Archive for the ‘Recap’ Category

Week 6 – Keep America Beautiful

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This week we ran along one of my favorite running routes, with Spot Pond and one of the Winchester reservoirs along the way, running along both sides of the Fells, near Winchester Center, and hills everywhere you turned. But along the way I got distracted by things found on the side of the road. The first was the tiniest of flip flops which made me think who would think a baby would keep a flip flop on, they don’t keep real shoes on. I imagined the scene of the little one in their car seat flinging the shoe out of the window. Now I was looking along the ground for interesting things. This isn’t the best way to get through a long run, hunched over gazing from side to side at things to look at. It became obvious that the most discarded item by litterers is Dunkin Donuts cups. After that, beer cans. So with that, over 16 miles, here is the beer can inventory along the route:

19 Miller Lite cans, by far the drink of choice of drunken litterers.

8 Bud Light cans, interesting, less than half the number of the Miller Lites.

6 Budweiser cans, funny that you see both Bud and Bud Light, but you don’t see Miller along with the Miller Lites. Do they still sell the Champagne of Beers? Or perhaps those that live the High Life don’t litter.

2 Natural Light. An Anheuser-Busch product, the Natty Lite was surprising to me. Given that one was in Stoneham and the other was in Winchester makes me think they were actually being consumed by two different litters. A little research has taught me that it is actually the fifth largest selling beer in America. Who knew? I want to know, though, what’s “natural” about this one that is not natural about other beers. And why would someone who drinks a beer marketed as being natural discard their can in nature?

1 Michelob Ultra. Another A-B product which brings the litter quotient for that brewery  nearly to the level of the Miller Brewing Company.

1 Coors Light. The mountains weren’t blue so this one had been on the side of road for a while.

1 Keystone Light. Where’d this one come from? Coors actually, but who drinks this stuff?

I was kinda surprised to see that many cans of beer discarded over a 16 mile stretch (38 in all, plus a bottle of Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan). What would this guy say:


Other than the litter, this was a beautiful run. A little hot at the end, very hilly, scenic in spots… another quality Sunday Long Run. Thanks to Barry, Nancy, and Betty for helping us get through the run with snacks and drinks along the way (all of which were discarded properly).

Week 5 – First Trip to Breakheart

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

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. 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,  Ginny and Dorota along with  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 their path through the hills.

 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. 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”, 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 in 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!!!

Week 4 Recap – A Beautiful Day

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Despite the step up in distance, Week 4’s run to Woburn and back was a welcome relief from the previous 3 weeks due in large part to the weather. About 25 runners met at Brueggers to kick of the run, and with a “Does everyone know where they’re going” and a “GO!” from Barry we were off to W Wyoming Ave. It was obvious in the first few steps that this week would be different than the last, with temperatures in the 70s and no humidity to hamper us the group took off at a brisk pace. Tom Gorman took off like a shot leading the way. Mary, Joe and others pulled ahead while I settled in with my small pack for the day, Billy and Kristen. As we passed Grimsby’s and headed up the short but very steep hill that brings us to Spot Pond SueW came running against our traffic to join the crowd. We questioned her logic, why run down this hill to join us only to have to run back up it, we all confessed we would have just stood at the top and waited to join  in there. Now 26 runners strong, we meandered to water stop 1 where Barry rehydrated the crew.

The next leg took us down Forest St into Winchester, and across Cross St to Woburn. Here we passed MaryAnn and AudreyH’s crew of  “scenic routers”  who started at the water stop to run the more interesting parts of the run. Once in Woburn a few quick turns and we were at Horn Pond and water stop 2… well most of us anyway. The “Wrong Way Corrigan” award of the Fall 2010 Sunday Long Run goes to Tom Gorman who did run to a pond off of Rte 38, just not the pond we were running to. Barry’s initial concern was that Tom had run so fast that he beat Barry to the water stop but instead Tom was quickly standing at Wedge Pond in Winchester Center.

