Posts Tagged 'Running'

2013 Finally Spring 5K!

The great irony of today’s Finally Spring 5K! in Manchester, Connecticut is that it was far from spring-like. It was one of those classic New England weather days more like late-February or late-November. It was freezing. The temperature didn’t get out of the 30′s (Fahrenheit) and despite pockets of deep blue sky, intermittent snow squalls rolled through as angry clouds dotted the sky. It was ugly! But…it was a great day for running.

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All along, the Saturday plan was for Debbie to run 25+ miles and for me to go along as far as I could. I was supposed to do a track workout, but good luck finding a track in these parts that doesn’t have six inches of ice and snow on it. Last night, we were on the Bolton Land Trust’s Bogsucker Slog and met up with Kevin Glenn and Laurie Brooks. They mentioned the Finally Spring 5K! which I had forgotten about.

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Like the Bolton Road Race two weeks ago, this presented a unique opportunity. I could do my three-mile track workout on road/trails in the middle of a long run. Fantastic! Our kids were with Deb’s parents, so we ran the long way over to the Howard/Porter Reservoir for this hybrid event. Neither of us had run this race before, though it was the 5th edition. I go through those reservoir trails frequently, but Deb hadn’t even been in there, so while we were racing, she explored the trail system and kept piling up the miles.

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We met up with fellow Shenipsit Striders David Merkt, Tony Bonanno, Kate Bonanno, Summer Rabida, and David Sutherland. After doing a loop of the course, I got to the start with 90 seconds to spare. I changed into my “papaya” jersey and we were off. My goal was to run a steady pace like the workout described, which from the looks of my Garmin results, was pretty good despite the hills, snow, ice, and variety of surfaces. It was a fun run, but I had no oomph…until the end. You see, these high schoolers are unreal. They make you earn your spot in the rankings.

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I hit my lowest heart rate of the race at 171 with 90 seconds to go as I started to fade badly and then this 17 year-old kid makes his move to bridge up to me. I looked back once and told myself that I wanted to hold on to my spot, but I knew that it was going to hurt. Boy, did it hurt. 90 seconds later I crossed the line with a heart rate of 192, which is a number I rarely see anymore. We ran neck and neck for the final downhill 1/4 mile and I clocked it in 64 seconds. Ouch. I’m supposed to be training for an Ironman. I don’t need to run that fast, but I’m not letting some kid get the best of me in the last bit of a race, no matter how short it is.

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I was already well behind Merkt. He had a great race in his Vibram Five Fingers, which were an interesting choice for the course conditions, but that is one reason why he makes me smile so much. Some guys wore track spikes. Spikes? They ought to come out to Traprock next month or Soapstone in May and bring their spikes! At least no one wore snowshoes.

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Another guy who crushed me is 17 year-old (making embarasing frown as I type) Henry Domnarski from Palmer, Massachusetts who is getting stronger by the day. His Dad, Matt, is one of my best cycling buddies and a long time teammate on Team Horst Sports. Matt was a champ runner in his day with like a 2:50 Boston Marathon on his resume, but like me, he now seeks glory against other age groupers. Nowadays, all of his racing is on his bicycles. I could see Henry, who took the very competitive under-18 age group, up with Merkt but could never close the gap. I made up for any disappointment with my burst at the end to hold off another young buck.

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First overall went to Jacob Gurzler in 16:10. The course was modified because of the snow, but that is still a fast time. He was followed by Kevin Brandon and Andrew Chalmers who both cracked 17. The first woman was Beth Kraseman in 19:37. She was hot on my heels! It was nice to see Beth. She used to do many of the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series races and is a past Soapstone winner. She has a fast family. Her family ran the race too. She was followed in the women’s field by Jennifer Racine and Alyssa Hamel.

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The Manchester Running Company attracted 315 people to this race, though only 255 crossed the line, which is amazing. It was great to see so many folks out there not minding the mud and snow. Merkt and I were both missing chips on our bib numbers and initially they missed us in the results. When we were talking to the guys from Last Mile Timing, they told us that MRC planned on 250 runners so they brought 50 extra chips. Even that wasn’t enough!

It was fitting that for my age group award, I scored a season pass to the Bolton Summer XC Series. If you haven’t been to one of our Wednesday night XC races at the Bolton Heritage Farm, then you have to join us for some fun. After the race, Debbie dragged me home and I got in another 10 miles up and over the top of Birch Mountain. She kept going for five more and we both ended up reaching our training goals for the day. The weather wasn’t pretty. I’m not so sure that spring is here. It may say so on the calendar, but I’m ready for the Finally Summer 5k, or rather 50K.

Race Results

2013 Bolton Road Race

Nothing beats a hometown race. When you travel as much as we do, it’s a joy to be able to run to the start of an event. It’s also a wonderful thing for a community to have a treasure like the Bolton Road Race. Today’s weather was glorious with incredible sunshine. The roads were still lined with snow from Friday’s crazy late winter snowstorm (we had 18 inches in Bolton), but the roads were dry and the running was hot!

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With Debbie’s help, I dragged my creaky and travel weary body out of bed for a pre-race “warmup” that took us all over town. We covered nine miles before the start and made it there with four minutes to spare before the 1:00 P.M. start. Debbie said that Coach Al had prescribed three hours of running, so she opted to put a 5 mile race in the  middle of the workout. Our kids were spending some time with my parents, so we had all afternoon to run as long and as far as we wanted. I stopped after 20 miles and 10 minutes short of three hours. I was done, but Debbie wanted to honor her coach’s wishes, and ran the extra 10 minutes.

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As for the race, it was fantastic. Race Director, Dani Kennedy, surpassed even her best estimates. The turnout (partially driven by the weather) was excellent, with more than 180 runners in the 5-miler and a handful in the 5K. The 5 mile distance is a rarity nowadays, but 35 years ago when this race was first held, it was a popular format. I’m glad that she didn’t bow to pressure and has maintained the race in its classic form. The figure-eight course has tremendous character and a couple of sharp hills for a road race. You won’t hear any complaints from me. I train on these roads and anyway, these hills are mild compared to the trails. Come out to the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race in May and we will show you!

