Archive for January, 2010

Week 4 – Two Times The Degrees

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

In the early days of the Sunday Long Run, about 4 years ago, it was difficult to get more runners than degrees in the temperature. That was because there were only 5 of us and if the temperature was 5 only 2 of us would show up. Last year for the first time we achieved the milestone, attracting about 25 runners when it was in the low 20s. This morning we PRed by having 23 runners leave Brueggers into 11 degree temps. Twice the runners than degrees!

Heading north on Main up to Ell Pond we were greeted by some wind. The wind had died down some from the gusts from the last two days but the wind chill was still reported as -5. All bundled up the long route runners made a loop of Ell Pond while the short route runners headed straight along the Fells. Mike and Michelle took the lead with a group of about 5 right on their heels. Judi and I hung back a bit, me because I’m slower than them, Judi because she did an 18 mile training run the day before. The loop of the little pond made one thing obvious, facing north and west was going to be cold, south in east would be manageable. As we came back around to the LynnFells Parkway Tim came up and joined Judi and I, and I tried to pawn her off on him so I could run slower. We stuck together until the hills and then I let them go ahead, only to meet back up with them at Water Stop 1.

BarryP and Whitney served up the water stop refreshments at Grimsby’s, about 3.5 miles into the full route. A quick sip of warm Gatorade (a treat on a cold day) and we were off, trying to keep from getting too cold on our break. Walt joined Judi and I for this stretch, becoming the 24th runner of the day. Again we ran together until we hit hills, the big hills of the Fellsway East, and I let those two go on as I trailed behind. With the wind at our back and more than enough running gear to keep me from freezing, this stretch started to get warm, and clothes became damp with sweat. Turning onto Highland Ave this worked against me though as the wind picked up and the damp clothes amplified the cold. I scuffled along watching Walt and Judi pull up to the second water stop ahead of me.

Rick was manning this stop with his friend Jake, a big hairy dog that didn’t seem at all bothered by the cold weather. Barry and Whitney were also at this stop, for the second of 5 times we’d see Barry along the route. Again keeping the stop quick I washed a Snickers down with a Gatorade and was on the move. Whitney jumped in with Judi and the two pulled ahead into the distance as we circled Spot Pond. I put my headphones on and let some music keep me company and pull me along. At Straw Point Barry was serving refreshments but I passed by feeling good and not wanting to risk breaking momentum. Here Joanne and Liz would also join in the run, bringing the total runners to 26, the predicted high temperature for the day as well. Off to the Stone Zoo I noticed Carol was very close behind, and Judi and Whitney (having stopped for water) were now just in front of me. Judi turned down to Wyoming Ave to finish off her 10 mile run and I trudged along sticking between Whitney and Carol. This side of the pond had a lot of evidence of the wind from the past few days. Snow from the pond had blown up over the banks and covered the sidewalk that had been clear of snow since the last storm, looking like snow drifts from the arctic.

The next water stop was back at Rick’s car. Another quick sip and a Gu and Carol and I headed out, while Whitney ended with 5 windy miles. Up East Border Rd and through the hills of the Lynn Fells things were feeling good. Making good time I snuck up on Barry’s  car, now back at Grimsby’s for another stop. Carol ran by heading up the LynnFells hill and back to the stop to put in an extra little bit, shooting for 15 miles I assume. I passed here headed up the hill as she backtracked to the water, the last MRC encounter I would have before extending my run. From here I traced the MRC Summer route to make my run about 18 miles.

Along the LynnFells, over to Porter and down Upham St I went, everything feeling fine. Along Lebanon my knee started to ache but I ignored it, pushing through past Wyoming Cemetery. The climb up to Forest St took a toll on my legs and feeling weary and fading fast I headed over to Main St. With just over a mile left I turned onto Main. My legs were beat, my clothes were wet, and the wind got stronger. With windchills still near zero I had a hard time keeping a pace that generated enough heat to keep me warm. I wanted to walk a bit, having ramped up to 18 miles in 4 weeks was proving much more difficult than I had planned. A marathon shuffle, usually seen in the 26th mile of a marathon, was my only way back to Brueggers. I staggered through the door, 18 miles done, head a little dizzy, and plopped down on the first chair I could find. A rough run in a ridiculous cold. And thanks to Mike Urquiola I quickly had a hot cup of coffee and a little food in front of me to bring me back from the brink. Thanks Mike!

