Races — Biathlon is Back in 2017

I have written about biathlons previously. Recently, I got a list of races and dates in the Northeast. Many of these are skiing, but I figured endurance athletes might appreciate them all the same.

Get excited:  dates have been set for 2017 Pemi Biathlon races!

Jan 28

Feb 4

March 4

May 20

June 17

Aug 5

Sept 30

Oct 21

Events may be cancelled due to weather, so please be in touch if you have any questions before driving over.  If you anticipate bringing a group of 5 or more participants that need to use club rifles and ammo, please be in touch before the race so that we can prepare. 

More information can be found at http://pemi.org/biathlon.html but note that as of this email, the page has not been updated for 2017.  Please feel welcome to download and complete forms beforehand and bring them along, but please do not send them, or payment, in the mail.  We also have blank forms available at the events that you can fill out here.

For those interested, the Harvard Biathlon Club has been offering some exciting races.  Their next events will occur on Jan 22, Feb 26, and March 26.  https://www.facebook.com/HSCBiathlon 

The Jackson Biathlon Club is offering a Wednesday race series:  Jan. 4 (Training Day: included in series), 11, 18, 25.  Feb: 1,8,15,22. March 1,8.

and a Sunday race series:  Jan 15, 29.  Feb 12, 26. March 12.

They also have programs for juniors and youth.  Please contact Wayne at jxbiathlon@gmail.com

Finally, a few regional and national events:

Jan. 12, 19, 26 and Feb. 9, 16, 23.   Ethan Allen Biathlon Thursday Night Series:  Jericho, VT

February 11-12, 2017  NORAM #4  Ethan Allen Biathlon, Jericho, VT

February 18-19, 2017 NORAM #5 Lake Placid, NY

March 24-26, 2017  US Nationals, Jericho, VT

Ski fast, shoot straight!

Scott B

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Gear — This Is a Good Hack for Cold Weather Running

At the Yulefest run, which was wicked cold, I saw this Kleenex hack from one of my fellow runners. It was a pretty good way to carry it, though you do need this kind of pack.

For the record, it stayed on through the race.

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Races — Cambridge 5K Yulefest: 2016’s Last Race Was A Little Colder, A Little Slower

Every runner’s times will go up and down, but comparing my Turkey Trot time to my Cambridge 5K Yulefest time, things seem to be holding steady.

Party people and the the Yulefest sign.

This was the Yulefest after-party. People were warmed up by then.

Below is my time from today’s race. The average pace was 8:41 per mile, four seconds slower than my Thanksgiving pace. But this is how races can differ. The Yulefest course was a lot tighter, going down residential streets. It also had 4,000 runners, which was about four times what the Donohue’s race had.

2016-yulesfest-results

The time wasn’t too bad.

So, my agility ladder training was in use today, but I haven’t done that in a while. Also, my cardio was being tested. At race time it was about 28 degrees, which made for a much colder run.

That said the combination of running, fencing, and weightlifting that I have been doing seems to have kept me in okay form.

This race was a good one for me overall, but I know from past times that I can do better. So, now, as I think ahead to 2017, I will need to consider my goals and training ideas.

Race Bib

My race bib from the 2016 Yulefest run.

As a side note, I volunteered for bib pick up to help the race organizers, I spent an evening handing out hats to racers, and came home with a pocket full of tags. It was a good way to give a little back and support my fellow runners. While I won’t volunteer at every race, I want to make volunteering part of my running in the future.

Knit hat and hat tags.

One the results of volunteering is a pocket full of hat tags.

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Races — The Cambridge Half Marathon, A New Experience for This Runner

The first ever Cambridge half marathon was a new experience for this runner. Wait, you don’t actually think I ran that far, do you? No, for this race I was a volunteer for the organizers.

Volunteer Badge for the Cambridge Half Marathon

Instead of a race bib, I wore this at the Cambridge Half Marathon.