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Debbie did the household proud and was first woman. She took home a nice gift certificate from sponsor, Highland Park Market, one of our favorite stores. That should at least defray one week’s grocery expenses. Brian Nelson showed that he can run any distance from marathon down, including the quirky 5-miler, and smoked the field in 27:06, a fine time. He was trailed by Tim Cote and Robert Jackman. 18-year-old Brendan Callahan was the first Bolton resident in a fine fourth overall.

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I was off of my best time on the course, but I’m just getting going. I wasn’t even close to my age group winner, Brett Stoeffler, who was fifth overall. I could see his head bobbing up and down, but he was way up the road and by the time we got the bottom of the last hill, he was gone. Still, I hung on and gave it a little push at the end. You see, I had to, because fellow Bolton resident Trevor Chambers was hot on my heels. The 15-year-old may have 25 years on me, but I showed him who is boss! I had to hurt myself to hold him off by one second. If you know his father Andy, then you know he has good genes!

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Dani got a lot of help from her husband Ned, and the race benefitted the Bolton Booster Club. She brought together some great sponsors. The aforementioned Highland Park Market was joined on the roster by Simoniz, Bolton Physical Therapy, Bolton Veterinary, Country Liquors, Shady Glen, Fleet Feet Sports, Bolton Floral Designs, Munson’s Chocolates, Country Carpenters, and Ultimate 1 Hair Salon.

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Everyone hung out afterwards for the awards and a cookout. We saw a lot of club-mates from Silk City Striders and Shenipsit Striders. We also had a lot of out of town friends. It was so nice to see everyone outside after a long winter.

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Race Results

2012 Manchester Road Race

Another Manchester Road Race is in the books. It was my 18th year in a row running this 4.748 mile classic. That is only 32 behind Amby Burfoot, who just tied the record (with Charlie “Doc” Robbins) after completing his 50th in a row. This is my 22nd or 23rd overall. I am missing some records.

On a glorious day fully of sunshine and unseasonable warmth, I ran my slowest time since 2008, but couldn’t really expect much more given my preparation. I’m content knowing that my family and friends were close by; and we were joined by 15,000+ other runners and more than 30,000 spectators. It was an awesome day in Manchester. Three of our clubs, the Shenipsit Striders, Silk City Striders, and Hartford Extended Area Triathletes were well represented.

We haven’t had bad weather on Thanksgiving in quite some time. I’m not complaining, though the occasional tempest makes for a bit more excitement. The weather brought out the runners today. It was congested.

Aaron Braun won in an awesome 21:19, tying the record set by Phillimon Hanneck in 1995. Haron Lagat of Kenya, a past winner, finished second in 21:31 and local runner, Donn Cabral, the Olympic steeplechaser from Glastonbury was third in 21:33.

Delilah DiCrescenzo won the women’s race in 24:34. Lisa Uhl was second in 24:39 and Diane Nukuri-Johnson was third 24:46.

My time was somewhere around 27:25. My GPS said 27:28, but that is unofficial. My heart rate was an average of 184, which is better than last weekend’s cyclocross races when I had trouble getting it up to that level. My peak was 191, not bad for a 40-year-old dude. I doubt I’ll see 204 like I used to back 15 years ago.

Debbie had a good run and kept her under 35 minute seed card for 2013. We will be back. I told her that I’m making this an A race next year and I’m going to run more and do some speedwork in the build up. That should make the difference. I want to see 26 something on the clock when I cross the line. Having goals are key to success. I just reset mine for MRR.

Last night, we went to the spaghetti dinner and met a bunch of great runners. The elites were out in force. We met Amby Burfoot, who spoke fondly with his MRR love affair. In addition to running the race 50 times in a row, he won it 9 times between 1968 and 1977. He also won the 1968 Boston Marathon. The honorary chairperson was Deena Kastor, a past winner and Olympic bronze medalist. She was in attendance with her husband and young daughter. They are staying with our friends the Kennedy’s, right here in Bolton.

Race Results

2012 Pinhoti 100

In some ways, the 2012 Pinhoti 100 was one of Debbie’s “worst” races, and in some ways, it was one of her “best” races. In more than 40 ultras, she has never felt as bad as she did this past weekend. For a period of time, about 12 hours into the race, her body completely failed her, but her mental fortitude was never stronger. I want to make sure she has a chance to provide a race report in her own words, so I’ll merely share a bit of my perspective and then follow-up after her story is told.

It took a lot of visualization (mind games) and perseverance to get to the finish line after what she went through. I crewed for her from the start in Heflin through Aid Station 12, and then paced her for the final 35 miles and six aid stations until we reached the finish on the track at Sylacauga High School. I was very proud of her…very proud of her.

Apparently, this 100.59 mile fifth year classic was hard on a lot of runners. There were 192 starters and only 107 finishers. That is a high attrition rate, even by 100 mile standards. There is nothing easy about going that distance, and it was Debbie’s fourth 100 mile finish, and second this year, following July’s Vermont 100.

There were a lot of challenges thrown the runners’ way. It was a warm day (low-80′s Fahrenheit), with a cool start and cool night (low-50′s Fahrenheit). There was more than 16,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. The trail was technical, though not by New England standards. Still, it was hard enough.

Debbie was pumped up for this Montrail Cup event. As a Western States Endurance Run qualifier, it attracted a strong field of runners. It was her first time in Alabama, and the point to point course was billed as technical, challenging, and mostly singletrack. She enjoyed the course, but despite her troubles, she felt it wasn’t as hard as billed, which means it was “too easy” for her liking.

That may sound weird considering that she didn’t have a great race, but she really does do better when it is rocky, rooty, technical, and undulating with short by steep climbs. The footing on most of the Pinhoti Trail was good, which means it was relatively smooth. The hills were tough, with the climb of the Horn having 25+ switchbacks. There were a lot of pine needles on the trail, which made uphills slippery and downhills cushy. There seemed to be less singletrack and more dirt road than advertised. These dirt roads were very dusty, which was a significant annoyance for the runners and contributed to some respiratory challenges.

Mercifully, the extra dirt roads came late in the race, which combined with the three-mile asphalt finishing stretch, was a major factor in her recovery from her earlier issues. The race saw some monster performances, particularly from the women. Denise Bourassa crushed the course record with her 19:24:48 finish. She was fifth overall and spent much of the race in fourth place. 6th and 7th overall went to the second and third place women: Megan Hall in 20:16:19, and Melanie Fryar in 20:25:56. Bourassa was already a WS100 qualifier, so the two slots went to Hall and Fryar.

