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Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
in Road Races

Yesterday I unfortunately experienced a very scary medical situation. Let me give you some background. First off I need to say I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical experience. In addition I do not recommend anyone use my actions as a guideline for handling similar situations.

On Sunday I started feeling run down and had a few bouts of sweats and feeling light headed. I didn't do much and went to bed early. On Monday I felt OK in the AM, ran 7 miles, and did some errands. After the run I had lunch and then started feeling really run down and had a bad stomach ache. I battled extreme stomach pain all during the Red Sox home opener. The pain slowly subsided and I went to bed early again. Yesterday I woke up with pain and tightness in my chest and was still feeling run down. I worked for several hours in my home office and started feeling light headed and still had the tightness in my chest. Around 11:00 AM I started making lunch and broke out into a sweat and started feeling faint. The bottom line is that I had pain and tightness in my chest, had the sweats, and was feeling faint. I couldn't believe it but I thought there may be a possibility I was having a heart attack. Me?

To make matters worse I did not have a vehicle as I had let my daughter take my car to school as I didn't plan on going anywhere yesterday. I considered calling 911 but thought there is no way this could be happening. Unfortunately I couldn't deny the way I was feeling and knew I needed medical attention ASAP. So what did I do? I quickly threw on my running shoes and walked to the Walk-in Center a half mile from my house. I was feeling very faint and weak and thought more than once on the way over that if I collapse this would turn out to be a very dumb decision.

Once at the Walk-in center I was quickly examined and the doctor told me based on what she was seeing I needed to go to the emergency room ASAP. I had no car but it didn't matter because they said I also needed to go via ambulance. To make a long story short I ended up being at Lowell General Hospital for the next 5 hours undergoing a whole battery of tests on my heart. I was examined thoroughly and I would like to thank the great staff at Lowell General.

What were the results? I had a surprisingly lengthy conversation with a cardiologist who explained to me that after all of the tests my heart was fine. They do not know what caused my symptoms but it wasn't heart related. I was probably fighting something off and maybe I strained a muscle in my chest...not sure. Regardless I was glad to hear that I did not have an issue with my heart. During my discussion with the cardiologist I mentioned I was a runner and in fact I had planned on doing a 5k road race later that day. Here is a snippet of our conversation heavily paraphrased:

Doctor: After all of these tests we do not know what caused your symptoms but it is not heart related.

Me: So my heart is fine?

Doctor: Yes.

Me: So there is no reason why I can't run in a 5k tonight?

Doctor: Well, I can't tell you what to do once you are discharged but your heart appears to be healthy.

Me: Ok..Thanks.

 

 You have to understand that after a lifetime of running and racing one of the scariest things that could happen to me is to have a heart condition. We have all heard of fit runners having a heart attack. It does happen. Once I heard my heart was fine I was instantly injected with relief and knew I was running in the Good Times 5k that night. I left the hospital at 5:30 PM quickly changed and went to the race. You see, I can deal with feeling faint, weak, sick, etc. Many long distance events I have completed at some point I have felt that way during the race. I wasn't feeling at my best (obviously) and completed the race in 20:22.

The moral of the story is that if you feel you are having a heart attack it is better to be safe than sorry. Know the warning signs and by all means call 911...don't try to walk a half mile to the doctors. A heart attack is survivable but only if you get immediate medical attention. If you have the symptoms and feel it may be happening don't wait and become a statistic....call for help. I also don't recommend running a road race after leaving the emergency room.  Smile

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest Discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

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Do You Race to Win?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Monday, March 11, 2013
in Road Races

Leprechaun Leap 5k 

Why do you race?

A race is by definition:

Noun

A competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.
Verb
Compete with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective.
 
I think runners run in road races for many reasons. A race is a competition. For a small group of runners the competition is for 1st place overall. This would include elite runners and typically the best runners in a geographic area. Another larger group of runners compete for the age group awards. The competition for these awards varies greatly. At some races it is very difficult to place in your age group and at other races just finishing with a half way decent time is enough to place. If you are not fast enough to compete for awards then runners can still be competitive by competing against friends or competing against themselves by improving their time at a particular distance or on a particular course.
 
So now that I have explained racing...Why do you race? What if I told you that you would place 6th overall and 1st in your age group at your next race? Would you consider that event a success? Would you need me to tell you what your time was? If so...would you care?
 
Runners can be funny people. Yesterday I ran in the Leprechaun Leap 5k in Nashua, New Hampshire. This is the third week in a row that I have raced. As I mentioned last week, I am really excited about getting back to racing in 2013. I did not know very much about this event but I chose this race due to the close proximity to my house. Unfortunately I woke up on Sunday morning not feeling at the top of my game. On Saturday night I attended a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend of mine in Worcester, MA. For all of those Seinfeld fans I will describe what happened as.. I went to the party and yada...yada...yada... I did not feel great on Sunday morning. I struggled to the start line with basically no warm-up. Since I didn't know much about the event I was unpleasantly surprised to be greeted with tough hills on both the 1st and 2nd miles. The third mile was mostly flat with a good downhill but the damage had already been done. As you would expect I had no "zip" in my legs and the entire race was a struggle. My splits were 643, 704, 641 with a finish time of 20:56. Now normally I should have been just under 20 minutes on a tough course like this so I was not happy with my time. In addition last week I ran 20:18 and thought I had a bad race. The big surprise came with due to the small field (115 runners) I ended up finishing 6th overall and 1st in my age group and won a medal.
 

