JFK 50 Miler

March 21st, 2010 - Race - New Bedford, MA - 13.1

Day 80 - Green is good! And boy was there plenty of it today at the New Bedford Half Marathon. This was a NE Grand Prix event so it brought out the big dogs, the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and every other idiomatic phrase you can think of.

There's no GPS or Garmin that can measure the boost that it gave me to see all of those new GLRR singlets at the start, on the course, and at the finish! We were out in full-force and others took notice:

While I was getting ready at the start, I overheard another runner remark that he thought that GLRR had been dead, and that the club no longer existed! We're not dead! Boy was he shocked when he found himself surrounded by a number of us at the start. The Pride is Alive!

All-in-all I counted 22 runners running under the green, white, and yellow GLRR banner.

Here they are in finish order with their net time, pace, and finish position (out of 2,308 finishers):

John Barbour - 1:16:34 (5:51) - 90th
David Oliver - 1:17:38 (5:56) - 113th
Peter Lagoy - 1:20:50 (6:11) - 155th
John Dowling - 1:22:19 (6:18) - 179th
Michael Shanahan - 1:22:21 (6:18) - 180th
Jason Bui - 1:23:23 (6:22) - 200th
EJ Hrynowski - 1:26:24 (6:36) - 266th
Keith O'Brien - 1:28:24 (6:45) - 318th
Fil Faria - 1:29:55 (6:52) - 356th
Daniel Walsh - 1:32:23 (7:04) - 422nd
Chip Mann - 1:32:51 (7:06) - 437th
Glenn Stewart - 1:36:01 (7:20) - 545th
Melanie Hire - 1:40:49 (7:42) - 693rd
Stavros Kanaracus - 1:43 *Currently not certain on exact finish time and position due to incorrect results.
Liane Pancoast - 1:44:18 (7:58) - 815th
Jocelyn Marion - 1:46:14 (8:07) - 907th
Cullen Madden - 1:46:14 (8:07) - 908th
Nancy Dorn - 1:47:30 (8:13) - 956th
John Byrne - 1:47:36 (8:13) - 960th
Mark Corbett - 2:02:06 (9:20) - 1546th
Jonathan MacKenzie - 2:04:29 (9:31) - 1634th *3rd in his Age Group!! Congrats!
James Shelton - 2:54:32 (13:20) - 2295th

The names in bold above scored for GLRR in their respective categories

I hope I got everybody because I did that off the top of my head (with the help of the results posted on coolrunning).

I'm excited to see what the GLRR turnout will be like for the next grand prix event in May at the Bedford Rotary 12K. My prediction, 200+.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

There's still more to be said about the Half that was, like how I managed a one hour PR improvement on this course, or the police escort GLRR received on 495, or the dead body on 495, or how I missed the NYC Marathon qualifying time by 24 bleepin' seconds, or how a runner can be in the middle of the starting pack, with her sneakers off, seconds before the start, and not get killed.

Well, a good story typically has a beginning, middle, and end. This isn't one of them, but I'll try.

In the beginning...

Back in 2001, my 20 year old brain had this awesome idea to try road racing without any training whatsoever. Hey, I was young, athletic (so I thought), and of course, very stupid (so I didn't think).

My first road race ever just so happened to be the 2001 New Bedford Half Marathon. Why? My friends and I were going to bandit Boston the following month (an even stoopider idea), so we decided to use the NB Half as our traning run. My only training run.

And here's the disastrous result of that experiment: 2001 New Bedford Half Marathon Result
(2001 results when I was still using Nghia Bui to hide my true identity as Fil Faria, The Sandbagger)

I finished 1251st out of 1308 finishers with a time of 2:25:21!! That's about as low and slow as you can go without the use of a walking cane.

I remember crawling up that final hill before the finish, regretting every step that I had taken that day, and promising myself that I would never, ever do this stoopid race ever again! I also remember dying a few times on the course, as in my heart has stopped beating. I can't breathe. HELP!

Needless to say, my first unofficial Boston Marathon the following month of that year was also a disaster (I couldn't move without pain for about two weeks afterwards).

So it's fitting that my first official Boston Marathon next month will be on the heels of one of the best long distance races (start to finish) that I've put together to date. I'll have more about my personal 2010 NB Half experience a little later as we still need to add more juicy meat to the front end of this delectable three course meal.

A little after the beginning...

It was about 1AM by the time I managed to fall asleep on the morning of the 2010 New Bedford Half. It had been preceeded by an intense evening of video gaming (everyone prepares for a race differently, I tend to not do anything useful for myself or Rachel), but I did remember to load up on some carbs, and put the toilet seat down, before falling asleep. Not in the bathroom though.

Five hours later, I was up and ready to tackle 13.1 miles on about one hour of quality sleep. I had myself another helping of pasta and tuna fish (it was basically anything that was left in the fridge that wasn't dog food...oh boy, I hope that was tuna fish) before heading out the door.

I met up with a handful of GLRR's in Drum Hill at 7:45AM for our carpool down to New Bedford. We left Drum Hill around 8:15AM, and Fil was nice enough to drive myself and Cullen down in his...brand new car!! The only caveat was that we had to listen to Portuguese music the whole way down to New Bedford. Remember, this is an hour and a half drive. My ears are still bleeding as I write this.

