Sunday, March 12, 2017

An Update from the Frigid North, plus a race review (Black Cat 10 Miler)

It has been very cold up here in New England lately. We're expecting another blizzard this coming week -- as usual with the winter here I expect it to be done at the end of February, and I'm habitually surprised when it continues on through March.

I have found my fire for winter running, it seems, managing to cover more miles each week. It helps going out in the sun, and it also helps having the right equipment. My heavy winter jacket does a good job of cutting the wind and keeping me warm enough.

I headed up to Salem, MA yesterday for the Black Cat 10 mile road race. Woke up at around 4am to get ready, but the drive was short and uneventful up through Boston. I've never been to Salem before. It is a cute little New England town, of course notorious for the witch trials. My wife and I had planned to go together, and bring the baby. But without being able to find a dog sitter, we decided it would work better this year as a solo trip for me. We are planning to go up and visit Salem at some point soon, though, especially now that I know how easy the drive is.

It was COLD. I don't know really how cold, but my weather app said it was easily below zero with the wind chill. I didn't have gloves, or a balaclava, so I was happy to only be running the ten miler.

The race volunteers and organizers were all really nice, and the packet pickup process was great. Parking wasn't a big issue, either. I found a meter near the Hawthorne Hotel and fed it until it maxed out. The benefit being that I was also parked about a block from the finish because of this.

We started at about 8 am, more or less on time. The roads were fairly salt stained, and it was pretty windy, which made it hard to keep track of the mile signs. For the most part it wasn't too bad, excepting the parts of the course that went by the water. The coastline in New England is certainly one of it's charms, but it's a brutal mistress in the middle of the winter that will rip at your face with a biting cold wind.

By about mile four I was feeling warmed up and found my groove. I didn't expect to do much better than an hour and a half for the ten miles. That's all I really wanted, anyway, given my recent gaps in training. Some of the climbs were impressive -- the one leading into Marblehead especially caught my attention, and then again close to the end while running through the park, the hills rolled noticeably. One of my strengths, though, is that I do pretty well on a climb because I can dial in an even effort where others get discouraged. Certainly I don't sprint uphill, but I can work all the way up and coast back down.

I came through the finish in about an hour and twenty eight minutes on the clock. I was really happy with that, and went inside to avail myself of the free soup at the hotel. Nice vegan soup, some tea from a free promotion, and I had a really happy drive home. The medal is really neat, as well, and my daughter loved wearing it around the house when I got back, and I followed her around singing the "Chariots of Fire" theme.

Overall the Black Cat was a great event, but it remains to be seen if it will find its way into my regular rotation of races. I may find that I was happy to have the ten mile race a couple of weeks before the ES20. Hopefully the temperatures are a little bit warmer then, too, because oh man, ice in my beard.

The baby is doing so much impressive stuff lately. Walking more and more on her own, she loves being read to, and she's using some of the sign language from school now to communicate. It is a really neat thing to watch these more tangible milestones evolve. Sitting at dinner and joking around with her, communicating with her, it's a totally different thing from even a couple of weeks ago.

With all the good there's also the rough parts -- tantrums when she doesn't get her way, learning the unpleasantness of stubbed toes, and the hard parts of soothing her as she gets in new teeth (she's got five coming in simultaneously right now!) We're working through the rough spots as a family, and it is really exciting watching her grow into this cool little person.

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