Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Bedford Half Marathon

Well the winds of change were blowing right in our faces for this one.  I have never experienced anything like it in a race situation.  Sure we have all run in the wind at some point, but this was relentless and down right overpowering at some points.  There is always wind in the latter part of this race along the water and we all knew we were going to get pelted hard in that section.  I kept trying to convince my self before the race that this is a loop course and that we would get some tail winds to balance out the effort, but I never felt a tail wind that made all that much difference.  I also felt like the back stretch miles, which are always fast miles, had a head wind toward the end.  That's when I knew what was coming in a couple more miles, but I must admit I never expected it to be as bad as it was.  Here is my race recap.

The race started out as usual with a fast first mile even though there was a strong head wind.  I usually try to hold back a little in this mile, but the wind made it hard to do that.  For the next 2 miles I tried to reel in a large pack of runners so I could draft off the back of the pack, but they were just that little bit too far ahead for me to reel them in.  I tried twice and almost got there, but the effort was getting to rich for my blood.  By the time I got to the first hill, the course changed direction and the wind was not as bad.  That pack had broken up, so I think I wasted a lot of energy early for nothing, as I struggled on the hill in the 4th mile a bit.  My splits through 4 miles were 5:47, 5:53, 5:43 (playing catch up) and 6:01 (up the hill).  Not horrible up the hill, but a little slower than I wanted.  Then we hit the back stretch which is one of my favorite sections of any race I have ever run.  It is slightly downhill for the next 5 miles and many of us have set 5 mile PR's mid race on this stretch.  I felt like there was a little tailwind in the early part of the back stretch, but then it dissipated.  I had gone with a singlet, arm sleeves and light gloves for race attire, but I found my self heating up a bit.  My arms were getting a little numbing sensation from the tight arm sleeves which I seldom wear, so I decided to take them off.  Fortunately Jim Dandeneau was in the press truck which was driving along side me at several points in the race so I handed them over to him.  One less item to worry about.  I took the gloves off shortly after that too!  Anyway, back to the race.  I usually try to get a good rhythm going on the back stretch as soon as we enter the neighborhood and that is exactly what I did.  I had a 5:23 mile there and tried to keep it rolling, but the spits were going in the wrong direction.  Not by much, but still in the wrong direction for this terrain.  I was 5:23, 5:35, 5:47, 5:42, 5:42 for that 5 mile stretch.  I was feeling pretty good even though the splits were not as fast as I wanted, but the wind was picking up as we drew closer and closer to the waterfront sections, so the splits made sense.  I must have felt pretty good as I found the energy to clown around a little with the guys I knew in the press vehicle as evident in the photo below from Tom Derderian.  I do not think Bob was having as much fun though!

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Then we hit the water front and the fun stopped very quickly.  The bay was nothing but white caps, so I knew we were in for a rough run the rest of the way.  I had made a good push in the previous mile to separate myself from the pack I was in and try to catch up to the next pack, but that actually did not work in my favor.  I never got close enough to latch on to them and then I headed into the worst wind mile on the course out in front all alone with no one to work with or keep me honest, etc.  The wind was so bad from 9 to 10 that it was standing runners up in their tracks and blowing you back and or sideways.  I lost some concentration in that mile running alone and ran a 6:44 mile.  My split through 10 miles was 58:21 even with this horrible mile mixed in, so I was doing fine time wise but the next few miles were going to be nasty.  Any lingering thoughts of PR's went out the window at that point.  As a result of my lack of concentration, the pack I had dropped earlier caught back up to me.  One of the guys in that pack was my training partner Bob Jackman.  Bob said he and the pack ran approx 6:34 for that mile, so that made sense as to how they caught back up to me so quickly.  Either way, I had to let it go, regroup and competed with the group around me now.  So Bob and I headed forward with our heads down trying to break the wind and maintain a decent pace.  The sand was blowing in your eyes and mouth, and when the wind hit you from the sides, it was blowing one leg into the other.  I almost got tangled up in my own legs on a couple of occasions.  We were all hoping the wind would die down at every corner or at the break wall door, but it never really let up until the hill at 12.  I am assuming the wind speed was approx 30 mph sustained with gusts of 40 to 50 mph.  This is just a guess on my part, but that's my story and I am sticking to it.  Bob and I were running together for most of the final miles.  We competed hard up the last hill with those around us, but I think I had a little extra motivation as there was an older runner (aka my age) just a few strides in front of me from the Summerville Road Runners.  I did not know if he was a Master or a Senior, but it really did not matter.  I did not want to give up any team points to a Master or a Senior.  I passed him near the top of the hill and put the push on from there to the corner where we take a right hand turn and head home.  From that down hill to the finish I was able to pass a few more runners and finish strong.

My splits from 10 to the finish were 6:44, 6:28, 6:01 and 6:03 up the hill, so other than mile 10 I was pleased.  I ended up finishing in 85th place overall and was the 4th Senior overall.  I was also 11th over 40 and scored on both the CMS Seniors Team (2nd Scorer) and Masters Team (4th Scorer) for the 2nd race in a row.  The CMS Masters team was 2nd place overall and the Seniors team was 1st place, so I was really happy to be a scoring part of both teams.  It was the 2nd week in a row that the Seniors Team took the team prize, so a great effort by the old guys!!  This was what I joined CMS for and was super excited again to be part of a team win!

After the race a bunch of us headed over to the Pour Farm for an adult beverage and some food.  It was nice to get out of the wind and relax before heading home.  Next up on the race docket is the Boston Tune Up 15k in Upton, Ma in 2 weeks.

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