We followed Glenn the entire way down and as we got onto 495, near New Bedford, we realized that we were running a little late. Glenn called in his favors with the state police, and they gave us an escort for the final stretch of the drive:

 (Il Rasoio calling in the calvary)

In all seriousness though, the state police were out there blocking traffic so that the highway workers could scrape a body off of 495:

(Rectum? It nearly killed him!)

Fine! They were really blocking traffic so that the highway guys could lay down sensor strips on the highway! Thanks for making us almost late without something cool or gruesome to see!

Even with of all the drama of the OJ-esque highway chase (They never did catch Glenn in his limited edition, out-of-production, one-of-kind, tree battered Baja, which is up for sale to the highest bidder), we managed to get down to the race site at about 9:45AM. The race was scheduled to start at 11AM or 12PM, it just depended on who you asked, either someone who knew the correct start time, or if you asked Fil.

We proceeded to head to the YMCA where the race organizers managed to violate every fire code on the books, but the city probably made an exception, since runners are usually good at running in a group without trampling over one another (See female runner without shoe below).

There was a line out the door of the YMCA for packet pick up! Once we got inside though, we were in and out in less than five minutes with everything we needed. Well, at least the men were...

We all got changed by the car (I love it how runners ignore all public nuisance/decency laws on race day because they can) and still had about 30 minutes to warm up.

Fil, Cullen, and myself started jogging around a few of the downtown blocks, and I made a pit stop at the City Hall bathroom to lose a little weight. The porta john line down by the start was even longer than the packet pickup line! But that was just the women's line...

Because of the registration cluster F, and the bathroom lines, the race organizers decided to delay the race by about 15 minutes. To kill the time, a few more GLRR's joined our group warm up run. Fil was already up to two miles worth of warm up miles at this point. I guess he thought he was back in Boston doing his training run, only he didn't get lost this time.

Most of us got into the runners' corral with about 5 minutes to spare. I stood at about the halfway point between the 6 min/mile and 7 min/mile pace signs. Fil was hanging out with the folks standing by the "Walkers" sign.

The weather was near-perfect, if not perfect, for a long distance race. It was currently in the mid-50's in the sun, with a slight wind coming off of the water to the southeast of the starting area. The only complaint might have been that it was only going to get warmer as the race went on. Nearly every race for me so far this year, before this one, had either been too cold, too wet, or too short to worry about hydration. Staying hydrated today was going to be critical if the temps continued to rise.

And just like that the gun went off and only about the first row of runners knew that the race had started! I was still facing away from the starting line, chatting it up when I felt a surge of people come my way! WTF? I quickly tucked tail, turned, and started my race.

Fil later told us that there was a female runner, around where he was waiting, that had her shoes off (for whatever reason) when the race started. I'm still checking the papers for her obituary, but I guess she survived the trampling.

I quickly settled into a relatively slow pace (6:30's) about a half mile into the race. I caught sight of Frank around this point and started to chat with him to see what he was up to today. He had a few goals in mind for the run, with a 1:25 finish at the high end of his goals. 1:25, which would be a PR for me, was also one of my goals for this race. My half marathon PR at the time was 1:26:19 from the 2009 Applefest.

1:22:59 was going to be my "unrealistic, but I'll see what I can do" goal for the day. The sub 1:23 goal is in regards to the qualifying time that the NYC Marathon organizers will accept for half-marathon finishes for my division. I ran NYC in 2009, but as a lottery entrant. I am hoping to run NYC in 2011 as a qualifier.
Frank and I ran through Mile 1 together in 6:29, right about where I wanted to be since a sub 1:23 half would require about a 6:19 minute per mile pace. Frank had also mentioned that he made the mistake of going out in 6:10's in the prior year, so we both took it easy at the start.
I went through Mile 2 in 6:34. This mile ended up being my slowest mile on the day! I felt that I was ready to stretch it out a bit and tackle the first major hill on the course with a little more speed. One of my strengths is hill running, and the start of this course definitely played to my strength.
Frank dropped back and I caught up with Heather a little past Mile 2. We greeted each other and wished each other well as I continued to the top of the first hill, passing over Route 140. The other side of the climb dropped quickly in elevation and right through Mile 3. I crossed this checkpoint with a split of 6:24. The fast downhill helped me gather momentum for another hill climb, this one was steeper and longer, running for about half a mile.
Based on my memory of the evelation profile for the course, I knew that this hill before Mile 4 was the last in a series of hills before a three mile, steady drop towards the coastline. With this in mind, I kept up my pace through Mile 4 in 6:25. I was running about a 6:27 pace overall and knew that I had nine miles to knock off at least 1 second per mile to reach my ultimate goal of running a 6:19 overall pace.
I felt really strong with the first few challenges out of the way, and based on my previous near-death experience on this course, I knew that the next challenge would come around Mile 7 when we would hit the cove area of New Bedford. This area is notorious for the windy conditions, and of course, it's never a tail-wind.
I went through the very fast downhill section of Miles 5, 6, and 7 in 6:10 (fastest mile on the day), 6:16, and 6:14, respectively. 
After Mile 7, the course basically meanders along the coast for the next five miles. This was the point in the race where I felt I would either make or break my race goals. The semi-headwind coming off of the water plus a few steady climbs through the realtively flat miles 8, 9, and 10 forces you to remain focused. It's so easy to tighten up and begin to drop your pace through this section.
Fortunately, I felt an energetic surge after Mile 8 (6:24) and passed a large group of runners on a steady uphill portion that went through Mile 9. I crossed Mile 9 in 6:16 and continually told myself to relax every time I felt my face or hands tighten up from trying too hard.
My legs began to feel a little heavy as I got close to Mile 10, but I still managed a 6:21 mile a little over an hour into the race.