 

Now as I analyze the results I had no chance to win the overall race even if I ran my PR so 1st place in my age group was the best possible result. In addition the course was hilly so even if I was in great shape I would never be able to PR on this course so that wasn't an option either. So the question is...Why do you race? Do you race to win? If my best possible result was achieved why should I care what my time was? Would I be happier if I PR at an event and finish 10th in my age group and win nothing? I guess it really depends on why you enter events. Placing overall in an event is not realistic for me so placing in my age group is the best I can do. In my opinion if I end up getting an "ugly" win it is still better than not placing at all.

At the end of the day we are all trying to improve our race times and winning a meaningless age group medal doesn't make my time any better. Even though that is true, I do strive to place in my age group at every event. Whether you believe medals/trophies are meaningless or not, running is our sport and that is what symbolizes success at an event. I don't know about you but I like be called up to receive an award. Why would I cry about my time and downplay my award? I showed up, ran the race, and reaped the rewards...case closed.

I have met a lot of people that never seem to be happy with their race times. No matter what success they achieve they are always upset and claim they should have done better. I am going to make sure that person is not me in 2013. I plan on entering 25-40 events this year and guess what...I am going to have some good ones and I am going to have some bad ones...If you race a lot that is the reality. I only hope that regardless of my race times I get a chance to win more medals!  See you out there!

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Freeze Your Buns Off 5k Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Sunday, March 03, 2013
in Road Races

 

 

One thing you should know about me is that I love racing. I especially love running in 5k road races. (check out my race history here) Over the past couple of years I have been focused on Ironman training so I have missed out on a lot of 5k's and sprint distance triathlons that I really enjoy. Despite the fact that the weather was terrible and my performance wasn't great, I think running in the Hyannis Half Marathon last weekend started to get my racing juices flowing. I have to admit that after last week I was not excited to sign up for another half marathon but I started to get excited about getting back to racing shorter distances.

I am really excited about the Spring Good Times 5k Series in Lowell and I knew I needed to enter a few 5k's before the series starts on April 2nd. (see the course here) Now I have no illusion as to my current conditioning. I am in the words of the famous movie "Full Metal Jacket" quote a  "disgusting fat body". When I am feeling out of shape and overweight I always think about the below several lines of dialogue from that movie when the drill instructor found a jelly donut in the barracks. This really has nothing to do with the 5k I ran today but if you are wondering about what I think about during the race this is it.

 

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Holy Jesus! What is that? What the f%#k is that? WHAT IS THAT, PRIVATE PYLE?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, a jelly doughnut, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: A jelly doughnut?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: How did it get here?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, I took it from the mess hall, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Is chow allowed in the barracks, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Are you allowed to eat jelly doughnuts, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, no, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: And why not, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, because I'm too heavy, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Because you are a disgusting fat body, Private Pyle!
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Then why did you try to sneak a jelly doughnut in your footlocker, Private Pyle?
Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, because I was hungry, sir!
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Because you were hungry...
[turns and addresses rest of platoon]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Pyle has dishonored himself and dishonored the platoon. I have tried to help him. But I have failed. I have failed because YOU have not helped me. YOU people have not given Private Pyle the proper motivation! So, from now on, whenever Private Pyle f*&ks up, I will not punish him! I will punish all of YOU! And the way I see it ladies, you owe me for ONE JELLY DOUGHNUT! NOW GET ON YOUR FACES!
[rest of recruits get in front-leaning-rest position, Hartman turns to Pyle]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Open your mouth!
[shoves jelly doughnut into PYLE's mouth]
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: They're payin' for it; YOU eat it! Ready! Exercise!

First 5k Race of 2013


Since the racing juices were flowing I wanted to enter a 5k close to home. I wanted a quick and easy fitness test to see what kind of shape I am in. The Freeze Your Buns Off 5k in Nashua, New Hampshire is a no frills, well organized 5k race series managed by the Gate City Striders. This race was exactly what I needed today. The race only costs $5 and has a simple rolling course around Nashua High School.

After a nice warmup I hit the start line. Conditions were not bad for winter...30 degrees and snowing. Not snow that sticks to the ground,  just nuisance snow that goes into your face and eyes. Certainly the weather was a lot better than last week's pouring rain. I ran a hard but controlled pace for the entire race but didn't have the fitness to maintain my pace. I won't bore you with the details but my splits tell the whole story:

Mile 1-  6:19

Mile 2- 6:34

Mile 3- 6:53

5k Official time:  20:18  (6:32 pace)

Not bad for the first 5k of the year and a decent starting point. For me I always think if I break 20 minutes in a 5k then I had a decent time. Over 20 minutes sucks...I plan on entering a few more races this month and continue training for speed. The cool thing about racing short distances is that you can race every week if you want to....I am looking forward to the 2013 racing season!  See you out there!