The rest of us circled Horn Pond, not finding any of the usual characters that are often seen there, muscle guy, the waver, and Jimmy the bartender. The swans, heron, steep hill, and planet markers were there though, and my pack experienced all of them before heading back across Cross St. This section of the run ended with the climb up Forest St to water stop 3 (the same as water stop 1).  At the base of the hilly climb I reminded the runners that there are at least 3 distinctive climbs in this run and not to attack the first 2 because the third is the longest and hardest. Conversation ended, Kristen took the lead, Billy tucked in behind and we marched up the long mile plus ascent to the water stop. As if the hills weren’t bad enough we also endured the first fresh road kill of the 2010 Fall season, a little chipmunk who was the only thing in worse shape than us at that time. Then we endured a barking dog who picked Billy out as the person to lunge at. In the end we all made it to the top. Another drink and a little snack  and we were on our way.

The last stretch took us through Stoneham. Since we had finished the big hill we settled into a reasonable pace and further introduced ourselves to each other. One of the benefits of a long run is the hours you spend learning about other people. Franklin Street took us in to Melrose where Kristen announced she had just run further than she had ever run before. Congrats Kristen, and I hope that remains a recurring event over the next 10 weeks!

Back at Brueggers we settled in for coffee and bagels, recounting our tales from the road, and checking off another successful long run.

Week 3 Recap

Friday, July 30th, 2010

At 8 AM Barry moved a crowd of over 30 runners out on to Main St and announced the route and identified the water stops, preparing the large pack for the long run. When he was done the group mulled around chit chatting waiting for something… the word “GO!”. It seems a group of runners will stay at rest until that magic word is uttered. Once we figured that out we were off. A long line of runners quickly stretched out with Erin (from Marathon Sports) at the head of the line.

It was another hot run, temperatures in the high 80s, low 90s, but a swirling breeze kept the dryer air moving. Most of the three mile stretch to the first water stop was spent in the sun. Along the way it dawned on each runner at some point that a shady cooler side of the street was right next to us if we only crossed the street. This wasn’t crucial knowledge at the time, but it would be a key factor as the sun got higher in the sky and hotter on the skin.

Barry’s water stop at Nick’s Pizza in Wakefield was the turn around point for the shorter route runners. We had a good group of non-marathon training runners turning back there. Along with them a handful of longer route runners that raced The Blessing of the Fleet 10 miler two days before or that would race the Yankee Homecoming 10 miler two days later, all opting to keep the distance a little shorter on Sunday. The rest of us headed further north to the lake for a loop around.

I found myself in a pack with Kristen, Ginny, JohnL, Billy, and Carol. Hugging the right side of the street for the shade we kept cool along the east side of the lake. Ginny talked of the magnitude of this run for her. With her eyes on a possible marathon in the fall, this run was her “Decision” run. There would be no live ESPN show with Jim Gray at the finish, but if she made it through this run without issue she would announce “The Decision” for her fall marathon.

I trailed back behind the pack as we made our way around the top of the lake. The pack opted to go around the Converse building instead of falling the shorter walking path along the shore of the lake. I was planning on the shorter route, but seeing the pack take the longer way, and realizing that I would probably end up in front of them if I took the shortcut, I decided to avoid the taunting I would surely receive when the passed me and followed suit around the building. I regretted my decision as each step away from the lake seemed hotter and less breezy as I fell further and further behind the pack. (As a side note, I was one of the runners that ran the Blessing of the Fleet 2 days prior and I was feeling it). As I turned onto North Ave I spotted Nick coming the other way. For those new to the SLR, there is a term for running a slight variation of the route everyone else is doing, it is called “Nicking the Route” after Nick who is often seen running “with us” in the opposite direction. After passing Nick I ran North Ave watching my former pack fade further into the distance. Leaving the lake I had lost sight of all of them but Carol.