They outran some very talented men. Speaking of talented men, Jeremy Humphrey ran nearly 90 miles out front before ceding the lead and victory to Neal Gorman. Gorman finished in 17:06:53 after catching Humphrey late in the game. Humphrey still ran a fine 17:41:34. Third went to Yassine Diboun in 18:02:13. Gorman too, was already a qualifier for WS100, so the slots went to Humphrey and Diboun.

Debbie’s time was 23:25:10, good for fourth place woman and 20th overall. She didn’t think it would take that long. Last year’s Grindstone 100, a tougher course, was only 95 minutes longer for her. She was aiming for a time between 21 and 22 hours, and was on pace for 60 miles before she suffered her meltdown triggered by severe nausea and fatigue. When she left Clairmont Gap at 60.29 miles, after changing her socks, she was looking good and moving well. When I saw her five miles and nearly three hours later at Chandler Springs, the “wheels had come off.”

I had parked the rental car at the aid station and the plan was to run the final 35 miles with her. She was way late at arriving and many of the guys that she was leading passed her and arrived before her. I finally asked a pair of runners if they had seen her on the trail. They replied that she was “way back” and was “wandering.” I recall one runner gesturing with his hands to show the “not so straight” direction of her movements. That didn’t sound good. It sounded like she blew up and that it was going to be a long night.

I had been joined all day long by Sean Andrish, a fine ultrarunner from the Washington D.C. area. He has many top results and more than 100 ultras on his palmares. He was crewing/pacing for our friend, Kelly Wilson. Kelly was the sixth woman and had her own struggles but showed her own strength by gutting out a finish and earning a coveted belt buckle. Sean rode shotgun with me and pitched in while cheering on all of the runners that he knew, which were many.

At Chandler Springs, after waiting too long for Debbie to arrive, he and I went backwards on the course for a ways before he returned to the aid station. About a mile later, I intercepted Debbie, who was feeling miserable. Her stomach was not good, and she hadn’t been eating much, but we made it to the aid station.

Sean and I tried to get some food in her, but she couldn’t eat much. She was able to nibble on some raw ginger and ingest some ginger ale. We wrapped some bananas and oranges in foil, which I carried in my hands, and headed back onto the trail. Almost immediately, after trying to ingest an electrolyte capsule, her stomach went sour and the vomiting began. Her discomfort lasted for hours and reached its zenith at The Pinnacle following the longest climb on the course. It seemed like she wouldn’t be able to continue, but stopping never crossed her mind, nor did it enter my mind.

We have enough experience with these races to know that no matter how bad you feel, you almost always can forge ahead. I offered her as much support as possible, but this was new territory. We tried several food combinations but she didn’t want to put anything in her stomach. It was terribly upset. We were upset. It was an emotional situation. She was able to suck some salt off a pretzel stick, eat some potato, drink some cola, and chew gummy bears. The small amount of calories and some time permitted her to improve after about five hours of intense suffering at a very slow pace.

It took the two of us more than nine hours to cover 35 miles (as shown by my GPS data), though the final four were much better than the first five. Like I said, there was less trail and more road in the last part of the race, so she was able to lift her pace nicely and rally to the finish. I was sad that she experienced such a rough patch between mile 60 and mile 85, but I was ecstatic that she was able to remain focused and power her way to the finish. Her meltdown was reminiscent of my own colossal collapse during our 2011 one day White Mountain Hut Traverse. On that day, she helped me get to the finish. She says I was in worse shape than she was this past weekend. Ouch, she can be competitive, even within our family!

We had a gorgeous night and despite how she felt, she really enjoyed the time outside. It was crystal clear and the stars were spectacular. Our wildlife encounters were sort of fun. There were thousands and thousands of spiders in the woods. Our headlights shown on their glinting eyes. It was sp0oky but cool. I was dive bombed by an owl, we saw many bats, and heard the occasional coyote in the distance.

The aid station volunteers were very nice and very helpful. I regretted showing my impatience with some of them, but they were good spirited. Any issues were related to the available food and drink, and that wasn’t there fault. The aid station food was not vegetarian/vegan friendly at all. All of the soups had significant amounts of meat in them (ham, turkey, chicken, etc.), which limited options for some runners, including Debbie. I even struggled to get plain old hot water so that we could mix our own miso soup, which I brought along.

There was no hot water, but at least one station featured deep-fried turkey. We weren’t used to this fare. I share her disappointment in the limited options and we will offer suggestions for next year. In the end, we should have anticipated this and prepared better. There was a great vibe to this race. Sean and I had a blast cheering on the runners, taking photos, and spending time with the crews/families of the runners. The Pinhoti National Recreation Trail is a fine trail and gets a lot of love from the Pinhoti Trail Alliance.

Point to point courses are tough, but fun to crew. I did it earlier this year and last year at Laurel Highlands Ultra with our kids in tow, and it was enjoyable, but hard. I wanted to pace Debbie at Pinhoti, so our kids stayed home with their grandparents, which was nice for everyone involved. There was a fair amount of traffic along the course, particularly at the early aid stations. This made the dust situation even worse. There were a lot of leaf peeping Alabamans cruising the Talladega Scenic Byway and this was very evident at Cheaha State Park where it was gridlock.

Cheaha was the site of a major aid station and also the highest point in Alabama, thus the highest point on the course. There was a lot of traffic in the park. The race production was quite different from what we are used to for major ultras. It was run with a low key flair. There were no port-o-potties at aid stations.There were no course marshals directing traffic or guarding road crossings. Volunteers were concentrated at the aid stations only.

Glancing at the results, you can see that runners came from all over the country, which is pretty cool. We connected with several guys from New England, which was cool. Anthony Parillo and Adam Stepanovic, and their crew/pacer, Alexander Hayman, really cracked us up. They were fun to hang with.

After my Javelina Jundred run with Catra Corbett two weeks ago, and this run with Debbie, I’m feeling like a “pacer to the stars.”

Race Results

Race Photos

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11/13/2012 Update: Added Debbie’s race report

2012 Winding Trails Tri Series

This past Tuesday, I finished race 10 in the 10 race Winding Trails Summer Tri Series. This off-road triathlon (1/4 mile swim/5 mile MTB/5 kilometer run) has been a real highlight for me. I’m proud to have done all 10 races because doing all of them was the goal I set for myself before the season. It felt good to punch my series card for the last time at registration, and I made it official when I crossed the timing mat for the final time in 2012. I kept me luck #44 the whole season and the last body marking is almost faded for good.

