JFK 50 Miler

Feb 28th, 2010 - Race - Haverhill, MA - 3

Day 59 - What a day of racing on the final day of February!

Fil and I found ourselves out in Haverhill for the first race in the Wild Rover series (3 Miler), Glenn S. was down south in the Big Easy for a rare below sea level marathon, and pretty much every other running club member was "snow shoeing" out in Amherst, MA for the 1st grand prix race of the season at the Jones 10 Miler.

I was a little disappointed about not being able to make it out to Amherst to represent GLRR in my nifty new singlet, but I knew that there was still a good time to be had at the 3 miler. Going with the shorter race today was probably the smarter move considering all of the races that I've already competed in so far this year.


My goals going into this race was to finish in the top 5 and run at least a 17:30. The goals were based on last year's race results, and also how I felt going into this race. Sandbagger Fil wanted to run a sub 20 (way to set the bar high, Fil!).

The start of the Haverhill race was at the unusual hour of 1PM, so it was tricky preparing for a race this late in the day. I slept in and woke up at 9AM, and had a light breakfast with expectations to refuel with a light snack about an hour before the race. Rachel decided to hit the gym (news flash!) so I went with her, but I just did some free-weights for the upper body and, best of all, sit in the pool and jacuzzi to relax the muscles.

I left the gym and waited for Fil to pick me up at the apartment (again). It was already past 12PM when we left Lowell to drive the 30 minutes to Haverhill. It was going to be another last minute arrival. My heart can't take much more of these!

We knew race parking was going to be a pain as the start area is in downtown Haverhill. Simple equation to remember: Downtown + popular road race + last minute = NO PARKING! Fortunately, we came across our first familiar face of the day (John Burke of Baystate Race Services), and he directed us towards a parking area 2 minutes from the bar.

Fil and I quickly got our race gear on, and there was no need to warm up as our heart rate was already sky high! We arrived at the starting line as The Star-Spangled Banner was wrapping up. I removed my warm-up jacket and gave it to John for safe keeping (Thanks, John!). That was when I finally unveiled the new GLRR racing singlet and shorts, but I did hear one "ewwwwww" from the peanut gallery. I found out it was due to my pale, white thighs and not because of the new GLRR colors. Phew!

There was hardly any time to size up my competition before the starting gun went off, but I did see Tom O., Bob R., Eric M, Matt S., Cullen M., and Jimmy C. This was going to be a blast!!!

I took off with the lead pack, but quickly backed off just a tad as I've learned that lesson all too well. Half mile into the race and it was just me and five others, with Jimmy directly in front of me by about five seconds. Jimmy and I were in this order heading into the first and only major hill 3/4th's of a mile into the race. I managed to keep my pace on target  as I crossed mile 1, at the crest of the hill, in 5:48.

After the hill, the course began to unwind downwards, but I was unable to get the leg turnover that I wanted. Did I go out too fast? Am I burning out already, halfway through the race?! Jimmy began to make his move and pulled away from me, leaving me adrift in sixth place, and still one position from my goal. Jimmy ended up in 3rd with an impressively well-paced run.

Mile #2 came and went for me in 11:35, giving me a 5:47 second mile! This also gave me a huge psychological boost as I was doing better than I felt. I typically lose a little time in my pace at this point in most 5K's, so to see a negative split (albeit 1 second) at this point was a huge bonus.

It even got a little hairy crossing over the final bridge shortly after mile 2. This short stretch of bridge was covered in small, square (about 4x4x4 inch) grooves that wreaked havoc on my Newtons. I lost a little bit of time here, but fortunately, the final stretches of the 3rd mile consisted of two long, flat stretches of straight road. I knew that I had a good shot at the 5th place runner, but would have to make up about a five second gap, and then continue to keep it in overdrive to keep that position. Timing my final surge was going to be key.

I so desperately wanted to make my move, but I just couldn't muster the energy to do so...until I saw another familiar face at the 2.85 mile mark! It was Jim S., GLRR track coach extraordinaire! He was out on the course directing traffic and cheering on the runners. All I needed to hear from Jim was, "Jason, pump your arms faster, just like in track!"

Man, what a bleeping difference!