And thanks again to Rick and Jake and Barry and Whitney for putting up with such frigid conditions to keep all of us runners safe and healthy!

Week 4 – Toughening Up

Friday, January 29th, 2010

When training for my first marathon I was told by another wise Melrose marathoner that the running gods have us train through storms and cold and wind to toughen us up for race day. Each long run prepares you to adapt to whatever circumstances are placed before you on race day, and each marathon or half marathon will surprise you with various unpredictable challenges. Don’t believe me, ask the people that raced in Lowell last October.

So this week we’ll be but to the test again. Some will go 14.6 miles, others 7.1 miles, and a few of us will stretch things out to get ready for the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler. The roads for the most part will be the same as two weeks ago, the old Melrose Half Marathon route loop around Spot Pond. The conditions will be a bit more challenging, temperatures in the teens, high winds making it feel like its closer to 0. Just another challenge to get us to the starting line.

I think we need two water stops this week, one at Grimsby’s, one at Highland Ave. I know Barry’s in. Maybe Rick? Let me know if you guys will be meeting me at Brueggers.

So who’s ready to dress warm and head out for this weekend’s chilly training run? Roll Call…

Week 3 -Where the Warm Wasn’t

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

While some of our Sunday Long Run friends were preparing for their trip north to Derry, NH to run the notoriously hilly Boston Prep 16 Miler, about 17 of us partook in a run out to Lake Quannapowitt. This weeks mileage was 6.2 for the shorter version and 10.7 for the longer… with many opting for a few extra miles to prepare for upcoming races. Lois, Nancy, and SueC pulled in with a few miles under their belt and off we all went. The pack headed north on Main St, noting the observed temperatures (<20 degrees) at 8AM were well off the predicted low for the day (> 30). The wind was favorable however, light and to our backs, nudging us towards Wakefield. Nothing to complain about, but not as warm as promised.

The pack broke into two groups quite quickly. A group of 8 pulled ahead: Judi and Linda Ford leading most of the way, Nick, SueW and I trailing the pack just steps behind, Audie, John, and a new face Kerry (I believe) sandwiched in the middle. Linda and Judi chit chatted the whole way to the water stop, Kerry worked on getting her iPod to stop playing the same song over and over again, while us three and the back kept remarking that it probably isn’t the right pace for us if we’re that close to the front of the pack. Pulling into the water stop Nick pulled into the lead, an attempt to be the first to the water stop… us slower people have to take our chances at beating Judi to somewhere whenever the opportunity presents itself. Seemingly to keep Nick and check Audie pulled ahead to be the first to the Gatorade.

Brian Gilroy manned the station, setting up the goodies inside the tailgate of his SUV to promote prompt rehydrating (thanks Brian, although I like to have excuses for longer water stops). While the front of our pack wisked right back out onto the road I did prolong my stop by wrestling with a mini Snickers wrapper for a while. That gave me a chance to watch the second pack rush in. Dave, Ginny and Carol pulled in running strong. Right behind them were foggy eye-glassed Lois and recovering from illness Rachelle. And coming down Main St were Nancy, SueW, Catherine, and I believe Rose who I haven’t officially met yet. Somewhere out on the course was Michele as well, running from home and hoping to meet up with us we never did see her, but she was out there.

The second leg of the run was up Main St, all the way around Lake Quannapowitt, and back to Brian via Main St again. I headed out alone, Dave on the opposite side of the street behind me, Sue and Kerry up ahead. I like to set myself little goals when I’m caught in between like this and today would be (a) keep Dave behind me and (b) catch SueW and Kerry. Since I was alone I to listen to the radio on my iPod… which started out with about a mile of me fiddling with the earbuds to get them not to pop out of my ears (any suggestions on good running headphones appreciated). Up at the lake a few miles of alternating from icy road to sandy streets kept the running interesting, the whole while keeping goal number 2 in my sights. Around the head of the lake I went across the pathway that cuts by Converse and my music saved me from hearing Nick and Ginny shouting up to me about taking short cuts, which a quick reference back at the map will show was part of the plan today if the path was clear, which it was. The music turned against me down North Ave though as “Running on Empty” and “(running) Against the Wind” tried to convince me I was losing steam. Continuing on Church St the gap to SueW was shrinking and I felt confident I could catch her by the water stop. On Main St however she spoiled my plan! I didn’t realize SueW had parked her car outside Wakefield Center and had pre-run the end of the route. She ended her run without me catching her, but the goal was still there as Kerry continued on unknowingly keeping me from letting up. Pulling into the water stop next to each other goal 2 was achieved, and goal 1 of keeping Dave from catching was also met despite Dave taking the North Ave shortcut back to the water stop.