The sad part of the story is that the days are getting shorter and I’ll miss this great event until next June when the 2013 series kicks off. Seven races into this weekly series, when I was beginning to tire, I was thinking that I would cut back in 2013. I lose some production at work when I leave early,  the I-84/Route 4 traffic is a bear, it’s hard to come back to a Tuesday race when you just had a race on Sunday, and some weeks it would be better to simply take a break. Most of the nights, I was also giving up some family time, though Debbie and the kids joined me on at least three occasions. All reasoning aside, my 2nd place (tied) overall finish got me free entry for next year, which I very much appreciate.

So, we will see how my 2013 sporting goals shape up, but barring a big shift in my approach, I’ll aim for 10 again. Of course, I didn’t have travel this summer, and next year, it could be different. Debbie has some big races planned and I may opt for a big event or two that requires travel. The Tuesday night stuff is just for fun, but it gets me fit, and I love the low-key vibe. It’s also great to see the same friends week in and week out. This race consistently attracts nearly 200 athletes of all ages and abilities. The weekend stuff will always take precedence, but 10 races for $175 is a great value and the cumulative 500 minutes of racing can’t be beat for workout impact.

At times, you wouldn’t know that it was a scrimmage. I battled with the same guys (and gals) all summer and nobody was relenting. Some people joked that this is our version of the “Tuesday Night World Championships.” I agree. I pushed as hard in these races as I push in any. There is no “going easy” in my mind, so whether it is Tuesday or Sunday, you lay it all on the line.

Since they score your best 8 finishes for the series awards, you really have to get to all of them if you want a shot at the podium because you are bound to have at least one or two off nights. I had five 2nd place finishes, four 3rd place finishes, and a 13th. I went hard in all but that one race because the Pat Griskus Sprint was the next night and it was an “A” race for me. That was the only time I backed off. A couple of times, I went into the race with cooked legs. The toughest one was two days after the Wilderness 101 mountain bike race. I was fried and it was a painful evening, but I salvaged a result.

Matt Chisholm took the overall series title. He won seven of the eight races he started. Peter Kuth won the other three. Matt had our number every week after week one. He is only 16 years old and hasn’t even scratched the surface of his amazing talent. I would love to have fresh legs like him and the chance to run free of the other things going on in “life.” Despite getting my clock cleaned on numerous occasions, I got in my shots. A few nights, I really made him work for the win which felt good since I’m 24 years older. My best race against him was in week #7. I was on and he was off. I tried to get in his head by catching him on the bike and surging ahead at the start of the run. He recovered to catch me and I pushed the pace like never before in a last-ditch effort to break him. Instead, I’m the one who broke, but I hung on and he only got me by 20 seconds. That is a race I’ll remember.

I also pushed Peter on several occasions. Though he beat me to the line in both of the races that Matt didn’t start, I got the best of him on several other occasions. We had a supreme battle in week nine when after catching him on the bike, we traded blows throughout the run. It came down to a sprint and he went so hard that he wiped out with a total face-plant 30 meters before the finish. At race #10 earlier this week, I never saw him, but I still pushed like a maniac because I had a slim overall series lead over him going into the final race. Matt couldn’t be caught, but I wanted to retain my second position and keep Peter in third. I had a bad run, but still thought I got it done.

At the award ceremony, they said that Peter and I had tied with 611 points. I have no idea how series points are scored and haven’t seen the final tally yet, but it doesn’t matter. The “secret formula” somehow factors both your weekly place and time. The tie is pretty amazing and pretty cool. I ceded him the 2nd place goodie bag because he won the last race and he had a total of three wins to my zero. I may have been more consistent, especially on the fast nights, but he earned his podium spot fair and square. I’m happy with my results. The only time I beat Matt was in week one, when the weather was bad, the course was slick, and that played into my favor. Peter won that night, which was also the only time that he finished in front of Matt, who has the course record.

Every week, those guys started the bike at least a minute up on me. My swim is my weakness and when you do the same course 10 times, you can really analyze your performances. I experimented with several transition strategies, but ultimately the one I settled on yielded me some of the fastest changeovers. I’m glad I improved that part of my game because it matters in sprint tri’s. I was happy with my riding on most nights. My Seven Sola 26er is a great bike for the course. My running was up and down. I’m not going as well as last year and had trouble closing on some nights.

Looking at the stats is kind of fun.

Fastest time: 48:12, week 7
Fastest Swim: 7:44, week 7
Fastest T1: 0:12, week 10
Fastest Bike: 20:44, week 7
Fastest T2: 0:15, week 10
Fastest Run: 18:43, week 2

If I took my fastest splits and added them up, my best virtual overall time would be 47:35. That would have been the perfect race!

There were many strong performances. It wasn’t just the top three guys. Awards went three deep in every age group. The overall female winner was another 16-year-old, Rachel Rosow. Like Matt, she was getting stronger every week and proved it in week 10 with a course record. She even ran faster than me in that race. That is awesome. My tri club, the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes, had a huge presence all season long and we were a factor in many of the age groups. Like I said, many of them enjoy the racing as much as I do.

Race Results

2012 New England Season Opener Triathlon

One of the funniest moments of the weekend was early this morning at body marking for the New England Season Opener Triathlon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. The volunteer body marker asked, “How old are you?” I said, “39…but, but, but…racing age is……40.” He said, “Wow, you really hesitated there.”

And so I did. In this health care dominant society, 70 may be the new 40 and 40 isn’t what it used to be, but it still has a reputation for being a milestone age. I got the 4-0 marked on my calf, hence the start of my fourth season of triathlon and first in a new age group.

Today’s NE Season Opener was run in much better conditions than the last time I did this race in 2010. That event was epic, with an unseasonably cold temperature and a fierce wind. The swim was shortened in 2010, but I think we made up for it today. It was a longish 1/4 mile. The bike (10 miles) and run (5 kilometers) courses were the same as last time. Hopkinton State Park is a good venue and the volunteers were excellent.

