Monday, October 18, 2010

Baystate Marathon

(Updated - Monday - 4:12pm) Sunday was back up to Lowell for my much anticipated (but recently dreaded) return to the road marathon distance since my near miss at Boston in April.  This weekend's Baystate Marathon (results) served once again (3 years straight) as the USATF-New England Championship.  We had a strong team going in and I had some descent training aside from the last couple weeks, where my back was really bothering me.  I sought the guidance and eternal wisdom of Dave Dunham, who agreed back in the summer, to coach me through to the marathon this fall.  The reason I went to Dave was that he's been very successful in the past (qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in 1992 and 1996) at the marathon distance while still being able to race other races and continue on with his normal racing routine.  The reason I run is to race and compete.  Period.  I don't race for anyone else or to prove anything to anyone else but myself.  I run for the fun of it.  If I'm considered a 'recreational runner', so be it.  I run for the love of racing, planning races, going to races, being at races, writing about races, and thinking back about my racing experiences.  From 5ks to Ultras.  From the track to the trails to the roads to the mountains to the snow.  If it's an event where they say 'ok, you start here and you end there and you go from here to there as fast as you can, ok? GO', I'll be there.  I don't care if it involves running over rocks, snow, painted rubber, etc.  If it involves money or no money....  If it's in the sticks of VT or the streets of South Boston.... If there are 25 people or 25,000 people...  If I already ran a race that week or not....I don't care.  I usually don't let others 'idea' of what racing is or what training is, dictate my level of dedication or passion for the sport.  Running is running.  Racing is racing.  Period.  Dave understands this.  That's why I've looked up to him (even though I'm technically taller than he is) for so long.  He actually enjoys going against the grain and has been very successful in racing over all sorts of distance and disciplines all over the world... Most of the time, during the same calendar year... It's his attitude and accomplishments that attracted me to want to run for CMS and be part of it.  Our team is full of guys who just  feel basically the same way, and that's why I love what I'm doing.  There is no drama, no animosity, no disrespect.  There is only competing, winning, and having fun.  That's what we do.  I love being a part of it and had a tremendous appreciation for Dave's willingness to help me achieve one of my goals this fall.  I knew he could make me successful and most importantly, he would understand what I wanted to do, and he would understand that 1 race is not my entire 'year' or 'season'. I have no 'seasons'.  I have essentially one, and it goes from January to December.  There will always be the select few out there who still think that I'm crazy or that I'll burn out eventually, or that I am not living up to my true potential in any one race distance, etc.... but while those folks are busy racing only a few times a year, or being injured from overtraining, or going to a race they've waited 2 years for only to be disappointed, I will have raced 60+ times between then and now, and have enjoyed every waking moment of it all...met and shared moments with some great folks, had some good races and some bad, but I was out there competing..and I'll continue to do so....until my knees blow out ;) (which I'm fairly certain will be out in Western Mass somewhere ;) )....

Now to the race... After getting a massage on Thursday to try to salvage a last minute solution to my back problems, I headed over to Lowell with my sister Kristin, who was adding a second marathon to her recent resume of big racing.  She did Boston this year as her first marathon (running for a charity) and ran 4:18.  She's run the last 2 Mount Washington road races, the Baystate Half in 2009, and the Eastern States 20 miler this past March.  She doesn't mess around.  She cuts right to the chase and goes for the big distances and big events.  She was feeling pretty good about her training and I was not, but we both were sitting there in the Tsongas Arena, getting our stuff on, and trying to get psyched up for the race.  The morning was chilly (low to mid 40s) but sunny.  My back was no better than it had been, but it was too late for anything now.  I was going to attempt to run my desired pace for as long as I could, but I was honestly thinking that I would be bailing at half way if I could even make it that far.

We headed over to the start at 7:45 and I had to find a last minute place to pee before heading over to the line to meet my mates.  Justin Fyffe, Greg Hammett, Scott Leslie, Andy McCarron, Jim Pawlicki, and George Adams all found a spot right on the left hand corner of the staring area and we stood there as the entire field broke out into the singing of the National Anthem, after the announcing crew had explained that there was technical difficulties with the anthem audio track.  In an adhoc fashion, we all broke out into the song after there were a few folks in the crowd who shouted out 'just sing it, just sing it'. I thought that was a great moment in the sport. I was standing right next to Patrick Moulton (BAA), and that kid's got a good singing voice! ;)...

