Sunday, October 21st was the 30th Bay State Marathon in Lowell.
The race served as the USATF-NE Championship for the marathon distance and the final (7th) race in the Grand Prix series.
Coming into the race I was 9 points behind Ryan Carrara in the 40-44 age group, but I knew he wasn’t running the marathon.
I also trailed Judson Cake (Dirigo) by one point, but he wasn’t going to be there either.
Dave Bedoya (BAA) had the same total as me, but I didn’t expect him to be there either after talking with him at Lone Gull a few weeks ago.
Finally, teammate Al Bernier was one point behind me.
I knew I would need to win the age group in order to get the 10 points to catch Ryan, and if I could do that the rest would take care of itself.
Going in, I figured I could run under 2:40, but it had been seven years since my last road marathon, so I had a lot of doubts during the weeks leading up to the race.
I hoped I might be able to break 2:35 and even harbored some thoughts of running close to Jason Porter’s Masters’ course record of 2:33:44 set in 2010.
Preparations for the marathon:
went well, although I had a bit of an accelerated training plan.
As of September 1st, my longest run of the year was 18 miles, and that was in May, so I realized what I needed most was some runs with more time on my feet to approximate the toll the marathon would take.
With some ongoing knee concerns, I was unsure about how my body would respond to runs of two hours, but I set some goals of increasing my long runs fairly quickly so that I could get 3-4 20-mile runs in by the early part of October.
On Labor Day (September 3), I ran an 18-mile loop which included a nice flat stretch on the Topsfield/Danvers rail trail.
This trail would turn into my bread and butter for long runs. The long straight flat stretches are not unlike the Bay State course. Although, admittedly, the surface is a bit softer.
On Labor Day, I started out with a mile around 7:00 pace, which was smart, and then proceeded to run the next 6 between 6:08 and 6:23, which was not as smart.
By the end I had to stop and walk and felt fatigued like I hadn’t in a long time.
I finished in 2:07, which was a 7:04/mi. average, even with an 18th mile in excess of 11 minutes.
I was encouraged about completing the run, but unsure about attempting anything longer…
However, six short days later, on September 9th, I gave it a go at 5 in the morning.
Most notably, it was about 30 degrees cooler than it had been the previous Monday.
I made provisions for a mid-run snack/water break by running out about 5 miles and then running back home. I grabbed some water and Stinger chews and then ran the second half carrying some more of each.
I started a little smarter than I had on Monday (and I was half-asleep), running around 7:00/mi. for the first 5 miles and picking it up from there gradually.
I ran around 6:45’s for the second five miles and then ran in the 6:30’s the rest of the way.
It was my first 20-mile run since March 1, 2015 (Caumsett 50k DNF) and it felt pretty good in 2 hours and 14 minutes!
That afternoon I did some more easy running while my three older kids rode bikes and then my Dad even joined in on foot for a mile or so.
I finished up the historic day running some strides with my son Ben the night before his first day of middle school XC!
(Probably fortunately,) my next long run would have to wait more than a week because I had made plans to race the
Downtown 5k in Providence with my CMS ‘mates.
I did a 13-mile run with faithful teammate/training partner Kevin Hankens on Friday at 6:56/mi. pace.
On Sunday I headed to Providence, hoping I might be able to crack 16:00 for the first time as a 40-year-old.
I figured I’d be well under my “Masters PR” of 16:41 that I had run last December at the Beverly Reindeer Run.
I did a little over 3 miles for a warmup and really enjoyed the roads of Providence. It was warm and sunny and a pretty good day to race a 5k.
I talked with Judson at the start and found a spot a couple of rows back.
The start was fast and I felt like I was tiptoeing for the first quarter mile because it was so packed and I was trying to avoid tripping.
I was able to keep the pace in the low 5’s (even though I hadn’t done much running that fast, if any, in my recent training) and worked my way up through the masters’ field, going by Nat Larsen, Judson and finally Andy Gardiner.
Sprinting up the final hill I was closing on (13-year-old!!!) Aidan Cox, but I couldn’t get to him before the finish line.
My net time was 16:01 and my chip time was 15:58, so I sort of met my goal of breaking 16.
I thought I was first 40+ when I crossed, but soon learned that Dan Smith had run under 15:50!
I had a nice cooldown with Ryan Carrara and Brad Klinedinst, enjoying more of the city of Providence and then grabbed lunch at the best Chipotle I’ve ever been to (near Brown) before heading home.
That night, I did a little over two and a half miles with my dad, encroaching on the property lines of neighbors more than I would have if I were running solo. 😊
Two days after Downtown, I took another crack at a long run.
Tuesday mornings Heather has Rebekah with her at work for a few hours, so it has been a window of opportunity for me if I want to get out for a longer run during the week.
I set up my deck railing (in the rain) for a mid-run fuel stop, and planned on attempting 22 miles.
On my way out, I was feeling good, so I decided to just continue trucking on the rail trail and forego the midway stop.
The rain was everything from a fine mist to a full torrential downpour, and it was a nice distraction most of the way.
After a 7:03 opening mile, the rest of the run was between 6:14 and 6:45 per mile, and my slowest mile after the 4th was a 6:39 15th.
I started to wonder if maybe I should hope for rain at BayState.
Friday of that week, I did my third of four Tempo workouts.
The first had been a 20 minute road run on September 7th at about 5:45 pace.
The second was 4 x mile on the track at around 5:25/mi. on September 11th.
