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Posts Tagged ‘Super Sunday 5’

The temperature on my phone read 18°F.

And it was snowing.

And it was a little breezy.

Just awesome… I thought.

Am I really gonna do this?

No, I wasn’t asking myself if I was going to run – I’ve run RaceMenu’s Super Sunday race every year since 2009.  It’s has a special place in my heart having been 1.) my very first road race and the following year being 2.) the best performance I have ever had in a road race.

No, I was definitely running.  The question was whether I was going to be crazy enough to take off the singlet and go bare-chested with #AutismStreaks written on my chest.

I had been pretty certain I was doing this – that is until Friday afternoon when I came down with a debilitating head and chest cold.  I was so out of it Friday night that I had to skip much anticipated dinner plans with family friends.  After a cocktail of homeopathic and OTC remedies, I had pretty much recovered by Saturday morning, but I was still feeling the lingering effects.

As I got myself dressed to head out, I took my singlet in my hand.  I thought about putting it in my backpack, but instead dropped it on the floor – my decision was made.  I then woke up Jess, handed her a sharpie and put her to work.

***

My original thought was to stay completely clothed until the starting gun.  Unfortunately, if I wanted to be able to check my stuff, I was going to have to do it a good 15 – 20 minutes beforehand.  As I stripped down to my running shorts I got a lot of  “Oh my God!”‘s.

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It would be the most repeated statement of the day.  At 20°F, I knew I could be pretty much viewed only as absolutely crazy.  I moved into the tent to wait until the last minute to join the starting crowd.   While there I got plenty of “way to go”‘s and “nicely done”‘s.  One woman even asked if she could take a picture with me – who was I to say no?

Finally, with what I thought was just minutes to go, I made my way with my buddy JB and his friend Ed to the starting line.  We moved to the back of the crowd.  My reasoning was that I wanted as many people as possible to see that I had “sponsored by Charity Miles” across my back –

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– hopefully at least a few of the approximately 1300 people I would pass along the way would get curious, google “Charity Miles” and start raising money on their own for their favorite charities.  With the wind blowing and the snow falling, my body began to shiver.  Despite having on a hat and gloves, I was standing still and I was cold.

All I needed was a starting gun, but the opening ceremonies dragged on and on – truth be told, I’m sure they weren’t any longer than any other race, but when you’re standing in 20° snowy, windy weather, half-naked, time slows down big time.

Finally the gun went off.  It took us nearly a minute to get to the starting line.

As we weaved our way through the crowd, my nakedness paid off immediately.  Every small pack of people I passed noticed “the naked runner” and commented on the writing – along with the “Oh My God!”‘s I got plenty of “GO Charity Miles!”‘s.

Awesome! I genuinely thought!

Fighting the crowds, our first mile was the slowest, coming in at a leisurely 8:16.  By the time we hit mile 1, my legs were warming up.  As the packs thinned, we picked up our pace covering the second mile in 7:35.  It’s funny how being cold can motivate one to run faster.  As much as I was warming up, I kept thinking about the fact that I was still not fully recovered from being sick on Friday.  My upper chest began to tighten.  Now under normal circumstances, that would be a signal for me to slow it down, but dammit, I was cold and I wanted some of that Oatmeal Stout I had been eyeing before the race.  JB asked how I was doing.  Okay…I think.  Hurtin’ a little. He cracked the whip and said let’s turn it up a little!

So we did.  Mile three came in at 7:08.

The Super Sunday 5 is two races.  There is the 5-Miler which we were running, but there is also the 5K Bailout, where you can bail out at 5K and then take a bus back to the start.  I have to admit, just briefly, I had a moment of wanting to bail out.  My chest was burning from the cold air.  But as soon as the thought was in my head, it was banished.  I was continuing to pass people along the way at a steady clip (an advantage of starting at the very rear of 1500 people) and the steady stream of comments drove me on.  JB and I once again picked up the pace – mile four got cover in 6:48.

