JFK 50 Miler

August 18th, 2010 - Training - Burlington > Fenway Park > Burlington, MA - 25

Day 229 - We'll need to have a USATF certified person wheel measure the course for next year, since the 1st Annual Fenway Park Marathon ended up being ONLY 25 miles.

The whole idea started late last week when I was offered 4 free Sox tickets from a friend. That got my running juices flowing at the prospect of running to Fenway Park from my office in Burlington, MA.

I did this run many times last year when Rachel was attending BU, but she would always give me a ride back to Burlington, so those runs were only half-marathon runs. Ever since then, I had always thought about running to Fenway Park for a game, and then running back home afterwards. Hey, parking is expensive!

I asked around to see who would want to meet me at the ballpark. There was no way anybody would want to run there and back with me! Not even Fil. It also gave me the option to bail out half way through the crazy run, and get a ride home after the ballgame.

I had takers on the tickets (Fil and his son, Ryan, and my F-I-L and B-I-L), and for specific reasons, I wanted the four of them to take all four tickets. That left me with no tickets for myself (not a math major)!! I actually didn't really care to sit through a Sox game on a Wednesday night until 10PM, fight traffic, and be  home after 11PM.

I'd rather run a marathon than do that.

(I'm Your #1 Fan)

Disclosure: I use to be a die-hard Sox fan (just look at my e-mail addy!). I still remember the pain of how the 2003 season ended, and not turning on the television for like three months after Aaron Boone hit the solo home run to end the Sox season that year, but like many fans after the 2004/2007 championship season, things just aren't the same anymore. I haven't been to a game at Fenway in a couple of years, and haven't watched more than 5 pitches on TV all season! The Curse is gone, and with that, so is the lure of cheering on the Sox.

Also, with RTB and JFK right around the corner, I needed to put in a really long run to work out any kinks in my gear and fitness.

After GT5K on Tuesday, I asked Cody if he wanted to join me on my run. He's young and adventurous, so he said yes without hesitation. It would be his longest training run of the year as he gets ready to qualify for Boston at Baystate.

Andy would eventually also agree to join us on our little jaunt into Beantown. He too is going to qualify at Baystate (knock on wood).

The plan was set by Wednesday afternoon and the boys (not Scooter and Teddy) met me at my office. I was relieved to see that they also brought along their Camelbaks, and other long distance gear and supplies. It's like they've done this before. Not bad for a bunch of rookies!

Our goal was to get to Fenway no later than 7PM in order to hand off the game tickets to Fil and my F-I-L, and then re-supply and head back home to Burlington by 9PM.

The weather was warm, but again, overcast to help relieve us from the mid 80's temps. Perfect night for a ballgame. Not so perfect for a marathon.

We got on the road by 5:15, giving us exactly 1 hr 45 mins to make the 13 or so miles to Fenway before the game started. This would work out to about an 8:05 minute mile, which was exactly what I had in mind for this training run.

I told Andy and Cody to use this run to work out any problems that might arise during the actual marathon, like chaffing, poor sneakers, pacing, hydration, etc. Better to find out now than on race day. This was the case on my 21 mile Boston training run back in May. I discovered that the sneakers I had on were definitely not the pair I wanted to wear for Boston.

My goal for today was to see how much GU and water I would need through the first half of a 50 miler. Reno was able to complete his 20 miler yesterday without food or water. The guy is an animal and is ready for his victory lap at JFK!


Also, I wanted to see if my Nike Free's would keep me comfortable for the entire run. I figure that I'll prefer comfort over speed at the ultra. My pace goal for the first half of the JFK 50 was going to be around 8-8:30's, so this run was going to mimic that pace pretty closely.

The Fenway Park Marathon route itself  is a fairly flat and straight one: down 3A through Burlington/Arlington (Water Buffalo's back yard), to Mass Ave through Cambridge, and then down the Charles River into Boston. Nothing too challenging other than some car and pedestrian traffic.

We averaged 7:50's through most of the Burlington and Arlington stretch, and then picked it up for the scenic and fun stretch through Cambridge. We came across some wicked smart kids around Harvard Yard before heading down the Charles River towards the rickety old BU bridge.

We all felt great on the first half of the run (12.5 miles), and I felt kind of bad for picking it up near the end (averaged sub 7:30's for the last 4 miles) to try to get to Fenway before 6:30PM. The plan was to meet everyone at Gate C by 6:30PM, and it was already 6:45 by the time we hit the bridge near the Cask and Flagon.

The one thing I love about Fenway is the atmosphere before game time. Can't beat it!

The three of us finally reach Gate C at 6:45PM in good spirits, and of course, nobody, but good looking pink hats, were there to take the tickets from me. I should have given the tickets to the pink hats.

Cody and Andy went around the corner to grab some sanely priced Gatorade, while I waited and waited and waited at Gate C for my foursome (not with the pink hats). My F-I-L and B-I-L eventually showed up a little after 7PM to get their tickets. Two down, two to go.

I called Fil and found out that he was living it up down the street at Uno's with Ryan.

We headed down there and stuck around for about 20 minutes after I handed over the final pair of tickets. Like I said, we all felt great and waiting around for a ride or taking the train home never entered our minds. We were going to finish this mission on foot. 

Fil was kind enough to order us some appetizers and hard liquor. We re-filled our water packs (with Gatorade), and got back on the road by 7:30. It was already dark out so I threw on my head lamp and night vest.

We didn't expect to go much faster than 8 min/miles for the return trip, so an ETA of 9:30PM was going to be more likely. Night running is tough because you gotta focus on the road at your feet and also the incoming traffic. It's even harder when you're at the tail end of a long run.

Even though I wore my compression shorts to help reduce the chaffing and walnut rot, it was still painful to restart after our 30 minutes of stoppage time. There's gotta be some remedy for walnut rot. Any advice for this condition is greatly appreciated. Please, no pictures.

We went through the first mile of the second half in 9 minutes and in a lot of pain. The good news was that we got through the next 11 much faster.

I felt great once we were back on Mass Ave and away from the traffic of the city. Cody looked good, and same with Andy. Andy actually looked the most fresh out of the three of us.

We stopped at a convenient store at mile 18 to re-fill our water supply (so much for pulling a Reno on this run). It was still quite humid out and I couldn't believe how much water/Gatorade I had already gone through. I decided to take a GU, before starting back up again, in order to avoid bonking short of the finish line.

The last 7 miles of the run felt endless, but we managed to pick it up quite a bit over the last couple, running a 7:30 final, and exhaustive, mile.

We basically passed out by our cars when we reached the top of the gi-normous hill at the base of my office. We could have gone another 1.2 to get the full marathon experience, but it wasn't worth it. It was late and Burlington sucks for running, unless you're running to the mall in a car.

Overall, it was a pretty intense and beneficial 25 mile run that took us 3 hrs and 22 minutes (8:08 pace) to complete. The course and conditions were tough, so repeating the same effort over the Baystate course should be a piece of cake for Cody and Andy...unless it decides to snow and hail on race morning, but that never happens.

While the three of us were busting our walnuts, Fil & Co were having a blast at Fenway:

(How do you like these apples?!)

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