Sunday, September 27, 2009

Codfish Bowl XC and Nahant 30K

This weekend was another double, although not really was more of a confidence restorer, as I've had a string of back to back weekends where my racing has not gone well and i haven't felt 100%.  As Baystate looms, I needed to get back on track and I think that was done this weekend.  All photos in this entry are from Nahant 30k and are courtesy of Kristen Kozlosky.

Saturday: Codfish Bowl XC (results) - Boston, MA. On Saturday, I picked up Jose Ortiz (WHIRL) and headed down to Franklin Park in Boston, MA for some good ole' fashioned cross country.  The Codfish Bowl is a race I did in college, all 4 years.  It was one of our first races of the season, and the first trip to Franklin Park.  I figured out that with 4 runs in college and this being my 3rd straight year running it as an open runner, that it is my most frequent race (with 7 times).  I have run no other annual race more than that.  The past 2 years haven't gone very well, but this is one of the only races where that doesn't really matter to me.  I love racing at Franklin Park. For me, that's where it all started, back in high school and to go back there, where I've run so many great races and have so many good memories (from both h.s. and college), is just a treat in itself.  Whether I run good or bad, I just love getting back there at least once a year.  This year, this would be my only trip in there, due to other scheduled races conflicting with the New England Championships and Mayors Cup.

Jose and I got there in the nick of time (after having to park about 10 minutes + away).  I was the last guy that was allowed to register (literally less than 40 min before race time).  Jose and I dropped our stuff off over by the starting line and headed out for a couple mile warmup over the course.  The weather was perfect. Sunny, near 70, and the course was mud free.  We did a loop up around Bear Cage hill and headed back for the start.  I noticed a bunch of GBTC guys (as usual) and a large BAA group, including Terry Shea.  I spoke to Terry while doing some strides and he sounded awful.  He said he had been sick over the past week, but he was still my pick for the win.  We lined up next to the Merrimack boys and we were off.

Jose took it out hard and was in the lead after the first stretch up and over the first hill.  A pack of GBTC guys and NYIT runners were up front, with Jose and myself and maybe a couple other college guys.  I believe there was also an MIT guy up there as well.  I went through the 1 mile mark in 4:57 and was in the top 10. I remained in the same group, although it started to spread out a bit.  By 2 miles, it was pretty thinned out, but I was riding 9th or 10th with some NYIT runners.  Terry Shea had gone by me shortly before that and looked pretty strong.  He was picking off guys and I was watching from a distance.  I held my ground over the next couple miles and picked off a couple guys.  There may have been 1 or 2 guys that went by me as well, but strangely, I had a pretty big gap behind me (which usually never happens in these XC races at Franklin Park). I went through 4 miles in under 21, which gave my hope that I could get in under 26, but I still had Bear Cage (2nd loop) to go. Over the last 1.5 miles I was hanging onto Matt Haringa and stayed right with him until the bottom of Bear Cage, where I went by him and battled with a Westfield State runner right to the line.  I came in in 25:50 for 9th place, which is in line with what I was doing at this race 14 years ago when I was 18-19 years old.  So guess what...I'll take it!

Splits: 8k XC - 25:50

Mile 1: 4:57
Mile 2: 5:19 (10:16)
Mile 3: 5:14 (15:31)
Mile 4: 5:17 (20:49)
Mile 5: 5:01 (25:50)

Top 10 Overall (of 202 Finishers):

Ryan Place        
Greater Boston TC  
Terry Shea        
Boston Athletic    
Dan Smith         
Greater Boston TC  
Hemiagiri Arumugam
Mass. Institute    
Kevin Somers      
Greater Boston TC  
Daniel Rono       
New York Institu   
Devin Dilts       
Bates College      
Kibrom Temelso    
Greater Boston TC  
Jim Johnson       
Central Mass Str   
Jon Joyce         
Westfield State    

Codfish Bowl over the Years...

1995 - Place: 9th - Time: 25:42
1996 - Results lost over time...(comment if you have them...)
1997 - Place: 12th - Time: 25:48
1998 - Place: 6th - Time: 25:29
2007 - Place: 15th - Time: 27:21
2008 - Place: 27th - Time: 26:57
2009 - Place: 9th - Time: 25:50

After a cool down w/ Jose and the Merrimack College boys, we headed back up north.  I was on the fence about doing either a longer run on Sunday or going down to Nahant to do a 30k as a marathon paced tuneup effort.  I got home and headed over to Kevin Andriolo's (former UML teammate) house in Tewksbury for Joe Dunn's bachelor party.  I opted to not partake in the adult beverage drinking that was going on and to come back home early (9pm) to get some rest and do the Nahant race on Sunday morning.  To my surprise, when I got home at 9pm, I was locked out, with my house keys sitting right near the front door, but on the wrong side.  Kristin was out in western Mass for the weekend, so I had no choice but to break a window completely out to get in. After all the excitement, around 10:30pm, I was able to hit the sack.