I was forced to employ a little psychological trick that I now use when I start to lose focus, and want to give in. It involves the show, "I Shouldn't Be Alive". There was an episode that I saw a few months back that have stayed with me since. The episode involved a guy that was stuck under his ATV for four days and three nights, in the middle of winter, in the heart of the most desolate place you could think of, surrounded by hungry wolves.
I just ask myself, would I rather be enjoying a race, or would I rather be stuck under an ATV, freezing my walnuts off. I begin to relax as I choose the race. By the way, the guy got eaten by the wolves.
There was now only a 5K left to run, but I had not given myself any leeway to relax, even a tiny bit, if I wanted to finish under 1:23.
My Garmin displayed an elapsed run time of 1 hour and 3 minutes. This meant that I would need to complete the next 3.1 miles in about 19 to 20 minutes. That would work out to about a 6:06-6:26 pace for the 5K. Even then I couldn't be guaranteed a finish time of sub 1:23 due to differences in the official time and my Garmin time. I still had to give it a shot though.
I started to pump my arms and legs like it was the start of the Good Times 5K. I even pictured myself running the Good Times course to get the full effect. Everything around me was a blur, even all of the runners that I was still passing at this point in the race.
I went through Mile 1 (actually 11) in 6:11!! In my mind, I was nearing the University Ave bridge in Lowell.
Mile 2 (12) came and went in 6:23. I was starting to feel the full effect of an hour and fifteen minutes of balls to the walls racing. Again, in my mind, I was almost done with the VFW section of the Good Times course. 
Like a good story, my run had a beginning, middle, and now it was time for the end, but unfortunately, it wasn't going to be a happy ending.
A worthy adversary stood between me and my sub 1:23. The villian was a ginormous hill (even more ginormous this late in the race) that spanned nearly the entire distance between miles 12 and 13:
(That's the man that touched me)

No psychological trick was going to get me through this fight. It was going to be a battle to the absolute finish. This was the hill that nearly killed me 10 years prior.
I managed to shut everything out and blasted my way up this final hill, and at the top of that hill was a race clock at Mile 13 that read 1:22:56...57...58...59.
I knew that my ultimate goal was out of reach with only 1/10th of a mile left to go. I had nothing left but Greater Lowell Pride to drive me over the finish line. It was probably one of my strongest finishing kicks in recent memory.

(Insert Capstone Photo watermark here)

My official finish time ended up being 1:23:23 and change. Do you know what happens in 23 seconds? A lot. Like the half life of several radioactive isotopes, including Antimony 110, Zinc 73, Indium 121, Terbium 146, and Lady Antebellum's popularity. Imagine that!
In the end, I set a PR of about four minutes for this distance, and a 1+ hour PR for this course! It's amazing what can happen in the span of 10 years, like me learning how to train properly for one of the best races of my life!
Even though I didn't qualify for NYC here, I definitely did learn a lot about myself at this race. I learned that I am ready to take on a sub three hour Boston in one month's time.
Let the next chapter be written.
My splits for the New Bedford Half:
Mile 1 - 6:29
Mile 2 - 6:34
Mile 3 - 6:24
Mile 4 - 6:25
Mile 5 - 6:10
Mile 6 - 6:16
Mile 7 - 6:14
Mile 8 - 6:24
Mile 9 - 6:16
Mile 10 - 6:21
Mile 11 - 6:11
Mile 12 - 6:23
Mile 13 - 6:26
And the .19 that screwed me - 57.28
Great job by everyone at this race!
Fade to Black, roll the credits!


I forgot to mention that Fil accomplished something that I wasn't able to! HE F'N QUALIFIED FOR NYC 2011 WITH HIS NEW BEDFORD FINISH OF 1:29:55! HE MADE IT BY 5 SECONDS! DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN 5 SECONDS? ALOT, LIKE NOT QUALIFYING FOR NYC 2011!


  1. Not dead? Speak for yourself. Nice run J, and good to see Fil passed quite a few of the walkers he started with. Seems like there's something missing from that group pic...

  2. ROTFL at the description of Glenn's car. He loves that thing.

  3. HAHAHA EJ.. at least i was able to pass somebody...lol

  4. Great synopsis of a race that I wish I could have been at. It brought back a few of my memories on that course. Good luck with your final Boston prep work!