As the race went off, I was out stride for stride with Patrick and felt really honored to be up w/ guys like that and a few of the other folk, as we wound our way up to the first mile mark.  A few R.UN guys (Joseph Koech, Tom Casey, and Ben Ndaya) along w/ Jim St. Pierre (GLRR) and a couple others snuck up and past us.  For the first few miles, they were all ahead of Pat and I, and we both thought at least a few of them may be running the half, but some of them like Joseph and Ben, etc. were running the full marathon.  As the races split (just shy of the 3 mile mark), Pat and I both were shocked to see all 6 or so of the guys in front of us, take the right to go for the half marathon.  Pat looked at me and kind of laughed and said 'Looks like we're leading this race Jimmy'... I was shocked.  Not too long after, I found myself a few steps out front and then I found that by 5 miles or so, I was comfortably out front and had built up a 10 second or so lead on the pack.  I was in another world, looking around, seeing that everyone on the sidelines, cheering, were cheering for me.  The lead vehicle was right in front of me and I could hear the RD and others in the truck giving me was a great feeling. I knew it wouldn't last, but I had to enjoy it while I had the chance...I will always remember that... I was running slightly faster than my planned pace, but I felt great and smooth.  Dave had told me that he thought my pace should be 5:35.  He kept telling me that based on what he saw with my training and racing, that I should be able to run that pace. I never believed I could run that fast, but as the race went off, I figured I'd give it a go and if it happened, it happened...if not, there's always snowshoe season.

I ran out front completely until 7 miles.  Up until that time, I had only run 2 miles that were slower than my planned pace of 5:35, but one of those was the hilliest stretch of the race, and the other was only a tick over the time.  At 7 miles, the entire pack caught up to me, but I stayed out front.  They caught up, but seemed to adjust their pace a little.  I stayed at around 5:30ish and we started running as a big group. There were 7 of us....Me, Patrick, Terry Shea (BAA), Brandon Newbould (WRT and last year's winner), Ryan Carrara (NBB), Matt Helm (GSH), and Eric Blake (BAA).  After that, I couldn't seen anyone back within striking distance.  Somewhere before the 8 mile mark, there were a couple of landscaping timbers or something, that were sticking out in the street a little, and we were running so close together in a pack, that Terry Shea (running on the inside and in the tail end of the pack) tripped over it and went down hard.  I heard him yell out and go down.  We all turned quick and everyone let out a collective word of displeasure after seeing what happened.  Ryan C. had yelled to watch out for it, a split second before  Terry tripped.  I hadn't even noticed it was there, but Ryan saw it and tried to warn the guys behind him, but it was too late.  Terry continued to yell and shout out expletives back at the scene of the crime.  I think Eric stopped for him and we all continued on. I thought Terry's day was over, but he collected himself and continued on.  By the bridge near 8 miles, he was back up on us, which was great to see (even though it meant another guy back in the hunt that was obviously going to beat me ;) )...

I went back and forth in the pack for the next loop, staying right with everyone from 8 miles all the way up to the halfway point (over the Rourke Bridge) and then back over the Tyngsboro loop again.  I was mainly hanging right off the back of the lead pack and just trying to hit my 5:30ish pace...  Somewhere around 16 miles, Eric Blake pulled off to the side (that was planned) and started jogging.  He was out there to pace Terry and Patrick (having stopped for Terry when Terry fell, and stopping for Patrick at about 9 miles when Pat had to retie his shoe).  I was now in 6th place and feeling 'OK'... Suddenly (and funny enough, right as Dave Quintal rode past me on his bike yelling 'stay with this pack') I fell off the pack right around 17 miles.  It was quick.  I'd like to think that in addition to me slowing just a bit, the race really started there and the guys just started to pick it up and spread it out a bit.  I hit just a tick slower through 17, than my planned pace and then that was the last time I'd be close.  It got progressively slower just about every mile from there. I started to think about the time and try to do the math in my head.  I thought that if I could just run 6 minute pace for the last 10, I could 'crack' 2:30....but that would be easier said than done.  As I came through 20 miles at a few ticks under 1:51, I knew I was about 2 minutes or so faster through 20 than I was at Boston, but my legs were feeling much worse.   My breathing was completely fine and under control.  In fact, I almost couldn't help but laugh, thinking over the last 6 miles, that I wasn't even close to being in oxygen debt and I actually felt like I was on a nice easy run (cardio-wise), but my legs, hips, and back were NOT happy with me and were holding me back from any sort of respectable pace.  My hips got so tight and my lower back was stiff as a board.  My hamstrings and calves were hanging on by a thread and I was pretty sure over the last 6 miles, I'd be cramping for sure.  It would be a horrible end to a really great first part of the day.  I just kept waiting.

