Saturday, November 29, 2008

The 72nd Manchester Road Race Race Report.

Yes that's right for 72 years strong, some psychos have been lining up in downtown Manchester and getting in a nice 4.78 mile jog. In recent years the Field has topped 10,000 runners and this year by some "coercion" by a few of my customers I joined the huddled masses this Thanksgiving. Wednesday I went up to register and use my hard earned "winnings" from the Cicchetti to enter. After talking to the director of seeding ( Doug) I managed to talk myself into the 30-35 minute corral so I wouldn't be mowing over power walkers starting in the unseeded mob. Entry paid and seed card obtained and nearly dying most horribly on I-84 through Hartford I went out for coffee with my sisters and then home to try to get some shut eye before the race.

Thursday I woke up about 6AM to get to Manchester in time to catch the first shuttle to the start line. ( Figured I would park at the community college and ride over on the buses and avoid traffic and being boxed in until the race ended.) Well I arrived at 7:00AM and sat around waiting for the bus, I managed to talk to a couple of people,who like me, were doing this shin dig for the first time. I began talking to this fellow first timer, Jeff, as we waited for the first shuttle to arrive, he was meeting up with some friends before the start. The first shuttle showed up at about 8AM "Man this is cutting it close for a 9 AM start." I thought to myself. We arrived in "downtown" Manchester about five minutes later the bus parked in a lot about 1 mile from the race start. As we walked down I noticed people going in and out of the school where they were doing registration. I talked to Jeff to see where he and his friends were meeting up before the race, ( he had offered to stow my race bag in his friend's car.) I went into the school and found it was not only open but that there was a team of massage therapists setting up for business. I stripped down to my shorts and short sleeve Nutmeg State Half iron race Tee and a set of gloves ( after all it was a tropical 35F at 7AM) I bumped into No Bike Mike from HEAT who was also rocking the Nutmeg Half Iron shirt and shot the shit for a while before I went to warm up. I ran down to the Webster Bank lot and met up with Jeff, his friend Prospect Jeff (who will now be know as PJ) and Prospect Jeff's son Matt. I stood in the sun trying to stay warm figuring I had only 15 min. before race start. Then PJ chimed in " You do know this thing kicks off at 10am right?" Damn I has prepped to go an hour early. Jeff turned on the car and I was able to stay warm for another 15 to 20 min...on "company gas." I really had to pee, and the line to the portolets was curving out of the parking lot. Now I'm going to go on a rant about how runners seem to bred to using portolets, At the Nutmeg State Half Marathon I made a similar observation, that there were 500 people lined up for the portolets while there was no one even thinking of using any of the available flush toilets. So I jogged back down to the school, went into the nice warm clean rest room, ( past yet another mass of people waiting for the portolets in front of the school.) did my thing, and began to talk to this tri chick from Mass. Yevette, as I stood inside trying to stay warm until 9:45. at about 9:45 I made my way down main street to the 30-35 min. Starting corral, handed in my seed card ( a postcard with the picture of the race director standing next to some pro.) and tried to stay warm. The odd thing was I was standing right behind the Fox 61 mobile studio so I tried to wave to the camera a couple of times as the race commentators did their usual pre race jabber. Seriously I hate when non-athletes are the commentators, I mean even if someone is a recreational runner they know a little bit about the sport, but some times you end up with total Yutzes ( read Al Trautwig) destroying epic moments in athletic history with their commentary....also I hate it when Yutz runners ( read me.) try waving to the I guess it all came clean in the wash. Enough of all this pre race crap Let's talk turkey...trot.

The Race:

( Note the dude wearing bib 11675 staring at his watch that's me.)