The plan for #3 was 2 x 20-minutes with about 10 minutes of recovery in between.
I warmed up just over a mile and a half and jumped into the first one. (This was on the roads.)
I managed to cover 3.58 miles in the first 20:01, which averages to 5:35 per mile.
I recovered for 9:45 at 6:52/mi. and then did the second 20 minutes at a 5:38 average.
Three days later it was time for 24 miles!!
And I mustered a 6:23/mi. average for the distance, giving me a huge boost of confidence a month before Bay State.
I tried another workout on Wednesday, which was a bit of a fail, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it for long, because Sunday was
This was my third time racing the Lone Gull 10k, and once again it served as the USATF-NE Championship for the 10k in the road Grand Prix.
I was looking to improve on my 33:02 that I ran at James Joyce in late-April, although I really didn’t have any reason to suspect that I’d be able to. That race was a big surprise and a highlight of this year.
The Lone Gull course is definitely faster than James Joyce, but my recent focus had been on long runs and overall volume with a dash of Tempo work, nothing really at 10k pace or faster.
The “new” Lone Gull course which eliminated the scenic but turny neighborhood loop seemed like it would be even faster.
Each of the previous times I’d run Lone Gull I came away with a new road PR at the distance, running 32:21 in 2013 and 32:10 in 2014.
I lined up a row or two back at the (new) start (before the bump) and we were off!
The first mile was quicker than my 5:18 goal, and I was feeling a little clumsy at points, like I wasn’t going to be able to hold it together, then I settled in around 5:20 for the next two.
Three GBTC guys came by me in mile 4 and I picked it up to try to hang with them, once I was racing the co-ordination issues sort of just went away.
I could see Brandon N. and Scott Leslie most of the way, so that was a good sign.
Mile 5 I was right back at goal pace and hoping I could hang on, and the new finish was definitely fast - I was able to close hard for a 32:41 gun time, 32:38.6 net.
I was first master, 30th overall and very pleased with the outcome here!
The next week called for 20 more! Which came on Tuesday, just two days after the 10k.
I ran fairly evenly with a 66-minute first 10 miles and a 64-minute second ten.
It was cool and rainy (and beautiful) again.
Even though I had maxed out at 80 mpw, I went into full-on taper mode here.
Most notably, I did 18 the next Tuesday which included 3 x 2-mile tempo. I was able to stay under 5:30 for the first two, but the last one was a struggle at 11:25. It was hot and I think that was a factor.
That Sunday I did 15 one week out.
I drove up to pick up my number on Saturday and was in and out of the hotel fairly quickly.
I had been tracking the weather and it looked like the start was going to be cold and wet, but when race day dawned it was a little warmer than forecast and not raining much at all. I was in my car at 6:10 am parked on the street near the finish and my car thermometer said it was 48 degrees.
I jogged back and forth between my car and the Tsongas Center a couple times to use the bathroom, kill time and say hi to a few people.
Scott Leslie hit me up with a much-appreciated non-caffeinated GU that I hung onto for a short warmup with Greg Englehart and Dan von Staats (two former Cape Ann League runners from my coaching days a decade ago).
I had long sleeves on under my CMS singlet right up until the start and just ditched it by the starting line a few minutes before they got us going.
Early on, I felt like the crowd was very thin where I was running ~6:00/mi. Dan Vassallo came by in the first mile and asked how I was doing and I told him as much.
Greg, Jon Chesto and I found each other in the first couple miles and stayed together till just about 20. Most of the miles were between 5:55 and 6:05, and Joe Shairs on his bike kept us aware of the group behind us that was a little bigger than ours and not far back. I was tempted to try to run harder a few times, but it seemed like me knee would misfire if I tried too hard, so that was probably a blessing in disguise, because it kept me in check.
My dad was at 3, 12 and 22 and Heather was at 7 and 17. Both had snacks and encouragement on a chilly day that wasn’t spectator-friendly, albeit quite good running weather.
Co-ordination issues crept up early (around 2 miles), subsided, came back around 7, went away again, came back at 11, and never reared their head significantly after that. Of course, when I hit the wall at 20, I was going slow enough that my legs were fine.
Somebody had drawn a wall on the road at mile 20 which I scoffed at the first time by (around 10 miles) and decided I would ignore when I came by it again. I had fallen off of Greg and Jon a little at 18 and worked to close the gap, coinciding with Scott Leslie’s plea as he went by me.
At 20, I was more or less even with them, but it didn’t last long.
The 6:00 miles that had seemed comfortable for so long turned into 6:20’s all of a sudden. I got passed by a handful of stronger and/or smarter runners from the pack behind us between 20 and 23, and I was just hanging on.
I was waiting for the wheels to come fully off, but I managed to reverse the trend a bit the last few miles as the finish line got closer.
Garmin splits had my slowest mile a 6:25 22nd. Fastest was 5:43 for the 12th.
I dipped back under 6:00/mi. pace for the last quarter-mile or so and just barely crossed before the clock changed to 2:38:00.
I was 13th overall and 2nd master (but first 40-44). Jon Chesto, who I had run with for the first 20 miles is 47 and finished 42 seconds ahead of me.
2:37:59.4 was my guntime and 2:37:57.5 my nettime.
In my foil blanket, I found Heather and my dad, changed into warm clothes while successfully avoiding cramping, and had some amazing Starbucks hot chocolate.
I caught up with CMS teammates Hankens and Principe, as well as CAL alums Englehart and von Staats who all ran PR’s for the distance!