I knew that the pace at which we started the race wouldn’t allow me to approach last year’s finishing time, but with one mile to go we decided to empty the tanks just for fun.  JB and I went back and forth.  On the second to last turn we were in a dead run and he shouted, next turn we sprint to the finish.  All I could think was I thought we WERE sprinting.

But he was right – we made the final turn for home and we both found one more gear.

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#AutismStreaks streaking toward the finish line

There was a young kid maybe 15 yards ahead of us.  We started to close on him rapidly.  I was sure we would catch him – that is until someone along the sideline warned him and he too found one last gear.  We continued to close on him but ran out of real estate.  I think if we had had another 20 – 30 yards we would have had him.  The last mile was covered in 6:29 – according to the Garmin we covered the last 150 yards at 4:49 pace.

36:28.  183rd place out of  over 1500 runner, 15th out of 72 runners ages 40 – 45.  Not bad.  I have to admit that part of me had been looking to go sub-35, but considering the condition I was in, I wasn’t complaining.  JB and I made our way to the tent and more importantly to the beer.

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I highly recommend Mayflower Oatmeal Stout as a post-run recovery drink!

After chatting with some runners and cooling down (yes, I was actually warm when I finished), I ran into some more friends, taking the opportunity to snap a shot with twitter pal and fellow blogger @kissing_frogs before heading home.

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photo op with @kissing_frogs

Hopefully, somewhere out there this week, somebody from that race has googled and download the Charity Miles app and is out there running, raising money for their favorite charity.

Maybe it’s you?

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My very first road race was the SuperSunday 5K/10K – all the way back in 2009.

I had no idea what I was doing and it showed.  I entered the 10K and finished in a respectable 46:58.  The following year I entered it again (again in the 10K) and ran what was probably my best performance in a race to date other than the Smuttynose Marathon in 2010, finishing the 10K in 39:29.

In 2011, due to bad weather conditions, the SuperSunday 5K/10K was cancelled.  I was disappointed to say the least.

This year RaceMenu Chief, Alain Ferry, decided to change things up a little.  He moved the SuperSunday Race from Downtown Boston to Cambridge and changed the distance to 5 miles (with a bailout at the 5K mark).  The course is a large, relatively flat triangle, with just a couple of tiny hills.

***

As regular readers already know, I spent the second half of 2011 struggling to find my running motivation (and if I’m going to be completely honest, I was struggling to find motivation to do anything!).   Despite having a 50-mile race in September and a marathon in November (you can also see the video of that marathon here), my training was minimal at best.  In fact, I probably only ran 50 miles total in the 6 to 7 weeks leading up to my 50-miler.  I ran even less leading up to the marathon and almost completely stopped running in the month of December.

I was at a low point.

But then I started to see posts on Facebook and dailymile of friends who were starting their training cycle for Boston 2012.  At first it hurt to see those posts.  I missed getting into Boston this year by 33 seconds.  It wasn’t fun seeing so many friends (virtual or otherwise) running toward my hometown marathon knowing that I would be on the sidelines watching the crowd go by.

But then sadness and anger turned to determination.  I may not be running Boston this year, but dammit, I was gonna get back next year – of course, with the new qualifying standards, that means taking at least 4:20 off of my PR of 3:19:19.

4:20.

260 seconds.

Nearly 10 seconds per mile.

Oh boy!

I found my Spring marathon – Sugarloaf on May 22nd (I’d love it if you would come run with me).  It is supposed to be one of the fastest marathons in the country.  I started my training, stumbling out of the gate, unable to maintain pace in a Lactate Threshold run, but determined.  After initially settling on an 18 week plan, I decided to build up my base for 6 weeks and then train in earnest for 12.

And that brings me back to last Sunday.

As of last Sunday, I am halfway through my build up period.  I was scheduled for 14 miles, but decided that I wanted to race the SuperSunday 5, not just because I have always raced the SuperSunday race, but also because I wanted to see where I was physically.