Every race has a ton of support people who make it happen. They range from the organizers to city workers to the police who help block traffic. Among all those people are the volunteers that race organizers recruit for things like handing out numbers, monitoring the course, and doing virtually everything else that needs to be done.

The Cambridge Half was the first of its kind. It was put on by the organizers of the Cambridge 5K series of races. I have run many of these races over the past few years, and they are always well-run and a fun time. Since I knew that I would not run a half marathon (you can read my reasons for choosing the 5K as my distance here), I thought I would volunteer as a way of giving back a little to the races that I like so much.

Everyone who runs races should try to volunteer at one or two also. It is a way to give back to the running community and a way to stay involved when you can’t run for some reason like an injury or a distance that you don’t specialize in. It’s also a way to indirectly support causes. For example, the Cambridge Half raised money for Belmont S.P.O.R.T., which provides activities for people with special needs, and Cambridge Camping, which offers camps for low-income children.

I volunteered to help with the set up on race day as well, which meant that I had to be at the race venue by 5:30 a.m. It was an early bedtime the Saturday before, but worth getting the extra rest. Once I was there, I did a variety of jobs from helping set up the bag check, to cutting zip ties off of porta-potties so they would be open for racers to setting up water at the finish line.

The staging area was the CambridgeSide Galleria mall in Cambridge, Mass. I spent some time getting racers out of the mall and to the start line. It was around this time that I learned from the race organizer that about 200 of the people who signed up to volunteer but didn’t show. (Note: DON’T be that kind of volunteer.) As I was moving through the mall, one woman who was there to watch her boyfriend and sister run asked me if she could be a last minute volunteer. Turns out she was supposed to run the race, got injured, and had to pull out. She wanted to help and her help was welcomed, so if you find yourself in that position, consider checking in with the race organizers.

Helping to move a rack of medals from a parking garage up to the finish line on the street mean that I got my workout in for the day. This thing was heavy.

Race Medals for the Cambridge Half Marathon

Race Medals for the Cambridge Half Marathon

Once the race started, there was about an hour of down time before the first runner came across the finish line. The volunteers spent time getting things set and taking a few speedy time gag photos with the clock at the finish line and trading stories about how they came to volunteer. One woman had given her bib to her dad, since she had an injury, and others wanted to be there to support friends and family who were running.

Cases of bottled water at the Cambridge Half Marathon

Water is ready for the finishers of the Cambridge Half Marathon.

Soon, the first runners were crossing the line. As someone who has never been at the front of the pack on these races, it was fun to see the top finishers. As there were plenty of people handing out water and medals, my job soon became moving people out of the finishing chute and breaking up some of the family and friends’ reunions with the runners. The goal was to keep things open for the runners behind folks. Everyone was polite and thanked the volunteers.

Finish line at the Cambridge half marathon.

Testing the finish line shortly before the first runners runners arrive.

It is a testament to the organizers that despite being so short on volunteers, the race ran very smoothly and the runners posted positive comments on Facebook afterwards.

I had a great time, met some nice people, and got some beer out of the bargain, so I will definitely consider volunteering again. If you get the chance, find a good race and explore it from the other side as a non-runner.

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Races — Still Chugging Along at the Donohue’s 11th Annual Turkey Trot

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the United States and that means that the running inclined can start their day with a 5K to work up an appetite for the delicious meal that comes later in the day.

Life’s other responsibilities sometimes get in the way, which is why I have been quiet on this blog for some time. Still, we can return to the things we enjoy, and so yesterday I was back out there for the Donohue’s Bar and Grill 11th Annual 5K Turkey Trot. It benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Watertown, Mass.

Donohues Turkey Trot 2016 5K Race Bib

Lucky Number 907

My running has been inconsistent enough as of late that my goals for the race were to finish in under half an hour and run the entire thing. My stretch goal was to finish in 27 minutes.