With John rushing me out for our extra lap around the lake, I ingested Gatorade and Gu at a Walt-like pace and headed back up Main St. A benefit of the extra miles was the chance to see some other runners making their way to the water stop. A hello from Catherine, Liz (who joined at the lake), Sue, Nancy, and Lois on our way back made the third time through Wakefield Center a treat. Heading up to the lake John and I decided to go clockwise around the lake to make it feel a bit different. Gloria (who joined in at the water stop) and Carol came around the other way, our two pairs meeting at the pathway by Converse. Main St took us back to Brian for our final water stop of the day. John remarked that we had slowed on the second loop, which I argued that he slowed since I had to speed up to keep up with him. Right behind us came Gloria and Carol bringing an end to the water stop duties of the day. Gloria finished her 4 miles there while Carol, John and I carried on with our runs back Main St to Brueggers. An uneventful end leg of our 15 mile run.

Congregating back at Brueggers, a liesurely cup of coffee with running friends going over the variations many made to their routes, and celebrating SueC’s achievement of completing her farthest run ever (15 miles)… which will be eclipsed by her next run. 19 runners seemed to have 19 good runs today, I hope the same happened for our friends up north tackling THE HILL at Derry.

Week 3 – Warm weather ahead

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

The forecast is looking good for this week’s weather, at least on Sunday Morning. The little weather thingy on the side panel of the blog is broken (an unannounced change in the website host’s configuration) but the low on Sunday is supposed to be 38 degrees. It seems like 2 months since the high has been that high!

This Sunday is the planned run up and around Lake Quannapowitt that we did a few weeks ago in the freezing cold. We did that run then due to the ice at Breakheart. We might make up for missing Breakheart by heading there this weekend, but it will depend on how icy the place is. Odds are we’ll stay with the scheduled route to the lake.

Water stops, there’s one planned, near Nick’s Pizza at the corner of Nahant and Main St in Wakefield. Barry will probably be handling it, although Trevor has offered as well. So I’ll coordinate with one of those two and meet them at Brueggers.

Speaking of water stops, remember to donate your $2 if you’re running the full route and $1 for the short route. We won’t be chasing you around for the money but be aware it is needed to supply the water stops.

That’s about it for now. I’ll let you know if I decide we can give Breakheart a shot.

Who’s in? Roll Call…

Week 2 – Back at it!

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

This week the temperature rose into the 30s, the winds were calm, the sun was planning on making an appearance, any snow would wait until evening before falling. In stark contrast to the brutal outdoor runs experience in 2010, today would feel beautiful, which encouraged 23 runners to join in on the Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run. Shortly after 8AM we left the warmth of Brueggers and headed outside. A short welcome, including a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to Barry Cossette, and off we headed South on Main St over to West Wyoming Avenue towards the Fells. Judi led the way which is always a dangerous proposition since she never really knows where she’s going on these runs. On Wyoming she crossed over to the south side of the street, not the typical side for any MRCer used to running on the north side on both our summer route and winter route. While Nick and I resisted this change in routine we noticed the rest of the group followed her and crossed the street. After a while even Nick and I, feeling isolated from our pack, crossed too and let Judi lead the way. As we hit Ravine Rd it became obvious why you shouldn’t blindly follow Judi, as she stood jogging in place and then running back to the rest of us wondering if she was supposed to turn there or not. The answer was no and we all continued up to Grimsby’s and turned left onto the Fellsway. What was the first long run in a while for many became mighty challenging as we struggled up the hills of the Fellsway East and down to Highland Ave. Talking of childhood photos posted on Facebook Ginny, Lauren, Barry, Mooly and I passed the time as we made our way to water stop 1 at the end of Highland.

