The leaves are turning. It’s probably me looking for symbols but I find it apt: in a couple of weeks I will be moving back to NYC after a 4-year absence to start a completely new job. These are rather hectic days — movings are never easy — and bound to become more and more so, but I can’t leave the Valley without one final race, a farewell of sorts.

Part of Conway’s Festival of the Hills, Covered Bridge 10k is one of the toughest courses I’ve run to day: very hilly, it loops around back and dirt roads. The weather was perfect: it threatened to rain but kept a cool overcast sky that contrasts the red and yellow foliage of a rather early Fall. I am awfully undertrained but I did PR by 2 minutes: why are 10k’s so rare?

the race …

I will be missing the running scene of Western Mass. When I moved here 4 years ago, I was truly surprised by the volume of local races and talent present in the Valley. I join SMAC and I met remarkable people both on and out of the road; if I got faster, I know whom to thank.
During the summer, the Valley thrives with running series: the SMAC Race Series and the Northampton XC 5k.

The latter is a fun, local series held every Tuesday at 6:30pm at the Northampton Community Gardens. The route bridges between cross-country and trail: 5k long, it’s not an easy course and it took me a few times to get a handle on it. I learned a lot about racing by running it pretty regularly for the past 3 months: I learn the course and the people running it, when to hold and when to pick the pace.

I’ll be missing this little gem.

XC Runners at Noho XC

the race

A musical rendition of what’s ahead: enjoy.

As I was walking towards my car, I felt the cold weather and looked up to the early morning grey sky. “I love this weather,” I thought. The partying undergrads still asleep in alcohol-induced doze, parents probably awakened by their children’s horseplay: I wonder how people could miss racing on such a beautiful Saturday morning.

The race was starting at 9:30 and I planned to get up to Greenfield at least an hour earlier. At the Greenfield Swimming Area, I quickly got the race-tag and met up with few running buddies; Marc was there and so was Patrick — as of today, I am between Marc and Patrick in the SMAC Series. “Let’s warm up,” Marc said, and the three of us and Ashley took off for a quick and easy 2 mile warm-up. The race is flat or as flat as a race can possibly be in Western Mass, winding around Greenfield, just a mile south of Green River Rd, place of many Sunday long runs.

Race Recap

It’s the occurrence and recurrence of Nature: uphills followed by downhills followed by yet-another uphill; I don’t know which I like the best, which the least.
September arrived suddenly at the end of a muggy and slow August and it’s already half-way through. August was spent, as all summers should, racing: I pulled two road races, one cross-country, and I was regularly at Northampton Community Gardens for the Noho XC 5k. In between races were track workouts and long runs which sometimes were becoming tempo runs. Training was unplanned; it wasn’t, if I have to say, training at all: I was racing because I love (and hate) racing, and because it kept my mind off the rest of life — it was therapeutic more than working out.
After such disorderly ordered training, the beginning of September seems slow in comparison; running took an almost sudden halt as I had various unrelated commitments and I sadly had to miss two track workouts and this week looks like a repeat of the last.

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As we say in Italy: non c’è due senza tre. (Good things come in three’s is a rough equivalent.) After two weekends of racing, I needed a third race to finish August in glory: the Tomato Trot in Granby, a 5k XC race in its 9th year, felt about right.
I got a taste for cross-country with the weekly appointment of the Northampton 5k XC Series, and the Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival of which the race is part sounded like a fun activity for a lazy Saturday morning.

Tomato Trot 5k XC — photo credits: Red Fire Farm

Red Fire Farm Tomato Trot

I rarely care for anniversaries: I barely remember my own birthday and I find weird to party on December 31st. But there are some dates that I hold dear: April 25th, Piazza Fontana … and the day I moved to the US.

il museo/presepe di pentema

La valigia di cartone — photo credits: maudanros

of places long gone and of places discovered