Friday, November 4, 2011

Cape Cod Marathon

The blog has been stale lately and it's just that I have a lot going on here and most of it doesn't involve serious running or racing...I have to make some changes and get back into gear, but for now, I'll just discuss my marathon down at the Cape this past weekend.

For starters, the obvious point is that I'm not in marathon shape and have been hurt since just after Pisgah in the last month and a half has been filled (or should I say not filled) with mediocre running, days off, pain and stiffness, and very limited miles.  Almost no races except a trail race and a couple DNFs, and certainly no hard efforts that would have prepared me for a road marathon.  But I did it because I'm stubborn and because I knew I had an outside shot of at least running near 6 minute pace or at least near 2:40 off of limited fitness...that is, IF I could finish without my calf tearing on me.   This is the most 'out of shape' I've been since I got back to serious running and racing.  But I didn't want to let an opportunity to maybe help my team win another marathon title (if they needed me) and secure the USATF-NE Grand Prix Overall Team Championship (the 19th in the 26 year history of the Grand Prix).

I decided to give the GP a go essentially also to be able to try to stay on par with Greg Hammett, who won our internal CMS grand prix last year and was right behind Andy McCarron and I this year.  Andy was stopped at 73 points because he had to have surgery. So if I didn't do the marathon, I'd also be stuck at 73 points, and Greg would jump ahead of us (him being at 67 points) because not only would there surely be enough CMS MORT members at the race to get that many points, but also because the points for the marathon are DOUBLE.  We offer double points for the longer race to entice folks to enter. I think this is a good move, but it kills guys like Wiles-Thing because they 'think' they can't run 26.2 measly miles ;).  The difference between finishing 1st and 2nd is not worth too much, but any time there is a series or internal/external competition in a series, I can't seem to get away.

I rode down to the Cape Cod Marathon (results) with Dan Verrington the morning of the race and we got a very early start (5:15am from Salem, NH).  I was up at 4 (after going to bed at probably around 1am and getting very spotty sleep).  The weather was awful, with the October snowstorm happening as we made our way down to the Cape.  We made good time however, and got down there in time to hobnob with the rest of the CMS guys who were running.  We had a solid team toeing the line, with Scott Leslie (3rd for us at the Marathon last year with a 2:28:13), Greg Hammett (who has been a scorer for us all year), Patrick Rich (my darkhorse for winning this entire thing), George Adams (one of our top master's runners), Dan Verrington (another top master with a 2:21 PR), Scott McGrath (in his marathon debut), and Sam Wood (also, I believe his first marathon).  I felt confident in the squad and knew with Leslie, Rich, and Hammett, we'd be fine without me factoring in to the scoring.

After some last minute prep and too many trips to the bathroom (which was scaring me), I pinned on my #4 bib (which was almost comical at this point) and headed over to the line on a cold and slightly windy morning.

After some strides, we were off and I was immediately toying with 10th place or so as I was completely content with letting everyone who was trying to go for a legitimate time, go on ahead.  I stayed side by side with Greg Hammett for the first few miles as a slew of R.UN guys, a BAA guy, Patrick Rich, and a couple others headed out in a couple of groups.  Greg and I hit the first mile way too quick (for my plan) and the next couple were also fast.  I told him I was backing off to around 6 minute pace and let him go on ahead.  Scott Leslie pulled up and went around me as did Kevin Alliette.  My first 6 miles were all under 6 minutes which isn't what I was looking for (because I knew that was going to sink me later).

During mile 6 I suddenly got another stomach fairy visit and decided for the first time ever in a race of any distance, to stop and use the bathroom.  I hit a porta-john right before the 7 mile mark as I was fading fast from seeing Scott and Greg ahead of me.  I dipped in, did my business, and hopped back out.  I may have lost 30-45 seconds or so.  As I stepped out onto the road, George Adams had caught me and was about to pass.  He asked if I was OK as he pulled up along side me.  We ran together for another mile or so before he started to pull away.  That would be the last individual marathoner that would pass me the entire race.  Other than Alliette and Leslie and Adams, everyone else ahead of me was ahead of me essentially at the start.

After the slow7th mile, I dropped back to a few 6 minute miles again and at one point, as I was trailing George Adams for a while, I came around a corner to find Greg Hammett popping out of the woods right in front of me.  He had stopped himself for a bathroom break but quickly picked up the pace again and was off.  Shortly after that, the same thing happened again, but this time it was Justin Freeman who popped out of the woods.  It didn't take him long to once again get out of sight.

