When I lived in Rochester, NY I ran in the Freezeroo Race Series every year. Seeing as they were run in Western New York during the winter they were often, as the name implies freezing cold. Nothing however, prepared me for the weather on January 1, 2018 in Londonderry, NH for the Millennium Mile Road Race. It was 9 degrees and sunny, which is doable, but the sustained winds of 15 mph gusting up to 35 mph made it feel like the flesh was burning off your skin. It is the only time I’ve ever finished a warm up colder than when I started. The only positive about the weather was the wind was kinda sorta at our backs, when it wasn’t trying to push us off the left side of the road. I ran this race last year when it was a balmy 35 degrees. It’s a silly race. 1000+ people line up at the top of a hill and race down it for 1 mile. The total elevation drop is 84 feet.
Last year I had no idea what to expect or what to make of my 4:33 finish. I knew it was faster than I could run on the track, but I came away thinking I didn’t not run it nearly hard enough and I left a lot on the hill. The second half of the race is basically an exercise in keeping your legs spinning under you as fast as you can. If you can avoid the urge to lean back and break, it is sort of hard to be tired by the end. My goal for this year was to be tired at the end, be the first masters runner (last year I was second by 2 seconds Casey Carroll ) and to break 4:30.
I only managed 1 out of my three goals. I was the first masters runner, and 13th overall, but I didn’t break 4:30 and I wasn’t tired at the end of the race. I finished in a lung searing 4:30.4, but even that wasn’t enough to make me feel truly tired like a mile race should. I must need to work on my downhill running technique, I’m not pushing off enough or something going down the hills.
This Sunday I’ll have a chance to see how a 4:30.4 down hill road mile in Arctic temperatures coverts to 65 degrees on an indoor track when I race at the GBTC Invitational. Anyone want to take a guess?
It has been a busy 6 months of racing. I’ve done 8 races, 7 of which have been USATF New England or National team races starting with the USATF 10K National Masters Championship in April. Sunday was my final team race of the season, the USATF National 5k Masters Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park.
Before the start of the XC championships we took a minute to celebrate our win at the road championship (somehow I got left with the plaque which is now hanging up in my office). We knew we had a steep hill to climb if we wanted to win today’s race, but with some added depth and were ready to give it our best shot. BAA was the odds on favorite. Even with one of their top runners down we knew we would all have to have great races if we wanted to take them down.
Derrick took the team lead early, and showed again that he isn’t afraid to get out there and mix it up with the leaders.
I spent a good deal of the race trying to find some rhythm, I have not had much luck lately settling into a steady pace and I’m guessing my yo-yoing in and out of packs isn’t the most efficient race strategy.
By the final mile I found myself a bit behind Joe, which I was hoping was a sign of him running well and not me having a bad day. Joe and I are usually pretty close unless one of us is off, so being the optimist that, I am assumed we were both running well not poorly. With about 600 meters to go I was trailing a pack of 8 or 9 runners including 2 from BAA. I thought I might have a shot at running them all down but I waited too long to pull the trigger.
Instead of going as soon as we got on the field with about 400 meters to go I waited for the final 150 straight away. I swung wide and tried to drop the hammer, but I came up short. I managed to pick up a few spots but not the 2 important ones pictured above running with Joe. You can see me in the background clearly out of range with 75 meters to go. I’m not sure why I thought I could make up some much ground in 150 meters, I’m going to blame it on lack of blood flow to the brain.
I take some solace in the fact that I even if I had passed those 2 or even if I won the race, BAA still would have beaten us. Still it would have been nice to have beaten their 4th and 5th place runners.
It has been a great season of team racing for the CMS masters men. The team won the USATF 5k Road Championship, finished 2nd in the USATF 5k XC Championship and won the USATF New England 5 mile, 5K and 10K championships. Many of the guys will be finishing out the season by traveling to Lexington, KY in December for USATF Club Nats where they will compete with some of the top West Coast teams who don’t usually make it out this way even for national championship races. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make that trip, so I’ll have to cheer them on from a far. Run Tuff guys!
So when did I become so old to be called a ‘veteran?’
