Category Archives: Sports

Down with it: Second Quincy Frozen 5K

There wasn’t any doubt that Hubby and I were going to do the second Frozen 5K in Quincy, MA. For one thing, it’s right in our ‘hood, meaning we only had to drive for 10 minutes in order to be there 90 minutes before the start. For another, it is hosted by our YMCA, where we go every Tuesday night to be lovingly tortured by our trainer, Mary, in a class called Strength and Stride. Mary and most of our classmates were also doing this run.

And then there’s the fact that I couldn’t pass up a second stab at one of the most glorious downhills ever. Here’s what I said about it last year …

“… Which brings us back to the delicious descent that helped me feel so (briefly) speedy. Momentously, I had to stop for a couple of seconds at the bottom because I was going too fast, and was perilously close to falling down. But I stayed upright and posted a significantly improved personal record. In a shocking twist, I even felt as though I could go a little farther.

Hills, I think perhaps I have been too hard on you.”

OK, so I was obviously experiencing some kind of delirium when I wrote that final bit. But there’s no doubt that it was an epic descent.

2nd Frozen 5K Quincy start

Chilly, but the clouds burned off just before the start.

Seeing as I’d done this run before, I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to go down. Although, this time I had an audience so I wanted to put in a shame-free showing. But I was feeling crabby beforehand, and my IT band was still giving me gyp, so I didn’t have high hopes. (When do I ever have high hopes?)

The first mile was slow. I want to say it was because I was saving my reserves for the other side of that glorious descent, but, no, I was just slow. I started running with one of my Y classmates, but she was worried she’d hold me back and was keen to run her own race, so I slowly inched ahead. (I know how she felt; I’ve only run a handful of races with a buddy. I like to work alone.)

The second mile was better. Not in-the-zone better, but better.

The final mile contained the aforementioned hill, which looked like this:


Trust me, it’s steeper than it looks.

I would have snapped a picture as I was hurtling down the other side, but I was, er, too busy hurtling down the other side. The nice thing about a race you’ve run before is that you know exactly where it’s going to finish. (Better than a GPS any day.) It meant I could go like a bat out of hell over the final quarter of a mile. So bat-like was I that I somehow managed to squeak in under 30 minutes again for only the second time ever. I was very excited. My triumph was extremely hill-assisted, but I’ll take it.

The event: Frozen 5K
The location: Quincy, MA
The date: January 6, 2013
My time: 29.56
Hubby’s time
: 19.37
The cause: South Shore YMCA
The T-shirt: No T-shirt for me (I registered too late)
The aftermath: Bananas, oranges, chowder, Subway

Because one New Year’s run is never enough: Lowell 1st Run + Millennium Mile

I’ve been thinking a lot about a possible “challenge” for 2013. Twelve half-marathons in 12 months, perhaps? A race in every U.S. state? A 5K every day? 2,013 miles in 2013? A marathon? A triathlon? A new Lululemon outfit every week? (OK, that last one is just wishful thinking.)

But so far I haven’t stumbled upon something that I feel like I can actually achieve. I have a half-marathon in March, so I’ll need to get my butt into gear for that, but I like writing about training about as much as I like doing it (which is to say not at all). So for now, I’m just going to keep running occasional races and writing about them. And who knows, I might run into something huge along the way …

After polishing off 52 races in 2012, I was ready to take a big old rest from running. I had already accumulated enough T-shirts to outfit a small country, and I was looking forward to getting my weekend mornings back. Which of course is why Hubby and I decided to start 2013 … with two races in one day. Makes perfect sense, yes?

First Run 2013 starting line

Lining up for the start of the First Run in Lowell, MA.

New Year’s Day race #1

We ran the 1st Run in Lowell, MA, last year in unseasonably warm temperatures. Some of you may recall this post! I remember being overdressed for the occasion and wondering how on earth my face could be so red despite the winter(ish) temps. (Very little has changed.) Still, it was a great run and we were excited to be doing it again.

The weather was much more predictable this year (read: nasty cold), which means I wasn’t as convinced of the merits of running at all. There had been snow over Christmas that had frozen into menacing ice, and I had mental images of spending a large amount of time on my butt. The start/finish was particularly perilous. Like I don’t have enough impediments already.

First Run 2013

The roads were pretty clear, thank goodness.

First Run 2013

Spot me! (Photo by Ted Tyler)

Anyway, I had the customary 90 minutes of pre-race wait time (thankfully in cozy quarters) to talk myself back into it, and by the time we lined up I was good to go, albeit freezing and wearing Hubby’s Will Run for Beer series jacket, which made me look like a kid dressed in Dad’s clothing. (I knew I was going to wind up having to take it off, but I refused to let the common-sense side of my brain win over the freezing-my-behind-off-at-the-start side of my brain, so on it stayed.)