The water was cold, but tolerable with a good wetsuit. I had an OK swim considering I didn’t warm up at all. It wasn’t a disadvantage because very few people got into the water before they were told that they had to! My bike was also OK. It was good to get in to the aero position for the first time since last August. I was happy to be on my Team Seven Cycles Kameha SLX. My bike really stands out in the transition area. Love it! The roads were very rough. There are a lot of bumps and frost heaves, particularly on the park roads. I picked up many spots on the bike leg.

I saw one bad wreck. I actually just caught the aftermath. I didn’t see the guy go down, but it had just happened. Thankfully, he only suffered road rash (bad on his right side) and was already being tended to when I arrived on the scene. The traffic was a little busy and there were a lot of cars around him, so like I said, he is lucky. I had an OK run. My running has been lagging all year. I haven’t done much training after a four-month complete layoff from running, so I’ll take what I can get from my form. At least today will help for the next time I have to push.

So, back to the 40-44 age group-I was third in my “debut” which is nice, but it was fun to just kick off the season. I was 10th overall out of an amazing 430+ triathletes. That is more than twice as many as two years ago! They got another 124 duathletes, plus teams, which proves that the popularity of multisport is still growing. My bike leg was faster this year, but as mentioned, my run was a bit pokey compared to 2010. You can’t compare the swims because they were different.

The Boston University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology brought huge teams to the race. We didn’t have collegiate triathlon 22 years ago when I was at BU, but it is good to see them fielding such a robust squad. I was on the BU Cycling Team, which was how I was introduced to competitive road cycling, which led me to where I am today. I remember racing collegiates like it was yesterday. That was a lot of fun. Today, I’ll have to celebrate the fact that I got to the finish line before most of those “kids” who are half my age…literally.

Race Results

2012 Traprock 50K

Our family spent all day at an ultra marathon trail race, and neither Debbie or I ran. However, a lot of our friends did. Today’s third Traprock 50K in Bloomfield, Connecticut, was a lot of fun. We crewed for my cousin, Danny Roy, who finished his first ultra. We cheered for all of our club-mates in the Shenipsit Striders. We helped out where we could.

Ben Nephew won the men’s race and Kristina Folcik won the women’s race. Ben didn’t get the course record, and likely due to the warmer than normal temperature. He was followed by the ageless Jack Pilla and Ryan Welts. The trails in Penwood State Forest were dry and dusty. The weather was warmer than usual, which was very different from past editions of Traprock. Debbie ran the inaugural Traprock in 2010, and both of us ran the race in 2011, but we opted to sit this one out.

There were nearly 100 finishers in the three lap race. Approximately 125 started. There was also a one-lap 17K race. Like the Nipmuck Trail that the Northern Nipmuck Trail Race was held on last week, the Metacomet Trail is another key part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails. The Metacomet is also part of the New England Scenic Trail. Race Directors Kevin Hutt and Steve Nelson said that proceeds from the sold-out event would benefit the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.

The Traprock team got support from several local sponsors. In addition to support from the Shenipsit Striders, support also came from the Bimbler’s Sound Running Club. Bimbler’s Jerry Turk and Kerry Arsenault handled the race timing.

The Traprock 50K in April and the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K in October, have become Connecticut’s two best ultras. It’s great to see how these races have grown.

Race Photos

Race Results

Bobby’s Run

Today, our whole family ran the 7th annual Bobby’s Run in Rockville, Connecticut. Each year, the Silk City Striders honor long-time member, Robert Bonadies, who died in a tragic skydiving accident, by running this race on his favorite training loop. The circumnavigation of Shenipsit Lake is a classic eight mile loop through the towns of Rockville and Ellington. Bonadies was a professional skydiving instructor and died trying to save a student in a 2002 accident. He was able to deploy the student’s parachute, but ran out of time to deploy his own.

Proceeds from Bobby’s Run go to the scholarship fund named after Bonadies and benefits students at Rockville High School. In addition to being an avid skydiver, he was an avid runner and often ran the Shenipsit Lake loop with his friends. It is an all Shenipsit weekend, with Bobby’s Run today and the Soapstone Mountain Trail Races tomorrow. Debbie is the Race Director, so she wanted to run today since tomorrow it will be all work. She was first woman in today’s small race, and then she promptly went back out on the course and ran the loop again. It was a good 16 mile day for her.

I had a strong run, finishing first overall while pushing our two kids in the Chariot CX-2. That stroller is a beast and it was buffeted by a stiff crosswind that blew the whole time. The CX-2 performed admirably on the combination asphalt/dirt road course. There are a few punchy hills, but the course is mostly flat and fast.

I went out modestly, staying tucked behind a group of four runners. Just before the two-mile  mark, there was a downhill and I just let the Chariot roll ahead. I kept up with the stroller and they were all of a sudden behind me. I kept my pace steady, without pushing too hard. It was a small race, but it was still fun to be out front with the Chariot. I slowed on the dirt road climbs near the half way mark and my seven month old daughter began to fuss a bit when the road got bumpy. I was worried that I might have to stop, but she settled down with the help of my son’s soothing.

I looked back at one point and the second place runner had closed the gap a bit on the hills, but once we hit the pavement again, I was able to extend my lead. It was fun to cruise through the old section of Rockville past the mills and to the finish at Northeast School. I ran 53:30. Debbie ran 1:00:13. We are Silk City Striders and were happy to hang with the other club members after the race. Bekkie Wright had given a nice tribute to Bonadies prior to the start and everyone enjoyed the awards ceremony. We earned a couple of hats for our efforts. All runners got a mug for finishing.

After Debbie’s second loop and a little fun on the cool playground, we drove up to Shenipsit State Forest to put up directional signs for tomorrow’s race. From there, Debbie took the kids and I got a couple more hours in on my bike, stopping at the Journal Inquirer Track Meet at Manchester High School to take in the scene. It was a great day.

Race Results

2010 Bimbler’s Bash Trail Race & the CT Shoreline

Debbie ran the Bimbler’s Bash Trail Race in Guilford, Connecticut today. I had Daddy Duty and also shot photographs. While she was running the “10kish” course, I hung out at the two very cool playgrounds. We both had a blast. Our kids did too. The race was run under brilliant blue skies and more than 200 runners frolicked in the Westwoods Trails mud.