I pumped the arms and easily blew past 6th place and right into 5th place! I could finally see the orange road cones leading into the finish area, and kept the pedal to metal (thank you track workouts!). I took the hard right turn and crossed the awkwardly placed finish line in 17:12! The 6th place runner finished 1 second behind me! That's shorter than the time that it took you to read this sentence!

I was completely drained, but the exhilaration of meeting and surpassing my goals easily overcame my total exertion. Phew!

John quickly greeted me with my jacket and a congratulations. RD and timer, Dave Camire, greeted me with a great line, "Come see me after you're done puking". After regaining my composure, John and I walked back to the finish line to cheer on the rest of the runners.

Fil finished in 18:52, but even with a 1 minute penalty for sandbagging, he still finished under his goal time of 20 minutes! Nice job, dad!

Wild Rover #1 Results - Great job by all 806 finishers!

That makes it three big races in-a-row where I have finished in the top 10 and 1st in my age group. This is one streak that I'd love to continue!

Next up is the Wild Rover #2 (4 Miler) at the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence and the EVIL HILL FROM HELL!

And now for something completely different...well, not really...I just wanted to use the Monty Python line.

Here's Glenn's write-up of his marathon run (I am not responsible for what Glenn says in his post, except I wish I could take credit for his great usage of "walnut rot" and "butt rot" ((why didn't I think of that!))):

Bottom Line: 3:25:05 Preliminary results are 251st overall, 7th old fart (or Peter Whallen says - the pickled prostate division).

I'm not as good at this a Jason
(don't be so modest, Glenn) - but here goes...

The A goal was to start with 4 miles at 7:45 pace and then run the rest at 7:30 and finish in aboout 3:18. Seemed like a good plan at the time.

Today was the debut for the new GLRR race uniform. The guys running the Jones 10 Miler finished before me, but I started earlier (8AM EST) - so my race is the true debut!

The 1st four miles went by in 30:58 - on plan - sort of - it included a 30s pee stop (as Forest said so eloquently “when you gatta go, you gotta go, so I went”). So I was too fast over the 1st four. The next four was covered in 29:56 – right on schedule. Miles 9 to 12 – I’m feeling good, maybe too good. I rush through it a little too quickly in 29:41. For 13 to 16 – I’m still feeling OK, but some cracks are starting to show. I run this 4 mile block in 30:22.

Part of the problem (for me) at this point in the marathon is staying focused in strong effort. I tend to start wandering mentally. It was not that big a problem today, but has really cost me in the past.

During miles 17 to 20 the cracks start spreading. My back is getting very tight. Although I gut out 30:41 for this block – I already know I’m sailing into choppy water (how’s that for mixed metaphors). The last full block – miles 21 to 24 confirm that sub 3:20 is off the table. Every mile gets slower as I run the block in 32:49 (losing almost 3 full minutes). At this point as I pass each mile marker I’m trying to calculate what I need for 3:25, which is my B goal for today. Even that is starting to look difficult. Mile 24 is run at 3:28 pace, which although my mind is fogging – knows won’t cut it. I’m able to get to 3:20 for Mile 25, but Mile 26 goes on and on and on… taking 8:34 – yikes this is going to be close.

I’m relieved when I round the final bend and I see 3:24 on the big clock. I finally know I’ll make it.

This was a test run – so I got some answers – I need to get stronger to carry my pace through the last 6 miles. All in all, I’m pleased. My effort level throughout the race was very good. I lost focus a few times, but never for more than about 2 minutes. Not too much damage – a bit of walnut rot (not much) and (oddly) some butt rot (that has happened to me, but not often) and a blistered toe.

After the race, I sat in the hotel pool for about 15 minutes. The pool is a roof top deal, and it was cold! Probably about 50 degrees. So my legs seem pretty decent.

That’s about it… other than to leave you with today’s theme song by Dr John. It’s a Cajun classic – perhaps you know what they are saying.


  1. How did you get a nifty new singlet? I got an ugly new singlet. Doesn't seem fair.

  2. Ha, congrats on being the first ever poster on my blog, EJ! You win a fugly new singlet! Not to be confused with an ugly new singlet.