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Hyannis Half Marathon Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Monday, February 25, 2013
in Road Races

 

Yesterday I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon in Hyannis, MA. This race is the first opportunity of the year to run in a half marathon or marathon in New England and brings in as many as 3,500 runners.

After enduring a week of ominous weather predictions before the race I arrived on Saturday to a seasonably cold and cloudy day. The storm track kept changing seemingly every 12 hours and by Saturday it appeared that the Cape was going to be spared from the snow. Game on! I picked up my race packet, checked into a nearby hotel, and then hit the British Beer Company in downtown Hyannis. After having a great meal and a few pints with friends I turned in for the night ready for whatever race day would bring.

I woke up Sunday and tentatively looked out the window hoping the weather forecast was correct and the snow had held off. I was happy to see clear roads but unfortunately it was pouring rain and windy. The good news is that I knew I could deal with the rain but the bad news was I knew it was not going to be fun. After a leisurely breakfast (the race starts at 10 AM) I headed to the start. The rain and wind actually relaxed a bit right before the race but I was already wet just walking to the start.

It was a cold rain so I decided to wear my full winter gear for the race. But as the race started I almost immediately started to feel uncomfortably warm. By mile 2 I took off my head wrap and wished I had worn shorts. The rain continued to fall and the roads were completely covered with puddles due to all of the pouring rain and the snow melt. Dodging puddles made it almost impossible to get into any kind of rhythm and my legs felt sluggish right from the start. The puddles in the road were so bad a few sections of road were impassable forcing runners to run in the front yards of houses or on the grassy sections on the side of the road. I was soaked and to make matters worse I grabbed a cup from a water stop, went to drink and had the cup "explode" in my hands all over the front of my jacket. Fun!

I was soaked and for parts of the race I felt warm and others I felt cold. I tried to maintain some type of pace but felt like I was struggling the whole time. It was a real battle. Right after Craigville Beach there is a tough hill that leads up to the 8 mile mark. I knew it was coming so I purposely reduced my speed and ran a comfortable pace up the hill. I made it up the hill but soon after I started to feel like my legs were giving out. By the time I ran over the "speed bumps" after mile 9 and turned on Route 28 my legs were dead.

The last 5k was a real struggle. I had decided before the race not to wear a watch and there were no clocks on the entire course so I had no idea how I was doing. I wanted to run by "feel" and the last 5k I felt terrible. Running through the last two side streets before the finish felt like it took forever, and I finally started my finish line sprint up to the line. The cool thing about running without a watch is that as I rounded the corner to the finish I had no idea what the clock would say. I crossed the line to 1:43:32....7:54 pace. Not a great time for me but with the tough weather just finishing is a victory.

As soon as the race was over I instantly felt freezing cold. Not sure if it was adrenaline or the effort of running heating my body but I didn't feel that cold during the race. I think I can speak for everyone and say I was very happy to warm up and change out of my soaking wet clothes.

Despite the weather this race was a "fitness check" and I think I did OK. I am behind where I was last year but with a few more weeks of training I should continue to improve. I am really looking forward to the Good Times 5k Series in April and plan on working on my speed over the next month to prepare. First race of 2013 in the books!

If you are interested in running this race or the marathon check out the course video here.

 

 

 

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Wolf Hollow Half Marathon Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Monday, November 26, 2012
in Road Races



Yesterday I ran in the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon in Nashua, New Hampshire. The race was held primarily in Mine Falls Park near the Nashua YMCA. I got the idea to enter the race after I completed my longest run since September (11 miles) last weekend. I said it was good idea to keep me motivated and ensure I continued to increase my long run. My plan was to run it at my "long run" pace and enjoy the trails of Mine Falls Park. I figured if I ran between 8-830 pace I would handle the increase to 13.1 miles easily. Sounds good on paper, right?

Regardless of what I say....I find it almost impossible not to run hard in a road race. Yesterday was no different. Looking back at my recent run history there is nothing that would make anyone think I was in shape to race a half marathon. Not to mention my body was tired and lethargic from the Thanksgiving day parties and the fact I had just ran in my first race since September three days before (Thanks 4 Giving 5k). Oh, and did I mention the weather? Freezing with a strong wind. Add all of this together and you would think I would run nice and easy like I had planned. Nope....

The Race

The race started right behind the Nashua YMCA. The first 2.15 miles were on roads and then we entered Mine Falls Park for two loops before exiting the park and a short run to the finish line. I started running what I thought was nice and easy and ended up running a 6:40 first mile. I won't bore you with the details but I ran the first 5k in 21 minutes. I didn't follow my plan and I paid the price. By mile 5 my legs had seized up and my pace dramatically slowed for the next several miles. Mine Falls Park has several short but tough climbs and each one really hurt. This was not the nice and easy long run I had planned and it was my fault. I continued to suffer for the remainder of the race. Just to give you an idea as I mentioned above I ran the first 5k in 21 minutes. I ran the last 5k in 28 minutes. It took everything in my power not to walk the last tough uphill around mile 12.75. I finished the race in 1:46:42 (809 pace). On paper it looks like I followed the plan....if only.