By 22, DQ rode back up past me, as did Scotty Graham, and they both indicated that Andy was about a minute back.  That was both good news and bad news for me.  The good news was that I knew Andy was running well and a lot stronger than me (if he was now only a minute back).  I wanted us to all be together and obviously wanted the team title.  The bad news was that I kept thinking that I had 4 miles to go and if he was back there, there'd surely be more where that came from....  I started thinking that I was either 1st or 6th/7th the entire race and now, because I was up in the 5:50s with my pace and struggling to hold on, that I'd not even finish in the top 10 and really screw up our chances of winning this thing.   I tried to push through as tough as I could, but my legs were seizing up on me.  My stride was shortening badly and I felt like I was turning to stone right before everyone's eyes.  I peered back a few times over the last LONG stretch along the river and saw Andy coming.   I managed to get up and over University Ave and make my way back down the VFW Highway, still in 6th, but as I clicked through 25 miles and 40k, Andy was right on my heels.  He went by me with authority, just as we turned onto the last bridge before the stadium.   I just tried to hang on, but was assured by folks around me, that there was no one else back there.  I peered at my watch and saw that somehow, someway, I was going to actually not only go under 2:30, but actually maybe be able to run under 2:28.  Instead of trying to outsprint Andy (which wouldn't work anyways) along the last stretch, I chose to stride it in at my current pace and not tweak my muscles any worse than they already were.  I was teetering on the edge of massive disaster and just tried to clip in at my close to 6 minute pace for the last mile around the warning track of the stadium.  I was all rigged up, but I was almost done and looked at my watch and up at the clock as I got close and just focused on the 2:27 and knew that Andy and I had done our part....I crossed the line and was just filled with emotion...I pumped my fist in the air a few times and yelled out as I approached Andy who turned to congratulate me as we had both just run PRs.  Literally seconds later, we both turned to see Scott Leslie coming into the finish line, a few ticks over 2:28 and only with one guy separating us (that guy NOT being a USATF-NE runner either).  That meant CMS went 6,7,9 overall, but 6,7,8 in NE competition.  That was enough to make me think we had it won, but I had to wait to see how BAA's third runner would fair.  Seeing they went 1,2 with two 2:24s, we'd have to hang onto the lead by having their 3rd runner finish a ways back...and that's fortunately (for us) how it went down.  We ended up winning our 2nd straight USATF-NE Marathon Title!

Photo above and below, courtesy of Krissy K.  Me, Andy, and Scott moments after we all finished (below):

Top 20 Plus CMS Men in Blue:

PlaceNameAgeClub/TeamCity/StateGun TimeNet TimePace
1PATRICK MOULTON    28BAAPROVIDENCE RI       2:24:412:24:38.25:32
2TERRY SHEA JR      36BAACAMBRIDGE MA        2:24:442:24:42.65:32
3BRANDON NEWBOULD   29WRTDOVER NH            2:25:052:25:03.15:33
4MATT HELM          24GSHLONGMEADOW MA       2:26:172:26:13.95:35
5RYAN CARRARA       34NBBHUDSON MA           2:27:112:27:07.75:37
6ANDY MCCARRON      27CMSKEENE NH            2:27:262:27:22.95:38
7JIM JOHNSON        33CMSSALEM NH            2:27:362:27:33.75:38
8JEFF SCOVILL       36MINNEAPOLIS MN      2:28:022:27:58.15:39
9SCOTT LESLIE       29CMSRUTLAND MA          2:28:162:28:13.45:40
10DANIEL MCCUE      33CAMBRIDGE MA       2:28:342:28:30.6 5:41
11DAVID NASH        29JERSEY CITY NJ     2:29:502:29:46.4 5:43
12TOM DEEG          29WRTEASTHAM MA         2:30:102:30:08.2 5:44
13TIMOTHY CATOGGIO  25RUNSOUTH_BOSTON MA    2:32:542:32:51.6 5:51
14JASON PORTER      40WRTBEDFORD NH         2:33:442:33:41.5 5:52
15TITUS MUTINDA     45RUNLOWELL MA          2:34:072:34:05.6 5:53
16MARK HUDSON       33WRTREADING MA         2:34:192:34:17.3 5:54
17GREG HAMMETT      33CMSCHESTERFIELD NH    2:34:342:34:31.4 5:54
18JEFF EDMONDS      33NASHVILLE TN       2:35:582:35:54.2 5:58
19MARK GIBSON       43WRTDURHAM NH          2:36:192:36:16.6 5:58
20GEORGE ADAMS      40CMSGILSUM NH          2:37:242:37:20.2 6:01
26JIM PAWLICKI      36CMSBEVERLY MA         2:40:042:40:01.16:07
30KEN TRIPP         40CMSAMESBURY MA        2:40:282:40:25.06:08
35DAN VERRINGTON    48CMSBRADFORD MA        2:43:062:43:03.3 6:14
79DAVE DUNHAM       46CMSBRADFORD MA        2:58:062:58:02.46:48
131ERNIE BRAKE      49CMSACTON MA          3:07:183:07:05.57:09
298DAVID HARPER     43CMSLEOMINISTER MA    3:20:473:20:25.77:39
331KEVIN FALLON     42CMSW.BOYLSTON MA    3:22:463:22:32.37:44
372JOSEPH ALFANO    44CMSHOLDEN MA         3:25:443:24:00.17:48
424EDWARD COLEMAN   48CMSAUBURN MA         3:28:543:28:39.27:58
1098BOB TOMCZYK     46CMSSTERLING MA      4:10:414:09:27.89:32
1141PHILIP DINSKY   62CMSFRAMINGHAM MA    4:15:234:14:46.19:44
1339MATTHEW GRIGAS  51CMSMILBURY MA       4:37:274:36:23.410:33

1564 Total Finishers.

2:27:23 2:27:34 2:28:14 (2:34:32) (2:37:21) = 7:23:11

2:24:39 2:24:43 2:37:55 (2:41:41) (2:47:04) = 7:27:17
2:25:04 2:30:09 2:33:42 (2:34:18) (2:36:17) = 7:28:55
2:26:14 2:40:20 2:52:08 (2:56:28) (3:10:04) = 7:58:42
2:32:52 2:34:06 2:53:09 = 8:00:07
2:37:57 2:40:15 2:44:37 (2:58:45) (3:05:30) = 8:02:49

This solidifies us as 2nd place overall in the 2010 USATF-NE Grand Prix. The top 4 teams play out like this:

10M 13.1M 12K   5K   8M  10K 26.2M PTS
BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION     15   18   15   15   13   14   13     103
CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS           14   16   16   13   12   13   12      96
WHIRLAWAY RACING TEAM           12   15   13   12   11   12   11      86
GREATER BOSTON TRACK CLUB       13   14   12   14   10   11           74

Greater Boston was lucky that they had enough ground on the next few teams that they could get away with not fielding a complete team at Baystate and still not lose any ground in the standings...

Splits in case you are interested in how it all went down....
** botched my watch for the first 2-3 seconds (almost false-started) so the cumulate times were a couple seconds off from the overall time was a couple seconds faster each split.

Mile 1) 5:31
Mile 2) 5:23 (10:57)
Mile 3) 5:30 (16:27)
Mile 4) 5:30 (21:58)
Mile 5) 5:28 (27:26)
Mile 6) 5:37 (33:03)
Mile 7) 5:22 (38:26)
Mile 8) 5:36 (44:02)
Mile 9) 5:31 (49:34)
Mile 10) 5:33 (55:08)
Mile 11) 5:26 (1:00:34)
Mile 12) 5:27 (1:06:02)
Mile 13) 5:30 (1:11:32)
Mile 14) 5:29 (1:17:01)
Mile 15) 5:30 (1:22:32)
Mile 16) 5:33 (1:28:05)
Mile 17) 5:36 (1:33:42)
Mile 18) 5:40 (1:39:23)
Mile 19) 5:45 (1:45:08)
Mile 20) 5:48 (1:50:57)
Mile 21) 5:51 (1:56:48)
Mile 22) 5:57 (2:02:46)
Mile 23) 5:51 (2:08:37)
Mile 24) 5:54 (2:14:32)
Mile 25) 5:52 (2:20:24)
Mile 26) - missed last mile split but last 1.2 was 7:13 (which evens out to near 6 min + a 1:13 last .2...
Finish: 2:27:36 on my watch... 2:27:33 Net.