It was a good day for a race, with clear skies and a temperature around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. My first mile was about dodging other runners as I found a pace that would push me but not be unsustainable. I In my second mile, it seemed like my tank had run out of fuel, so I just had to keep pushing and hope for the best. In mile three, I found the reserve tank and managed to make the following results:

2016-donohues-turkey-trot-results

My gun time was 27:26 and my chip time was 26:44! Not bad considering my training has been lacking a little.It’s not my best time ever, but I am surprised and happy with the results.

My next race is the Cambridge 5K Yule Fest in Harvard Square on December 11. (You can register here. It is a fun, well-organized race with good beer afterwards.) I have a couple of weeks to train, though there may be a business trip in there. Still, for a stretch goal, I will try for less than 26:30. I don’t plan any fancy training, but I will try to run consistently.

Does anyone else set goals and stretch goals for a 5K? How do you decide on what your goals should be?

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Races: Thirty Seconds Faster to Freedom

Today was the Cambridge 5K Race Series Freedom run. It was a relatively flat, fast course through Cambridge, Mass., starting at the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall.

The course was the same over the past two years, and I am happy to say that I cut 30 seconds off my time from last year. You can see the results below. While I have been running, I can’t attribute the improvement to any particular training program. I think, though a couple of things helped.

Freedom Run Results 2015 2016

The Cambridge 5K series has well-organized, popular races. So, they always have a lot of runners. Today I was by myself for the race and stated towards the back of the pack. I came up with a thought during the race that I think might have helped my time.

It seems to me that when running in a group like this, the goal should be to get to a place in the pack where you aren’t passing a lot of people or you have more people passing you than you are passing. It seems to me that if you push yourself to get to the place in the pack where you are no longer passing people, then you have reached your ideal pace for that race. It seems like you want to be there, but this does depend on a lot of variables, so I am not sure that it will work as a race strategy. A 5K is short, and there are a lot of variables around running speeds and where people line up, but it might be a race strategy worth experimenting with. Has anyone ever tried this?

The second factor was a little more specific, but it was about maintaining a consistent pace. My friend Kris, who runs much farther distances than I ever will and over some pretty challenging terrain, told me that you want to maintain the same effort going down hill that you use going up hill. Note that this does not mean the same speed. You should be going faster downhill. There was a slight rise near the end of the race that went up and then down, and as I was coming down, I worked to maintain the effort. I think this helped me keep up a good pace all through the race.

Also, I have mentioned this in an earlier post, but being near the back of the pack on this race reaffirmed the value of agility ladder training. It made it easier to get around slower runners and dodge out of the way of the faster ones.

Let me know what you think of these race strategies and whether you have any suggestions for others.

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Training: How Fast Can You Get? The Great Bear Run Makes a Runner Wonder

The Needham Track Club held its 26th Annual Great Bear Run on May 15 to raise money for prostate cancer research. There was a 5-K and shorter runs for the kids.

My own race was uneven. I settled into a fairly good form and pace for the first mile, but someone where in the second mile, I felt the lack of breakfast and slowed down. I did not ‘bonk’ as the marathon runners would say. I finished the race in decent time for me, but it brought home once again that so much of race performance depends on factors beyond training, including rest, fuel, and hydration.

Here are my results. They were middle of the pack, but reasonably good for me.

05152016 Great Bear Run Results

But what was interesting was the top performers. They lead a runner to wonder how fast can you get at any age. Take a look at the top five runners, their times, and their ages.

05152016 Great Bear Run Top 5

I ran cross country in high school *mumble* years ago, and was never anywhere near 16 minutes for a total time. Some of these guys are several dec—years older than me and way faster. This leads to three questions.

 

  1. Were these guys the ones running 16 minute 5-Ks back in high school? Have they always been this fast?
  2. Is there something special about them that makes them this fast or did they train up to it?
  3. How fast can a hobbyist runner train up to be?

 

Lately my training has been focused on just getting some miles in – about 3 a day or every other day. It may be time to return to more structure. I have a plan in mind, and sometimes I think the only limitations are where I put my energy. But if anyone out there has any secrets, I am all ears.

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Races: Super Sunday 5K — Warm Up Routines? Names on Bibs? Recovery Beers?