Lessons Learned = 0

Racing a half marathon the Sunday after the Thanksgiving Day festivities will always be tough. Add to that a lack of training and some cold, windy weather and you have yourself a recipe for failure. In hindsight I should have started at 8-8:30 pace as planned and ran a nice and smooth 13.1. I probably would have ended up with the same overall pace of 8:09 and would not have suffered for most of the race. Next time I am sure I will follow the plan....yeah right!

 


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Thanks 4 Giving 5k Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Friday, November 23, 2012
in Road Races



What a great morning to race! The weather conditions for yesterday's Thanks 4 Giving 5k Road Race in Lowell, Massachusetts were absolutely perfect. Temp's in the 40's, sunny, and no wind. This is my hometown race, and I completed this race for the 9th time yesterday. I love racing on Thanksgiving Day!

This was my first race since completing the Ironman in early September. I have been training consistently since the race but have reduced volumes considerably. I have been running around 18-23 miles a week and biking on the trainer once a week. Swimming is out until next year. The last time I raced in a 5k was the last week of the Spring Good Times 5k series in June. Since that time basically I have been doing long, slow distance training. I had no idea what kind of shape I was in or how my body would react to 5k race pace.

Warm-up

My day started with sharp pain in my lower back due to an intense leaf raking session the day before. I took 2 Advil and ran to the start of the race from my house. A little bit longer than I would usually run for a warm-up prior to a 5k but I felt like I needed it to work out the pain in my back. Total warmup: 2.1 miles


Registration

This is a well organized race so registration is a breeze. Registration is inside the Lowell Elks and I was in and out with my number in 5 minutes. Bathroom was wide open too (the women's line was crazy) and I was quickly ready to head to the start. No issues.


Race

I timed my arrival to the race perfectly and after just a few minutes of waiting the race was ready to start. I always start in the front and decided to place myself in the second row of people just behind the start mat. The race started and for some reason I was quickly swamped on all sides. Maybe I didn't react quickly enough to the start but for the first few hundred yards I was pinned behind slower runners. As a racing veteran I knew I just had to be patient and wait until the road cleared a bit. This is always a little stressful because you feel like you are losing time every second you are pinned in a crowd. I finally broke free shortly after the right turn on Varnum Avenue and I immediately moved to the center of the road. At this point I had the road to myself and started running hard. I probably passed 20-30 people in the next quarter mile and felt good. The only hill on the course is at the .75 mile mark (check out the video) and I felt like I was running a strong tempo pace and felt in control. I ran the first mile in 6:23. Now I usually run the first mile closer to 6 minutes but with the only hill on the course out of the way and that slow start I was happy with my time. The second mile starts slightly rolling and I just continued to run a strong tempo pace. Normally in a 5k I would have a couple of more gears but my high end speed is gone. Strong tempo is all I have right now until I get my speed back. I started to feel it a bit as I rounded the turn on Pawtucket Boulevard and quickly looked over my shoulder and saw a friend of mine only about 20 yards back.


**** Side note. Every year several of my friends run this race. One of my friends, Henry, always tries to beat me. Now we are not overly competitive with each other but for some reason every Thanksgiving there is an unwritten competition between us. This year was no different. I completed the Ironman in September and ended my season. He ran his PR at the Chicago Marathon and ended his season so we were pretty similar. We both are a little fat and happy and really don't care about our Thanksgiving 5k time. But guess what...that unwritten competition remains and I want to make sure he doesn't beat me.****

Returning to my story I look over my shoulder at the turn on Pawtucket Boulevard and sure enough 20 yards back is Henry. I knew I was starting to lose it but I threw in a "surge" and tried to increase my pace. I was hoping he was hurting too and hoped if I accelerated he would be discouraged and shut it down. I refused to turn around and check if it worked and kept pressing. I passed through mile 2 in 12:46 (another 6:23 mile) and kept pressing. Unfortunately, the wheels were starting to come off. My breath was fine. The problem was I just couldn't increase my leg turnover and I was starting to fade. Several people passed me over the next half mile. I still refused to turn around and ran as hard as my dead legs would carry me. I rounded the turn on Old Ferry and sprinted to the finish in 20:18. I really died toward the end but all things considered I think I did OK. Henry finished in 20:33. Come to find out he thought he would get me after the turn on Pawtucket Boulevard but just couldn't close the gap. Fun race on a great day.


Time: 20:18   Overall Place: 20th   Age Group: 6th

What's next?

If you have followed my blog posts or seen my race history you will know I love to race. Due to all of my Ironman training in the last 18 months I have really had to cut back on racing due to all of the training. Now that I have completed my first race I feel like I am back in the game. It may be premature but my next race is going to be Sunday. Yes... this Sunday. I have entered a new half marathon in Mine's Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire called the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon. Look for my race report next week.

