2021 Race Recap #3: Horseneck Half Marathon

This was the result that wasn’t supposed to happen. The Sunday before this race, I’d punctured my foot and couldn’t run for a few days. In fact, the day after the race – a full 8 days after the injury – I’m still really sore. I didn’t sleep well for a few days before the race. My eating has been not good. The night before, I’d had the opportunity to join some lifelong friends after a long, cold pandemic to watch a classic of our generation outside on a projection screen. This was wonderful, but not necessarily the battery recharging one would normally recommend. End result? Two half marathons this year, both in my Top 3 at the time. I’ve run this race 3 times, the last two are in my current Top 3.

The race has just started and I’m already clearly not happy about it.

Of course I don’t know what happened to my bib – these were mailed out several weeks beforehand, and in the chaos of what has become my day to day, it likely got thrown away in my most recent Purge. Because of this, I needed to get to the race that much earlier to square away that issue. And of course, Westport MA is about 90-minutes away and requires leaving the state, crossing Rhode Island and re-entering Massachusetts. That 8 AM start quickly gets pushed back by commuting time and administrivia when you have to change your bib-number (Orignally 67, New 933).

That squared away, I was able to get a warm-up mile in around the parking lot. This race is normally held in May, but was pushed out a month in hopes that COVID restrictions would be lifted – which they thankfully were – but that had the consequence of messing with beach traffic as well.

The last time this race was run, 2019, I had a pretty good race. It was a cool day, I ran well, I felt good. I set a personal best that day. This time it was not a cool day, I don’t think I ran particularly well, I was in considerable pain, and I set a personal record. Go figure. I actually walked a bit near the end because I was losing my stuff and I needed to keep it together.

A beautiful day to be living

As I read the post from that 2019 race, I recalled having the same conversations this time at almost the same places albeit with a different tone. “Okay, only about 8 miles to go…” was more like how much more time do I have to do this. My negative internal dialog was really coming out full bore on me. I cranked up the Trent Reznor/Ministry “Supernaut” remake on my playlist and struggled on.

This time, my 8-min miles came at miles 9 and 10 – although I just missed at miles 6 and 8 with 7:59. I see I struggled at mile 6, 9 and 10 in 2019 as well – actually I ran mile 9 3-seconds faster that year than this, but my 2 8-min miles this year were fewer and faster than the 3 I had then.

So those 4 miles were still fast for the short, barrel shaped guy writing this post, but the rest of the miles really were faster than I’d have imagined I’d be. One friend suggested that the tetanus shot I’d received Monday (after puncturing my foot) should be investigated as a performance enhancing drug. My overall pace was something like 7:50. On my best day running, I don’t run at 7:50 and not for 13-miles. Last years pacing was more consistent, but not as fast. This year was faster, but with a lot more variability. Perhaps an effect of training (or lack thereof), I have a good base, but I haven’t been running long nearly as much as I need to.

I’m sore today, my foot hurts, but I feel good that the race was well run.

RESULTS

Gun Time: 1:42:31
Chip Time: 1:42:27
Chip Pace: 7:50
Overall Place: 70 of 563
Gender Rank: 53 of 241
Age Group Rank: 8/44

Previous Results:

2021: Horseneck Half Marathon 1:42:27
2020: New England Half Marathon 1:42:52
2019: Horseneck Half Marathon 1:43:32
2021: Providence Half Marathon 1:43:53
2019: 42nd New Bedford Half Marathon: 1:45:58
2019: 13th Wicked Half Marathon 1:48:23
2018: 41st New Bedford Half Marathon: 1:48:57
2017: Worcester Half Marathon: 1:51:56
2018: Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon 1:54:11
2018: Clearwater Half Marathon: 1:56:32
2018: Horseneck Half Marathon: 1:57:29
2017: Cambridge Half Marathon: 1:57:38
2019: John & Jessie Kelley-Ocean Beach Half Marathon: 1:58:47
2016: Black Goose Half Marathon: 2:00:48
2018: Independence Rhode Race: 2:06:32
2017: Upton State Forest Half Marathon (Trail): 2:18:01.9
2019: Wallum Lake Half Marathon (Trail):2:38:01.1

2021 Race Recap #2: Soapstone Mountain Trail Race 24k

I’m only about a month behind with this recap, so I’m likely leaving a bunch of details out. It turns out that it’s a little hard to keep all the balls in the air when there are a hundred balls in the air, and they’re made of lead, and the clown in the corner of the room is throwing water balloons at you.

BUT a race is a race. This was the second of two that are on my calendar that wasn’t deferred from last year.

Unlike a lot of trail races, this one was really well marked – there was never a question as to where a runner needed to go. There were appropriate aid-stations every 4 miles or so.

