Monday, March 16, 2015

Tuireann and St Patick: Craicfest (3/15/15)

No green beer (thankfully); but green beer socks!

Race: Craicfest 5k
Location: Cambridge, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 18:58 (Masters' PR and 2nd Place, Masters)

My favorite story about St Patrick has nothing to do with snakes.  On the night of Beltane - the feast of fires - the High King of Ireland lights the first fire atop the hill of Tara; and then, in a Promethean construct, each other fire is lit with fires from the King's.  In rejection of the Irish gods, Patrick lit his own "Easter Fire" before the king had lit the one atop Tara.

The King - who may or may not have been an Ui Neill - was none too pleased with this rival fire coming from a rival religion to the Irish-Celtic religion.  And he sent his charioteers down to extinguish Patrick's Fire.

Even though I am coordinator of the SRR Grand Prix, I chose not to run the New Bedford Half Marathon. I didn't have that fire I needed for a Half - especially 5 weeks before Boston. Instead, I decided to to a shorter St Patrick's Day themed race - closer to my house.  I chose Craicfest from the Cambridge 5k. After a quick jog over to East Cambridge and settling my geara quick chat with Eddy, I made it to the start line.

The First Mile wound through East Cambridge and Kendall Square.  I bounced between running too fast and easing up too much.  The runner who usually wins the Masters at Cambridge 5k races - Thor Kirleis - was right ahead of me and in my sights.  Just at the corner of Binney and Cardinal Medieros was the mile one marker.  At right under 6 minutes, I felt good and I didn't feel spent.  We took the right onto Broadway...

I drink from the Pint Glass of Glory!

The High King's charioteers made it down to Patrick's fire.  And in what can bee seen as a ceremonial attack, circled the fire counter to the sun's path.  And there upon came and attacked Patrick's "Easter Fire" with the goal of putting it out before the High King would light the Tara Fire.

Throughout the Celtic world in the Bronze and Iron Age, the chariot wheel and the sun's travel were connected with the god Taranis.  Caesar even went as far as to liken him to Jupiter.  If not actually as powerful as Caesar claims (Lucan and Strabo both place him of lesser importance), he was also known as the god of thunder.  He enters Irish as Tuireann, the ruler of tórnach (thunder).  These charioteers may have been attacking such a way to invoke Tuireann.  So it was Patrick against the thunder god.

As we made the right onto Broadway, I could still see my own thunder god rival - Thor - right ahead of me.  Unfortunately the entire way up into Inman Square, he not only stayed three or four people ahead of me, but he kept making that gap larger.

I kept up my pace and effort into Inman Square.  I kept trying to run in the bike lane but it kept being all rock salt and dirt.  At Inman we took the sharp right onto Cambridge Street for the run back down to East Cambridge.  In front of S&S I made my move past one guy and hit the two mile mark ... 6:04.

When the charioteers reach Patrick's fire, they are incapable of extinguishing it.  In a moment oddly reminiscent of Elijah in 1st Kings, the pagan fires are not as strong as the Judeo-Christian ones. Despite the obvious superiority of Patrick's fire to the Druidic fire from Tara, Patrick was not able to convert everyone in one fell swoop.

While, I did not give up on catching Thor in the third mile, I definitely decided to go one thing at a time.  Running down Cambridge through East Cambridge to 6th Street, I slowly pulled back the gap with the next person.  There is a hill on Cambridge (the only significant one of the course) that runs from 6th upto the Courthouse on 3rd.  Recently I had watched a video where Ryan Hall explains that he doesn't kill himself on the hill but waits until it near the crest.  I decided to take that advice.  And as we passed the East Cambridge Savings bank, I started my attack over the crest.

I hit 3rd Street within 20 yards of the next person.  I decided to bring him back in all the way down to 1st street.  Then I would gauge the finish as start a sprint.  We made the right on 1st and I was right behind him.  We were right in front of Amie and Ryan's house as a tried to go by him.  Then he threw in a gear I didn't have...  Thor had long since finished and I decided to run hard in but not try to catch this guy.

