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: locallyrun.com)

Bridge of Flowers 10k

[Italiano]

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 …

È passato più di un anno da quando mi han fatto l’iniezione di PRP per la tendinite all’achilleo ed ormai mi sembra un brutto ricordo passato che spero non ritornerà; sarà scaramanzia, sarà avere un modo di poter fare il punto della situazione, continuo imperterrito con questi posts di n settimane dopo dove questo “settimane dopo” si riferisce alla famigerata iniezione di piastrine.
Quest’anno è stato un po’ “bumpy,” e solo ora mi sento che posso dire che stia tornando a correre. Dopo la pausa invernale, la stagione delle corse è tornata e con lei i settimanali allenamenti in pista con SMAC il giovedì sera. Il volume settimanale è ancora basso, una trentina di miglia settimana passata a cui seguirà un pausa visto che sarò una settimana a NYC. L’obiettivo è quello di riuscire ad arrivare ad un solido 50~60 miglia alla settimana per la fine dell’estate ed andare cauti, più cauti che in passato con i lunghi e tenere questi a non più di un terzo del volume settimanale. Per la velocità, ci sono le ottime track practices settimanali: Barry sta organizzando ottimi allenamenti, iniziando “con calma” ed invece di ripetere distanze fisse, abbiamo intervalli a tempo fisso. Settimana scorsa erano un minuto, 4 due minuti, e 3 minuti due volte con un minuto di jogging ad intervallare; la mattina dopo ero distrutto con un piacevole senso di stanchezza: sono andato quindi in palestra per una mezz’oretta di bici seguita da un po’ di pesi.

Se gli allenamenti procederanno bene — leggi, non m’infortuno — sarò più specifico, per ora mi godo le temperature ancora relativamente basse.

Devo anche comprarmi delle scarpe nuove … ed un orologio … ma prima le scarpe.

[Italiano]

As I jogged to the Berkshire Dining Commons from the parking lot next to UMass stadium, the humidity was obvious: not even half a mile into an easy jog and I was sweating profusely. Obvious was also my lack of fitness; training is coming along well but I still have a long way to go.
The pre-race crowd was not what I am used to in Western Mass, instead of the usual mass of thirty something skinny runners, the field was almost entirely composed of ‘kids’ in their early twenties: jocks from UMass and treadmill runners. Last time I ran in a similar crowd was roughly 4 years ago, in NYC, at the Wall Street Run. Sure enough the scenario of four years ago repeated itself almost verbatim: most of the runners crowded the start line overestimating their fitness or, inexperienced as they are, didn’t pace themselves right.
The race was fun: I liked the hills, though I couldn’t keep up with the pace I would have liked to maintain. That’s why I was a bit surprised to learn I finished in 20:08, a 6:28 pace for a 5k. It turned out it was a 3 miler, ~100m short of being a 5k. It surprised us all, us runners that is, was that the organizers knew the route was 3mi but called it a 5k because … I guess, because it sounds cooler, all exotic and professional.
That was unfortunately not the only part where the organization truly lacked: at the start line were 4~5 photographers in the middle of the road, right on the course! When the race started, they didn’t flinch and stayed there, crouched on the road taking pictures. Hazardous to say the least.
And there was also that guy who just stopped to tie his shoes in the middle of the road! … sometimes people are just clueless.

Despite all the photographers I saw, I managed to find only this picture. I sent an email to the organizer inquiring about the photos, still didn’t hear from them. On the more serious matter of safety and length of the course, an email was sent on Saturday: hopefully they will fix those major shortcomings.

UMass Dash&Dine 5k -- credits: Ardee Napolitano/Collegian

in italiano …

Sono in balcone, laptop in grembo, a godermi questo caldo pomeriggio primaverile. C’è troppo caldo per andare a correre ora; aspetto un po’ di ore e ci vado prima di cena.

Ieri sarei dovuto andare alla Cave Hill Classic, ma mi sono svegliato tardi e poi ho passato mezz’ora in macchina a cercare la pagoda dalla quale la 5km doveva iniziare. Dopo mezz’ora, e soprattutto quando ormai avevo perso l’inizio, ho girato la macchina e sono tornato a casa — corsa mancata ma mi sono rifatto con un 10km tranquilli e sotto un sole ormai non d’aprile. È un peccato ma avrò tempo per rifarmi: mi sono iscritto per la UMass Dash & Dine per sabato prossimo (e di questa so da dove si parte) e poi giovedì track practice a Greenfield e martedì sera la Grant 5k XC Race Series a Northampton a cui quest’anno voglio andare se non regolarmente almeno spesso.

Hopkinton, Mass da dove la maratona di Boston ha inizio

maratone primaverili …

[Italiano]

The weather is still cold and this morning flurries were carried by a strong, cold wind, but it does feel like winter is giving way to spring. At least from a runner’s point of view.
Last week, I was in Florence to run the first of the SMAC Series, the 8 miler Ron Hebert Race, and this morning I was at the UMass Stadium with a small but tenacious group of runners for the St. Brigid’s 5k Road Race. Being St. Brigid’s my parish I could not defy the invitation or I would have not heard the end of it.
My legs are still green and I went off way too fast when the parson shot the gun; I knew I couldn’t keep the pace for the entire length and I switched gear to an easy run. The cold air was burning in the lungs, and I was overdressed: I should have known better, not to wear a jacket for a race in the 40s.
From the Stadium, it takes Rocky Hill Rd up above the Rt 116 and then down running north N Maple St to then turn again back for the final stretch. I know the roads well having run them extensively for the past 4 years and the sparse hills on the race promised a fast time, but the race made me realize (even more than before) how poorly trained I am now: this week will add up to ~20mi, last week was ~19, and the week before … I didn’t run a mile, and so the week before that; last time I ran consistently was in November!
I have a long road ahead to get back to my former self. Anyway, the race didn’t go so bad and I finished in 20:55.

UMass Stadium, a few years ago... -- rights: UMass Amherst

in italiano …