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Good Times 5k Series Week One Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Wednesday, April 09, 2014
in Road Races

Finally after what seemed like the longest winter of all time the 12th Good Times 5k Spring Series began last night. This series has come to symbolize the start of spring and the racing season for me and many other local residents. It is always interesting to see who starts the season in good form or who may have put on a few pounds over the winter months. 

 The New Course

The series started with a slightly new course due to the demolition of the University Avenue Bridge over the winter. The start line of the course was moved up a bit but was in the same general area behind the parking garage. The course remained the same until a new but very short gravel section near the dorms. After passing the dorms, the new bridge is about a block past the old bridge so now the hill up to the bridge is longer. After that the course remains the same until the finish. After the left turn to the finish behind the parking garage the finish line is almost right away. Now you should start your finish line sprint before the turn to account for this.

The Race

If you had asked me mid-day yesterday how the weather looked for the race I would have said fantastic! Winds were calm and it was 65 degrees. Unfortunately as the afternoon waned, the winds picked up significantly. By race time it was about 55 degrees with a heavy wind.

It was nice running in shorts and a t-shirt on April 8th but the wind ended up being a huge factor. The first mile is somewhat protected from the wind but you could definitely feel it. I ended up running a nice and controlled 6:18 for the first mile.

Soon after the first mile mark the protection of the dorms is gone and the wind was in full effect. I really struggled running up the hill to the new bridge. As I climbed the hill the wind was blowing hard from my right and I felt like my race number was going to be ripped off. After I turned right on the new bridge the wind was in my face and I felt like I came to a stand still. I was barely moving and struggling. I recovered a bit on the downhill after the bridge and tried to get some kind of running form back on the VFW highway. I crossed mile two with a split of 6:48...ouch!

Once I reached the Aiken Street Bridge I again was faced with a tremendous wind. I ended up holding my race number down with my left hand the whole way across the bridge. I finally got to the final straightaway and muscled home to the finish. My mile 3 split was 6:38. One interesting point is that I ran 13:26 for the last two miles of the race and only three people passed me. That would never happen in a normal Good Times Race. Usually 20 people would have passed me if I ran that slow after mile 1. That proves to me that I was not the only one struggling with the conditions. 

 

After the race we checked out the new venue for the event. Finn's Pub had a much bigger downstairs bar than Hookslide Kellys and a much bigger area for the pre and post race announcements. The bathrooms were cleaner as well. I think this new venue will work just fine. I will miss the outside patio area but for the Spring Series most of the time it is cold or rainy so being indoors is probably better.

My results: 20:23   14th overall and 2nd age group

 Hope to do better next week!

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Good Times 5k Spring Series Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 17, 2013
in Road Races

After a day of tremendous sadness over the senseless violence that was inflicted on our beloved Boston Marathon, the Good Times runners towed the line on most likely the first organized road race after the horrific events of April 15th. Runners are a resilient group by nature and almost 400 showed up on Tuesday night to show support for the innocent people whose lives were changed forever on Monday. Race Director Dave Camire had some moving remarks prior to the start of the race and asked runners to observe a moment of silence.

Like many of you I was devastated by the news of a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately acts of senseless violence seem to be happening all too often. The sheer evil required to plan and carry out any of the recent mass shootings and the bombing at the Boston Marathon is beyond comprehension. There is no valid reason as to why someone commits these acts. Senseless violence doesn't make any sense. The only thing we can do is to hold the  perpetrator of each act accountable, increase our efforts on prevention, and make sure the victims of these acts have the full support of our nation.

 


The Race

This week's race was a unique event named the Rose Maguire's Great Mill Girl Chase 5K. In this event the women start the race first and 2:30 later the men start. The overall winner of the event receives $100, man or woman. This is a fun event for all. Even though I am not in competition for the $100, my focus is always to try to catch my wife before the finish line. I have done this race several times before and beat her for the first time last year.

This race is challenging to me for a few reasons. It is not just the 2.5 minutes that is tough to make up. I am used to starting in the front. When you start in the front and typically finish in the top 20 there are not usually many people in your way. In this race the men need to weave through many of the 200 woman that started ahead of them. There are many narrow sections of the Good Times course (check out the course) and this is always challenging and can really slow you down.

The race started and I waited the interminable 2:30 before I could begin. After running sub-par times for the first two weeks I decided to run without a watch. I like to run by feel in the shorter events. In a 5k I'm always running a 100% effort, so seeing my mile splits doesn't help me run faster. I caught up to the first large group of women fairly quickly and had a tough time navigating for about half a mile. At one point I was flying down the left side of the road third in a line of three men. There was a large group of women in front of us and the lead guy quickly went further left only to find 3 benches blocking our way. Much to my surprise he jumped up on the first bench and then jumped from bench to bench, hit the ground, and kept running. I have never seen someone do this in a road race before. This was impressive but must have taken a lot out of him because soon after he was dropped.

I suffered for most of the race. I finally broke free from the crowds and tried to focus on maintaining a fast pace. At one point on the course as you cross the Aiken Street bridge you can look to the right and see the runners ahead of you going underneath the bridge. As I got to this point on the course I looked and saw my wife about 20 seconds ahead. Unfortunately my legs were close to the red line of effort and I didn't have much left. I tried a surge on the last straightaway in an attempt to bridge the gap. Up the final "S" curves I could see her just ahead of me but the bottom line is I just couldn't do it. She ended up beating me by 4 seconds. However, I did run my fastest time of the season 19:58. Good Times!

 

 

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Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
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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Another Good Time at the Good Times 5k in Lowell

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
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
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
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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Good Times 5k May 1st

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
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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