Archive for September, 2008

Week 12 – Here Comes The Rain Again

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

With Hurricane Kyle making his way north, passing well off the coast of Cape Cod, bands of rain were predicted in the Boston area through out the weekend. Twenty-eight of us can attest to the fact that one band started dropping rain before 8AM and didn’t stop until after noon time. During those four hours fifty-six pruney feet made their way through Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester, and Medford.

The temperature wasn’t bad , low 60s, the humidity felt high, and the rain and the puddles kept us alert without causing too much of a problem. Our original pack of 18 runners made our way out of Brueggers. During the last rain storm we ran in Main St was lined with canvas tents to ease us into getting wet, no luck this week. I coaxed the runners out from underneath the awning and off we headed down Main St to West Wyoming. I never saw her, but I believe Beth jumped into run with Audrey as our group grew to 19. Further down Lois jumped in at Grimsby’s to make it an even twenty. She cheered on the lead pack: Judi, ErinM, Jen Rapaport, and Rich, waved to the second pack DaveM, Chris, BrianG, and myself, and jumped in somewhere along the line to start her run. Heading up to Spot Pond and past the Zoo we realized our BAA Half crew Jen Randall, Denyce, Donna, Jo-Ann, and Jocelyn had given them a head start, but five more and we were up to 25. We made our way to Forest St in Winchester and water stop 1 where Sue and Joanne met us to make it 27.

A quick drink at Walt’s car and we were off again in a shot.Trying to run this more like a marathon than a training run our stops were short and sweet. By this time our clothes were soaked and our shoes resembled sponges but there was no avoiding it so we just accepted it and moved on. The lead pack met up with the Forest St turkeys and sent them scurrying back into the yards of the lovely homes that line this street. Letting gravity take us down Forest St and then the hard work began as we climbed hill after hill the length of Highland Ave. After the first hill our pack of three lost BrianG to the 9 Mile route and we were down to 3. Lively conversation continued as we rolled along, turning on to Rte 38, Main St in Winchester. We followed the wide wet road into Medford where it becomes Winthrop St. Speaking of Winthrop, where’s Walt?! This road was flat, giving us a reprieve from inclines up to water stop 2, where we finally caught up to the BAA Half trainers brightly decorated in their Dana Farber race attire just as we approached a scarecrow holding an MRC Water Stop sign at Marianne’s house. The Gatorade, water and Snickers plus some shelter in the garage, gave the runners just what they needed heading into the next section of the run. Thanks Marianne!

Leaving water stop 2, we headed to Rte 60, High St. By the name it shouldn’t come as any surprise that we were greeted by a bonus hill while making our way over the Mystic Lakes. Turning onto Mystic Valley Parkway, Chris decided it was time to head back to his Medford home, and our pack dwindled down to 2. Dave and I carried on the conversation as we finished the third section of our run strong at Nancy’s car.

The next section of the run things got serious. The conversation slowed as the pace remained steady down Washington St. What seems flat compared to Highland Ave is actually a long gradual slight incline. Dave and I both new Forest St was coming with the longest hardest hill of the run. Surprisingly we charged up the hill at a pace Dave claims was faster than the Washington St section. Maybe I was just trying to get it over with sooner, making it back to Walt’s car was the first hurdle to finishing this run.

Dave and I headed out from Walt’s car and over I93 with a second wind. Making our way to the Park St turn we met Walt running the other way. I have no idea where Walt was all day but I’m sure it wasn’t where I thought he was, chasing us down from behind, but his addition made it 28 runners for the day. After a few comments about Walt’s whereabouts our run grew completely silent. I took the lead as we made our way around the back side of the pond. Dave would trail up a hill and catch back up on the downhill. This was the longest run he has ever attempted, following his previous long of 18+ last week. Kepping the turnover was growing tough but he kept what felt to me a strong pace. We pulled into water stop 5 at Kelly’s black Maxima on Highland Ave for our last break of the day. After a few minutes of figuring out how to get in the trunk, followed by a quick sip and the third Gu for the run and we headed out to finish our run.

Following this Highland Ave was not as pretty as the first Highland Ave. I’m not talking about the difference in the houses lining the street, I’m talking about a surprising array of road kill of which a stinky skunk strewn along the center line of the street for about 30 yards wins the award for most graphic road kill of the season. Blech! That sight was even worse than the hills we were to see over the next few miles. Climbing up from the rotary at Highland along the Fellsway East is never easy, but almost 20 miles into the run they present quiet a challenge. I made it through there in tact, and even felt decent heading up the Fellsway Hill, but as soon as I passed the Welcome to Melrose sign things changed. My form was lost, my legs were aching, my sloshy shoes were uncomfortable and my back and hip were hurting. All these made the last mile the slowest of the day but all in all it was a good run.