Sunday: Nahant 30k (results) - Nahant, MA.  On Sunday, I woke up at 5am and headed down to Nahant, MA to run in the Nahant 30k, which would serve as my long run for the day and a marathon-paced training run with some other guys, rather than a solo long run at a slower pace.  The goal for the day was to try to run comfortable at around 6 minute pace for as long as I could.  I was actually thinking that with the course and weather they way they were, low 6s would be a good goal for a relatively comfortable tempo pace. Holding it for 18.6 miles in those conditions, with not really having planned it, was another story.

I got down to Nahant (which I believe was my first time down there) within an hour and was there early enough to see the first wave of runners go off (the 'Sunshine' start which included an additional 19 runners who opted to go earlier at a slower pace).  After I registered and said hello to Krissy K, I noticed Dan Verrington walking across the parking lot...I wasn't expecting any other CMS guys so that was a pleasant surprise.  Dan is also getting ready for Baystate and was there for the same type of effort that I was looking for.  I also noticed a load of GBTC guys (namely Tomoaki Uchiki), Martin Tighe (TNT), Mike Toomey (D2 All American XC at UML), and Marc LaBlanc (SISU) all warming up and knew there would be some boys to run with.  Dan and I warmed up just an easy 10 minutes and I went back over to the car to put my racing shoes and uniform on.  I had opted earlier to go with a regular long sleeve shirt and I had pinned my bib onto it ahead of time.  But when I got back over to the car, I changed my mind and threw my compression sleeves on and my CMS singlet (without the bib number on it).  I totally forgot to take the number and pin it to my singlet.  I headed over to the start and got on the line.  As the RD made a few announcements, he indicated that the race would be starting within 2 minutes and that 'all bib numbers should be pinned on the front...'.  I immediately looked down and noticed I had no number...I shouted a quick expletive and turned to jet back to the car to get my number.  I sprinted back and made it back to the car within a minute, and riffled through looking for my bib.  I found it and quickly threw my key in, slammed the door, not even locking it (with some clothes sticking out of the door) and booked it back to the start and made it back just in time.

As the race went off, I settled in behind a group of maybe 6 or 7 guys and really took it easy.  I knew it was going to be a long, wet, windy day and didn't want to even think about running fast until a few miles in.  As the first mile ticked through in 6:14, there was still a good pack of us together. Little did I know, that would be the slowest mile of the day.  I felt nice and comfortable, as I should, at that pace and talked a bit back and forth with Martin Tighe who was running right along side.  With Martin, was Tomoaki (GBTC), Luis Torres (GBTC), another GBTC guy, Dan Verrington, and a few others.  The next couple miles were just over 6 (6:02s) and again, it felt like a regular training run.  We were all talking back and forth and the pack started to thin out just a bit.  During the conversation, I mentioned to Martin that I had run the Codfish Bowl yesterday and immediately Luis Torres laughed and said he had also raced it.  It was apparently his first 8k.

Over the next couple miles, we picked up the pace a bit as the course weaved left and right and up and down...very VERY confusing and complex course for sure.  I'm not even sure the lead police vehicles (which were only on maybe 1/4th of the course) knew exactly where to go.  Take a peek at the course map listed above and hit the elevation to see how broken up and hectic the course is.  As we hit a few 5:40s over the next few miles, I announced that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to hold that pace, to which I got 3 other replies indicating that everyone was in agreement.  But for some reason, nobody slowed their pace.  It was just 4 of us at that point and everyone looked and sounded pretty relaxed and strong.  Every other turn on the course was confusing.  The police vehicles would only go so far and then stop to block intersections and then were were on our own.  Another would catch up and eventually take the lead again, but it seemed like it was every other mile or so, until maybe 8 or 9 miles, and then there was no police car at all.  Some of the volunteers who were on some of the less obvious turns, were preoccupied with the slew of other runners who were coming back in the opposite direction (we run against lapped runners for much of the course).  A bunch of times, we had to yell out to get their attention, to ask where to go.  It seemed like a very difficult race to put on logistically and I didn't envy the volunteers standing out there in the cold and rain for 4+ hours...