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The Thanksgiving Day Road Race: A Great Holiday Tradition

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Thursday, October 25, 2012
in Road Races

 

Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Race in Andover, MA

When you think of Thanksgiving Day the first thing that comes to mind is probably turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and pie.  For many, Thanksgiving is also associated with a sporting event.  You might be thinking football, but there's another type of event that thousands of people participate in each Thanksgiving Day...running a road race.

According to the website Running in the USA there are 68 road races on Thanksgiving Day in New England. Chances are if you're a runner you will be running a race that day. These holiday races are also filled with families and friends who have a tradition to run their local Thanksgiving Day race each year. For many of these entrants it is the only race or even the only run they complete all year. The question is...Why do we run on Thanksgiving Day?  I did some research and did not find a definitive answer. It appears that the idea of burning calories off the morning of our big Thanksgiving Day Feast is a popular reason. Also, the idea of a holiday tradition seems to be important to many.

I do not have a long standing tradition of running on Thanksgiving Day. This year will be my 6th year in a row. Running a local Thanksgiving Day Race is convenient, so you don't have far to travel after the event. My hometown race is the Lowell Thanks 4 Giving 5k. This race has only been around for 11 years. I have completed this race 8 times and plan on entering every year. I really enjoy the atmosphere of running Thanksgiving morning and including this race in my holiday traditions.

New England is not the only place where Thanksgiving Day Races are popular. The oldest Thanksgiving Day Race in the country is the Buffalo Turkey Trot (117 years) followed by the Thanksgiving Day Race in Cincinnati, Ohio (103 years). One of the biggest events is The Dallas Turkey Trot which has over 25,000 entrants.

 What races do we offer on View The Race? We currently have 8 Thanksgiving Day events. See our list below.

Feaster Five

The Feaster Five Road Race in Andover, Massachusetts is one of the biggest road races in New England with 10,000 entrants competing in either the 5k or 5 mile races. This race often has some local celebrities competing and will be celebrating its 25th year in 2012. I completed this race only once. (32:46 in the 5 miler)

Thanksgiving Day Road Race

The Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Southport, Connecticut will be celebrating its 34th year in 2012 and has around 5,000 entrants. This race is a distant second to the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, CT which has 13,500 entrants and is in its 76th year. Unfortunately we do not have that one on VTR.

Dreamcatcher Classic

The Dreamcatcher Classic Road Race in Weymouth, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 20th year in 2012. This is a great event with 1500 entrants competing in either the 2 mile or 5 mile road races. Proceeds support the Julie Rodick Scholarship Foundation.

Thanks-4-Giving

The Thanks-4-Giving Road Race in Lowell, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 11th year in 2012. This race offers both a 5k and 10k race. This is my home course and I plan on being one of the over 1000 entrants that run every year. This year will be the 9th time I have completed this race. My best time is 19:34. (I always do the 5k.)

Turkey Trot Road Race

The 5k Turkey Trot Road Race in Derry, New Hampshire will be celebrating its 39th year in 2012. This is a great 5k road race that runs around Beaver Lake in Derry. This race has close to 1500 entrants. I have done this race once. (20:10)

Whitin Five Mile Road Race

The Whitin Five Mile Road Race in Whitinsville, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 24th year in 2012. This race has a great history and has close to 1000 entrants every year. The race starts and finishes at the Whitinsville Town Common.

Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day Road Race

The Ayer Fire Department Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Ayer, Massachusetts will be celebrating its 8th year in 2012. This race has grown in popularity with close to 800 entrants every year.

 The Fisher Cats Thanksgiving Day 5k

The Fisher Cats Thanksgiving Day 5k in Manchester, New Hampshire is only in its 2nd year in 2012 but had over 1000 entrants in last year's debut. This race starts near Delta Dental Stadium and actually finishes with a run around the warning track and a finish line near home plate.

 

Pies at the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Race

If you already have a tradition of running on Thanksgiving Day hopefully I have filmed your race. Watch the video of the course and get excited about this year's race. If you do not have a Thanksgiving running tradition consider one of the above events. If you are not near one of the above events check your local race calendar...chances are there is a race near you.

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My First Ten Mile Race

Posted by Meg Tang
Meg Tang
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on Saturday, August 25, 2012
in Road Races

Cross-training

I recently ran the Moose on the Loose 10 Mile Trail Run in Nashua, New Hampshire.  This was the longest race I've run to date, and I chose to run it in preparation for a 1/2 marathon I've been training for in September. Going into the race, I set a goal of stopping at every water station and taking a drink while walking a couple of steps. In the past I have only run 5k races and never saw the need to stop at the water stations.  When I first started running longer distances for a workout, I was feeling really tired during and after.  I couldn't figure out why I was so tired the day after a long run. I finally realized I wasn't properly hydrating.  For my short runs I never had to worry about staying hydrated.  What I drank over the course of a normal day was enough, plus a little extra when I got back from a run. 