Rick set out the treats in the hatchback of his car. Water, Gatorade, and Snickers (the staples of any SLR) were sipped and eaten as we prepared for the next section of our runs. We were joined by Liz and Joanne bringing us to 25 runners. While stretching out the time at the water stop Walt buzzed in (now we’re up to 26) and with a quick gulp and an “In and Out! In and Out!” he was off running into the distance before we had time to say hello. He doesn’t just run fast, he waterstops fast, like a NASCAR pitcrew. With Molly exiting our group, opting for the 7 mile route, Carol joined in and our band of 5 headed out for a loop of Spot Pond. Leaving Rick’s car we were reminded of a warning we had gotten from Sue Worrall “watch out for ice and poop” and not five steps into the second leg of our run was a bit of both to remind us to keep our eyes peeled.

Out to Elm St, down to the Fellsway West Barry and Lauren led our little troupe, with me in the middle and Carol and Ginny behind. As we approached Slackers Hill, prepared for the challenge, a car pulled up next to Lauren, the passenger rolled down the window and interrupted her run with a directions question. Instead of driving along side her though, as soon as they got our attention they stopped, forcing us to stop and help them find their way. Funny how drivers hate runners unless their lost. After assisting them we all headed up Slacker’s Hill, Barry pulling away while I ran with Lauren, fiddling with my new iPod. Once I got the music on I started running faster, eating into Barry’s lead. I took my eyes off of him for a second as we headed towards the bridge under 93 and when I looked back up he was gone. Had he gotten that far ahead in just a few seconds? Had I slowed down? I picked up the pace, pushing under the bridge and by the Sheepfold Barry was nowhere in sight. Keeping my pace a bit quicker than normal I pushed up past Straw Point and over to the Stone Zoo. It dawned on me since I now had a view far in the distance that Barry must have made a pitstop along the way and now behind me… which made me go a little quicker to try to keep him behind me. Passing the Flynn Rink and running to the rotary by the water stop, a quick look over my should for oncoming traffic found no cars but instead Barry barrelling by me and into the water stop ahead of me. Both of us looking all around on the ground to make sure we didn’t step in anything that Sue warned us about. Rick notified us that he backed the car up a bit to cover that so we didn’t step in… talk about a full service water stop!

Lauren followed in right behind us and joined us for our quick snack. In a flash we were off to the most challenging part of the run. We missed a quarter on the road as we turned towards East Border. It was later mentioned that Ginny and Carol had seen this quarter and neither were willing to stop to pick it up. Lois and Sue Clough would also spot the quarter and discuss picking it up as they continued by it. At this point in our training, and that point in the run (almost 10 miles) stopping to bend over is a lot more work than it would normally be, not worth 25 cents. As we made our way up the steep incline of East Border, chit chatting along the way I noticed a pair of underwear in the road. Later Nancy and Lois would pass them and exclaim “UNDERPANTS!” You never know what you’ll find on a Sunday Long Run.

Reaching the top of East Border Rd I noticed that the Cossettes have progressed nicely with their long distance running. A stretch that would have induced a bunch of groans and complaints last year passed by without a mention this year. It does get easier, these tough hilly stretches. Moving along to through the Fellsway East hills again, I put my headphones back on and let the music carry me through, slightly ahead of Barry and Lauren. That didn’t last long though, as we finished the LynnFells hill Barry went flying by with a stride that made it obvious I wouldn’t be catching him again. I did keep him in sight as the route took us by Melrose High School back to Main St, past Ell Pond and into Melrose Center. I watched as Barry finished ahead and I eased up to a walk passing Turners. A premature stop I found out, with Joe Terranova in front of Brueggers waiving me towards him to finish the complete route I got the legs moving a few more steps and was done. Lauren finished just a step or two behind me, our little pack finishing off a good run.

It was good to see the smiles on people’s faces as they finished up there runs. No matter the pace it seemed like everyone was pleased to be back out on the roads, running with our group, training for our long races to come in the next few months. It’s good to be back, getting serious, and enjoying the weather while we can.