There were many folks out there taking photos.  Some of these I've used in the post were from Tom Derderian, Mia Edwards, Krissy Kozlosky, and Scott Mason.

Full sets can be found here:

Photos: Krissy K
Photos: Scott Mason

I know MQ took some video and there were a lot of photos taken from the lead truck (as I was right behind it for miles)...I'll link those up as I find them being posted online...

To add to my exciting day, my sister Kristin shocked not only me, but herself and everyone else on the planet, as she qualified for the 2011 Boston Marathon with a 3:49:18!!!  She was (ahem) thinking she'd run around 4:10 or so.  She not only had a bad cold, but also a wrenched neck...and she still pulled off a BQ time and cruised to a 29 minute marahon PR!!!  You can see by our faces, we are shocked at the news!...Needless to say, we both registered for Boston today...we'll see how it goes....

Lastly, a nice mention from everybody's favorite Seacoast race announcer, Andy Schachat... in his column this week in Fosters Daily Democrat he writes:

How about this from last week's New Hampshire running scene? On Oct. 9, Salem's Jim Johnson won the UNH Homecoming 5K while Heidi Nadeau of Portsmouth won the Celebrate Pink 5K. Also, Dover's Dan Poliquin was an award winner at the UNH race. On Saturday Johnson got married while Nadeau and Poliquin got married on Sunday.

The full article is here:


  1. Big game Jimmy, big game. That must have been a surreal trip out in front for quite a long while. Not that you aren't used to winning, but in a marathon with guys who run 2:15 it is quite an accomplishment.

    Congrats to your sister as well! That's freaking awesome!

    When did Burberry sign you as a sponsored athlete?

  2. Jim your not too shabby of a singer yourself. I think we should collaborate and come out with a record some day. Congrats on the PR!

  3. " I have no 'seasons'. I have essentially one, and it goes from January to December. "

    -- or more specifically, perhaps, Jan1 to Dec31?

    Great, great write up. Your opener paragraph to this entry was fantastic, and so very appropriate to cap off the GP series (which for your schedule is just a fraction of your "season"). While I might tend to be more of the infrequently-racing guys you describe, it does not change the fact that I love your 100% passion for your pure competitive love of this thing we do. And that you appreciate all aspects of it, notably doing this alongside with friends both close as well as mere acquaintances.

    You asked me pre-race what I hoped to run and I said "2:27:39 or faster". Maybe I had my own reasons for something so specific, or maybe I just said that to put it out there that you were going to run at least that, and to get things going off the line?

    - yeah that Moulton, a real rock star. Watched him rock the house at the Paradise earlier this year. "Very Loud" was one of his bests.

    Congrats Jim. And take it easy man (at least for another 5 days).


    I am sending you an email...

  4. Casey-- Hurtin Bombs! C'mon...just 48 hours...for just 48 hours bring it back....BRING IT BACK!!

  5. haha...I remember those bombs!

    Terry, I forgot all about that time prediction until just now! about freaky...nice job predicting my race ;)...

  6. Jim, awesome race... and really the coolest looking guy on the starting line.

  7. Nice job Jim! Just keep on doing what you're doing. It's obviously working for you. Unlike that hat. :)

  8. Congrats Jim! That sounds like a pretty insane performance but not that unexpected based on how you've been running this year. Another great post...thanks for sharing!


    P.S. Nice lid!

  9. Agree with Terence - your opening paragraph is powerful and compelling.

    And oh yeah, then there is this marathon PR thing. Damn nice man. Well done.

  10. Nice race! I like your philosphy for running and racing.

  11. Way to hang tough Jim. When I was riding along side of you around mile 21 your pace was quick and light. You may have had doubts at that time but your body sure didn't show any signs. Congrad's on the PR. See you in Boston (from a distance that is).

  12. Congrats, JJ!! Nice race and write-up as always!

  13. Sounds like you were on Edge City there, man. Way to go. So psyched to see you go sub 2:30, esp after the 2:30.00 @ Boston. I'm going to reread this post before my next marathon. That's how you do it. Great job. CMS won the marathon title. How cool is that?

  14. Congrats Jim. Thats a solid race, and just gets me more pumped to finally get a shot at running that distance.