Wednesday, March 23, 2016

For the Want of A Chip Time: Mark Duggan's New Bedford Half Marathon (3/20/16)

Pedals and Paddles Worldwide presents its first guest blogger.  While Global Cyclist was running his half marathon in NYC, Mark Duggan ~ with a goal of running at least a half marathon every month in 2016 ~ joined most of the rest of the Somerville Road Runners for the annual trip to New Bedford Half Marathon. His story is below:

We couldn't find any pics of Mark from the race, so here are two bananas who ran
photo by Paul Hammond
Those of you who pay attention these things will notice that my finishing time at New Bedford today was 1:57:59 (1).

This was not the spectacular implosion it appears, at least not from a running perspective.

The morning started with John and Ellie being extremely punctual and arriving at 8:30 for a lift to New Bedford. Darren was a bit tardy and arrived at 8:43. I started the car and drove around to Starbucks on Mass Ave where I grabbed a 'quick' coffee. By the time I returned to the car John had gone back to his house to check they hadn't left the oven on (2). John got back around 8:55, and while that was later than I wanted to leave I was still pretty happy we'd get there in reasonable time. 

Then I tried to start the car. No dice. Battery was flat. 

Ran up to the garage on Mass Ave to see if they had a jumper pack. Nope

How the editor imagines the scene (notice the right hand drive that I'm sure Mark's car has)
Ran back to the car. Alarm was going off because I'd locked it out of habit as I ran away from it, and Darren and Ellie were still inside. Next tried to sign up for Zipcar as they have a Zipcar at the garage. Looking good until I found out despite all their "app" goodness, they still want a physical card to unlock the car. We're rapidly running out of ideas but John and Ellie suggest we use one of the traditional car rental places in Harvard Square. We check that Thrifty have availability and we start to run towards there. By the time we get the car it's now 9:55-ish, and I know we're really tight on time.

We jump in and once we hit the highway, I'm basically doing 80 (3) in a Nissan Versa all the way to New Bedford. We are in the right vicinity at around 10:50 and I think we're going to make it or be kinda close, but then I fuck up and take a right to early and need to double back. At that point once I see the first parking lot I pull in and we ditch. 

Unfortunately, this is nearly 2 miles from the Y so we have to book it over there and by the time we grab bibs and all that we're back to the start line for around 11:30 (Darren and I started at 11:28:42 precisely). Of course, my watch decides to crash and takes inordinately long to find a satellite. Word to the wise, the Garmin 620 won't start recording until it has a GPS signal, which took about .12 miles. 

The race organisers let us start but we were lucky. The roads were already open and that first 3 miles is not a place you really want to be running without those roads being closed. 

Anyway, at this point I've thrown all race strategy out the window and I'm just running hard. I reckoned that I'll just go and if I die at mile 10, it'd just be fitting. I catch the walkers at the back after about 3 miles before that really nasty hill, and when I crest the hill and turn left I'm not long before I catch the cars at end of the race. I know I have a lot of downhill now, so I'm settling in for passing folks for the rest of the race. 

There was a headwind from the very beginning so I knew once we hit the water it was going to be tough. Mile 7 gave me a taste of it but Mile 9/10 was rough but I knew I was still on target to break 1:30:00 so I kept at it. At this point I'm passing a lot of runners. Two guys shouted at me "Are you on your second lap?" and another said "How are you just passing us now?". I shouted over my shoulder "Well I started a half an hour late" 

Once I got out of the wind in that stretch between 10+ and before the hill at 12, I was feeling pretty good and reckoned that even if I ran 8 min/miles for the rest I was going to go under 1:30. But I kept it going and as that bastard hill loomed, I was able to run 7 min-ish up it and once I managed to get to the top without vomiting I just kicked home for a Gun Time of 1:57:59. 

I got back to the Y and waiting for my chip time, which unfortunately never came. I asked the guys from Yankee timing and he told me they turned off the mat at the start after around 5 minutes or so.

Between various calculations from Darren's watch and also presuming the race went off pretty promptly at 11:00:00, I reckon I did a 1:28:41; which I'll take as an unofficial PR and something to aim for in Berlin in two weeks.

After leaving the Y and because we'd not really paid close attention to where we were parked and none of us had phones, and basically I'd had a quick look on Victor's phone to get an idea of where we needed to go; we obviously got off track and ended up needing to ask a police officer how to get to where we were going.

He kindly gave us a lift, so we ended our adventure in the back seat of a cop car in New Bedford, warning us we were in a pretty dodgy area crime-wise (4).

We made it back to Cambridge in time to return the rental, and I continued the saga by getting my car towed to AutoZone so I could get a new battery...