***

Having found my Vermont 50 buddy JB and convinced him that we should shoot for 35 minutes, we made our way to the starting line.  Temperatures were in the low to mid 20’s and everyone was bundled up in long sleeves and running pants…everyone that is, except for me.  I was in my usual singlet, shorts, hat and gloves.

Right before the start one racer asked me, “why the hat?”

“Excuse me,” I said.

“Why the hat,” he said, “if you’re going with the singlet and shorts, why are you bothering with the hat and gloves?”  I explained that since we lose a large chunk of heat from our heads, that wearing a hat in fact allowed me to run in a singlet and shorts.  He nodded, muttering to himself, “you know, that kinda makes sense.”

JB and I had placed ourselves well back from the front.  I had no desire to hang with the sub-6:00 milers.  7:00 miles was what I was looking for.  I figured it would be a good marker to see where I was.

After the starting gun went off and we started to go, I quickly realized that we had moved back too far in the pack.  We bobbed and weaved our way through, trying to hit out pace.  It didn’t help that both of our Garmins were getting confused by the tall buildings.  One moment we were supposedly running 8:00 miles, the next a 5:15.  About a mile out, we finally found our groove, getting there at just about 7:00.

Me and JB settling in.

At this point, with JB trailing behind me a bit, I began to go back and forth with a woman who could not have been more than 5 feet tall, and that only on days when the moon and sun aligned properly.  I would pass her and then she would pass me and then I would pass her again.  On and on it went for a little over two miles.  As we approached the 5K mark I pushed to pass her, but I knew if she passed my again, I wasn’t going to be able to catch her.

As we passed the 5K check off, I hit a wall.  We had been running 6:50’s for a couple of miles and unfortunately, my legs were just not ready.  As I watch the woman go by me, JB came up on my left.   He was looking strong.  He had been smart and maintained an even pace where I had let myself get sucked into the game of racing one individual.  I was running out of gas.

At the 5K mark...mugging for the cameras before my legs gave out.

I knew I had less than 2 miles to go, but my legs felt like lead weights.  I told JB to stay with the group that had passed us.  He tried to encourage me to stick with him, but I just didn’t have the juice.  At this point, I just wanted to finish with a 35-handle.  It wasn’t going to be easy.

The next mile was a daze.  I was simply trying to run as fast as I could without completely running out of gas.  Mile 4 came and went unnoticed (a van had parked in front of the mile marker).  When my garmin beeped 4.5 miles, I looked at my watch.

31:18.

I had 3:42 to get to the finish line.  Just under a 7:30 mile. I pushed myself to go, dragging my legs behind me.

As I came around the final turn I could hear footsteps coming up on my right.  I could see the clock with a 34-handle.

Those two things helped me find my kick.  I broke into an all out sprint (the garmin claiming that I closed out the race at a 4:16/mile pace).

All. Out. Sprint.

I left the footsteps behind me and passed a guy who had just passed me only minutes earlier.

I guy in red I think is Footsteps...the guy in green had passed me just a half mile earlier.

After crossing the finish line, I nearly collapsed.  That was a lot harder than I had anticipated.  A year and a half ago I could have done a 35 minute 5-miler with a smile.  On Sunday, I struggled.

But I did hit my goal.  In the end, the official chip time was 34:56 – good enough for 6th out of 57 in my age group and 107th overall out of 744 runners.  Not bad for someone just getting back in the swing of things.

Afterward JB and I hit the party tent and ad a couple of beers.

getting ready for some beer!

Alain knows how to throw a race and even better, he knows how to throw a post-race party – 5 different kinds of beer and all the wings you could eat – perfect for Superbowl Sunday.

***

Despite hitting my goal of 35:00 or better, I still have plenty of work to do before Sugarloaf in May.  My 34:56 only translates into about a 3:25 marathon according to McMillian’s Running Calculator.  Obviously, that is nowhere near good enough.

That being said, I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far this year.  It’s not going to be an easy road back to Boston, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

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