A Look Back, a Look Ahead and a Couple of Race Recaps

Hey gang, remember me?  I have to admit I’ve been a little remiss in my blogging.  We’re a week into 2013 and I’ve yet to close out 2012!  So grab a cup of coffee and settle in because I’ve got a lot to cover – let’s charge into 2013.

2012 – A Look Back

But first, let’s look back at 2012.  It was a pretty tough year, running wise. I limped into the year with a pair of shredded Achilles tendons and spent much of the year desperately trying to repair them – I could often be found icing these two annoying and damaged body parts.  I’m not sure how much of my struggling year can be attributed to the Achilles versus age versus a thousand other variables, but whatever the cause, my race times were significantly slower than those of 2011.

For example, in 2011 I ran masters PRs of 18:58 for the 5K, 39:54 for the 10K, and a 1:29:08 half marathon. My best times of 2012 were low-20 in the 5K, high 41 in the 10K, and I never even broke 1:37 in the half.

In 2012, I finally got to ‘run’ (I use the term loosely) the Boston marathon, only to face-plant it with a horrific, over 5-hour, death march / puke fest.  I vowed that would not be my only Boston marathon, but then I barely managed a 3:27 in my comeback attempt, the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY – 2 minutes too slow to re-qualify.

So yeah, I’m glad it’s over.

2013 – A Look Ahead

I enter 2013 with optimism.  The Achilles have finally healed and while they don’t seem to have that pre-injury spring, they don’t hurt every day either.

I’m (along with Laura, my girlfriend and training partner in case you’re new to the blog) chin-deep in marathon training.  I hit 60 miles last week, more miles in a week than any in 2012.  And I’m not destroyed.  Throughout 2012, I cautiously built up my mileage.  So here we are with the Myrtle Beach marathon looming on the horizon (February 16) and I’m feeling good about my chances of finally qualifying for Boston again.

Race 1 Recap: The Tightwad 5K

I enjoyed ringing in 2012 with this race so when the DART guys announced they were putting it on again this year, I immediately signed up.  I especially like the registration fee of zero dollars.  I talked Laura into signing up too – it wasn’t a very hard sell.

Tuesday morning, January 1, and we were toeing the line in the cold and rain.  I felt happy that I wasn’t hungover – I held firm the night before even as seemingly thousands tried to peer pressure me into drinking copious amounts of alcohol. I wouldn’t say things were exactly cozy there on the starting line – 40’s, windy, and rainy made conditions slightly less than ideal – but I was happy.

Chris, Bobby, and I put on our game faces while Laura is kid-on-Christmas-morning giddy.

Chris, Bobby, and I put on our game faces while Laura is kid-on-Christmas-morning giddy. (For the new folks, that’s Bobby in the long-sleeved yellow shirt, Laura, me, then Chris far right)

40 people had signed up for this free race and maybe 25 or so actually showed up.  I was anxious to get started as I was freezing on the line.  Dave said a few words, then said “Go!”, and we went barreling down South Street through Davidson.

I cruised along at about 6:15 pace and while the lungs seemed fine, the legs were a tad iffy having just run an 18-mile progression run 2 days earlier.  DARTer Bryan Massingale jumped out to the front while Chris followed closely behind with me in third.  I felt good, all things considered, and I thought maybe I could hold this spot, especially considering that Bobby had run a half marathon the day before.

Bobby passed me before we hit the mile marker, but it seemed to me like he was breathing pretty hard, harder than I was, so I passed him back, thinking I could hold him off.  Wrong.  He passed me again and I tried to go with him, but couldn’t.  Then some lady (results show her to be Valerie Wrenholt) passed me and I tried to go with her, but couldn’t.  Then another guy (Thomas Lanahan) and I couldn’t hang with him either.  Huh, apparently an 18-mile run takes something out of the legs.  Go figure.

After the first seemingly easy mile, things started hurting and the rest of the race was just a matter of hanging on for dear life.  I expected Laura to pass me any second, forgetting that she had run the 18-miler with me so her legs weren’t exactly fresh either.