There are easier ways to PR that's for sure...

I want to thank Mark Duggan for this recap.  For Berlin, here's a map of the U Bahn and "Viel Gl├╝ck."  

And if anyone else has a race or outdoor trip they want to tell through Pedals and Paddles just email me, we can make it happen!


(1) - Of course we noticed while sitting in our friends co-op on the UES trolling thru New Bedford results... No really we did ~ editor
(2) - Important question here: What breakfast did they make that required the oven?  That seems ambitious the morning of a Half Marathon ~ editor
(3) - We assume this is mph despite the Irish author's penchant for occasionally using metric in situations Americans would never understand him ~ editor
(4) - As opposed to those "non dodgy areas" of New Bedford? ~ editor

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Ego and The Id: An Oral History of New York City Half Marathon (3/20/16)

Brendan with 200m to go
All photos by Liz Caffrey

Race: New York City Half Marathon
Goal Time: 1:25:00
Actual Time: 1:24:36

Lead up:
The New York City Half Marathon is a 20,000 person race and held the same day as the New England Championship the New Bedford Half Marathon. Being a 20,000 person race it has a two month lottery system register.

EGO: When Jesse first signed up for the NYC lottery, I thought it was a good idea.  We all hate the hassle of New Bedford and this would be a major race and we could have a fun time.

ID: I just don't get it.  We registered for a race but we didn't really register?  We had to wait two months to find out if our registration was really a registration.  Why couldn't they just hold the lottery NOW?  . . . Are you going to eat that cookie?

EGO: So, when we really did get into the race I was happy.  At the same time I was a bit sad because Urvi - whose idea the race was - did not win the lottery so she would be making the trip without the fun of actually running.

ID: 135 Dollars?  Really? We're paying 135 Dollars to travel to run through Manhattan?  They really should be paying us to do this race; I mean, we're the ones doing all the work.

Three months after the lottery results, the NYC half was held.  It starts in Central Park at 72nd Street and goes north past the Met and then down the hill past the skating rink on an out and back on 110th Street that loops around Frederick Douglass Circle before reentering the park and hitting the first 5k mark. 

ID: The starting horn went off and there were all these people just in our way.  Didn't we sign up for the 6:30 per mile group?  I just wanted to start shoving people or weaving through them or something. We had to run faster than this.  Stupid Ego wouldn't let me do it though!

EGO: I knew it was going to be crowded at the beginning.  So instead of doing something crazy like weaving through people just to keep up the pace, I knew we'd be better off if we just let the race come to us.

ID: And then I said: "Hey look! IT'S THE GUGGENHEIM!!!"

EGO: After the first mile it goes down hill past the skating rink.  Our first mile had been slow but I knew we'd make it up on this part.  Especially if we didn't sprint.  I also didn't want to go so slowly that we'd have to hold back and ruin our quads.

ID: Do you ever use those old tape recorders?  You know the where you had to press two buttons at once to record?  What was the question?

EGO: Out of the Park was the Out & Back on 110th Street.  Fortunately by now the crowds had thinned out enough that we could just run our pace.  I looked down at the watch, while it was a little closer to 6:30 but a little fast.  I figured maybe we just needed to average 6:30s on the first half of the race - the second 5k was going to be hilly. And then making the turn around Douglass Circle was tough because I wanted to cut the tangent but how do you tangent a circle?  We didn't pay enough attention in Trig for that.

ID: I was just singing that Bobby Womack song from Jackie Brown. You know that statue of Douglass in the middle of that rotary is NOT flattering.  Oh, and on the way back we saw Brendan and Corey and then it was like: "HEY!!! THERE'S KATE!!!"

Corey on far left

The basic goal was to average 20:05 per 5k.  Jesse ran passed the first 5k at 20:16.  While that was a little slower than the average the plan had been to negative split.

ID: What is this "Negative Split" bullshit?  What do you mean we aren't going to run fast NOW? Anyways, then when we get to the Harlem Hill and Ego is all like: "We gotta work and run up this pretty fast" and I'm all like "Whoa, buddy this is no fun let's take it slow."

EGO: We had to take it pretty fast.  It was too long to let us lose time.  But we aren't doing a hill workout or anything so let's stay within the plan.  Maybe 7:15/mile average up the thing. And once we get over them then we can take the next three hills that Jess Z called the "Three Bitches."

ID: They are bitches!

EGO:  Each hill we just had the same game plan.  Ease up the first 2/3rds; race the last third and then recover on the downhill.  Each time at the top it felt like it had been a bad idea but on the downhills, I realized we were recovering and getting ready for the second half.