When running longer distances, I found out, you have to take care to hydrate before, during, and after.  So I set the goal to stop and drink during the 10 mile race to make sure hydration wouldn't be an issue. The day after the race I was a little sore, but not at all tired from the long distance.  I think taking the extra steps to stop and drink during the race has helped me in my recovery time. When running longer distances, I found out, you have to take care to hydrate before, during, and after. I would recommend this course to anyone looking for a good Sunday long run. It takes place on trails in Mine Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire.  There are no major hills and some down hills to build up speed.  The course is four two and 1/2 mile loops.  You come out of the woods at the end of each loop and run on a short paved circle with a water stop, then back onto the trail. As each loop passes you become more familiar with the path and can get a feel for what is coming. My only complaint with the race is that since it's a small event you will spend some time on the path without anyone in the race close to you. Also, this is a busy location for people working out and taking their families out for a hike in the woods.  At some points it got busy on the trail and non-runners got in the way of the racers.  Besides that, I think it is a great course, and I am planning on running it again next year.

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Thinking about running in the Walt Disney World® Marathon?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, August 21, 2012
in Road Races

I just checked the website...The Walt Disney World® Marathon and Half Marathon are close to being sold out.   I have completed the marathon twice myself. (Check my race history...2009 and 2011.) My wife has completed the half marathon. Most runners at one point or another have thought about entering this race. Why?

Well here are 5 reasons why you should put the Walt Disney World® Marathon on your bucket list.

  1. It's Walt Disney World®! Running a race through the 4 parks of Walt Disney World®...starting and finishing at Epcot®. It really can't be beat. Definitely a once in a lifetime type opportunity. Unfortunately, I don't think Disney is going to allow me to film the course anytime soon, but I can give you an idea. Most of the race is on access roads and areas around the parks where you would never go as a guest. These areas are not that exciting but during the 26.2 miles you get to run around the Epcot® circle, right through Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom® Park, through Disney's Animal Kingdom® Park, and through Disney's Hollywood Studios.
     
  2. The course! Not only do you have the sites and sounds of the different theme parks to take in you also have a fairly easy course. There are just a few rolling hills on the course. No big climbs at all. There are a lot of twists and turns especially through the parks but not too bad. I really have no complaints about the course. Another cool thing about the course is the 5:30 AM start time. Now if you are not an early riser getting up at 3 AM to get ready for a race may not be what you consider a  highlight of this event. I liked it because you get to run the first hour of the race in the dark. It is really cool running through Epcot® in the dark.
     
  3. The weather! The weather in January in Orlando is usually ideal for racing. There has been a recent example where the weather doesn't always cooperate. In 2010 (the year in between my 2 Disney finishes) the weather was 30 degrees for the race. Both years I did it the weather was around 50 (perfect) at the start and warmed up to 60-70 at the finish. It did get hot both years towards the end of the race, but overall I think the weather is typically perfect for racing.
     
  4. The Destination! Another great thing about Walt Disney World® in January is that the race is in Orlando, Florida. If you live in the Northeast or another area of the country where you do not see 60-70 degrees for 6 months it is very easy to talk the family into turning your Walt Disney World® Marathon dreams into a little mini vacation. I have found airfare prices to be reasonable and have enjoyed extending my stay to 3-4 days. Obviously there is plenty to do if you have children, but even if you don't care to visit the parks there is still plenty to do in Orlando.
     
  5. The Medals! I usually don't put a lot of importance on a finisher medal at a marathon. Believe me..I want one...it's just as long as I get one I don't really consider that a factor on whether I enter a race or not. But I have to admit the Disney medals are cool....take a look at my hardware....

Walt Disney World Marathon Medal Walt Disney World Half Marathon MedalWalt Disney World Marathon Medal

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Fastest 5k Race in the World?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Tuesday, June 05, 2012
in Road Races

I am not sure if the Hollis Fast 5k is the fastest 5k road race in the world, but it is certainly the fastest 5k race I have ever completed. What makes this course so fast?

1) It is a point to point course with only one turn. You basically run straight down one road for the entire race.

2) The course has a gradual downhill grade. You will not be running out of control like you would if the downhill grade was steep. This allows you to run the entire race with your normal 5k stride, and you will be able to maintain your top end speed for a lot longer with the same effort.

3) Wide road, so really no issue with crowding.

4) Last mile has quarter mile marks so you know where you are for the entire last mile. (1 mile, .75, .50, .25 to go)

Here is some real data about how fast this course can be. Last year I ran all 8 races in the Good Times 5k series in Lowell, Massachusetts. The last 5 races in the series I ran between 19:06-19:36. The Good Times series ended the week before the Hollis Fast 5k so my conditioning did not change before I entered this event. My time at Hollis was 18:32. Not only was this about a minute faster than my average time last year, but it also broke my all time PR of 18:44.