Patrick would move onto converting Ireland to Christianity.  (Although probably not "Roman Catholicism" as we think of it today.)  And he would express the Trinity with the Shamrock... (but that's another story...)

I finished in 17th overall; 2nd Masters with my second fastest 5k ever.

Second Masters' Man and Dana, Second Masters' Woman

Shoutouts -

- Dana Second Masters woman and PR

Deb Downs won the Asheville Marathon

- PRs at New Bedford for Allison Lackey, Melissa Glockenspiel, Emma Kosciak and Aharon Wright

- Greg S. won the Spring Thaw 6 Hour

Tino Pai,


Monday, March 2, 2015

CRASH and SMASH: World Indoor Rowing Championships (3/1/15)

Race: CRASH-B Sprints, World Indoor Rowing Championships
Distance: 2K
Location: Agganis Arena, Boston University
Goal Time: 6:45
Actual Time: 6:44.4

I looked up at the computer and it said I had 1124 meters to go.  Oh crap, I might not finish this race.  I don't know if anyone has ever DNFed a rowing machine race before....

Two months ago, I hadn't thought of doing the CRASH-B or any rowing indoor rowing race.  A couple of years ago, Kelsea had tried to convince me to try rowing since I had the size and running back ground.  But it took Barbara registering for CRASH-B. It seemed like something fun and a short training period; so, I registered too.  (Don't get confused about CRASH, it has nothing to do with crashing rowboats.  However it does give me an excuse to post this video:)

They covered the ice of Agganis with boards and placed - in the competition area - 96 ergs (that's rowerspeak for what the rest of us call: "Rowing Machines").

Each age group went in different heats.  40 - 49 year old heavyweight men all went in the same heat. There were 91 registered and 78 raced (or at least 78 finished - maybe somebody did DNF).  I milled around for a while after getting into the Agganis (checking out the BU Hockey History) and eventually made it to the floor for about 5 minutes of warm-ups.

Warm up area

In line for the race

Once I got to my erg, I was "ready."  Ready was a relative term.  I had no idea what to do.  Fortunately my volunteer coxswain was very helpful.  He told me exactly when to grab the handle.  Maybe if I had been more prepared, I would have been nervous.  But my total lack of preparation required me to wing it on the most basic stuff.  The heat was in three sections.  Each section had 32 ergs that were interconnected and the computer screen was set so that you could see how you and the leaders of your section were doing.  

My erg - #49

On start, I started pulling as hard as I could.  I felt really good: (You can watch the computer graphic of the section here).  As we went through the first 200, I was in fourth in my section of the heat.  I hit the 500 meter mark in a blazing fast 1:34.1 (6:16 pace)! But I definitely wasn't excited about how well I was doing. Instead I realized it was like running the mile and I had just gone two fast.

At 800 meters, I had taken over second in my heat; at 875 meters, I considered DNFing.  Needless to say, my second 500 - which had me 2nd in my section - had slowed considerably.  I dropped 5 seconds slower to 1:39.6.  Then I had to dig deep.

With 1000 meters to go, I just told myself to keep going. I told myself the worst that could happen is that this would suck for 3 and a half minutes.  And it did.  At 1400, I dropped back down into third in my section.

With 500 meters to go, I was spent.  The third split had been 1:45.4 (11 seconds slower than the first one).  This is where I was glad I had the information about my placement right in front of me.  I told myslef: Don't quit, don't quit! Stay in third! I hammered everything I had left to keep up some sort of pace.  The last 500 was 1:45.3...

I finished 30th out of 78 in my age group!  Pretty good I think for someone with no crew background.

Scenes from Agganis

3 of the 4 Terriers on the Miracle Team:
"Mike Eruzione, Winthrop, MA"

Jim Craig, the 4th Terrier

Zamboni parking!

One From the Vault
That time I rowed a real boat - Plitvicka Jezera National Park, Croatia, 2009

Took a lotta right turns since I had problems putting both oars in the water at once