By mile 8 or 9, Luis started to fall off the back and soon it was down to 3 of us.  Martin, Tomoaki, and myself.  We worked well together over the next few miles, and around mile 12, we had just clicked off another few miles in the 5:50s.  The 11 mile mark was way short (making the 12th mile seem long), but the 12 mile mark seemed to be in the right spot, as the cumulative time made sense.  Right around mile 12, Tomoaki announced he was easing up the pace and soon he dropped back.  Martin seemed to react to that by picking up the pace a bit and I went along (reluctantly) because I felt comfortable running along side him.  We had a good back and forth discussion from time to time and I felt at ease matching his pace (for another couple miles).

By mile 15, Martin seemed like he wanted to break away a bit and he eventually did.  Shortly after 15, we were running along the beach near the start/finish area, to go up to the mainland turnaround and I told him I was rigging up a bit and that if he wanted to go, he could. He said ok, but tried to get me to come along.  I noticed that he started hammering and I just tried to keep the same pace.  Over the next mile, he stretched out to a pretty big lead on me (100 meters or so at one point).  By the turn around, up near mile 17, I had cut it down to maybe 20-30 meters by just keeping the same pace.  He had gone a bit too early and started to slow  right around mile 17.  One the way back, at around 17.5, I caught right back up on his shoulder and he looked over and said 'good job Jim, go ahead'... I got my second wind and started to break away.  Over the last mile, I opened up approximately a 50 second lead and cruised in just under 1:50, in 1:49:34 officially (5:53 pace).

Nahant 30k Splits (from my watch):

Mile 01: 6:14
Mile 02: 6:02 (12:17)
Mile 03: 6:02 (18:19)
Mile 04: 5:48 (24:07)
Mile 05: 5:42 (29:50)
Mile 06: 5:47 (35:38)
Mile 07: 5:53 (41:31)
Mile 08: 5:53 (47:24)
Mile 09: 5:56 (53:21)
Mile 10: 5:54 (59:15)
Mile 11: 4:47 (1:04:02)** Mile marker was short
Mile 12: 6:53 (1:10:56)** Previous mile marker was off
Mile 13: 5:44 (1:16:41)
Mile 14: 6:02 (1:22:43)
Mile 15: 5:41 (1:28:25)
Mile 16: 5:43 (1:34:09)
Mile 17: 5:49 (1:39:58)
Mile 18: 5:48 (1:45:47)
last .6: 3:45 (1:49:33)

Official time: 1:49:34 (5:52 pace) - 1st place of 171

Top 10 Overall (out of 171) - CMS in blue

Jim Johnson     
Salem        NH
Martin Tighe    
Providence   RI
Marc LeBlanc    
Natick       MA
Dan Verrington  
Bradford     MA
Tomoaki Uchiki  
JamaicaPlain MA
Steve Neri      
North Providence RI
Timothy Stickney
Brookline    MA
Zachary Laidley 
East Walpole MA
Mark Engerman   
Concord      MA
William Crabtree
Lexington    MA

I was very happy with the effort and was pleased at the way my body reacted after racing an 8k XC race the day before.  Over a very rolly and twisting course, and on a wet and windy day, I was able to go under my goal pace and feel pretty good doing it.  No real issues other than some minor hamstring pain (dull ache) around 13-14 miles.  That seemed to be a non-issue over the last few miles.

Check out the photos from the day by KrissyK.

For the win, I got a gift certificate for a free pair of Asics trainers and a beautiful framed photo, courtesy of  Kristen Kozlosky, of the Nahant Life Saving Station, that they are trying to raise money to restore.   Each finisher also gets a very nice finishers' medal.  On a side note, I believe this is my longest 'road' win.  I have won a 22.2 mile trail race (twice) but never anything over 10k on the roads (as far as I can tell). I've won a slew of 5ks and shorter races (5 milers) on the roads, and some trail/snowshoe/mountain/xc/track races, but never anything longer than 10k on the roads...and that 10k win came when I was only 17 years old (senior in high school) at a race in Needham.

Next up 'may' be Topsfield XC Festival this coming weekend, if I am recovered enough.  I am playing this week by ear and will make my decision later in the week.


  1. Nice going Jim,
    that course in Nahant is tricky and can be slow. It's one of my favorite runs although i have never raced it.

  2. Nice double. I talked to Martin on Monday and he confirms that the course is tough and confusing. Good job hanging in there long enough to get a second wind for the w.

  3. Joe and KG, thanks. Yeah, course was the most hectic I've seen. Good thing there is very light traffic out there on Nahant, otherwise it would have been a nightmare...Martin is one tough dude...big things for him in the marathon...sub 2:40 should be easy for him after that effort...

  4. KG, we've also got a CMS singlet for you when you want it ;)

  5. So based on your effort(s) you should also be under 2:40 for Bay State!