At 7:30 AM Nancy and SueC began Week 5 with an early bird start, leaving early down the LynnFells Parkway, turning left to Wakefield High School, and heading into Breakheart. Behind them came the thundering footsteps of the regular crew that left Brueggers at 8AM. Down Main St we went.Â A tap on the Clarence DeMar monument for marathon training good luck and a turn onto LynnFells to put the run into high gear. The first observation of the day was that, although it was cool with temps under 70 degrees, the humidity was high and the sweat started to accumulate on runners skin and clothing very quickly. Hydration would be key to finishing this run strong.
We picked up Beth along the way, starting at her own waypoint along the Fellsway. Turning onto Main St in Saugus we picked up the “scenic route” half marathon trainers to complete the crew of over 25 runners making this morning’s trek. My run had started quicker than planned, and as I watched the speedier runners disappear into the rolling hills towards Farm St, I slowed a bit to gather up my regular crew to make a run at the School Zone radar sign. I prompted them to band together as we approached the sign, me in the front, Beth and Kristen on my shoulders, John,Â Ginny and Dorota along withÂ others right behind. Picking up speed as we approached the sign, no cars in sight to trigger it, we closed ranks and put on the sprint. 10MPHs. A valent attempt at the record, but nowhere close to the 13MPHs triggered in the past. With the short sprint done, our group of out of breath runners pulled into the water stop where Barry and Christopher Terranova served up some fluids to some very thirsty runners.
Next stop was a loop around Breakheart, our first of the season. This jaunt began with a climb up the the Northeast Vocational School parking lot, a precursor to what lied ahead. In Breakheart our course takes us to the right, circling counter clockwise through the reservation, hitting the hilliest section first. On our way in we found Nancy and Sue on their way out. Their early start gave them the rare pleasure of encountering two deer, mother and fawn, crossing theirÂ path through the hills.
Â I count five hills on this side of Breakheart, but as the hills build on each other it gets hard to distinguish one from another. Rolling through, Kristen took the lead going up the hills with strong strides and I would take the lead going down with experience letting me know just how much I could let gravity push me down without pushing me over. As the two of us exchanged the lead, the rest of our pack followed right behind. I’m sure each of us thought to give in and slow down through this challenging section, but working as a team we pushed through strong the entire way.Â At a crossroads in the pathway we foudn the “scenic route” half marathoner trainers, each on their first run through Breakheart unsure where to go. They joined our pack for the “flat side” of Breakheart, which Dorota pointed out is not flat at all.
Back out the Voc side of Breakheart and back to the water stop, Christopher and Barry filled us up with more fluid and snacks. Ginny was prepared to shortcut through Nahant Street taking a mile off the run, but peer pressure from the pack pushed her into joining us along Water Street for the full 12.5 miles. Along Water Street a rather attractive blonde runner ran in the opposite direction across the street from us. The typical runners crossing paths waves were made and the woman yelled out “Looking good!” We responded with a group “You too!” Under her breath Ginny muttered “you’re really looking good though”,Â a though shared by the entire crew. At 8+ miles into our now hot humid run it would be a tough sell that any of us was really looking that good, and we’ll assume that the pretty blonde had just left her house in the last minute or two to explain why she was looking so fresh.
Shortly after the pretty blonde John and Dorota took the lead inÂ a sudden burst of speed. As the pulled away Kristen decided to jump into quick pursuit. Melting in the heat Ginny and I held back and watched them pull away. Turning onto Main St we watched them lengthen their lead ahead, until they got to Nahant St. Thinking Barry would have made it across to give us a bonus water stop here, John and Dorota looked very disappointed to see no treats awaiting them in the empty parking lot. They stopped on the corner and looked back shrugging as we caught up. “Just keep going, don’t wait” I told them. This idea didn’t sit well with them, but Kristen and I regained the lead and kept going as they relucantly fell in behind us and went ahead without more water.
The final stretch seemed quick to me, trying hard to keep up with Kristen. She had somewhere to be later this morning and was motivated to run home at top speed. The two of us pulled away from the pack, keeping a strong pace to the finish… or at least to the fire station on Main St where Kristen turned to run straight home and I let up knowing nobody was watching. Shuffling into Brueggers we ended the 12.5 miles of week 5 which, although shorter than week 4, felt much harder due the humidity.
Another one in the books, 1/3 of the way to Baystate for those that are running it!!!