Debbie was third woman, behind Kerry Arsenault and Megan Raymond. Kerry ran 1:05:17. Megan was four seconds behind. Debbie ran 1:06:04, less than a minute behind. The course was more like seven miles. The distance doesn’t matter. I ran it last year and it is rugged for a short course. The men’s winner was Will McDonough in 53:57. Second was Jesse Efron and third was Charlie Iselin. Fellow Shenipsit Strider, John Agosto, was sixth.

After the race, we went to the Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave for the first time. It was a good meal. We each had a vegan entrée. We were referred by Mary Lawrence of Well on Wheels, who set up their vegan menu. The menu isn’t all vegetarian, which made for an eclectic mix of customers. There were many people there for the normal diner fare, and there were some of us sampling the vegetarian/vegan food. It was a cool place.

After lunch, we visited my parents in Old Lyme and checked out the beach. There was a lot of erosion from the winter storms and the April rain did even more damage. I rode my bike home, which was a lot of fun. Bimbler’s, the Shoreline Diner, the Beach, and a ride made for an excellent Sunday.

2010 Northern Nipmuck Trail Race

Today’s Northern Nipmuck Trail Race was run in glorious conditions. If anything, it was too warm for a 16 mile run. The massive amount of rain that we had earlier in the week had softened the trails up a bit, but the terrain wasn’t bad. The Nipmuck Trail is extremely undulating, and obviously, drains well. The normally wet spots were wetter, but there really wasn’t much mud. The stream crossings were a bit trickier. The water was high, so you just got a little wetter.

There was a solid turnout for the first event in the 2010 New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series. The results show that 111 people finished the race. Debbie and I both had a good time. I was training through this race, so there really wasn’t an objective. My legs were sore from a week of hard training, including yesterday’s 84 mile bike ride, so I had low expectations. I also rode part of the way to Bigelow Hollow State Park today, so that I could add some time on the bike for the week.

I hit the turnaround in 1:09 with Dave Mingori, Brad Reed, and Rich Fargo. We all played leap-frog on the eight mile return leg. Brad took off. Dave and I stuck together for a couple of miles, and Rich trailed. Then, Dave dropped me, caught Brad and kept on going. Rich kept his steady pace while the rest of us faded, and ended up passing all three of us by the finish. I finished last in that group and 12th overall in 2:30:22. That is about eight minutes slower than my 2009 time, which was my best on the course. That proves that my legs were sore. The conditions were also a bit slower today. The damp trails and warmer than average April heat (almost 80 degrees Fahrenheit) made this race more difficult.

This year, I’m overly sensitive about getting hurt at the trail races. With the focus on Ironman, I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize my main objectives. My right ankle is pretty much permanently trashed, but since spraining it (again) at Wapack last September, I have had extra problems with it. I keep saying that I’m going to get a real ankle brace, but for some reason, I never get around to it. After today, I’ve made up my mind to experiment with one. I rolled the bad ankle several times. The ligaments just get more and more stretched out. Fortunately, the pain wasn’t debilitating. It did slow me a bit. I only took a couple of falls, which in recent races has been a rarity. I attribute it to leg fatigue. I also haven’t run trails in a while, so my coordination is probably off.

Debbie had a really good race. She was third woman and 23rd overall. Her goal was top three women and under 2:45. Her official time was 2:43:41. It is good to see that she has realistic expectations during her second post-childbirth comeback. In 2007, she had already run a 50K within six months after the birth of our son. She ultimately fell ill and it took some time to regain her strength again. It wasn’t until 20 months after the birth when the breast feeding slowed, that she felt back to normal. Our daughter is now six months old and is also nursing, but Deb is taking things a bit slower this time. Also, life is busier with two kids. Pushing the double Chariot isn’t the best training, but it is better than nothing. She has a great season planned, but is mostly using 2010 to rebuild her fitness foundation in advance of 2011 and beyond. She says that she is taking it one race at a time. I assure you that she had a blast today. She has the scratches on her legs to show for it. She says she was just as fast as normal on the descents, which means really fast!

The overall win went to Greg Hammett in 1:59:41. Greg was locked in a two-man battle with Jim Johnson. Jim is coming off a fabulous winter snowshoe season where he dominated the competition. When they passed me on their return leg, they were flying. Jim ended up finishing second in 2:00:30. I would like to know the details of their head to head competition. Ben Nephew was third in 2:02:44. Brian Rusiecki was fourth in 2:10:35, but he was slowed as a result of running an ultra in Virginia last weekend. It would have been great to see a four-way battle. All of those guys have won Grand Tree races in the past couple of years. The competition is at a very high level for both the men and the women.

First woman was Gina Lucrezi in 2:30:49. She was hot on my heels. With three miles to go, I looked back and she had closed to within 30 seconds of  me. She was at the bottom of a big hill and I was just cresting the top. I put my head down and just tried to hang on. I was still with Brad at that point, but I was just about to lose contact with him and end up in no man’s land. Gina was followed by Abby Mahoney, who was very happy with her run. She finished in 2:33:35. Amy Lane had also been in the mix, running for a time with Deb, but she pulled out, also suffering from the same ultra that taxed Brian’s legs last weekend. When Deb returns to top form, the Grand Tree Series is going to be blessed with its most competitive women’s fields ever. All of these gals have won Grand Tree races. Amy is the overall series defending champion. I’m excited for the battles ahead.

Race Results

Coda: I happened to scan my 2009 race report and was shocked to see that I also referred to last year’s weather conditions as “glorious.” Goes to show that I don’t really care if the temperature is 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) or 80 degrees. I actually prefer the cold and wet conditions (for running), but the sunny and dry conditions for hanging out.

2010 Brian’s Beachside Boogie

I finally made it to Brian’s Beachside Boogie. After years of thinking about doing this quirky little race at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Connecticut; I did it. The Boogie is a duathlon with a 2 mile run/10 mile bike/2 mile run. The uniqueness is that it is off-road (slightly) and mountain bikes are mandatory. No cross bikes, hybrids, or road bikes allowed. The entire course is within the state park, which is one of Connecticut’s finest. The gorgeous setting on the water gives the course a scenic presence. The run loop is cross-country style with a mix of grass, gravel, dirt roads, and pavement. The two loop bike course is grass, gravel, pavement, and a little bit of mild singletrack.