Here is how I ran the race. I started out running with the normal effort I would give in a 5k but ended up running the first mile in 5:45 which is 10-15 seconds faster than usual. I am a crash and burn 5k runner so I usually run the 1st mile very fast and then die off to the finish. This is where the speed of the Hollis course pays off. Because the race is a gradual downhill the entire way, you are able to maintain a faster pace for longer. My time for the second mile was 6:02.  The course flattens out in a few spots so you need to concentrate to maintain your pace. Keep telling yourself that if I can hold this pace for another 30 seconds the road will start heading downhill again. The beauty of the Hollis Fast 5k is that it continues going downhill right to the finish. My third mile was 6:07. I was dying, but the course enabled me to hold pace. I finished in 18:32 with a new PR.Hollis Fast 5K

I recommend that you do not wear a watch for this race. Since it is a downhill course you will have no baseline to know what is a good pace or bad pace. Run a hard controlled effort for the entire race and then give it everything you have for the last half mile. The bottom line is that if you are in good form right now, you should definitely enter the Hollis Fast 5k on June 14th. Sign up today as they only accept 1200 runners, and there is no race day registration. If you want a PR in the 5k this year....run the Hollis Fast 5k....you will not be disappointed.

 

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Another Good Time at the Good Times 5k in Lowell

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
in Road Races

Last night was the 8th race in the 10 week Good Times 5k series in Lowell Massachusetts. As the weeks keep going it gets harder and harder to get excited about blasting out 3.1 miles every Tuesday night. Especially since I have been riding 75+ miles the last 3 Sundays. Tonight was similar to the last couple of weeks. My legs were a little sore and I had a lot of overall body fatigue. The good news is that I broke 20 minutes again with an 80% effort. Basically Tuesday night has turned into a nice short tempo run for me.

For once my brother-in-law and sister-in-law did not PR. They were close but finished just off their best times. My daughter ending up running for the first time this year after finishing up lacrosse season and ended up with a PR. It seems every week someone gets a PR. The rain also held off, and it ended up being a decent night. Next week is the reverse the course week. Basically we run the same course we have ran for the 8 previous weeks in reverse. Should be interesting.....

 

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Are runners obsessed ?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, May 24, 2012
in Road Races

As a runner/triathlete I have a lot of time to think during my long training sessions. I have been thinking a lot lately about the drive most dedicated athletes have for training. Many runners, regardless of ability, are following some type of training plan. This training plan becomes a voice in our heads that refuses to let us relax. You are constantly thinking about the next few workouts and how you plan on including them into your life. There is never an option to skip a workout...typically that is not even discussed. If you are sick or having a real bad day you may shorten a workout but missing one is only reserved for 1-2 times a year life events that prevent you from working out. You will wake up at 3 AM to get a workout in before an early morning flight. You will workout in rain/snow/wind/heat/cold etc. Weather is not an issue. Many times I have seen noticeably sick athletes show up for a race. It begs the question...Why?

I am currently competing in the Good Times 5k Series which is held on 10 consecutive Tuesday nights. In this series points are cumulative for overall prizes at the end of the 10 weeks. This means that if you miss a week you are probably out of the running. What does this make people do? People show up sick, tired, cancel appointments, etc. There have been many examples of people competing the day after running the Boston Marathon or other Marathon events. Your VTR host even ran 2 days after doing the Bassman Half Ironman. Are we not reasonable people? Do we have no "common sense" filter in regards to running? What drives us to keep going at this frenetic rate? Are we obsessed? If we are obsessed what are we obsessed with? Running a certain amount of times a week? Running a certain mileage number no matter what?

My opinion is most people who train seriously as a runner or triathlete are very committed people. This means once we lock onto something we don't stop until we've completed it, no matter what. The drive to continue is very strong and is not easily deterred. This is a great asset to have when you have miles to go in a marathon and you feel terrible.  It helps you finish the race. Unfortunately, most of us can't shut this off in day-to-day life. It is a part of us. That is why we will run a 5k on Tuesday night when we ran a marathon the day before.  At a later date we may agree what we did wasn't the smartest thing to do but soon enough we are in a similar situation, and we do the same thing over again. It is part of us...we can't stop. (oh...I think I just answered my question...I  guess we are obsessed.)

The photo below is me getting an IV after refusing to quit and successfully completing the Timberman Half Ironman in 2009...Nothing wrong with hitting the medical tent after an event, right?

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Westford 10k Road Race Race Report

Posted by Meg Tang
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on Saturday, May 19, 2012
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meg at westford 10kAfter months of searching for my first 10k road race I finally signed up for the Westford 10k Road Race. (See Dave's earlier blog post here) On May 6th I completed the race. It was my first time running a 10k. After only running 5k road races for years I decided to set a goal of completing a half marathon this fall. As this is quite a jump in distance from a 5k I was determined to complete a 10k this spring to build my confidence. If you are familiar with Westford, Massachusetts you may be surprised that I chose to complete my first 10k in this town. Most of Westford is very hilly. After viewing the race several times I realized the course was not as challenging as I had originally thought. I saw that there was a major hill the last mile of the race but at the beginning there was a huge downhill. The middle section of the course featured rolling hills but no major climbs.

I started out a little conservative since this race was my first 10k. I was still a little nervous about completing the event in good shape. The big downhill at the beginning really helps you conserve your energy at the beginning of the race. If I ran the race again I probably would run faster on the downhill but holding back made the first mile very easy. I continued my conservative but steady pace until mile 3 and noticed that I was passing a lot of runners that were breathing heavy while I was not. I decided at that point to pick up the pace. The next few miles were rolling, but I managed to get through that section OK. The hill at the end on Main Street is tough but it is at the end and you know if you just push hard you will soon be at the finish line. I crossed the finish line at 55:33 which was better than I expected. I left the race happy to finish my first 10k but also knowing I could have run faster the first 3 miles. I will continue to run the Good Times 5k race series each week and probably look to run another 10k before I run my half marathon in the fall.

