Friday, February 1, 2013

Moderately Challenged

As stated HERE previously, I have some big plans for 2013 and January started off exactly as I’d scripted. Week 1 included a couple of nice snowshoe runs, a tempo run and an epic 9 mile run up (and back down) Pack Monadnock Mountain. Then God laughed - and all hell broke lose. I was sick for most for Week 2 (logging all of 12 miles) then messed up my calf when I foolishly tried to run a snowshoe race while severely dehydrated. Week 3 followed much like its predecessor, ie. hardly any running. And, as a result, I ended up with just one quality week of training - out of three! Certainly not the way you’d like to kick off what you hope to be a season of PR’s!

Fortunately, with a little bit of help (and a lot of swimming), the calf issue subsided and I was able to get a nice, hilly 12 mile run in with little, to no, calf issues. So, with just one week to go until my first big test of the year The BostonPrep 16m and I was back in business. A couple of days later I managed to eek out a promising 10 mile tempo run which gave me confidence that I hadn’t lost too much fitness over the previous two weeks and could really hit that nasty, little course in Derry, with all I had!

Looking Smooth Early
This year would be my 5th time toeing the line at Boston Prep – 5 years since my last trip there and 12 years since my first. This race is laughably billed as “moderately challenging” and is designed to prepare runners for the rigors of the Boston Marathon. The course boasts no fewer than 4 large hills and 1 absolute monster that goes on for over a mile. The first time I attempted to run this course was back in 2001 - during a snowstorm! I slip-slided my way around the 16 treacherous miles of this “moderate challenge” and (2 hours and 12 minutes later) left with a newfound respect for the hills of Derry.

Luckily we missed out on the snow this year. But, the 600 (or so) runners who did hope to tame the beast were greeted race day morning with temperatures in the teens and a stiff 15 mph breeze - smacking the wind chill down to just above zero! A good number of my Gate City pals also decided to run this race (cuz they’re totally hard-core) so it made for a fun (albeit nervous) pre-race atmosphere in the West Running Brook gym.

My goal for this race was simple (much like my goals for this year) run like hell, hang on for dear life, and hopefully get a course PR. I started near the front and we blasted off toward the first hill of the day – in mile one! The first few miles went by quickly, with a bit of pushing and pulling, as people sorted themselves out. Mile 3 was run in a quick 6:03 while the much steeper Mile 5 was completed in a not-so-brisk 7:15. Over the top of the hill I was passed by a couple of younger runners and, as it turned out, they’d be the last people to pass me the rest of the day!

The BP Grimace
I felt surprisingly strong at the 8 mile mark, hitting halfway in 52:30 (6:34 pace) and on track for a 1:45 – which would be a new PR by 3 1/2 minutes. Of course, most of that section was run with a tail wind and we still had the big hill looming a few miles ahead. So, I knew I’d be giving back some of that early time advantage. The question was, how much? During this stretch I focused on NH masters ace Christin Doneski and just tried to reel her in – which I eventually did. 2 miles later!

The most difficult miles of Boston Prep have got to be, without a doubt, miles 10, 11 & 12. Lots of up and no place to hide. And, once you get to the top of the highest hill, you still have almost 4 miles to go to reach the finish. Each year I hope to run this section strong, but in control, so that when I reach the summit, I can use my weight advantage to really hammer the last 4 miles. This year, that meant running between 7 and 7 1/2 minutes per mile. Which is quite a difference from the 6:30’s I’d been running up until that point!

This time around, for some reason, the hills seemed longer and steeper than I remembered. It felt like I was running in quicksand as those mile ticked by in 7:18, 7:21 & 7:41. The good news was that I hadn’t gotten passed by anyone during that stretch so everyone else must have been suffering just as much as me. The bad news was that, once I got to the top of Warner Hill, the wind was into my face and howling like a banshee! Uh, oh. So much for a fast last four!

Windy Farm
I hit the mile 13 water stop and, to arm myself for the battle ahead, washed down a Gu with a cup of nearly frozen water. Almost immediately I felt its effects. And, not in a good way! My body began a loud revolt as if to say, “Dude, we’re just trying to keep you warm and upright down here, and now you want us to deal with this crap!” Anyway, in addition to the wind, I now had to battle my stomach for the rest of the race.

Mile 14, which boasted the wide open area on Lane Road next to the farm, was for me the mentally toughest part of the race. This stretch was super-exposed and the wind was just pushing the runners all over the road. I put my head down and just hammered away as best I could. Eventually it dumped out onto East Derry Road and then gratefully onto Cemetery Road where the wind was now pushing us toward the finish. Go time!

Pedal to the Metal
I managed to pick off a couple more runners in this stretch and just held on as best I could. I crossed the finish line in 1:47:43 - for an average pace of 6:44 and a new Course PR by 41 seconds! I stumbled over to the side walk and immediately became reacquainted with the GU (and a little bit of Powerbar) that I had just eaten. It just goes to show you, even if you do somehow manage a PR on this course, it’s still tough enough to kick you to the curb and steal your lunch!

Here are my splits for the day:
6:49, 6:34, 6:03, 6:34, 7:15, 6:19, 6:30, 6:23 – 52:30 / 8 = 6:34 Avg 1st Half
6:34, 7:18, 7:21, 7:40, 6:49, 6:45, 6:14, 6:30 – 55:13 / 8 = 6:54 Avg 2nd Half

Friends & Teammates at Boston Prep who finished nearby …

Pl.        Name                           Time                Pace    Comment

16         Moiz Jafferji                 1:44:05             6:31      New GCS

18         Charlie Bemis              1:44:10             6:31       First 50+
25         Humza Jafferji             1:47:06             6:42       New GCS
29         Michael Wade             1:47:43             6:44
36         Christin Doneski         1:49:04             6:50      First 40+
42         Raelyn Crowell           1:49:42             6:52       Second 40+
44         Katie Schroth              1:50:20            6:54       First 30+ / First BP
48         Ernesto Burden          1:51:44             7:00
51         Richard Lavers           1:52:08             7:01
52         Ryan Welts                  1:52:42             7:03
58         Heather Mahoney     1:53:58             7:08      Third 30+
61         Brian Kane                   1:54:49             7:11       Second 50+
71         David Foster                1:56:18             7:17
73         Karen Pattelena          1:56:25             7:17       Third 40+
94         Yuki Chorney              1:59:20             7:28      Fourth 40+

Full Results:

I guess you could say that the first month of the season has been a little bit like the Boston Prep course – lots of ups and downs! Here’s to more ups than downs from here on out!

Up next:
DH Jones 10m – February 24th in Amherst, MA

1 comment:

  1. "My goal for this race was simple (much like my goals for this year) run like hell, hang on for dear life, and hopefully get a course PR. I started near the front and we blasted off toward the first hill of the day – in mile one!"

    My favorite racing strategy-except for the marathon (well when I could race!).