The race attracts a motley crew of participants, which makes it a ton of fun. All ages and all skill levels lined up for the start at the pavilion. It was my first multisport race of the year, so I was a bit rusty with the logistics and transitions. Debbie and the kids joined me for the trek to the shoreline. The weather conditions were nasty. It was raw. The temperature was only 35 degrees, it was damp, and the wind was blowing hard off of Long Island Sound. You couldn’t hide from the wind and you could feel the cold in your bones. It was almost unbearable. Cold is fine. Wet is fine. Windy is fine. But, when you have all three together, it can be miserable. Debbie ran with the Chariot while I was racing and when I finished, she was almost frozen solid. We ran another four miles together and she still didn’t warm up. My pinkies were cold for two hours after the race. What happened to last weekend’s warmth?

This was just a training race for me, but I still wanted to be competitive. I thought that I might have a shot at first (or at least top three) when I reviewed the previous year’s times. It turned out that I was mistaken. My legs were fine on the first run, but after a very slow transition, they betrayed me on the bike. The first loop was bad. I had no rhythm and I couldn’t build any speed. The second loop was better. On the final run leg, I held my own. Karl Schilling of Canton, blazed the course in 55:52. Timothy Cote of New Haven was second in 57:16. Don Gustavson of Fairfield was third in 57:31. I was sixth in 59:05. Apparently, “mountain bikes only” is subject to interpretation. No griping here, but it was amusing to see several of the guys in front of me with mountain bike frames, but skinny smooth tires and aero bars. The rigs looked funny, but clearly they were an advantage on this flat and fast course, over my traditional mountain bike with suspension fork and 2.25 inch knobby tires. I had a to work a little harder, but that is what I need right now, harder efforts. Overall, I was pleased with the result.

I have to start training harder. The next four weeks are make or break. I have to increase the hours substantially. I’ve been squeezing exercise in wherever I can. I rode to and from work yesterday, with a little extra. I also went for a short trail run last night. After the race today, we ran for a while. Then, after brunch at one of our favorite restaurants (It’s Only Natural in Middletown), and a trip to the grocery store; I got suited up again and rode the rest of the way home. With work and family responsibilities, you have to get it done in short stints. Of course, it is the long endurance training that I’m lacking.

Back to the Boogie. The top three women were Jimena Dolzadelli of Burlington, Jill Herrick of Belchertown, Masschusetts, and Michelle Desmarais of Bristol. It was a good day for the Silk City Striders, with lots of participation and top age group results from Janit Romayko and Ned Kennedy.  Full results are posted here.

Hammonasset was a fun place to have an event. Anytime you race near the ocean, it is enjoyable, regardless of the weather conditions. I like venues with character. I’m sure that there was more than one industrial park criterium  in New England today. That is no fun and it is one reason why I don’t do those races anymore. The Boogie was low-key and interesting. I’m glad I finally did it in its 11th year. Proceeds from the race benefit the Myelin Project.

Race Results

Coda: two things I didn’t remember to write about. 1) the handmade awards (I think done by Brian) are wonderful. A very nice touch for this race. They are paintings on ceramic of the seaside. Very nice. 2) I thought I had seen it all until I saw a race marshal/volunteer manning a corner on the course wearing a full length fur coat. Man, I know it was cold, but the coat was a clash with the running sneakers and the ball cap! PETA would have been all over him. Maybe it was fake…but I don’t think so. I so badly wanted a photograph, but I was in the middle of a race.

7 Sisters Training & The Holyoke Range

Cheryl Jackson and Debbie pulled together a 7 Sisters Training run for today. Several Shenipsit Striders were joined by other members of the New England Trail Running Community for a preview of the 7 Sisters course. I had a good run at 7 Sisters in 2009, and I’ll be lacing up the sneakers for another go at it on 2 May. This is one of Debbie’s favorite races, so she was really excited to get out on the Monadnock-Mattabesett Trail today. Tom Schieffer joined me and our kids for a hike on the M-M Trail. It was the first time since receiving National Scenic Trail designation that we were on it. No question, it is one of the most rugged routes in Southern New England.

It was great to be on the trail today with a bunch of friends, including Todd and Kim Brown, John Agosto, Clint Morse, Emily Trespas, Dom and Elaine Romano, and Curt Pandiscio. After the hike, Debbie headed to Northampton with Tommy and the kids. I got a chance to ride for three hours before meeting up with them. I went over to the Rt. 47 side of Mount Holyoke and did five repeats up the Mountain Road to the Summit House.

The road was closed to traffic, which was a blessing. It was still littered with debris from last week’s storms, but it was rideable. There were a lot of folks walking on the road, but they were courteous. They must have thought I was nuts for going up and down so many times. One older gentleman stopped me to ask if I was training for the Mount Washington Hill Climb. I told him that I wasn’t, but that I had done it four times in the past. He was proud of his two finishes, so we had a nice chat.

It was great to see so many families outside enjoying the mild weather. Getting kids outdoors is critical to their well-being. Our two children enjoyed the morning hike. After the final descent of Mountain Road, I went back around to 116, through the notch, and then over to Northampton via Bay Road and the Rail Trail. It was a good ride. Debbie and I are looking forward to the race in May.

Multisport World & Harvard Square

We drove to Boston today for Multisport World. Technically, the event was in Cambridge at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All I have to say is that the trip was worth it solely for the time that I spent in MIT’s Zesiger Sports & Fitness Center Pool. What a facility! We had a great view of Cambridge and Boston from the top of the parking garage. I was thrilled to see Warren Towers in plain view. I was even more thrilled to see the Wikipedia entry for the dorm, that is sometimes referred to as the Zoo. It makes me smile to just think about 1990-1991.

I spent my freshman year at Boston University in the 7th floor of C Tower. There were 1800 students in that building. What a dorm; what a year. I had  a great view of Kenmore Square and the Citgo Sign. Today, you could see Kenmore from the top of the garage too. Very cool. The MIT gym, track, pool, fitness center, ice rink…and the aquatics center were fabulous. One large pool (divided in two) and a second training pool made for many lanes.

I participated in two swim clinics. One was geared towards efficiency using the Total Immersion method. The other was a speed training lesson. After two hours in the water, I now realize why I have a lot to learn about swimming technique. It isn’t going to come easy. The timing and technique are akin to driving a standard or dancing. You have to be coordinated and balanced. Power comes later. Of course, after spending two hours in MIT’s pool, I hope that I’m smarter now. Hopefully, the chlorine didn’t kill the brain cells that might have washed out of the Engineer’s ears.

