My first race in about six months was the Merrimack River Trail Race in April. It's the first race in the Grand Tree Trail Race Series and always draws a fast field of runners. This was my third time running the 'rivah' and also my slowest finish. Not all things improve with age. I went out faster than I should have but felt strong the entire 10 miles. I even managed to run all the uphills, a rare occurrence of late. My knee started hurting about two miles from the finish but I was able to maintain pace to the end. I thought I was capable of breaking two hours but when I saw the clock read 1:49:11 I was pleasantly surprised. My racing season was off to a good start.
Running through the 2 inch deep water would have been easier and faster but someone put this log obstacle in the way.
Up to this point I had been doing 4-6 mile training runs 2-3 times per week. Running low mileage doesn't prepare you for longer races but buoyed by my performance at Merrimack, I decided to run a half marathon at the TARC Spring Classic two weeks later. It was a cold, wet morning but I'd rather run in those conditions than heat and humidity. I knew I was in for long day so I positioned myself at the rear of the starting field and went out at a very conservative pace. I found myself in a long conga line of runners stretched before me on twisting single-track. As the race progressed I worked my way through the field, slowly picking up the pace. I ran my fastest miles over the last 5K and finished in a respectable 2:46 for the 13.5 mile course. I was hoping to break three hours so I was very pleased with my result.
Oh, and I saw John Fegyversi, the 13 finisher of "The Barkley" on his way to a 3rd place finish in the marathon. John seems like a super nice guy and I would have liked to have spoken with him after the race but I didn't hang around in the rain once I finished. I did shout "GO LAKEWOOD!" to him on an out-and-back section of the course which seemed to startle him a bit. He was in the zone so sorry about that John.
Start of the TARC Spring Classic. (Photo from John Fegyversi's blog. Arrow points to him.)
My work schedule prevents me from running the weekly Lynn Woods Races on Wednesday evenings but I manged to make it to four races in May and June. These races are a great way to get in some faster mid-week running. Race Director Bill Mullen does a great job varying the race course and distance each week. Just like the past two races, I was surprised how fast (for me) I ran the shorter 5-6 mile races. I was knocked down a peg when a ran the 10 mile "Baby Barkley" on a warm and humid night and finished dead last. I'm sure it won't be my last DFL finish.
I've never been a fan of summer running so I shifted my focus to cycling more and running less. I was in the planning stages for my first bike tour so I needed to get more time in the saddle anyway. Of course I didn't do enough riding to prepare myself, but in late August I departed for the long journey. Unfortunately, symptoms from my winter knee injury returned on the first day of the tour. I tolerated the pain as it worsened for three days, enjoying my ride though Massachusetts, New Hampshire and into Maine. When I reached Portland, I decided to cut the tour short. I didn't want to cause further damage to my knee which could impact my running in the fall which is my favorite time of year to run. This tour was the most fun I had all year and I will definitely attempt another tour next summer.
About to depart with too much weight on the bike!
Riding the rail trail in Topsfield MA.
Crossing the bridge from Newburyport to Salisbury, MA
This is the way to enjoy summer.
Beautiful sunset on my first night.
A crazy flock of birds swarming me.
Crossing the bridge from Salisbury, MA to Hampton, NH
View from Odiorne Point in Rye, NH
Crossing the bridge from Portsmouth, NH to Kittery, ME
Come join me!