At 9:55 they did the National Anthem, as runners continued to file into corrals. One kid in a Navy shirt was debating sneaking into the corral. I talked to him for a bit and foundout that it would blow for him to have to start in the back. ( He was a sub 30 runner.) As soon as the Volunteer's back was turned I was like " dude now or never." he snuck under the blue fencing and that was the last I saw of him. The Vollies removed the blue fencing seperating the corrals, 2 min. to go then the 60 sec. countdown, the gun went off and off we went. As soon as I hit the timing mat I started my watching, gluing myself to the kid infront of me riding right against the barricades. As we ran down main street, some bandits jumped in on this thing, and unlike Boston the race directors were cool with it. The first mile was pretty flat, a couple of bottlenecking turns, I saw No Bike Mike running by me, he shouted "come on Rob..time to get moving." We hit "the hill" at about the 1 mile mark I hit the clock at 6:11. We started up and I passed three guys wearing nothing but their sckivies and red white and blue body paint, I began to pass some of the herd as some of the faster runners who were bottlenecked in the back starting coming forward. the hill Continued up for about a mile and really slowed the average speed. I hit the 2 mile mark at the summit and my split was a 7:19! 7:19 more than a minute slower than my previous mile. We approached the summit of the hill only to be greeted with screaming crowds, bag pipers, Music Blaring and lots of signs bearing Over the Hill Jokes. For as gradual as the hill went up it went down in a hurry, I tried to control my pace but it seems everyone behind me had the "Shin Splints be damned" Angry Runner approach to desecending. I watched almost helplessly as about 10 of the people I had out ran up " the hill" were getting sweet revenge. We hit the three mile mark in about 20 min. my mile split was a 6:27 worlds away from the grind up the hill. It was about this point the kickers were coming explain what a kicker is, if you ran track in high school do you remember the bum that used to tuck in behind you for say 3 and 3/4 laps in the mile (7 and 3/4 laps in the 2 mile) and then on the last straight they just opened up and would lay waste to you like you had been standing still....yes these guys/gals have grown up and started running road races too. It was about this time some kid in black shorts and a singlet came along side and started to make his way forward I tried to keep Mike in sight but with all the passing and getting passed it was like rush hour in Hartford, with everyone zigging left and right in and around, eventually the pack strung itself out as I tucked in behind someone going my pace. we hit the 4 mile mark at about 26:30 a 6:34 mile. there was a little over 1k or .75 of a mile left and we were heading for down town, the crowds got louder, it was like being in a human tunnel because everyone was just going crazy. Dude in the black track get up was over by the side of the road "reliving breakfast." the pace had gone from fairly hard to "daddy stop the pain" in a little less than a quarter mile, I was now begining to feel breakfast making a reprise, and decided to tone it down a notch hey I didn't want to drive an hour plus back home with a sick Coffee and bagel and stomach acid combo after taste in my mouth. So the kid in his black singlet got his bearings back and decided to go until he puked twice, and he flew on by as I conservatively sprinted toward the Huge American Flag and the Start finsh line. As we approached the line we were told to fan out into one of six chutes, I was locked in a dead sprint with about 5 other guys, I couldn't really tell who won but I was pissed when I looked at the results and they put some kid who had the same time ahead of me. Official Time 31:29 Net time: 31:24. 363rd overall 107th in my age group.

In a field of 10,000 not a bad day at the office. I made my way through the finish chutes and back to the school, got a quick massage and got dressed in my "warm clothes". I bumped into one of my classmates, Ashley, and her boyfriend, told them about the massage tables, foundout that they had not made the official start. Apparently a few of the shuttles were delayed in getting to the start line and by the time they made it down, the volunteers were already installing the finishing chutes because the wheel chair racers were coming in and the elites were about 5 minutes away.So they jumped on course and ran it out. I managed to go back to the finish line area but I could find no sign of Jeff or PJ so I made my way back to the shuttle pick up and after about a 20 min. wait made my way back home for a hard earned shower, turkey and a nap. I think this might be the start of a new Thanksgiving tradition.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I really want for Christmas...

Well it's that time again, my parents ask me what I wanted for Christmas ( seriously I'm 23 why do my parents feel they have to spend the coin they have on me their 23 year old working son, I mean my siblings, 2 middle schoolers, a high schooler and a broke college student fine , but I mostly buy what I want / need and make due with what I've got.) So I usually tell them get me something practical, new work clothes, socks, a bathing suit or 2, a bag of toe warmers so I can do my winter riding, maybe a DVD...little things. Now if money was no object absolutely nothing was off limits here are the top ten things I'd want for Christmas:

1.Winter House in San Diego, paid for in full, utilities included.

2. A Specialized S works Transition, loaded with either SRAM RED or Shimano Dura Ace, Zipp 808's, and since this is a fantasy painted Red, Black and White with Flames (HEAT livery.) X 2 you know just so I have one at the Winter house.

3. Blue Seventy Helix Wetsuit.

4. 3 pairs New Balnace 968' or whatever type I'm using now, seriously they feel like sex on my feet. I think my calves just had an orgasm.

5. about $500k in cash would be nice.