ID (Arms flailing): WHEEE!!!!

Upon leaving the park the second time, the course moves onto 7th Avenue.  Two blocks later is the 10k marker.  Jesse had run the first 10k in 40:40 which meant 1:25 was going to need a 39:40 for the second 10k negative split.

EGO:  As you leave the park, you crest a hill and then you can look down 7th Ave.  I knew there was a lot of racing left.  So, I wanted to make sure we didn't fall into running too fast that could kill us later.  There was a lot of miles left.

ID: The hills are gone!  RUN!!!!

EGO: I don't know what happened we listened to Id...

ID: Oh my god, Times Square!  (singing) dun, dun, dun, dun, dunt... Fresh Air. We're just sprinting through Times Square people yelling and music playing and oh my god... Wait, it goes the other way: It's first "Fresh Air" then (singing) dun, dun, dun, dun, dunt... Times Square!

EGO:  That 7th Mile was a little fast, but we were on the second half of the race.  It was time to put into action the negative split plan...

ID: Oh this again; I'm going to get a beer.  You want one?

EGO: 42nd was a little lonely since everyone was packed into Times Square.  But surprisingly just as we started to flag we got a surprise yell cheer from Liz Caffrey.

ID (yelling from the kitchen): We should have gone back and given her our gloves!

EGO (yelling into the kitchen): You don't turn around DURING a race! (turning back to me) Had we realized it at the time, we could have ditched our gloves but by the time we thought of it we were BLOCKS away.

ID (while walking back into the room and handing me a Sculpin IPA): Then we took that left before turning and heading the other way.  We get a great view of the Intrepid and I'm like: "Remember that Law and Order..." and Ego cuts me off.

EGO: I did.  Now was the time to concentrate on the job at hand.  We wanted to spend our concentration on running each mile at 6:20 or faster.  We were getting tired and daydreaming about 20 year old Law and Order episodes wasn't going to help.

With a tail wind, Jesse managed to make up some ground.  The 15k split was 1:00:14, or 1 second under the overall plan!

Jesse on the last turn with the flag of Iceland.
EGO: The negative split plan was working...

ID: Because we finally started fucking running!

EGO (looking at the ceiling away from Id):  I'm not having this argument again. So, now all we had to do was keep hitting each mile at 6:20.  Just try to clock each of them.

ID: And this guy with the Dominican Flag!

EGO: Yes, there was this guy with the Dominican Flag who passed us.  He was running faster but not much faster than us.  So we just targeted the flag.  Just keep that guy in our sights.

ID: We were blowing past people now. There were some tired runners. And we felt AWESOME!!

EGO: We did not feel awesome.  But, as we came upto the Tunnel and the 12 mile mark, we were relaxed and on target.  I mean, we still had to run at least 6:40 miles but...

ID: The tunnel was kinda cool at first and then it sucked.

Coming out of the tunnel was the 20k mark and Jesse was at 1:20:04 ~ 16 seconds ahead of the plan. But still there was a tough climb and 1.1 km left to run.

ID: All I could say was: "WOW!!! Look at that view of the Brooklyn Bridge!"

EGO: Coming up the hill out of the tunnel we were going so slow.  We had to run the last 1.1 km in less that five minutes and I needed us to stay focused and then all I could think was: "WOW!!! Look at the view of the Brooklyn Bridge!" But I kept us focused.  As I made it up to the 400 meters to go I was going to look at my watch and as long as it was 1:23:30 or faster, I knew we'd be doing alright.

ID: RUN!!!!!

EGO: There were two turns.  Just before the second one was the 200 meters to go and I didn't want to bother about time in case we weren't going fast enough so we listened to Id again...

ID: RUN!!!!!  Oh my god, we were just running as hard as we could.  There was the finish line just keep running!  I saw the clock and it was under 1:25.  RUN!!!!!

EGO: It was great to reach our goal and now we can concentrate on the Boston Marathon.

ID: That guy in the suit still beat us.

Jesse finished the race at 1:24:36 which was not only a nearly 3 minute Personal Record (PR) but, as long as the qualifying times don't change, should auto-qualify him for the 2017 New York City Marathon.

ID: Then I blew chunks on Wall Street.

EGO: Yes, we vomited.

Corey also had a PR in New York and Brendan just missed by 3 seconds.  Meanwhile in Ashland Rob Cook and Nichole Bukowski had big PRs in the half (Nichole WON!!!).  And in New Bedford, Brian Keefe, Aharon Wright and Mark Duggan (in a divine comedy of errors) each had PRs.

ID: Wait, you're going to quote us directly?