Multisport World was pretty much like last week’s Gate River Run expo in Jacksonville. Though, there were more bikes, a few bathing suits, and a lot  more tri-geeks. I say that with love now that I have joined the club. I literally had my hands full with our two kids while Debbie attended a Chi Running workshop. Don’t ask me to explain what Chi Running is all about, but I know that she learned more about biomechanics and shoes. They discussed the move towards flatter (lower angle) running shoes.

I saw some friends, including an old teammate, Will Kirousis. Coach Will has made a name for himself with his Tri-Hard Endurance Sports Coaching business. He and his partner, Jason Gootman, had a booth and were greeting clients and potential clients. I stay in touch with Will via phone and Facebook, so it was cool to see him in person. We were both on the original Horst Engineering Cycling Team that started in 1997.

I also saw Jeff and Kat Donatello. Jeff was the Race Director of the Sea to Summit, and Kat is the Race Director of the Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival in Maine. They are active in the Maine multisport community, and had a booth for the Pumpkinman Tri. Seeing Jeff brought back all those painful  memories of the 2006 S2S when I finished on the summit of Mount Washington in a gale. The cold and ice, in July, were nasty after 112+ miles of suffering. S2S is on my Toughest Ten race list for a reason.

We left MIT after making the rounds, and headed to Harvard Square for some lunch at Veggie Planet. We ordered to go and ate on the street, taking in the sights and sounds of the square. Our son learned about an accordion, and donated $1.00 to a street performer who entertained us during lunch.

The weather was fabulous and we were slightly regretting all of the time spent in the car and inside. So, we headed home in time to squeeze in a workout. All in all, the Multisport World expo was worth the trip. If anything, it got us thinking more about the races ahead.

Gate River Run Full Race Report

The Jacksonville Trip was fun and productive, though I’m still catching up at work and at home. My legs have recovered, but I’m done with running on roads for a while. The better weather is here and the trails are beckoning.

The Gate River Run was one of the larger races that we have done. It is even bigger than the Manchester Road Race, which attracted 13,000 runners last Thanksgiving Day. Being the USATF 15K National Championship event, Gate attracted a lot more FAST runners than we are used too. Still, there were tons of people running, just for fun and fitness, which makes it a great event. The winner of the first Gate River Run 33 years ago was Bill Rogers. He was at the expo signing autographs and Debbie started next to him in the race.

North Florida has been having one of its coldest winters on record, so it was great to wake up to sunshine and warmer temperatures. Sixty-something degrees and sun is a really good combination for running. We were using this race as another training race. We have done a big road race every other week in the past month. We did the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler, the Colchester Half Marathon, and now the Gate River Run.

The races have been getting shorter as our training has expanded. That isn’t by design. It just happened that way. Saturday, I proved that my speed has been blunted a bit as my training has increased. I would have liked to have run two to three minutes faster, but it wasn’t to be. I went through one mile in 6:15, two in 12:30, three in 18:30, but then I couldn’t pick up the pace. I actually lost a little ground in the second half of the race. My GPS data proves that this run wasn’t as stellar as recent events though my heart rate curve still looks good. The GPS data does show a map of the cool course.

The time isn’t a big deal. I’ve got some much bigger objectives coming up in the next eight weeks, with my first A race at the end of May. The number one objective for this race was to have fun and enjoy a different experience. Debbie is pretty much in the same boat, though she is pretty satisfied with her result. Again, she isn’t a big road racing fan, but the trail races don’t start until April. She also ran MV20 and Colchester, so running quickly at Gate was a happy result. She was probably one of the only runners out there testing a new pair of trail running shoes. Florida roads can be rough!

Scanning the results, it was nice to see some other runners from Connecticut. One standout performance was put in by Shannon McHale of West Simsbury. She ran 56:02, finished 136th overall, and won her age division. She started up front with the top 45 elite women who were participating in an equalizer race. They were given a five-minute head start and a chance to beat the first man. If one of them did, they would have earned another $5000. The women’s winner Katie McGregor, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, fell short of that objective, but still took home $12,000. Men’s winner, Mo Trafeh, of Duarte, California, won $17,000. Hence, the equalizer. I still think the men and women deserve the same price money.

As for Shannon, she had a really good race. I remember several years ago when she came out to the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race and trounced the other women. She has only gotten faster since then. She has had top results in distance races, including the marathon, all over New England. She did the Olympic Marathon Trials several years ago in Boston and is on track to qualify for the trials again.

The Gate River Run is highly recommended. There was lots of swag. The expo was a blast. Some of the items we walked away with in our race bags: our chip, a beer glass, and a t-shirt. All finishers got a sticker. Commemorative hats went to the top 10% finishers. All in all, a lot of good stuff.

Gate River Run

Debbie and I ran the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida this morning. It was a fabulous event. The race served as the USATF 15K National Championships, so there were many elite runners at the front. We even spotted dedicated porto-o-potties for the elite runners during a warmup. We commented that this WAS a big time race.

It was a great morning for running with blue skies and a temperature in the mid-6o’s Fahrenheit. We had planned this family trip a few months ago. It was intended to be a combination of customer visits and family fun. When we travel, we always look up what endurance athletic events are going on near our destination.

After we booked the trip, we discovered that the Gate River Run, a Jacksonville institution, was being run for the 33rd time during our visit. Bingo! It worked out perfectly. We had built-in childcare for our clan and lots of family support. The 15K course wound its way around downtown Jacksonville, in San Marco, and along the St. John’s River. We crossed the Main Street Bridge after the first mile and the substantial Hart Bridge in the eighth mile. That final span, known to locals as the Green Monster, is the biggest climb on the course, rising more than 141 vertical feet from the water.

More than 15,000 people competed in the 15K. There was also a 5K race run for several thousand other people who wanted a shorter loop. This is a big time race, with lots of spectators, a huge race expo, and many volunteers. We had a great time. The official results won’t be posted until later, but Debbie ran close to 1:06:48 and I ran 57:48, or so. I will post a follow-up race report later.

Jacksonville.com has good race coverage. The race was won by Mo Trafeh in a quick 42;56. The first woman was Katie McGregor in 49:50.

Race Results


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