Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Running a Trifecta - Race #3

Race day morning in Lowell MA!

My hotel was just a few short blocks away from the start line and as I headed out the door another runner asked me if I knew where the start line was.  I invited him to walk with me but I realized that it was warmer out than I thought, so I pointed him in the right direction then took off my fleece jacket and tied it around the outside rear view mirror of my rental car in the parking lot, hoping it would still be there when I returned.

As I walked to the start line, I worried I might be too warm with my long sleeve shirt and capri's.  It was very windy, so my hope was that I'd be okay given a slight wind chill factor.  I placed myself toward the back of the pack, knowing I'd be setting a fairly slow pace after doing two half marathons last weekend.

We were treated to a lovely A Capella tight harmony duet version of the National Anthem and then we were set loose onto the race course.  I know this city well.  I lived nearby and worked in Lowell for several years.  Our race route took us right by the former St. Joseph Hospital where I worked for several years but now a U. Mass Lowell facility, and it took us right past the U. Mass Lowell building where I taught for two years.  It also ran me right past the building in which nearly all of my MBA graduate school classes were held.  It was a very special race for me because of this.  While the former hospital facade had changed significantly, being turned into a beautiful glass-front building containing conference facilities and the River Hawks book store, the U. Mass campus buildings had not changed at all.  They still looked exactly as they did when I taught there and attended graduate school.

The day was glorious!  Low humidity, clear blue skies, and a strong wind that sent cascades of leaves down onto us runners.  The leaves formed deep "puddles" along the curb and it was fun to scuff through them as I ran along the route.  We had a view of the Merrimack River at all times, first along the south shore then, after crossing the river at the Rourke bridge, along the north shore.  We made two loops of the river, crossing the Rourke bridge and the beautiful and historic Ouellette bridge twice.  Despite the fact it was a two-loop course, I totally enjoyed it.

Baystate Half Marathon race route - data from my Garmin GPS watch

I was happy with my finish time, even though I stopped running to help a little girl who'd crashed hard on her bicycle.  She was riding her bicycle behind her mom but slammed into a guardrail buttress and went down very hard.  Her mom didn't realize this and kept going, and the girl was absolutely panicked.  I stepped over the railing and helped her get untangled from her bicycle and asked if she was okay.  She fell hard on her left arm and I was worried she may have broken it.  Just as I was helping her to her feet, her mom rushed up and thanked me.  The delay didn't matter; I knew it wouldn't make a difference in my age group placement and, in the grand scheme of things, in my finishing time.

Nice finisher medal

Crossing the finish line

The finishing chute sent us through a park and around a building where we found cauldrons of HOT SOUP!  It was fabulous!  We had a choice of minestrone, bean, or chicken noodle.  Such a perfect post race food!  I wandered out of the park, following other runners and hoping they knew where they were going because I was totally disoriented.  Finally I had to approach a police officer who was directing traffic, ask him how to get to the hotel.  Once I got onto a street I recognized, I knew where I was and how to get there.  I had some money in my pocket, thinking I was going to pass a Dunkin Donuts shop, but where it should have been was an empty storefront.  So, sadly, and without a nice hot cappuccino, I returned to the hotel to get cleaned up.

A longtime friend from high school was meeting me at the hotel at 1:00 PM for Sunday Brunch.  We had a great visit, and promised we'd meet again next time I'm in New England.

It's been an unbelievable 10 days of racing, visiting, sightseeing in New England!

Here's what my 50 States Half Marathon map looks like, now that I've colored in the states of CT, RI, and MA;

The New England Trifecta finisher medals:

Hartford, Lowell, and Newport finisher medals:  3 races in 9 days

A relaxing post-race evening at the hotel in Lowell, and I then packed up and departed for Providence airport Monday morning to fly home.

Next:  a week to recover, then the Houston Half the next weekend with a St. Louis friend.

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