Chris won, as expected.  Laura and I finished 7th and 6th respectably, Laura running out of real estate as she reeled me in.  It wasn’t a great race for either of us, but it was a good workout for both of us and in my opinion, a great way to kick off 2013.

Finishing the 2013 Tightwad 5K with Laura right on my heels.

Finishing the 2013 Tightwad 5K with Laura right on my heels.

Afterward, we hit Summit Coffee to get warm, sip coffee, and change into dry clothes, before we headed back to the Davidson green where Chad hooked us up with some free Pick Your Poison socks.  I’m not sure if these were age-group awards or friends of DART gifts or what, but I was stoked about getting SWAG at a free race.  2013 was off to a good start!

Race 2 Recap: The Frosty 50K Relay

Over the holidays, Tom, one of my college buddies, emailed me to say that he’d be in North Carolina and asked if there were any nearby road races.  He lives in Alaska and the idea of running a race outdoors in December or January is a pretty novel idea.  I told him that I thought it would be fun if we could put together a relay team for the Frosty 50K in Winston Salem.  It was geographically about halfway (Tom would be coming from Chapel Hill), tons of my friends were running it, and running a relay would provide some fun team spirit camaraderie.  I figured Laura would gladly run so all we needed was another lady around our age and we could put together a nice little mixed masters team.  Tom and Laura agreed to do it so I started looking for a fourth.

I tried asking some of my fast 40-something female friends like Kathy and Christie, but no takers.  Luckily, Laura’s pal Ruthie joined us so we were all set.  I signed us up as team Northern Exposure, with a wink and a nod to Tom in Anchorage.

But last minute, Tom was unable to make it home for the holidays, so I scrambled to find a replacement.  None of my fast 40-something friends like Leonard or Rob, could make it.  I had to bail on the mixed masters plan and go instead with an open mixed, 3-over-40 and a fourth any-aged fast kid, team.  Chris Lamperski agreed to join us, easing logistic concerns as he lives only a couple of miles away.  So we were team Northern Exposure, albeit with a name that made no sense now.

Saturday morning, we groggily got ready for the race and Chris met us at my place before 6:00 a.m. for the trek over to Salem Lake.  We picked up Ruthie who was staying at a hotel in Winston and headed over.  I chugged coffee in a desperate attempt to wake up in time for the 8:00 race.

I was uptight about parking because the nearby church that usually provides Salem Lake race day parking was unavailable due to a funeral.  Who had the gall to die right before our race?  Selfish jerk.  But somehow we got lucky as the volunteers guided us right up front for a prime spot – score!  We fought the cold to grab our race packets and then I queued up in the bathroom line inside the cozy little park mobile home (presumably a place to buy fishing tackle and whatnot).

Again, as usual, I was anxious about logistics and wasn’t clear on where the exchange zones would be.  But as Laura and I waited in the restroom line with only about 20 minutes until gun time, Aaron showed up and filled us in on details and promised to guide Laura (second leg, I was going first) to the exchange zone.  This mostly assuaged my concerns.

I chatted with Aaron for a bit about the relay teams vying for various awards.  He said, “I hear Lamperski’s out here with a team.” to which I responded, “Yeah, he’s on my team.”  Aaron, “Ah good, that eases my concerns.”  Dude.  I’m standing right here – I can hear you.  I laughed and playfully shoved him then went outside and sobbed – that’s a joke, I barely shed a few tears.

7:45 and the indoor restroom line was barely moving.  I told Laura that I had to head over to the start – I was rapidly running out of time and I’d yet to run warm-up step one.  I shed my extra layers – it was downright frigid and at least 10 degrees cooler than forecasted.  It was about 29 at the start and had been predicted to be in the low 40’s.

I made my way to the outdoor port-a-johns where the lines were much shorter, and with good reason.   My junk nearly froze in there.  I rushed, finished, and took off for about 3 minutes of warming up.  I ran into Emily Barrett and we jogged together for the last minutes before the race.