6. Entry and airfare to Ironman New Zealand for 2009...and 2010, 2011, 2012...

7. A house in Taupo, New Zealand, preferably big enough that I could rent out rooms at low, low low prices.

8. A Specialized Tarmac S works ( painted like the transition S-works.)

9. A girl who shall remain anonymous showing up at my door wearing a red bow...I'm not going to go into more details but let's just say I'm human afterall.

10. A "pointy" or aero helmet, that is certified by " xyzlmnop" to quote Claire and Mary.

Alright some of these things are really out there but a guy can dream can't he? another lifetime...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thursday's Run is being paid for by the Fischang-Cicchetti Road Race.

Well today I continued my entering races at the absolute last second trend. I decided to run the Fischang-Cicchetti 5 mile Memorial run. I will start by saying it was cold, not brisk, not nippy, no it was freeze your ass off cold. I actually did the unthinkable and nearly raced in tights, but decided that long sleeves, gloves and a hat were enough.

I ended up bumping into Waterbury's Ironman Al, and after shooting the shit got into postion for the start as always I position myself in the front line so my sexy ass will grace the sports' section tomorrow morning. The gun went off and it was a feeding frenzy for 5 miles through the ghetto. The first part of the race is through downtown past the revitalized part of East main street and the palace theatre and then up into the hood, before going through Hamilton park and then back the way we came. As I approached the first mile mark I was not expecting a PR in today's run because it was cold, it was like every 400 m my lungs were clogging up with phlem and I was hawking lougies, and I don't mean Phit, little ones I mean I was hawking huge freaking snot balls, that would have a pocessed Linda Blair asking me to be her unerstudy. The first mile wasn't bad but it wasn't as fast as I normally take it out a 6:30. As we continued toward the park I continued to breathe deep and every so often honk out a monster gob of snot. About this time the high school cross country kids were pulling ahead, and then Al , some chick in tights and Pat came up we sort of became a pace group for the next mile and a half. We hit Hamilton park and I unzipped my long sleeved jersey to get so air. My 2 mile split was 13:40 a 7:10 mile definitely slower than last year,but also last year it was 20 degrees warmer. We passed the aid station at the 2.5 mile mark and the volunteers we sitting down and there was still a full table of water cups, none of us were taking any fluids it was just too freaking cold. About this time Pat made his break, I tried to tag with him and Al was on my heels as we left poor chick in tights in No-man's land. we hit the 3 mile mark I made the comment "only 23 miles to go..."the three of us sort of chuckled and we sort of agreed that we perfered the slow cruel death that is the marathon compared to this high speed pain fest. Mile 3 split 20:41 or a 7:00 mile yeah PR out the window. Pat checked out I tried to go with knowing Al is a faster runner than I am and he most likely has a powerful kick so I figured unless I want to be edged out at the line, I might want to go a build a lead over these last two miles. I surged not looking back knowing Al was probably right on my shoulders 5k splits were being shouted out and again on hearing mine I sort of figured no PR but as long as I was in under 35 min. so I could seed myself at Manchester on Thursday that was all that would matter. Mile 4 is slightly down hill as we leave the park and go back into the hood. I hit the 4 mile mark 27:16, 6:35 mile definitely no PR today but definitely a sub 35 day. The course continued to go down hill toward the city green past the police station, I reeled in a Cross Country runner as I got passsed by group of 3 high school hot shots...oh to be 18 again. As I passed the Palace theater I could hear the sound of someone breathing down my neck, I knew it was Al but I wasn't looking back. The finish line was only 400 meters ahead, I turned on the after burners and hope I could eek out a little more. We passed spectators the line was coming in sight Al came along side as we lunged for the line I tried to hold my fingertips over the line infront of him but it was to know avail. I got snipped at the line by less than a second. Now how know how Ken Glah felt at Ironman New Zealand in 1990, when Pauli Kiru just barely beat him. Official time 33:56 the last mile was about a 6:40. After coughing up a pound of phlem ( for some odd reason I always end up dry heaving after this race.) I congratulated Al on a battle well fought and made my way to the Waterbury Y and the post race food. After not winning squat in the raffle I started catching up with some of my friends from high school, and some of the local running crowd. Suddenly someone motined to me " Rob they're calling you're name." I went up a recieved a check for $25 bucks. Because this was the 34th running of the race and I had just barely finished 34th I was rewarded with a $25 payday. So that $25 will go to the "Manchester road race" this Turkey Day. So that was my Sunday, not a PR, not my best placing but a good race considering the circumstances.

I think I can feel my toes again