Super Bowl Sunday is also the day of a 5-K race from the Race Cancer Foundation. This is my second year of doing this race, and compared with last year, the roads were definitely better. The same cannot be said for my time, however. Last year my gun time and chip time were 27:20 and 26:38.  This year, my gun and chip time were 28:36 and 27:48, respectively.

Super Sunday 2016 ResultsNow, if I had been at my fastest pace from last year, I would have been near the top three for my age group in this race. The races are always a crap shoot, but it would be nice to win my age category at least once. Although that can be tough to do in a running town like Boston. All the same, it is an incentive for maintaining one’s conditioning.

I will say that one of the lessons I have learned from this race is that I think it would be a good idea to have a warm up routine. I have seen people who have elaborate ones and some who just kind of jog around. I think something in between might improve my personal performance.

Beyond that there were a couple of other interesting things about this race. One thing was about the organization. While the race was well organized for the most part, they did not have the road where the start line was completely closed. People were trying to turn cars down the road and would have come up behind the runners waiting at the start line. I was down at the end of the block, waiting in the sun to keep warm with some other runners. We would wave people off, but there really should have been a volunteer or cop there. I finally moved some traffic cones, one that had been smashed into a snow bank by a plow and one that was there as part of the course, to block the road.

That was really my only gripe about the race. There were some other things at the race I liked. The 5-K was only one race, there was a 5-miler at the same time. The bibs were color coded for each race and they also had people’s first names on them.  Kind of nice, I thought, especially if you were on a team where you didn’t know everyone. As I was walking back to my car, one of the other runners looked at me and said “Hi, Ben!” I said hello. It was just a goofy, friendly greeting, but nice all the same.

Super Sunday 2016 Bib and MugThe other innovation, if you will is visible in this picture, which is a small, plastic mug for the recovery beers. A number of breweries were at the after party  offering pours to the runners. I thought this beat the huge number of plastic cups that get handed out and dumped at each race. It was a good appropriation of an idea I have seen at brew fests.

So, once again, time to get back to proper training, develop a warm up routine, and think about a blog post on the concept of recovery beers. If you have any thoughts on these topics, let me know.

 

 

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Gear: Runkeeper GPS Check

Back a couple of weeks ago, I told you about how I was getting a different reading from Runkeeper than I did with my now-defunct Nike+ watch. So, as promised, I checked the Runkeeper distance using my car’s odometer. While it is not exactly the same route on the roads and sidewalks, it should average out.

Just as a reminder, here is what Runkeeper said my distance was.

RunKeeper Lyons Park RunSo, it read the route as four miles over a route that I had been using as a 5K training run because it was 3.1 miles.

First, I drove the out part of the loop, stopped and checked the distance. Here is what the odometer said.

Odometer Check 1It was 1 and 1/2 miles just as I thought. So, I know that this works for the kind of training run I want to do.

Then I checked the entire distance.

Odometer Check 2This route is a 5K, which is what I was looking for.

This tempted me to give up on Runkeeper, but I ran a couple of other known routes before I did the odometer check and they seemed a lot closer to what I knew the routes to be.

The next step is to check in with Runkeeper customer service and see what they say. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I have a 5K on Sunday. I’ll probably skip the tracking on that and just run, since juggling a phone can be distracting.

Let me know if you have had GPS issues, and if so, how did you resolve them?

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Cross Training: February Fitness Check Up

Back on January 3, I did my first Presidential Fitness Test for 2016. A month later, it looks like there has been some progress, but plenty room for more.

Fitness Test ResultsSo, if you took 100 forty-one-year-old guys and lined them up in order of fitness, I would be fitter than 65 of them. Not bad, but I need to do more work. I have done better on push-ups and sit-ups in the past. I have two races coming up this month which will help. I need to do better on the eating, and there is plenty of cross training to do.

If you want to test yourself, you can see how you stack up at https://www.adultfitnesstest.org/.

More to come, including the GPS test.

 

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