 

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Good Times 5k May 1st

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Wednesday, May 02, 2012
in Road Races

Last night I ran in the Good Times 5k in Lowell, Massachusetts. This was the 4th race in the 10 week series that is held every Tuesday night at 7 PM in Lowell. So far I have completed every race and my intention is to complete all of the races in the series. If you take a look at my race history you will see that I have done this race quite a few times. As a matter of fact I actually checked my race history and last night was the 44th time I have completed this event.

Why do I love this event? One reason is that I hate to do track workouts. I have difficulty getting motivated to complete a hard track workout. I always thought if I am going to put out that much effort then I should be racing. To me nothing replaces the intensity both mentally and physically as competing in a road race. I have been using 5k road races as my "track workout" for years and I believe this has been a big component to my consistent performances. I really believe to do well in a 5k road race you have to be comfortable with the pain you feel during the race and have the ability to sustain that effort for all 3.1 miles. After you complete 3-4 races in the series you start to feel comfortable with the required effort and your fitness starts to improve. This is especially true if you put out a 100% effort each week regardless of your fatigue level.

Now to last night. Weather was cool and wet but the rain held off for the race. In other words the weather was perfect for running and not so perfect for socializing at Hookside Kellys afterwards. I have been starting way to fast the last few weeks so I decided to start at a more conservative pace. When you run a weekly series like this one many times you end up running near the same people each week. This week I ended up right behind a woman that I have seen each week at some point on the course. I was running a solid pace and kept pace directly behind her for over a mile. I would give you my pace but I don't typically wear a watch for 5k road races. I run as hard as I can so to me a watch is irrelevant for such a short event. Anyway if you are familiar with this race as you turn right after you cross the University Ave bridge you have a choice to run on the right side of the guard rail on the sidewalk or run in the breakdown lane of the divided highway. The woman I was running behind went for the sidewalk so I followed close behind. Things were going well until we caught up to another runner. Some areas to the right of the guardrail are a little tight and passing is difficult. I am estimating that our pace dipped about 10 seconds a mile for quite a stretch on the highway until there was room to pass. Once the road opened up I ended up passing both runners in front of me and ran strong to the finish. In hindsight the reduction in pace on the highway although frustrating may have actually given me a little "break" that enabled me to finish strong. The bottom line is that I finished in 19:13 (6:12pace) which is my best time of 2012.

Of course my brother and sister-in-law both ran a PR for the 3rd time (photo above) and picked up yet another PR medal. As usual we hydrated after the race at Hookside Kellys. Good night and a Good Time.

 

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Looking for a Good 10K Road Race?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
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on Thursday, April 26, 2012
in Road Races

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My sister-in-law (pictured on the right with Good Times 5k PR medal) has been asking me for months about where she can find a good 10k road race to run north of Boston. Of course, being the VTR expert, I thought it would be easy. After searching several race calendar websites I came to the conclusion that there really are not many 10k road races out there. I also checked my race history and noticed that of the 370+ races I have completed, only 7 of them have been 10ks. Interesting? I guess I don't really like the 10k distance. Anyway, after searching and discussing for a few months we finally found a great 10k road race right in our backyard, The Westford 10k Road Race (See video below.) I have never completed this race but on the same day they have the Westford 5k Road Race which I have done a couple of times. I loved the race but as someone who is not a big fan of 10ks, I always opted for the 5k.

Running the Westford 10K Road Race

After deciding on which 10k to run the next question was how to run this course successfully . Of course, she followed my advice to View The Race Before You Do the Race. From the video you can see this course is not easy. First you start on a slight downhill, leave the school grounds and then have to run up a short but tough little uphill to the Town Common. Once you get past the town common, you now have an incredible downhill to handle. Trust me...you will not encounter too many races in the Boston area with a downhill like this one. The real  key to this downhill is to keep your legs under you and let the hill do the work. You don't want to overcook your legs but you do need to run faster than you normally would on this stretch of the course. You will need this "free speed" during the last mile of this course. Once the road levels out there are a few miles of rolling terrain where you will have a chance to settle into your normal race pace. I would be a little conservative through this stretch. The middle part of this course is not flat but there are no major hills to contend with. The toughest part of the course is the last half mile stretch of road on Main street. There is a very short but abrupt downhill as you take the right from Flagg Road on to Main Street. Use this as a "springboard" as you start the hill. Once on the hill you have to really dig deep to maintain your pace. This hill is going to feel a lot longer than a half mile. After reaching the finish at the Town Common there is a festive atmosphere and some really nice awards for each race.

 

If you are in the area on May 6th check out the Westford Road Race. Take on either the 10k or 5k. You will not be disappointed. Visit our race page for more info about this event or visit the Westford Road Race website.

What do you think is the best 10K road race? 

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