Archives for category: Race

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

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

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

An odd-distance race: the 5.5 mile Montague Mug Race starts in Montague, a town I mostly know because of the Bookmill where I’ve spent too many Sunday afternoons, and runs around the countryside to then turn back towards the town center.
It’s a fun, local race I have to run as it is part of the SMAC Series and I need to maintain my second position in the men’s standings: it’s pretty darn important!

credits: xkcd

Montague Mug Race

Since my last post on the Rabbit Run in New Salem, I ran plenty of more races but I didn’t have the time to sit down and write two words on any of those. I doubt I will go back and post about those races since they’re fading away in the mist of memories, but here they are: VFW/SMAC 10k (48:26) in South Deerfield on Memorial Day, Lake Wyola 4.8mi (33:04) on June 10, Northampton Mile (5:50) on June 16, 4 around the Fourth (28:12) in Northampton on June 30, and of course MassDash where we placed 2nd overall, and the weekly Northampton XC 5k Series which is teaching me the hard of lesson of pacing.
(I might write on the amazing experience of MassDash and on the Noho Series, but I won’t promise.)

Bridge of Flowers – August 11 – Shelburne Falls, MA (photo credit:

Bridge of Flowers 10k


Western Bay Staters, or Western Massachusites, do love their hills. Those hills in Western Mass. lack the imposing beauty of the Alps or the height of the Rockies, but can be deceptively steep and for good measure race organizers never fail to sprinkle one or two of those climbs in their race routes. Rabbit Run in New Salem is one of those and I have been warned on the fast steep downhill in the first 2 miles and of the steep uphill for the last 2 miles: what goes around comes around.
I thought 42 minutes would have been a reasonable goal for a 10K: I was wrong.

At the start, I met with friends from the local running club and decided to run with Marc — he’s a much better runner than I am, no doubt. I stander together at the start line; it’s a small race, roughly 70 people and pretty much everybody fits at the start line. When the gun went off, we ran positioning ourselves a good distance from the front group. As the route turns and climbs down towards the Quabbin I picked velocity: too fast, I knew, but it was fun and chatting with Marc took my head off of it. If you’re having fun, how would you stop? Well, you hit a hill, that’s how. We picked up a few front-runners in that crazy downhill, but as soon as we reached the Quabbins and the path turns around running along the water, I felt my legs were not there. Marc kept his stride and I lagged behind. I tried to pick it up but to no avail. I kept running until we hit the big uphill to the finish line: a mile, a mile and half of steep uphill. The stride shortened, the pace slowed down, and when I saw I was not catching up with the runners who decided to walk it, I switched to a walk. Fortunately the route passes through a beautiful, shaded wood. As the hill flattens out, I was passed by a few other runners, some asked if everything was alright, I replied not to worry, nothing was wrong I’m just awfully undertrained. At last, I picked up the pace not to finish walking. Finished in 48:42.

Rabbit Run 10k — May 19, 2012 — New Salem, MA

in italiano …