Saturday, October 04, 2014

I Wish There Was A 'Before' Picture

Like lots of people, we buy a poinsettia around mid November and throw it out when it "dies" in January or February.

This year, it looked like it would die, or be killed--but somehow held-on till the warmth of Spring allowed me to transplant it to the out doors.  It thrived out there, as you can see from the above picture.  Now.  Will it survive the change back to indoor living?

Good luck to it!

Friday, October 03, 2014

23rd Apple Harvest Ramble Harvard, Massachusetts - September 27, 2014

I approached this race with medium and short term reservations:  1. It would be the longest run in over a year.  2. There was a 5k race the Sunday before this Saturday race, so not a lot of recovery chances.  3.  I hadn't run more than about 8 miles in practice since Spring.  4.  It may have been late September and in the morning, but it was already hot on a day that would come close to 90F.

I dealt with the training and recovery issue by skipping my normal Tuesday run so that I could do an 11.5 miler on Wed, then I would not run again until the Sat race day.  This gave me a long training run, recovery time and since Sat is my week-ending day--I would complete my weekly 30 in the race.

I normally place in the top 20s or 30s in races of this size and so start towards the front of the starting line.  I chose not to do that in this race since that would have meant standing in the hot sun for 15 minutes before the start.  I meandered over a few minutes before the start and exchanged pleasantries with people who recognized me from last-week's race or people I recognized from the race series.  I saw one other Greater Lowell runner at the front of the pack and we waved at each other.

I  started the race easy:  No need to dash around in the early parts of a ten mile race.  Still, in the first quarter to half mile, I had passed four fifths of the runners--including the Greater Lowell woman I had seen at the start.  I caught up with a guy I remembered from the 5k race and had chatted with at the start of this one.  We hit the mile mark at 6:45 and he remarked that he was going too fast.  I replied that there is plenty of time to slow down.  In any case, he may have slowed down and if so, I slowed down more since he slowly pulled away from me.  Each long straightaway and I could spot his gold shirt, a little further away than the one before.

He fell into the smallest of three groups in this early to middle part of the race:  1. Runners who passed me and remained ahead of me the whole way.  2. Runners that I passed and stayed ahead of the rest of the way.  This group became more and more rare as runners thinned-out along the way.  Finally, 3. Runners who passed me and then I passed, often with many repeats of this pattern.  In general, I would get passed mostly on the up-hill parts of this generally hilly course and I would mostly pass people on the down-hill parts.

One of the last people I passed and stayed ahead of was the high school girl who had won last week's 5k in the women's division.  I caught up to her around 5 miles and we ran together for a few minutes.  We talked a bit about Bat Girl and Robin (her team mates on the Littleton CC team) and I told her about my girls who would be running in the Ocean State CC meet later that day.  In any case, I was only caught up with her because her coach told her to run at "training pace".  Because of her, I know our pace:  She asked for our pace and it was 43:30--only then did I notice the 6 mile marker.  That made the pace at 7:15 so far.  Way faster than I thought I was going but I felt like I could keep it up for the time being.  She must have realized that "training pace" restrictions were not being followed and so slowed down.  She is certainly faster than I am and could have kept pace and indeed, left me in the dust if she choose to do that.

The End Game:

I feel like I kept up the 7:15 pace until about 8 miles in, then the hill climbing begins.  I felt like I was out of fuel and also a twitch in my calves indicated that they were ready to cramp too.  The race had plenty of water stops but they used plastic cups, which are very hard to drink out of when on the move.  With paper, you can scrunch it up and control the flow.

First, I got passed by a runner who always beats me but I hadn't seen him in the last couple of races and didn't even realize he was in this one.  In any case, he is normally ahead of me start to finish rather than passing me almost at the end.  He was too fast to consider matching.  Soon after that, two men passed me and again, way too fast to match.  A little bit past that came a surprise--the Greater Lowell woman that I hadn't seen since mile one passed me at mile nine!  I might have been able to match her but just wasn't feeling enthusiastic to try.  The last straw was when the guy I had been passing and re-passing from mile one through five made a reappearance and passed me at mile nine!

I finally sped-up but did not catch him on the hills.  Finally as the hills turned downward I began to gain on him.  He swerved over to high-five his cute toddler daughter (He lives on the course) and was kind of glad I hadn't already passed him since it was a cute scene.  I did finally pass a couple of hundred yards from the finish line though.

Oh! So how did I do?  27th out of 189 finishers and 5th in my age group which had 20 entrants.  My pace was 7:30 per mile, so given that it was about 7:15 with 4 to go--those final four were pretty slow.