One note from the loop around the lake that I didn’t witness: Jose, DaveH and AJ were behind me at the lake and its been reported that Jose had found his own method of beating the heat by creating an extra water stop. This water however was not drinking water, it was swimming water. For the first time on an SLR one of our runners ran into a body of water. Jose took a dip in Lake Quannapowitt (I’m not sure that’s legal so if it isn’t I’m making this up). I always thought there would be a day one of us went for a swim on a run, but I imagined it would happen at Breakheart.

At the final water stop I had decided to call it a day and planned on hitching a ride with Barry back to Brueggers. The pack I once ran with took off as soon as I arrived, although Carol lingered behind with me. A cool cup of gatorade and water coupled with a mini-snickers reinvigorated me and soon Carol and I were off tackling the last 3 mile stretch along Main. I hear earlier SueC had considered a dip in the Murphy’s pool as she made her way back to Melrose, but obviously she wasn’t as desperately hot as Jose.

Back at Brueggers a sweaty healthy crowd mingled and lingered through the morning. With another satisfying long run under our belt we cooled off and awaited the big announcement: “The Decision”! Would Ginny be bringing her running talents to South Beach with Lebron? Or Baystate? Or would she take the season off? Her answer… “I don’t know” More indecisive than Lebron I guess we need to tune into part II of “The Decision” next week!

Week 1 in the books…

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

A hot Saturday morning kicked off the Sunday Long Runs for the fall of 2010. In order to keep our Summer Party activities from being dented by our running, we pushed the run up one day. Although this did create some conflicts with some runners we still had well over 20 show up for the run. At 8AM, with the sun shining and humidity hanging in the warm air the first steps towards fall races were taken up Main St to the Lynn Fells Parkway. Heading east into the sunshine Jen, Judi, Katie, Mary, Joe, and BrianG lead the way. Slightly behind was BarryC and a troupe of the wounded spring runners, Michelle, Carol, and Lauren, along with some newer faces to the Sunday Long Run, Kristen and Beth. Rounding out the long runners were Dorota, Catherine, AJ, and Jose. As this group headed up Main St in Saugus towards Farm St in Wakefield, our half marathon crew took a sharp U-Turn and headed back Howard St.

The smaller crew, made up of MaryAnne, AudreyH, Matt, Diana, and Ann, stopped for a quick sip of water at one of our extra water stops. Due to the heat and heavy humidity everyone needed all the water they could get. As they moved on from the stop, past the man dressed in a cow costume at a Howard St yard sale, and back towards Main St to finish up there run, I took off to Wakefield HS to meet up with Barry at the real water stop. On my way I passed all the runners as they shuffled along the sun drenched hills. The lead pack formed a cluster and tried to trigger the school zone traffic radar sign before getting to the water stop. Their cluster was not in a tight enough formation though, so their sprint did not get recorded, therefore the SLR radar record still stands at 13MPH set by Mary, Wayne, and me (Jim). At the water stop BarryP served up cool beverages and melted Snickers bars to red faced sweaty runners. After watching the condition of the first few groups come in I decided to cut across Nahant to catch the front runners for another extra water stop along the route. As the looped around, Lauren followed my shortcut by foot. Having seen her struggles to get back from her Boston training injury I’d rather see her taking shortcuts over not seeing her run at all. In the end she beat out Catherine who showed up having taken the same short cut, but she did it in the passenger seat of BarryP’s car. Not quite “a Lamberti”, defined as offering to drive the last water stop car back to Brueggers as if Nick’s doing you a favor,  a Kane was stopping at 2 consecutive water stops without running a step, then continuing on. Catherine refueled a second time and jumped back in with Dorota to run the last 3 miles of the route.

With a few modifications to the run, all understandable due to the weather (I didn’t run at all so who am I to judge) each runner made it back to Brueggers in one piece. Some (Katie, Judi, anyone else?) continued on further to throw some more miles on top of the 8.8. A job well done by all. A run like this will make you appreciate the cool fall temperatures you’ll be racing in in just a few short months.

Welcome back everyone. On to week 2….