HWAET"  I was going to use his white hat as a rabbit to chance down over the next 3.5 miles.

Recently, Dr. George Walkden has presented a new and disconcerting view of Hwaet.  In his paper, "The Status of hwaet in Old English" Dr. Walkden concludes:

"According to the alternative analysis pursued in section 4, there were two variants of hwæt in Old English: both were interrogative, but one was underspecified for the feature [thing] and thus able to assume a non-argument role. Non-interrogative clauses preceded by hwæt are wh-exclamatives parallel in interpretation to Modern English ‘How you've changed!’"

This interrogatory word would not only challenge the view of my fourth grade Challenge class teacher who had me play King Hrothgar and my old drunk English 201 professor who saw it as the interjection to quiet a crowd, but it even challenges the late Heaney's conjunction theory.  (Heaney's translation does makes sense if think of the bard is following especially bad minstrels who storm off stage yelling their band name "Sexual Mead! Sexual Mead!" or some Anglo-Saxon comic with antimetabole nationalist jokes: "In Mercia, you break the law; but, in Wessex the law breaks you!" It's like the bard might be saying "So [that guy's done].")

Clowning at mile 4
photo by Joe O'Leary
While I passed the 5k point 30 seconds faster than I did at Mayor's Cup, the race kinda fell apart there.  I was burnt from the three miles and I went into my five miler "strategy" whereby the fourth mile is a recovery mile.

Unfortunately, like the now new definition of hwaet downgrades it's excitement from:

"EVERYBODY SHUT THE $%&# UP, I'M ABOUT TO RECITE AN EPIC POEM, We have heard of the might of kings..."

to the more mundane:

"How we have heard of the might of kings...."

So, too was my fifth mile downgraded in excitement.   As we came down the Bear Cage Hill, I could not catch the three people who had passed me on the way up.  And along the flats Matt Story just motored away from me like I was slowed by a Firedrake.

My 33:15 was good enough for 72nd out of 98th.
Finishing strong(?)
photo by Liz Cooney
SRR Masters' Team was 8th out of 8th.
Greg finished 7th overall, Tom Bok and Rory were 42nd and 47th.
Tom Cole ran is first five miler, first cross country race and scored for SRR in his first club race
Matt Story took 70th - 15 seconds ahead of me
Bev and Kate were 23 and 34 in the women's race
Matt Ridout did not finish in last in the Men's open 10k (better than I can say for the year I ran it).

Honestly, if you think about it, why would the scribe ever write down the "EVERYBODY SHUT THE $%&# UP, I'M ABOUT TO RECITE AN EPIC POEM" part of the recitation?  It would be like writing down "the Castle of Arrgghhhhhhh."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Striped Socks, Red Sox and Darned Socks: An Accidental Marathon (11/3/13)

On course - striped socks and all
Photo by Jim Pawlicki's better half - KrissyK
Race: Manchester City Marathon
Location: Manchester, NH
Goal Time: 3:22 - 3:32
Actual Time: 3:13:40 (PR, Boston Qualified!!!!)

For big races - marathons, ultras, important 10Ks, (shot put flights) - I like to wear these gold and black striped soccer socks.  But, the day before Manchester I questioned whether I should wear the striped socks. On one hand it was the culmination of the USATF Grand Prix and a marathon; on the other hand, I was only going to run Manchester as a training run since I have California International in five weeks.

The night before, at dinner with my cousins - Jason and Jana, Jana (a long time runner herself) had wondered what I was going to do for my race.  I convinced her I was just training.  In fact Monday to Saturday, I ran 58 miles. So, I spelled out the training run plan:

Miles 1-6: Easy miles between 8min/mile and 9min/mile
Miles 7-16: Marathon Pace between 7:00 and 7:15/mile
Miles 17-20: Easy
Miles 21-24: Marathon Pace
Last 2.2: ??

While I was not running it as a race, I still needed to be ready to run a 26.2 mile long run.  I made them not only go to dinner early with me, I had also not gone down to see the Red Sox championship parade "Rolling Rally" early in the day on Saturday. A part of me was disappointed to miss the parade "Rolling Rally".  Watching on TV when Jonny Gomes put the Commissioner's Trophy on the Boston Marathon Finish Line (yes, that's what it's called: not the Stanley Cup or the Lombardi Trophy or even the Larry O'Brien Trophy) was emotional for me.

"This is our @#$%&*# City!!"
Another part of me was perfectly fine missing the parade "Rolling Rally".  As Jason described it, he ran into several people obviously intoxicated yelling things as intricate as "#$%& Yeah, Sox Rule!"  and "ORTIZ BABY!!"  And this was four hours after the parade "Rolling Rally".  I figured there would be two types of people there: drunk people and people annoyed with drunk people.  I didn't want to be either.

