Archives for posts with tag: 5k

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 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


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 …


From the 1000+ field of Holyoke Talking Turkey to the 60 something of a local race in Chesterfield Gorge the step is huge; standing at the starting line of this year, 2nd edition of Gorge aprés Gorge, it felt cozy like a family competition or an impromptu match with friends. I like small races so much better.
As I was standing, I wondered Why am I here?, not much for the race — Chesterfield Gorge is amazing, and the race and post-race festivities would have been a lot of fun — but only for deciding to run two races in two consecutive days; sure, I was not running two marathons in a row, but still the legs were still feeling stiff from the day before. And I didn’t even warm up properly! It’s just for the fun.

After the start, the downhill drove me to the front of the race. I never led, I don’t know how, and I know truly well I can’t lead for long; I tucked behind a fellow competitor and tailgated him for the first half. The race runs downhill and then out for half of the course to then turn around and trace the steps back to the start line now finish line. As we were approaching the turn-around, three more runners joined our till-that-moment duet. I glanced at one and I knew he was likely the winner of the race: you just learn, like you learn to recognize Italians from just the facial features. (I was right, he won.) I felt the heavy, untrained legs as the three runners passed me easily; I outran the guy I was tailgating till then and it was a solitary, final mile if it were not for the few runners I was meeting going the other way.
I kept going wanting to finish fourth because I knew I couldn’t reach the leaders, and I simply didn’t want to give up the spot! And fourth I finished in 20:00. I even won a wool hat since I was the first after the first three in my age group (I was confused too when I was called …)

Finish line of Gorge aprés Gorge 5k, at Chesterfield Gorge.

in italiano …

Photos are up on! They did a very good job, and I love how the photographers captured the ambience before the race and the efforts of all the runners. My pics are not bad either, though I look a bit distracted.

5k for Farmland -- rights:

more photos … of me!


So long! As I woke up this morning I thought I shouldn’t have registered: I am slowly getting back into running and training, and definitely I am not ready to race. Not at all. Not with not even 20 miles a week on my legs and for no longer than a month or so. But then as I was getting ready, as the coffee was coming up — Italians say “coffee is coming up” when it is ready — I thought again and … oh well, that was the most sensible resolution I had in months: I was not going to race, but I wanted to be in a race.
I drove to Hadley a bit early; I was getting restless in my apt and needed to get out. The morning was chilly and I wondered whether it was a bad idea to race in shorts and short sleeves shirt, looking around I certainly had that feeling: most runners were wearing in long sleeves if not in jackets and pants. I started an easy warm-up, leisurely without rush: I was there to enjoy the scenery, the race, and the company of runners. (Runners are cool!) The trees are putting up their fall dresses, the bright yellow and red leaves framing the road, the grey sky naturally contrasting the New England foliage. Either was I warming up or was the air; I tossed the warm sweater in the car and wandered around jogging.
The race was supposed to start at 10am, but the organizers decided to move it up to 10:15 since people were still showing up. I ran along the dike exchanging smiles and looks with other runners; when I saw them heading back I followed suit: I didn’t bring the watch (I may have forgotten it in the locker at the gym) but that was the idea — run the race because I love running and not because I wanted to improve my PB.
We gathered behind the start line, and then it hit me: I felt happy, absolutely utterly happy; it was my element, a comfortable dress hanging weightless on my shoulder. I was participating to the excitement that comes the few minutes before the gun, when directions become clear and focus is centered towards whatever objective one has.

Fall Foliage in Hadley, MA -- 5k for Farmland

the race …


Some times I feel the need to video-record me when I run to evaluate form and posture; I never came around in doing so, maybe one day, but in the mean time here is the video of the finish line of the Hot Chocolate Run: fast-forward to 6:55, I’m passing on the right.

Mi è appena arrivata un’email dagli organizzatori della Hot Chocolate Run con un paio di filmati della gara: la partenza e l’arrivo. Non sono riuscito a trovarmi nel filmato della partenza, ma – se proprio, proprio volete vedermi correre – sono al 6:55 del filmato che trovate in questo post, sulla destra.