Headed back to the starting line, I spotted former Charlotteans Thomas and Michelle, now turned Raleighnites?  Raleightonions?  Raleighish?  Whatever they are,  I stopped and asked them what they were running.  Michelle was doing the relay while Thomas was running the 50K.  I asked him what pace he’d be going and he said “7:26”, so I said, “Ah cool, you want to run together for a few? ”  He said “Sure” and just like that I had someone to keep me company.  Thomas and I made our way through the crowd in the starting corral and picked up Brad Belifore and Matt Jaskot along the way.  Moments later, the race director signaled the start and we began running our way around the lake.

It was freezing and my gloves did little to warm my hands.  I tried to forget the cold by chatting with the guys and I figured I’d get warm soon enough.  I told Matt my famous Thomas story, the Thunder Road one where I was running the half when I caught up to Thomas and thought I was finally going to beat someone in the Charlotte Running Club when he told me that he had already run the marathon course once – he was on about mile 38.  Classic Allen’s Road to Boston lore.

Those guys started picking up the pace a little so I backed off.  The plan for Laura and me on this day was to stick to our regularly scheduled workout.  That meant 2 mile repeats at 7:15 – 7:30 pace with about a minute or so of recovery jogging between.  Which I did.  I was so proud of myself for sticking to the plan and not racing til I fell apart.  Even when chubby dudes with water belts passed me, I just let them go and stuck to the plan, so very un-Allen like.

I enjoyed myself, eventually warming up, and soaked in the beauty of the Salem Lake surroundings – it really is a serene and beautiful spot to run.  Before I knew it, my ~7.5 mile leg was nearly over.

Past the 7 mile mark, I noticed Ruthie and Laura jogging just ahead and I realized they were out warming up – I was about to pass the person I was supposed to be handing the ‘baton’ (really a little Velcro-strapped bracelet containing the timing chip) to.  I yelled ahead, “Laura, hurry up!”  She let out a little yelp and then took off like she was fired from a cannon – I wanted to scream out, “Easy, not that fast!” as I was afraid she was going to blow up / burn out before her race had even begun.  I passed Ruthie who asked, “Are we almost there?” to which I answered, “I sure hope so.”

Laura got to the exchange zone with plenty of time to spare and I passed off the bracelet / baton.  Leg 1 in the books – now I could relax.

I headed to the nearest port-a-johns where all my warmth left me.  When I exited, Jason Rose was standing there stretching so I asked him if he knew the nearest way back to the starting line – I knew there was a short cut across and I wasn’t about to run 7.5 miles back.  Jason wasn’t sure either but pointed me in the direction he thought it was.  I headed that way but quickly encountered a dead-end of forest so came back.  I spotted Dalena who told me how to get back and even the shortcut was a mile and a half.  Oh well, nice cool down.

I made my way and found my teammates, Chris and Ruthie.  We chatted while Ruthie got ready for her turn.  Then we headed back to the start, where Laura came bolting in and handed off to Ruthie:

Laura hands off to Ruthie.

Laura hands off to Ruthie.

Ruthie knocked out her leg while Laura, Chris, and I hung out at the exchange zone and chatted with various runners.  Ruthie came in, handed off to Chris, and I led the rest of our team in a power walk to the start/finish, worried that Chris might beat us there.  But we managed to get there a couple of minutes ahead of him and were therefore able to cheer on the anchor of Northern Exposure.

It was an immensely fun day and we capped it off with lunch and drinks at Foothills Brewing.  Team Northern Exposure posed for this final pic before heading home:

Northern Exposure, post race!

Northern Exposure, post race!

It’s been a great start to 2013.  Stay tuned for much more on my road *back* to Boston!


One Response to “A Look Back, a Look Ahead and a Couple of Race Recaps”

  1. Ruthie Says:

    Fun day indeed!! Thanks for the invite and look forward to cheering you guys on in MB!!

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