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So many half-marathons, so little time

First, a HUGE shout-out to Jill at Jogging Jeans for the fabulous dedication yesterday. Jill is one of my favorite bloggers. She is hilarious and lovingly irreverent, and definitely gets where I am coming from when it comes to running. I can’t imagine that anyone reading my blog wouldn’t have already visited hers, but if you haven’t, do it immediately. I am very excited to meet her in May at the Pittsburgh Half. You should come and join us!

OK, back to business…

While I was turning many shades of red and cultivating my moose-running skills in 2012, my running buddy, a.k.a. Hubby, a.k.a. Mr. I Finished 20 Minutes Ago, a.k.a. guest blogger extraordinaire, was running 21 half-marathons. That’s right, 21. He initially committed to 12 in 2012, but got so into it that he wound up switching the digits. I think that deserves a moment, don’t you?

It’s pretty good for someone who only started running (and exercising, for that matter) at the end of 2010, when he joined the Massachusetts National Guard and realized he literally needed to get up to speed for the physical fitness test. If he hadn’t caught the running bug, I never, ever would have accumulated so much Lululemon put a toe anywhere near a road race.

Did I mention how crazy/amazing I think 21 half-marathons is? (This is in addition to a bunch of other distances, including two full marathons. He ran 68 races overall last year.) To celebrate, here’s some bib action from ’12, but it’s clearly not all of them. (Who knows what happened to those.)



For the record, here are the 2012 half-marathons. They are all amazing races, should you feel so inclined to partake in one or two – or 21 – in 2013. The ones that are asterisked he is either already registered to run again, or they’re in his plans. Those with a double asterisk I am “running” too.

Smuttynose Palooza Indoor Half-Marathon 2012 (sadly, this one is not being repeated)
*Half at the Hamptons
*Quincy Half Marathon
**NC Half Marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Great Bay Half Marathon

*Lake George Half Marathon

Twin Lights Half Marathon
*Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon
*Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon
*Bands on the Run
**Mad Half Marathon
*Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon
The Building Center YuKanRun Triple Threat Series
**Sea Wheeze Lululemon Half Marathon
*Applecrest Half Marathon
Run to the Rock 1/2 Marathon

Oceans Run Half Marathon

Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon

*Anthem Richmond Half-Marathon

* Wolf Hollow Half Marathon

Santa Hustle

(Stride and) Joy to the World …

I was going to say that the reason I have been so silent for the past week or so is that I have been trapped under a jolly fat man in a red suit, but then I realized how inappropriate that sounded … Instead, I’ll just say that I, like many others, have been firmly in the clutches of work and study, leaving no time for fun things like blogging. And eating.

I still have three runs to write about to tie this whole 52 Weeks, 52 Runs business up neatly with a bow, but before I do that, I wanted to wish you all a marvelous holiday season. Thanks for all the wonderful support in 2012. I can’t wait to see where 2013 takes everyone. (If you want a sneak peek of my plans, they’re on the right of this blog. Who wants to join me?)

Santa Sightings 2012

Hubby and I at the Santa Sightings in New Bedford.

Race company awesomeness

I left out a part of the story about me implausibly winning an age group award at the Wolf Hollow 5K.

When the results were posted at the run, I was fourth. When we checked them again at home, I was third. I guess the gal above me was in the wrong age group. Score!

It meant, however, that I didn’t get a pint glass. 3C Race Productions, the folks who put on the Wolf Hollow, are famous for their pint-glasses-as-prizes (soda glasses if you’re under 21), and I was very excited by the prospect of getting one by means other than having my name pulled out of a hat. (I had obtained a 3C glass this way before, at the 4K on the 4th, and also at the Covered Bridge 5K, as pointed out by an avid S&J reader also known as Hubby).

So I emailed Mr. 3C, explained what had happened, and he said he’d mail me a glass. How nice! A couple of weeks passed and I hadn’t really thought about it. Then this week (funnily enough, on the same day I posted about the run), I got a package in the mail. It seemed suspiciously flat for a pint glass.

Fun on Foot in New England


It was a copy of Fun on Foot in New England, with a nice note from Mr. 3C saying they had warehoused all the glasses and I should ask about them again in the new year.

How fabulous and unexpected is that? So, not only can I now prove to my likely mocking grandchildren that, yes, it’s true that I won a running age group award back in the day (my mother is surely wondering what parallel future universe I am referring to), I can also, you know, find out where to have fun. On foot.