Sitting at Brueggers afterwards, watching the runners come in one by one wearing the long run in the expressions on their face was interesting. Waterlogged, shellshocked, dazed, and exhausted were the most common look, but Kelly’s expression differed from the rest, a defiant “yeah, I did it” look. I’m sure that inside we all feel that despite what we looked like on the outside.

Also while sitting there I heard a very unique running story from Judi. We all know how speedy Judi is, but did you know she was fast enough to catch a chipmunk? During the run, as Judi’s heel was making its way to the ground, a little chipmunk darted out from the woods and found its way under her foot. Luckily she avoided creating yet more road kill on the run as the little critter scurried out and headed back into the woods. That is the first and I’m sure only time one of our Sunday Runners will run down wildlife.

And that was the Sunday Run. Congratulations to the BAA half trainers on their last big run before their race. They ran close to, if not 13 miles today and are well prepared for their Half. Also congrats to those training for the Baystate Marathon as they’re now entering into their taper before the big day three weeks from now. You’re all ready for great races. All of  you enjoy your taper, you deserve to take it easy and careful for a little while!

Week 12 – It’s the Big One

Friday, September 26th, 2008



Week 12 of 15 in the fall is a big week. For those running the Baystate Marathon or the Hartford Marathon this is your final long run before your two week taper. For our BAA Half Marathon runners this is also your last long run before your one week taper. That is 22 miles for the marathoners and 10-13 for the half marathoners, depending on personal training preferences.

The routes will vary slightly, look for an update to them as a comment to this message sometime tonight or tomorrow. The water stops this week: WS1/4 will be handled by Walt. WS2 will be at Marianne Stanton’s house on RT38 in Medford. WS3 will be at the field on Mystic Valley Pkwy by the Middle School in Winchester. I’m still figuring this stop out. If there is anyone looking to run about 10 miles perhaps they could be picked up there in the morning and run back to their car from Brueggers. The final water stop is on Highland Ave in Medford near the Flynn Rink, which Kelly and Catherine will handle. Please confirm if you’re part of this plan or volunteer if you want to be.

It’ll be a rainy Sunday if the forecasts are correct (Walt?). I suggest a coating of vaseline on your feet to prevent blisters. I also suggest that you wear as much of your planned marathon/half-marathon day clothing as you can (conditions may hamper this) as its a great opportunity to find out if certain shirts/shorts/bras/socks will cause chaffing or other issues. It’s also an opportunity to test out your pre-race meals, Saturday’s dinner and Sunday’s breakfast should mimic race weekend in content and meal time. One last suggestion, if you haven’t tried a Gu on your run you should this week. It’s designed to get people through long runs, see how it works for you before you’re race.

That’s enough from me for now. Who’s in?

See you Sunday Morning, 8AM, Brueggers!

Marathon du Medoc

Thursday, September 25th, 2008
Medoc Marathon
The Medoc Marathon is run for a FUN time, not a speed time. It’s definitely missing the point if you run this as a Boston qualifier. Its location near Bordeaux France (Pauillac, southwest corner of France) is in distinctive wine country (Merlot reds). This is well south of Paris.  This year’s marathon with about 8000 finishers…probably 90 percent in some sort of costume… started at 930am France time, (3:30am in Boston) on Saturday September 6th.The photos seen are from start to finish. Showers pelted the start with rainbows over the vineyards during the nearly 1 hour bus ride north of Bordeaux, France. Otherwise it was a partly sunny run in temperatures, probably in the 60s.

Only about 200 US citizens are permitted to run, and all US entries apparently are through tour groups. I went with Marathon Tours with the company president Thom Gilligan and his wife Sharon as guides. We had 99 in our group, with a couple – Phil and Mary Anne Hailer from L Street and myself representing the Boston area. Our group had representatives from Canada and India as well. Accommodations were good. It was a 5 day wine tasting party…arrival midday Thursday French time, departing Tuesday midday. The cash outlay was substantial — $2000 for the trip, including most meals, hotel, marathon entry, some transfers etc. Another 1000 for the rt flight: Boston-Frankfurt on a big aircraft, with regional aircraft and 4 hour layover from Frankfurt to Bordeaux. Add your expenses for purchasing wine and other gifts… So, my suggestion going over, if you do…plan to wine taste all day and evening, lots and lots of LONG bus rides into the vineyards.  