As with many runners, I claim I was a good soccer player …. until it came time to start kicking with your left foot (say, 6th grade). All I was really good at was hustling, I suppose. I ran some track in junior high school (mile), but never scored a point.
Come high school, I never made varsity, although to be fair, we would run our JV versus varsities in one of the two leagues were were in. That “Delaware Independent School Conference” league was so bad that I actually finished 7th at the league meet. On the bright side, I’m pretty sure I beat the current senator from Delaware.
I so badly wanted a letter in high school. I ended up barely making varsity baseball, ending up with a stellar .111 average. At least had no errors in my handful of games. So I got my high school letter that way.
When I got to Swarthmore college (Division III), a guy on my freshman dorm convinced me to go out for cross country. It was a fun diversion that became my passion over the years. I probably would average 7 minute miles in races that first year – about 20th fastest (or 10th slowest) on the team. Sophomore year, I did a little better, and I also did track in the spring, making it the first time I ran year-round. After Sophomore year, I would average 40-50 miles/week through the year. I cracked the top 7 on the XC team in Junior year, but it was my enthusiasm (or whatever) got me elected co-captain. By senior year, I was typically ~5th or so on the team, meaning that my performance would affect the score (slightly). I did have one out of my mind race at a big invitational where I finished right behind our number one runner, and that finish propelled us to win the meet. 30 years later, I’m probably the only one that remembers that meet.
During college, I only ran a handful of road races in the summer. But come to think of it, I won trophies at a couple of the smaller 10K’s. But this was the 80’s, and running wasn’t like it is now.
Side commentary – my experience of improving over time is why no cross country coach should cut people for performance. When I hear of coaches cutting kids at the high school or college level, I take it personally. The sports are there for student benefit. …. But I digress.
PR’s from the 80’s (….a long long time ago in a galaxy far away)
1 mile 4:36 (cinder track)
2 miles 9:53
5K 15:43 (rubber track – my usual races were ~16:20)
10K 33:38 (rubber track)
In my first grad school, I ran with my roommate who ran for Purdue. It was humbling – I learned the difference between division 1 and division 3 athletes. That is, division 1 are athletes, and division 3 are …. not quite as good. He had this extra gear where he could just go zoom any time he wanted to.
In my PhD years, I continued to run with professors and other assorted students at lunchtime. It was a great way to get to know people outside of your own field.
In 1991, life happened. My wife was pregnant with our son. She gained weight, I gained weight. She gave birth. She lost all the weight. I didn’t do either of those.
I tried running with a running stroller once. My son screamed. Stroller was returned to store. Not much running after that.
Fast forward to 2009. My doctor tells me to lose some weight, or she will put me on cholesterol pills. So I start writing down everything I eat and literally counting the calories. [I’m an engineer. That’s what we do] Yes I can tell you that ~3500 calories does equal one pound. So if you cut out the 5 100 calorie hard pretzels you eat for snacks every day, you lose a pound in a week. It happens. Over 3 months, I lost 25 pounds. [And as an engineer, of course I graphed the whole thing] Oh yes, I also started running ~2-3 miles a day with my dog.
So my doctor said to me “Your cholesterol numbers look great.” I said “You told me to lose weight.” She said “But nobody ever listens to me.”
So I’ve been running since then, with some of the typical up & downs (injuries, life, bad winters).
I spice up my activities by also participating in Orienteering, which is running off-trail in the woods, looking for ‘controls’, using only a map and a compass. The best raw runners rarely are the best orienteers, because the harder you run, the more likely you are to make bad route choices. See http://roc.us.orienteering.org/ (shameless plug).
I came across Roadkill Racing in early 2015 via a strange set of circumstances that involved LinkedIn and me mistaking someone else’s identity, and then stumbling across the roadkill site via google. I saw that my friend Jim Werven was on the team, so I figured, why not.
My best times of the last quarter century have occurred with me wearing a Roadkill Racing Singlet:
2015 Sunset House 5K: 6th overall of 276, 18:28 and a fun kick at the end to get 1st Master’s. “Better than sex” (tongue in cheek) – If you’ve ever done it, you know what I mean.