My plan went pretty well to start.  I took it easy the first 6 miles, between 7:50 and 8:10.  Taking it so easy I went out of my way to high-Five the cheering Jim Pawlicki (who told me to stay in the tangents). Then at the 6 mile mark I dropped down into Marathon Pace.  Steadily I was passing everyone and eventually caught up with Deb around mile 10 and wondered how her sock was doing.  I didn't ask, since if it wasn't holding up my question would be a reminder.

An hour and a half earlier Deb, Jenn and I had been putting together the finishing touches on our marathon preparation in the upper lobby of the host hotel.  Deb ran into a problem.  Her sock had a hole in it that had her toe sticking out.  She tried to adjust and put it on backwards.  However, this was not an acceptable solution for Jenn.  The host hotel was hosting not only the marathon but also a large quilting bee.  Jenn went into one of the small conference rooms and asked a woman at a sewing machine if she would darn Deb's sock.  The woman was more than happy to oblige...

Deb getting her socks darned at the quilting bee
I had told Deb I'd see her later when I slowed back to easy pace and she passed me back.  Usually when I'm running marathon pace and it's not during a race I'm always counting down the miles to when I can stop.  But - probably since it WAS a race - I wasn't having that problem.  Around 13 and a half miles, I was running near Robert who had been biking around the course.  He told me to catch up to Karen who was only 20 seconds ahead.  I convinced him I was soon going to slow down.

At mile 16 when I was supposed to slow down.  Instead, I told myself "one more mile."  At seventeen, I said it again.  Then at 18 I figured I could try to catch up with Karen and help her in the wind as best I could.

At mile 19 and a half, I caught up.  By then I realized that if I kept running a good pace - 7:35ish per mile - I could get a personal record... and Qualify for Boston (my goal for California International).  So while I had specifically had the conversation with Culla and Bradley that I was NOT going to go for a PR/BQ.  I said fuck it and did. (Culla did agree I did the right thing and tell me today: "PR's are so tough to get.  Especially after your get better and closer to your potential.  When you have a shot, never waste it.")

There was one last nasty hill from mile 20 to 21.  The considerably smaller and lighter Karen just flew up the hill and away from me.  Robert and I laughed - she's a carbon fiber Roubaix and I'm a 1987 steel hardtail Rockhopper.

Karen and I - probably around mile 23
photo by Robert Cipriano
By mile 22, I knew I was going to BQ.  I also knew I couldn't get cocky or stop working.  At mile 23 I dreaded maybe hitting the wall like I did at Providence. Once I made it through that, I was just trying to stay within myself.  I was definitely slowing down the last two miles.  However it wasn't hitting the wall and dropping from 7:30 miles to 9:45 miles - at least not yet.  After an adventurous loop of old factories that included a hurdle and ducking under several trees, all that was left was a two block uphill, a turn and then 0.3 miles straight to the finish line.

I passed the 26 mile mark as it the clock flipped to 3:12:00.  I was going to make it.  I was going to PR and BQ!  Tears started welling up in my eyes; I had to be shown how to get through the cones because I could barely see.

A bit excited to finish with PR and BQ

I came across fist pumping at gun time 3:13:48 and chip time 3:13:40 - 28 second PR and BQ minus 1:20! Robert quoted me from mile 13.5: "yeah 'I'm going to slow down at mile 16.'"

I got home and celebrated with Cinderella's Pizza and a liter of Westmalle Tripel.

Shoutouts -

Karen and Liz completed their respective series age-group wins!
The Men's team came in 7th
The Women's team came in 4th
Masters' Women took 3rd

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Hallow's Eve: Zombie Boo-Run III (10/31/13)

Ann, me, Deb, Karen and Steve
Event:  Zombie Boo-Run III
Location: Somerville, MA
Distance: 4.06 miles
Time: 2:00:45
Pivo Index: 5

Pre Race, Casey's Pub
Tom, Paul and Anthony

Karen - looking Smurfy
Start Line
 Stop 1 - the Pub
Pivo number 1 - Harpoon IPA
Superman Pours some beers

We ran into members of SRR Kids program
 Stop #2 - Maison Caffrey
Pivos #2&3 - Kerel's Big Brown Nut
Making sure people weren't lost on route

Paul serving his brew

Cats in Hats

My clever well thought costume

Paul's Brews

 Stop 3 - Sarma
Pivo #4 - Miller High Life
Prince of Whales, Princess
 End - Casey's
Pivo #5 - Pumpkinhead