By mile 10, I was in no man's land.  I came through in 59:17 for 10 and it was rather bizarre.  I never would have thought I would be that slow, but it was happening and what was also happening was bigtime tightness and soreness in my calves and hamstrings.  I was beginning to really struggle and wanted to make sure I wasn't going to have that same massively painful issue with my calf again (like I had at the Winni race).  I had been really holding back because of my calf but now it was starting to be an issue (or at least I thought it was at the time) and I really took it easy on the rolling hills.  I started running between 6:10-6:15 for the next 5 miles.

From mile 10 to mile 13 I had major thoughts about dropping out.  I could hardly see George Adams on the long lonely stretches ahead of me and there was no one to be seen behind me.  I was hurting really bad from top to bottom.  My breathing was OK, but my mechanics were suffering and I started to fall apart all over the place.  I was  holding firm in the low 6's but it wasn't getting any easier.  I was 1:18 through 13 and really thought I was going to only be good for 15 or so.

I continued on, for the next few miles with the same thoughts of my calf going at any time.  I was figuring that as soon as it started to really go on me, I would pull off, find a ride back and be done with it.  But the next thing I knew, I was at mile 17.  That was a big moment for me because I knew at that point I'd probably be able to get through it (for the first time all day).  I thought to myself 'I can muscle out another 9 miles'....but in the back of my mind I knew what my calf felt like a few weeks ago and knew nothing was a sure thing.

Somewhere during the 19th mile, I turned and looked to finally see someone behind me.  It took me a bit to realize that it was Scott McGrath (CMS) who was running me down in his first marathon.  Scott had been running only about 40 or so miles a week and wasn't coming into this super fit, but then again, I was not in top form either and he was running me down quick.  He pulled along side me somewhere maybe around 20 miles or so.  It was rather strange because neither one of us were hurting cardio-wise... but my fitness is definitely junk and my legs and hips were turning to stone.  We chatted for a bit and he told me that he had dropped a 5:49 or something like that, to catch me.  He said there was a pack of 4 or 5 about a minute or so back as well.  He pulled away a bit as I told him he was running great and to go catch George Adams.  He then told me that he had been cramping all over and that I should just come with him.  I thought for a second and figured why the hell not.  So I picked it up a bit and stayed with him.  We climbed a hill and up to a water stop.  As he broke left, I went right and I noticed he stopped completely at the water stop.  I ran through the other side and missed a cup as the one woman on the right, pulled it back mistakenly and I missed it.  I ran right through and down the hill.  Scott lagged behind a bit but once out onto the main road and up another climb, he caught back up to me.  As we turned right onto the road that eventually would wind up to the lighthouse, we were side by side....until the start of the downhill....all of the sudden I heard 'OH GOD' and I looked back to see Scott stopped dead in his tracks.  He was in full cramp mode and stopped right in the middle of the street.  I kept plugging and another minute or so I looked behind and he was no where to be found.

At the end of that strip of road, and up near the lighthouse, I looked back again to actually see, for the first time, the pack of runners.  They were too close for comfort.  I knew they were gaining and I had all I could do to keep moving.  I passed Scotty Mason, who was snapping shots at the lighthouse and he offered me some encouragement as I started running through the first of what would be a few flooded street sections.  My hips and lower back and calves and hamstrings and ass and feet and ankles and toes and knees and everything else you can think of was killing me.  I also became very aware of some (ahem) chaffing that was beginning in areas I won't even begin to discuss.

I hit miles 22, 23, etc. Just doing the shuffle.  I slammed 2 gels in a row (my only 2 I took) and started to feel a little better.  When I hit 24, I started running with my head on backwards, waiting for the pack to catch me.  I knew that Scott was out of the picture and now, my hopes of finishing at least looked good, but my hopes of winning the internal GP looked to be going the way of a tie, with Greg most likely having caught Scott Leslie and George Adams being behind Greg as well (but in front of me). I had to stay 3 places or better behind Greg.  Any more and I would have gotten pushed to 2nd in the CMS GP standings.  If I finished 3 CMS places behind Greg, we tie.  I figured at the very worst, it was a tie and I was kind of bummed I wasn't helping the team score, but I knew, barring a R.UN victory, we would have it in the bank with 4 CMS guys up ahead of me.  I also knew that we were going to beat Whirlaway and we had won the overall GP Team Title for 2011. I was pumped.  Lots of emotions running through my mind, but trumping all of that was my wheels blowing apart all over the tarmac.

As miles 24 and 25 ticked by along the ocean, the streets began to get flooded with water...a few inches deep or more in spots.  I slammed right through and passed a lot of people cheering on the sides.  I kept looking back and the pack was lingering. I could make out the singlets was getting close.