The marathon was the sweetheart for me… wine and live music at virtually every water stop (~every 2K). I sipped only at 28, 34 and 39K, enjoying raw oysters at 39K, had an ice cream given to me at 41K for the finish push and there was lots of food at tables enroute. I thought the finish food the best… though word has it, Nashville R&R Marathon and New Orleans Marathon are even better.

To open the photos, my Island Paradise theme, leis, Hawaiian shirt, and wore a grass skirt. I left the Garmin at the hotel-no need for this run. No starter mat, so if you started back you added a minute or 3 to your time. There was a clock at 20K to give you an idea of how you were doing near the halfway point. The bib had the chip in it… in this case a rectangular wiring system.The rainbow had two meanings… both a pre-race spark and pre-race reality check that there is rain around.Next the starting line, followed by a sampling of runners, band and wine stops with the finish.It was a training run for me… an expensive one. I wont go back, since I like to add a little history to these but… I am glad I got it out of my system. If you like sampling wine for 5 days… this trip may be for you! 

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Week 11 – How I wish, how I wish you were here.

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

“Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.” – Pink Floyd

Many of the Sunday Long Run crew were up taking on the challenge of the Lake Winnipesaukee Saturday morning and celebrating their successes late into Saturday evening. Several runners that didn’t make the trip continued on with their training along the familiar roads of Melrose and hills of Breakheart. No matter where you were though, the story of the weekend was most likely the hills.

The Sunday Run group that did run in New Hampshire did great, attacking each hill without hesitation knowing that if they made it up Forest St or through Breakheart that they could  crest any hill put in front of them. Look over the results on the front page and you’ll see some familiar names next to some impressive times. Great job one and all.

Sunday Morning Walt took over the reigns of the Sunday Long Run in my absence, and with Julie acting as his co-pilot, the show went on almost flawlessly. While we were lounging around in Laconia sipping our morning coffees, here are some notes from Walt on what we missed:

A beautiful day dawned chilly with pre 8am run temperatures near 50 chilling fingers.  Our 8:05 am start time run temp was about 52 which rose to 68 by 11am with the only wind, that which was created by the runners and cars…otherwise official wind instrumentation showed calm!

Brilliant sunshine and blue sky above bode well for the day at hand… a group of 9 or 10… comprised of 7 MRC’s including Julie, Catherine,  Kelly,  Donna,  Jen,  Denyce,  Carol, Jo Ann and Dave.

All went well for the first 7 miles, with Dave and I seeing a dead black cat by the side of the road early on,   as we turned right from East Foster on to 6th street at the nice ballpark.

WS2 was the only significant glitch when the waterstop rental car could not be unlocked,  and so across the street to DD ran our group for some hydration to maintain stamina to reach the Breakheart waterstop.

All in all,  we missed our Lake Winnie diverted participants…. but our smaller group got it done with more appreciation for the coordination needed to make a MRC Sunday Long Run successful for all participants.

Oh,  Michelle suggested, when Jim called home not feeling well early Sunday morning,  that licorice is better for eating-not drinking.


And these comments were made by Julie:

Nice run all! I liked that route and was glad I stopped before Breakheart. I watched dog walkers while waiting and got licked in the face once.
Special thanks to Michelle Carson for letting me get the supplies late at night.

Thanks to Julie and Walt for their efforts, along with all that took part in the many posts to coordinate who would be leaving their cars where.

Week 11 – Off to the Races

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

This Sunday many of our long run regulars will be waking up after a day of relaying around Lake Winnipesaukee, including me. So Walt has agreed to step in and manage the long run for me on my week off. We have a route that wanders around the Swains Pond neighborhood before cutting past Oak Grove to the Fells. From there the routes will be familiar for everyone.

Water stops. Walt will manage them but he’ll need his help. First piece of business is the water stop materials. I have plenty of water/gatorade/snacks but I need to drop them off to someone before I head to NH. Preferably someone in Melrose. Any volunteers? Walt can coordinate with you and whoever helps with the waterstops for getting the boxes in the morning, parking cars in spots, and collecting everything back up in the morning.

The waterstops on Sunday are: (1) In the parking lot of the Citizens Bank in Malden, on Main St near Forest St. (2) The knoll across from the Melrose Middle School, (3) the Saugus parking lot of Breakheart.

Thanks Walt for taking the reigns this week! Thank you in advance to all who help with the water stops. Now its time for the Roll Call!