While most were trying to sleep through the loud bangs and flashes of light, the Melrose Running Clubâ€™s resident NWS Meteorologist, Walt, was tracking the thunderstorms as they raced east. His predictions were right on, the overnight downpours cleared out by sunrise which allowed Walt to clear out of his office and race north to Melrose to set up the water stop for our run. While he ran back from the water stop, getting in his pre-route miles, 22 other runners made their way to Brueggers to kick off the Fall 2009 Sunday Long Run training season. The inaugural run would be an 8.8 mile long run, or 4.2 mile half route, through humid air but comfortable morning temperatures along our Farm St route.
All 23 runners congregated on the sidewalk outside of Brueggers, and with a short welcome speech I led them north from Melrose Center. As usual my lead lasted for one city block and as we passed Melrose City Hall the rabbits moved out in front. Led by BarryP, a quick series of excited good mornings went by, Judi, JenR, JoeT, BrianG, then Walt. As we made our first pass by the Clarence Demar monument of Ell Pond, a significant landmark for marathon training in Melrose, runners began to settle into their pack for the start of the long journey ahead, both on this morning and over the next 15 weeks.
As one runner, Tall Dave, improvised his own route to the water stop, the rest of the crowd braved the varied terrain of the LynnFells Parkway. This stretch started out as usual, long shadows stretched across the wide parkway as runners lined both sides of the old road. While conversations transitioned as runners moved from pack to pack, the road also changed to grated asphalt with lose rubble along the sides of the road. Runners scampered around huge puddles from the storms the night before, puddles which at times stretched across half the road. The drainage didnâ€™t improve any as we moved onto newly poured tar which carried us to
At the next turn we lost another runner, BarryP deciding to avoid the roller coaster hills along Main St in Saugus and instead add some distance by running up to and through Breakheart. Of the 21 of us that turned, BrianM, Rachelle, JenniferB, and Julie took another quick turn onto Howard St to follow the half marathon training route back to Brueggers for a quick strong 4.2 mile run. The remaining 17 of us buckled in and rode the roller coaster hills to Farm St. With the lead pack quickly disappearing into the distance I settled into the front of the mid-pack with Ginny and Molly. With them we crossed paths with the first road kill of the season (road kill spotting being a hobby for the Sunday Long Run crowd). What appeared to be the remains of a rat lay dead in our tracks. A series of EEKs got us past the grotesque sight as we continued ahead. Before reaching the water stop we engaged in another SLR hobby, trying to register our pace on a traffic radar sign. Entering the Wakefield HS school zone there is a permanent speed limit sign which two or three runners together can register speeds on. Iâ€™ve gotten a 7MPH on this sign in the past, and Molly, Ginny and I were determined to beat that. With the aid of a downhill we got in formation and steadily picked up the pace as we approached the sign. With a good sprint going we got within distance to register andâ€¦ a car pulled out of a side street and the sign registered its speed instead. I think we could have beat 7, but not the record which is 11MPH set by BrianG and I on the Fellsway East.
As the front pack left the waterstop the midpack trickled in, joined by Tall Dave from the west and BarryP from the east. Some Gatorade, some water, and a mini-Snickers and we embarked on the second half our run. Up to Water St and back Main St I started towards the back of the mid-pack with the goal of catching the front of the mid-pack. I started behind Lois, Pam, and Demi and their conversation about frozen delicacies in the Cambridge area. Next up was SueW making her first complete run of a SLR full route, no shortcuts! It took a bit of work to catch Carol, Christina, Ginny, and Molly before the Greenwood section of Wakefield but when I did the five of us made another attempt at triggering a school zone speed limit sign. This time the sign just flat out ignored us. The five of us stayed together as we moved back into Melrose, their pace increasing to keep with mine as I was now in pursuit of Wayne and Tall Dave ahead in the distance. Funny thing about Tall Dave due to his height, like objects in a sideview mirror he appears much closer than he actually is. This optical illusion made me think I could catch him as Christina and I gradually increased our pace to close the considerable gap between him and us. My mental calculations were a bit off, or my legs just couldnâ€™t pull it out, and we finished just steps behind Tall Dave as we pulled into Brueggers.
As fellow runners training for the Chicago Marathon streamed through and continued on for an extra mile or so, I remembered that I had planned on tacking on some more distance to offset the fact that our marathon is a week earlier than the plan is set for. In my focused pursuit of catching Tall Dave I completely forgot to run it. By the time I remembered however I had already settled down to post-run coffee and conversation while basking in the ultra-violet rays on â€œBrueggers Beachâ€, the cement patch of tanning area in front of the bagel store. While we recovered from our first run of the season we were treated with a visit from Audrey, Kristen, and Beth who reported that the lake had been successfully taken earlier that morning, the three having been a part of the many MRCers that ran the Take the Lake 5K at Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. We also watched as Nick presented Brad Newsad with his long overdue trophy for running the fastest 5K of 2008. Having not seen Brad in over 6 months Nicked jumped at the opportunity to hand Brad his trophy despite the fact that Brad was running down Main St to start his Sunday morning not-so-long run at the time. The award was given to a round of applause from Brueggers Beach and some looks from passersby that wondered what the heck the crazy man doing giving a trophy to a seemingly random runner heading down the street.
And with that we ended our first training week, as a group 23 runners are one step closer to their individual autumn goals.