Archives for posts with tag: SMAC Series

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 …

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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

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

[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 …

[Italiano]

And so it begins!
The 2012 SMAC Road Race Series started today with the Ron Hebert Race, an 8 miler in Florence, Mass. Friends warned me of the infamous hills: a big one at the start, then rolling hills for few miles, and finally a last big hill because without we wouldn’t be that happy.
I don’t have the legs to race an 8 miler. In the last three months, I barely ran a couple of times, and this morning, as I was driving to Florence, I was wondering what I was doing: the longest I ran was 3.5 miles, not even half the course! I decided for a very conservative 60~70 minutes goal, maybe asking if anyone were going to shoot for a similar finish time and then run with them to avoid starting too exuberantly.
I saw few familiar faces at the start line: Ron Hebert is a local race and the first of the SMAC Series — the yellow hats were easy to spot.
At the gun, I started with an easy jog without rush. The weather was almost perfect: overcast and a faint thin rain. I kept the same easy pace through the entire course, following more my breath than the watch, which I didn’t have since I forgot to have its batteries changed yesterday. It’s a very nice course, north of Northampton, winding through hills and farms. As I was running I was making plans to come back here later on to take some pictures, maybe stopping on my way back from an easy run in Chesterfield Gorge, where I ran Gorge Aprés Gorge in November.
As I enjoyed the course and the run, the mile markers were coming and going: I hit the first in 7:08, then the second in something like 15, the rest didn’t have splits but fellow runners happily shared their Garmin’s times. At the half-way mark, my breath was only slightly heavier, my heart rate just faster than an easy run: I wasn’t rushing; there’s no point in trying to run faster in untrained legs. I have to be patient and run to run more. Before I could realize, or maybe it is how it feels now after the race finished, we reached JFK Middle School from where we started an hour earlier. A final sprint for the cameras and it was over: 58:08

First race of the SMAC Series checked … next in a month: Cave Hill Classic

Ron Hebert Race 8mi -- rights: http://smacrunning.shutterfly.com

in italiano …