About 5k into the race, there’s a really technical “killer hill” that accounts for most of the elevation gain of the event. Basically straight up, over boulders and the like. Otherwise, the trail itself – although there is a healthy sample of single track trail – isn’t terribly technical. I made the strategic error of wearing my Salomon Speedcross shoes thinking it would be a lot more technical, which compromised some of the cushioning and comfort another choice would have provided. It’s not child’s play – rocks and roots and all kinds of potential ankle twisters are afoot – but it wasn’t highly technical. It was warm and that too slowed things down.

I had made a plan for 3 hours for completion. It took me 3.5 and I really thought I had blown it because I only saw a smattering of other runners near me since that killer hill and the ones I did were basically running away from me, but as it turned out I finished 57 of 133. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to be ashamed of either. My ultrasignup ranking essentially stayed the same and I finished right about where their projections would have put me.

results
Overall 57/133
GP: 45
TIME: 3:29:19

2021 Race Recap #1: Providence Half Marathon

Hello racing, my old friend. I’ve come to run with you again. Sorry for the delayed post here. Reasons.

May 2 and we’re on race #1 of the year. One of the more regrettable casualties of the COVID pandemic has been road racing. It seems that the science has been clear for some time that the risk of transmission outside is pretty low. Now, I get it – low isn’t none, and the science is not wholly conclusive as to what the risk is – but when we’re opening restaurants indoors, it makes little to no sense why racing has taken such a long time to get under way, at least in Massachusetts.

I wasn’t going to register for this race; I hated the way the organizers handled the marathon cancelation last year, and I can carry a grudge especially when being told that my $100 was being kept, but I could run a “virtual marathon” instead. I was convinced to register and in retrospect, I’m glad I did for all kinds of good reasons.

Leading up to the actual race itself, I was feeling less than secure that it was even going to happen based on the organizers lacking communication around last year’s cancellation, the lack of course maps, lacking attention to COVID protocols, an out-of-date website and their social media “don’t worry about it” answer to me about the status of the event combined to make for an uneasy vibe. But, they got it together enough to actually run the race.

The COVID protocols included a waved start, where 4-runners would go off every 10-seconds, we had to wear a mask at the start for the first mile of the race and at the finishline – to the point that as I was coming down the finish line chute, one of the finish line volunteers was directing me to put my mask on. I’m sure that if there’s a finish line picture (again, one of these small details they didn’t seem to get quite right) it’s of me in my adled race mind, fumbling around looking for a face covering.

The course was reasonably well marked, until the last we’ll say 1-2 miles. There were plenty of opportunities for wrong turns and confusion. The marathon bibs were blue and the half marathon bibs were red, but the directional arrows on the streets were the opposite. This wasn’t a problem for most of the race, but at end it caused some difficulty for some folks not named Morrissey. There was another spot that where a volunteer would have been helpful between mile 12 and 13 – we knew there was a left turn to head toward the finish, but there was one spot where it wasn’t entirely clear and I saw at least one person start to head up that way. Last, down by RISD, there was a little plaza area where to go straight was to go down three steps or so (seems like an unusual obstacle to put in the middle of a race course) or down a handicapped ramp (again, another odd choice). Since the course was open, there were a few kids on scooters that were going down the ramp, so I was left to run down the steps. I can only think I must’ve missed the “real” option and in which case, course marking rather than the course was the issue – either way, it was suboptimal.

The last 0.1-mile or so of the course was a slight uphill – which felt like an unnecessary challenge, but helped provide a slight decent to the finish.

Overall it was a good race, a good day.

Overall: 116th of 670
Male: 73rd of 253
Male 50 to 59: 6th of 52

Previous Results:

2020: New England Half Marathon 1:42:52
2019: Horseneck Half Marathon 1:43:32
2021: Providence Half Marathon 1:43:53
2019: 42nd New Bedford Half Marathon: 1:45:58
2019: 13th Wicked Half Marathon 1:48:23
2018: 41st New Bedford Half Marathon: 1:48:57
2017: Worcester Half Marathon: 1:51:56
2018: Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon 1:54:11
2018: Clearwater Half Marathon: 1:56:32
2018: Horseneck Half Marathon: 1:57:29
2017: Cambridge Half Marathon: 1:57:38
2019: John & Jessie Kelley-Ocean Beach Half Marathon: 1:58:47
2016: Black Goose Half Marathon: 2:00:48
2018: Independence Rhode Race: 2:06:32
2017: Upton State Forest Half Marathon (Trail): 2:18:01.9
2019: Wallum Lake Half Marathon (Trail):2:38:01.1