EGO: Yes, it's all in those release forms he had each of us sign.

ID: I didn't fucking read those.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Seventh Time's a Charm: An Ras Mor (3/6/16)

2005 An Ras Mor running with Jason and behind Johnny O
photo by Jim Rhoades
Race: An Ras Mor
Distance: 5K
Location: Cambridge, MA
Goal Time: 18:00
Actual Time: 18:12 (PR!)

An Ras Mor is a special race for me.  My adult running career can be followed, and in some ways measured, by this race.  2016 marked the seventh time I've run it (plus, I volunteered on the course in 2013 & 2015; this giving my time and not racing also follows the trajectory of my running career).

Once (2004) - A jump start
My first race since high school was the 2004 An Ras Mor.  Peter Ustinov was still alive; the Red Sox hadn't won the World Series and same sex marriage was still illegal in Massachusetts.

I was trying to get back into running and I had run the SRR's Khoury's Thursday Night run a couple of times.  So I figured I'd try a "real race." I ran around 7:30/miles.  It felt okay.

That was going to be my jumping off point for getting myself back into shape...It didn't take.

Twice (2005) - A second jump
Since it didn't take in 2004, I tried again in 2005.  This time I brought my cousin along.  We ran both An Ras Mor and a week later Ras Na hEireann.  Due to construction An Ras Mor was MORE.  It was 3.6 miles this year.  Neither Jason nor I was prepared for that extra half mile, I remember just slowing down as we rounded the UHaul place on Main Street.  But still managed 8:15/miles.

Either way, it would be a good jumping off point to get back into shape...It didn't take.

Finishing the 2005 An Ras Mor
photo by Jim Rhoades
Thrice (2009) - Calm before the Expedition
Trying to get back into shape fell onto the back burner again until 2009.  I registered for An Ras Mor again and EARLY.  This time I was determined to get back into shape.  I think I actually ran for several weeks leading up to it.  Finished with 8:00/miles and then had a great after party.

2009 An Ras Mor - notice I registered so early that I was number 19
(I wonder what happened to that Adidas sweatshirt - I really liked it)
photo by Ted Tyler
Maybe the '09 race would have jumped started me back into shape.  But it was immediately followed by Bikespedition-2009 which did get me back into shape.

Force (2011) - Almost back
By 2011, I was back into shape.  I was now starting to actually "race."  While maybe I wasn't "recreationally competitive" yet, I was competitive with myself.  The 2011 An Ras Mor was the first time I broke 7:00/miles in a road 5k.  And it was the first road 5k faster than 2004(!)  Considering I was probably 250 lbs and two weeks away from my second marathon, I was pretty happy.

Fifce (2012) - A Great Race for a Great Year
While I ran faster at the 2012 Super 5k than I did An Ras Mor, I still broke 20 minutes and had a completely different outlook on racing and running. A series of great races would follow including almost qualifying for Boston and running the Reykjavik Marathon and I was to be SRR's Most Improved Runner.

2012 An Ras Mor (the last time it was Out & Back on Mass Ave)
Photo by Laurie Gagnon
Sixce (2014) - Grand Prix and a Jacket
The 2014 race was the USATF Grand Prix 5k.  My only goal of An Ras Mor was to run all 7 GP races to get the jacket.  My real target in 2014 was the BAA 5K.  

I had convinced Eamonn to run it too.  The weather was awful.  It poured and the only people who showed up were USATF competitors and Eamonn and his fiance (now wife).  There were lots of fast people and I was not in the mood to race.

2014 An Ras Mor (It was a little damp this year)
photo by Tom Cole
Sevence (2016) - Back on Top Again
After having a good (but badly run) Super 5K, I set out with a new strategy for An Ras Mor. 

First, at Super 5K I had started out with the goal of 5:45 for the first mile which became 5:43 and then steadily declined. 

So, the strategy for this was 5:50 for the first mile. Predictably, it was a little faster - 5:48.9. But I was right up with Chris Smith and a girl from Western Mass Distance Project. So, in a world of malleable tactics, I decided to hang with the two of them. We made it past the Harvard Book Store and the sharp turn on Linden to head back onto Mt Auburn. 

I was feeling surprisingly good. And all I had to do was stay with Chris. I figured we'd hit mile 2 and he'd pull away but at the moment I was just hanging onto him and trying to keep the pace. At the turn onto Putnam I was conscious not to jump out ahead (or at least not too far ahead) of Chris. 

As we crossed mile 2 I saw I had actually put in a faster mile (!) 5:47. Now I knew if I could just hang onto a 6 minute mile, I would do pretty well. I moved passed Chris as we crossed River Street. By the left turn onto Brookline and the doldrums of the race, I started to just jump from one person to the other. 