I hit a left turn onto a side street and I was now in the last full mile of the race.  I knew for the first time I wouldn't lose a spot and thought I was in 15th place at the time.  I figured I would hold it and it wasn't bad for a GP, but in the back of my mind I was really sad because had I come into this fit and healthy and trained, I could have had an outside shot.  I knew it.  But it wasn't to be and I gave it my best as I hit mile 26. Literally clicking my split on my watch through the 26 mile marker, my hamstring cramped up on me fully and I stiff-legged it over the last .2, through the streets of Falmouth to the finish.

When I came across I was surprisingly fine and not cramping at all.  I was able to walk around, congratulate my mates, and got the GREAT news from Greg Hammett that we had not only won the title, but Patrick Rich won the WHOLE THING!  I wish I could say I was shocked, but I wasn't. I was just absolutely thrilled.  It made my day.  It could not have happened to a nicer, more deserving man and I was elated for him.  It must have been really special coming down that last stretch, winning the race, the New England Championship title, and an extra 1500 beans doesn't hurt either!

I wandered around a bit before heading back to the school and to Dan's truck, where him and I sat and got warm for a bit before heading inside to hit the showers to wash the chill off.  Dan finished a little behind me in 2:48 and Scotty was a bit further back, having had to stop for 4-5 minutes to take care of his cramp.  Sam Wood also finished strong in his first full marathon as well.  Sam has won some big races in New England and NH especially in the past and is getting back into form.

Top 20 Plus CMS MORT Members in Blue

1Patrick Rich      35S. Hamilton MA   2:28:542:28:545:41CMS  
2Hari Iyer         23Cambridge MA     2:31:002:30:595:46BAA  
3Kevin Alliette    30Methuen MA       2:34:212:34:205:54WHIRL
4Tom Deeg          30Eastham MA       2:35:022:35:015:55WHIRL
5Justin Freeman    34New Hampton NH   2:35:512:35:505:57RUN  
6Eneas N. Freyre   35Norwalk CT       2:36:122:36:125:58
7Greg Hammett      34Chesterfield NH  2:36:462:36:465:59CMS  
8Danilo Cordeiro   30Melrose MA       2:37:292:37:286:01RUN  
9Bryan Morseman    26Addison NY       2:37:542:37:546:02
10Scott Leslie      30Rutland MA       2:38:022:38:026:02CMS  
11David Ndungu      32Worcester MA     2:38:562:38:566:04RUN  
12George Adams      41Gilsum NH        2:40:202:40:206:07CMS  
13Titus Mutinda     46Lowell MA        2:41:282:41:286:10RUN  
14Jim Johnson       34Salem NH         2:42:292:42:296:12CMS  
15Jonathan May      42Charlestown MA   2:43:412:43:396:15SRR  
16Robert Cipriano   51Belmont MA       2:43:432:43:426:15SRR  
17Joe O'Leary       43Medford MA       2:43:482:43:466:15SRR  
18Jon Chesto        40S. Boston MA     2:44:222:44:206:17GBTC 
19Jim St. Pierre    40Dracut MA        2:45:192:45:186:19RUN  
20Eric Beauchesne   41Chelmsford MA    2:46:052:46:056:21WHIRL
22Dan Verrington    49Bradford MA      2:48:132:48:136:25CMS  
35Scott McGrath     24Andover MA       2:55:042:55:036:41CMS  
48Sam Wood          25Laconia NH       3:03:023:03:016:59CMS  

909 Total Finishers.

News Article from Cape Cod Online

What I took away from this was renewed confidence in myself that I can run/race on this calf and I shook some demons out for sure by just finishing this thing. It's been a tough couple months (really since the Netherlands) and I was just glad to go down there under tough conditions and circumstances and finish the race.  I now know my calf isn't THAT serious if I can run 6:12s on it for 26.2 miles.  I am hoping to continue to build up fitness and work on my conditioning.  It's going to be a long road back but the timing is good (except for missing out on all the loot that the Cape had to offer).  There really isn't a whole lot going on between now and snowshoe season.  Mill Cities will be fun and hopefully I will be fit by then.  All in all I just really had a ton of fun being part of the marathon and being there to see my teammates and friends run great.  Those guys made me proud down there.  That's what CMS is all about to me.  Good mates who got your back and guys who just go and get it done.


  1. Dude, that effort isn't bad at all. It's pretty damn impressive considering you haven't been at your best lately. You'll be in line to win Baystate next year (or Cape).

  2. if i'm in line to win Baystate or Cape, that is only because you are not running them AGAIN! When is the debut?

  3. Dude - 2:42 compromised like that. Sheesh! Way to gut it out. Get well, and look forward to the snow shoe reports.

  4. Thanks GZ. Mt. Wash lotto opens 3/1/12. I still got your shoes.