Monday, March 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Long Runs

It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs.

With three weeks to go before the Boston Marathon, a host of NETT members were out among the masses this weekend on the course for their final long run. And depending who you were talking to and what day they ran, it was either an encouraging fun-filled run or a complete and utter sufferfest.

Eminem and her pal Peter made a wise choice and met up with another friend in the Parkway Running Club to do their long run on Saturday. You remember Saturday right? The one with all the sun and the temperatures around 60. Karyn and Peter finished their 22 miles and told tales of dancing water stops with Hawaiian shirts and hula girls.

"It was fantastic today," she reported. "There were literally thousands of runners on the course. Busloads were arriving at the start line and there were aid stations at just about every mile, staffed by businesses (shoe vendors, sports stores), charities, private running clubs. At the 21-mile mark people were giving out plastic Hawaiin leis and food. It was so much fun. Peter and I had a great run--we were about 10 minutes faster than on any of other 21-milers. So it was encouraging."

But Sunday, oh cruel and unforgiving Sunday. You remember Sunday? Or perhaps you slept in. Well, a group of six MiniPonies who apparently don't get the weather channel on their cable package set out in a cold rain for a 21 mile sufferfest that would have made Dickens himself cringe. (three of which aren't even running Boston--talk about masochists!)

It had all the elements of a Victorian tragedy: Transportation troubles, horrendous weather, injuries and near-hypothermia. Frank W, Crazy Dave, Jim Rhoades, Mary and Jean Dany started off from Hopkinton (Ben S had the car trouble and met up with us on the course) in what seemed like a light rain and mild temperatures. But instead of warming up, conditions got worse, with temperatures dropping, rain coming more steadily and a pretty solid headwind for much of the way.

To make matters worse, around mile 12 Frank ran into a knee problem and was forced to walk in the rain solo before we could finish at 21 and go pick him up. When we pulled up next to Jean Dany shivering out on Comm Ave just before Dickensianly named Heartbreak Hill, through quivering lips, all he could utter was, "Please sir....may I have some warmth?"

Mary shouted "Bah Humbug" to the boys and just sprinted up Heartbreak Hill while spinning yarns of the devastaion she plans to bring to the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. "Claire's got NOTHING on me!" she screamed back at the howling wind.

In retrospect, with the misery of yesterday's slog somehwat dulled, we're all agreed it was a good test of mental toughness. And given that Eminem and Peter had their own tragedy a few weeks ago at Stu's 30K, I suppose they deserved such a great day. But why don't we let Charles have the final word:

"Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he's well dressed. There ain't much credit in that."
--Charles Dickens

Monday, March 16, 2009

NETT runs hard and long...for free beer

Free beer. Are there any words quite so sweet? Well it's no secret that a certain slice--okay a big slice--of the Mini Ponies put those sweet words at the top of their priority list in selecting which events they attend (it's no conincidence that we dominate the Andover XC race every year). And this weekend was a perfect example.

First off, big congrats to Jerry De Zutter for a blazing fast 5K at the Annual Ras na hEireann in Somerville this weekend. Jerry scorched a wicked 17:22 and just got nudged out for top master's honors by our pal Harris Hardy, who also had a very strong run in 17:18, so congrats to him. Adam Brown also seems to have come out of winter hibernation and uncorked an 18:20 on the course.

When asked about his strong results, Jerry told the NETT news department:
"Yes I was pleased with that time. I would term the course fast. Harris put in a nice kick to get in front of me at the end. After finishing, I made a beeline for the Burren, stopping to chat with John Kinnee who ran with someone elses number, and quaffed a few free beers with Adam and Rod Moreno nestled deep in the womb of the Burren." (If you look closely at the above picture from, you'll see Jerry's carrying a bottle opener in his left hand!)

Clearly a man with his priorities straight.

Also getting their priorities straight were a group of NETTers who headed up to the Run to the Beach 30K organized training run. The squad of Dave Mingori, Brian Scanlon, Mary Smith, Crazy Dave, Jean Dany and the Youngstah all toiled away for more than 18 miles from North Andover to Salisbury, flying past car dealers and Dunkin Donuts aplenty all for what? FREE BEER! We were all delighted to find that upon finishing at the Winner's Circle Pub in Salisbury the suds were on the house for those who ran.

Thankfully there were enough Mini Ponies in the crew that they could pry Crazy Dave's hands from the bar when it was time to go home. "But it's free--Which part of FREE BEER don't you jackasses understand?" he was heard screaming as his teammates dragged him out to the parking lot.

It was a great event courtesy of the Winner's Circle Running Club and the Andover striders. Volunteers on the run not only spent their Sunday morning setting up water stops and cheering us on a training run, but even shard their own Coors Light at mile 15 (Gives new meaning to the term "road soda"). What more could you ask for?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Stamina and Perseverance at Stu’s 30K

A host of NETTers ran Stu's 30K today with some encouraging results and a few wrinkles. We've got reports in from Frank KJ and Karyn Eminem. First we'll get Frank's take on the race:

"Keeping with tradition Mother Nature dished up with challenging weather conditions for the Stu’s 30K. And that for course that offers plenty of challenges by itself.

It was the boys’ day with solid performances by Frank K, Jerry, and Marshall. Frank finished just outside the Masters podium with a time of 2:03. Not far behind in 2:07 Jerry showed off his bike pistons and Southern Californian life style by wearing shorts and sun glasses. Randolph cruised effortless to another age-group win in 2:15– and that in some pretty cool looking racing flats.

The girls had a rough day. Karyn MM and her training partner Peter Evers hosted a wine-tasting fundraiser the night before and unfortunately, both had trouble today (more on that in Karyn's report). We all know that Tina is not thrilled about snow and ice. Now add losing both contact lenses around 20K making it possible to only see the ground a few feet in front of you and you can perhaps get a sense of what Tina experienced in the last 10K. Similarly to Karyn she showed true NETT spirit and finished the course in 2:41.

Finally, thanks to Jim, Katherine and Jim Jr de Zutter for coming out to cheer and snap photos."

Thanks Frank. And now we'll hear Karyn's review of what turned out to be a tough day for her and Peter:

"Stunning Discovery: Runners who drink wine until 1 a.m. and then run 30 km do NOT PR. As it turns out, the Stu's 30K race is every bit as miserable as we remembered it. It was snowing, it was blowing and it was cold. The hills were hilly and the flats were slippery! Peter was oddly euphoric for the first 6 miles or so (leftover wine in the system?) whereas my IT bands were tight from the beginning. All was going fairly well until the 15 mile mark when BOTH Peter and I (hard to believe, but absolutely true) starting getting migraine headaches. Still, we continued at a steady pace. Then, at 16, Peter's IT band, which had started bothering him around mile 12, really acted up and he needed to walk for a minute. I continued on, though by the time I reached 16.5 I had almost no vision at all (just a lot of shimmery lights and a little space directly in front of my nose). Since walking with no vision is no better than running (plus it gets you there more slowly) I figured I might as well just get to the finish line. And I did! Peter was only a minute or two behind. I think I finished in about 2:45 and Peter about 2:47. We immediately took drugs, and I got a lift home from our third running buddy, the ever-injured Alex! After the race, Frank said he felt like someone was squeezing his gluteal muscles, hard, the whole time. To which Peter responded: "Sounds nice, actually!"

Yikes...sounds like a tough day, but the good news is that Karyn and Peter's hard work the night before raised a buttload of money for the Family Reach Charity, which Peter will be running Boston for. See and article on him here.