Getting this terrific prize gives me a chance to talk about the all-around awesomeness of 3C Race Productions. They put on more than 200 runs in New England every year, to the point where I am convinced their folks are cloned, especially owner Michael Amarello, with whom I corresponded over my prize. We have run a lot of their races, and the events are always amazingly fun, laid-back affairs but super well organized. We especially appreciate 3C’s approach to handing out awards. Get it done fast! (I’ve aged 10 years standing through interminable awards ceremonies.)

Our 3C runs:

* The Covered Bridge 5K. Henniker, NH. September 4, 2011 (Hills from hell)
* Semap Bog Jog. Wareham, MA. September 17, 2011 (Still one of my favorite runs)
* Lake George 5K. Lake George, NY. April 29, 2012 (Was my PR run for ages)
* 4K on the 4th. Concord, NH. July 1, 2012 (Horrendously hot and a terrible run for me, but where I met Courtney Marshall)
* Tiger Trot. Hampton Falls, NH. November 17, 2012 (Fuzzy mascots!)
* Wolf Hollow 5K, Nashua, NH, November 25, 2012 (Age group award!)

Hubby also did this one:

* Zach Attach 5K. Hudson, NH, August 25, 2012 (Great cause)

Any New Englanders reading this, I recommend you find a 3C race or two to run if you like small, smooth, spirited events. They’re a friend to beer everywhere!

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 47: Grrrrrr

There are so many Turkey Trots around this time of the year that we decided to go against the grain the weekend before Thanksgiving and run a Tiger Trot. Those cooked-turkey hats scare the crap out of me, but tigers are OK. Not that there were many people sporting novelty headwear at this small event in Hampton Falls, near Exeter, NH (which seems like our second home these days). There was, however, a tiger mascot doing the rounds, as well as a priceless kid stumbling about in a fuzzy Dunkin’ Donuts costume that was far too big for him (he had to look out the arm hole). I don’t know what I was thinking, but I failed to snap a photo. You’ll just have to imagine the hilariousness.

Tiger Trot

Check out that sky!

Hosted by the Lincoln Akerman School, the Tiger Trot had lots of kids and parents, and a fun community atmosphere. I love these kinds of runs. There was a 5K and, oddly, a 10 miler, which was pretty adventurous given that this was a first-time event with a smallish crowd (although they had a pretty good turnout, considering). I ran the 5K, and Hubby the 10 mile. I don’t think I was mentally ready for another 10 after my last disaster over that distance (although I have run a half since then).

I would normally insert my customary weather rant here, but it was actually a gorgeous day for a run. My ideal running weather window is definitely anything between 3 and 10 degrees Celsius (36-50 F for all my American friends). Got to be sunny though. I’d happily run in those conditions all year round.

My performance expectations were high. After all, last time I did a 5K, I set a PR by more than 20 seconds and ran under 30 minutes for the first time. I just assumed that now I had managed that once, my legs and lungs would naturally rise to the occasion and let me do it again.

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America’s Friendliest Half-Marathon

My running buddy, aka Hubby, has gone from a non-runner/exerciser to an occasional marathoner and frequent half-marathoner in the course of two years. It’s amazing. And when I say frequent, I mean frequent. The American Family Fitness Half-Marathon in Richmond, Va., a couple of weeks back was his 19th half of 2012. I think that deserves a guest post, don’t you? …

This is what happens when you don’t run with a camera! You get a logo.

When you run a race, you always want to do your best, and there are so many factors that come into play as to your results. Shoes, temperature, maladies, crowds, hills (so many hills) … or even if you’ve just made a bad choice on your playlist.

Sometimes, though, in spite of all these things, you are handed a race course that you just want to complement with your best possible run in spite of everything else. I found one of these in Richmond, Va., at the American Family Fitness Half-Marathon. It was a mostly flat course through wide, quiet streets and a scenic park, with a downhill finish – and not just a moderate downhill. No daredevil kid would ever take a go-kart down this without ending up with some part of him in a cast for all his friends to sign.

Speedy Richmond

Richmond is a running city. It is home to a group called Sports Backers, who put on a swag of great events. Among them is the Ukrop’s 10K. This is a race that everyone should run at least once. Given the wave start system – 46 in total – if you were absolutely keen on doing it twice, you could pull off the feat in the same day. You’d just have to pony up for the registration fee two times … or three if you were super keen.

The half-marathon was part of a trifecta of races put on for the Richmond Marathon (marketed as “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” and I will not argue with that). As well as the marathon and half-marathon, there was also an 8K. After the cancellation of the NY Marathon due to Hurricane Sandy, the numbers for the marathon rose by another 1,000. Folks determined to race after all their training. I am sure a few of them will choose Richmond over NYC next year.

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