Just keeping my mind on the next person and holding back from sprinting too early. I brought in another sub 6 mile and sprinted in for the finish and a New PR!!!

Now, as I'm a married man, An Ras Mor is back where it's supposed to be - on top!

2016 An Ras Mor
photo by Chris Kluznick (which meant he wasn't racing for my fantasy team, d'oh)
Also on top were several SRRs who had PRs:
Todd & Megan Prokop
Tim Morin
Tim Blanchard
Nichole Bukowski

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Baby It's Cold Outside II: Propelling Digital Representations (2/21 - 2/28/2016)

This has been a very mild winter for New England; but, it's still winter.  The roads still have bits of snow and slush and the wind is still blowing below freezing and the River is still clogged with ice here and there.

Thus we're still inside.  After this year's great indoor track season, I didn't have too high of hopes on the rest of the indoor season.  How many sports can you pay attention to at once?

Lamer asked how I thought my propelling of my digital boat went at Crash-B.

Me in my New England Randonnuers Jersey; Emma in her Endurance Underground Camo
Photo from Landry's Cycles

Cycling Indoor Time Trial (2/21/16)
Event: Boston Triathlon Team Indoor Time Trial
Location: Landry's Cycles, Allston, MA
Distance: 10K
Goal Time: 18:19
Actual Time: 17:54

The profile of the course was the last 10K of the Marathon Course in reverse.  Since, I ran that on Saturday, I was mentally ready to ride it on Sunday.  Unfortunately, since I ran that on Saturday, My legs weren't necessarily read to ride it on Sunday.

When you checked in, you weighed in so that they could set the Compu-trainer to your weight, etc. 

After some warm up spinning while they set up the computers and what not, there was a countdown 3-2-1 and we started. 

There was projection screen that had all the vital data: watts, speed, distance, etc.  It also had graphics that tracked you along the profile of the Marathon Course. 

Good shot of the computer board that shows all the data and has the route profile and individual trackers
Photo from Landry's Cycles

I didn’t want a repeat of the CRASH-B’s from last year; while, I didn't know how hard to ride for a 10K, but I knew that I'd rather start too slow than too fast.  Basically, I decided to push myself hard but leave some for the finish, since I knew we’d have to go up Heartbreak in reverse.

Among the data was your pace and your distance to the next place person.  At the start I was in 7th out of 8 in my group with Emma right behind me.  But, as I started getting comfortable and finding the groove, I started closing in on 6th.  At the top of the hill at Coolidge Corner: Mile 2 or so I passed by 6th and then set my sights on closing down to #5.

Robbie getting aero
Photo from Landry's Cycles

I kept the pedaling pretty smooth.  I started to get within range of #5 when we got to what would be the turn onto Chestnut Hill Ave and then the left onto Commonwealth.  At this point there is about half a mile of downhill before you get to the base of Heartbreak in Boston College.  So I figured I’d take advantage of this, I made my move into 5th Place.  I looked at the numbers and realized Robby – in 4th – was way too far for me to catch. 

I got to the uphill right at the Dunks at the Boston College T.  I still felt okay; so, I was ready to crush it.  I didn’t really crush it.  However, I didn’t slow down either.  So despite not having the Hammer, I was able to push to the top and then bury my head over the last ¾ of a mile.  The guy I had passed had more left than me, he passed me up the hill and I didn’t have enough to bring him back.

Still beat the 5k running PR from earlier this month and with just under 21 mph and 285 avg watts (and, the all-important beating Emma), I was happy with my performance.

Hafferty killing it
Photo from Landry's Cycles

Robby did a 17:24
Susannah (18:45) and Emma (19:12) were the 8th and 10th place women
Hafferty's 15:01 finished only 4 seconds off the podium

The floor of the Agganis during CRASH-B

Rowing Indoor Race (2/28/2016)
Event: CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championships
Location: Aggannis Arena, Allston, MA
Distance: 2K
Goal Time: 6:44
Actual Time: 6:59

Pulling hard at the end

Not as prepared as last year.

I fought to go out easier than last year. I was right under the 1:40/500m for the first little while and then from about 1000m.

At 1400m, I thought I might be in trouble. The pace was drifting up and drifting up. By 1750, I felt I could barely hang on. I just kept my head down and fought to 1900. Then I knew it was 10-11 more strokes. I blasted it out to keep my time under 7 min.

Next year I might do some training...

Digital Representations of Boats

Andy rowing her 2k

I finished just under 7 and Andy rowwed just over 8:30 on her first time at CRASH-B