2015 Great Stew 15K Race Report

Speaking of historical races, there’s also the Great Stew 15K in Lynn with it’s 41st year in action! Yes, that’s right before I was running very sick and weak (for me) half marathons, I had a great showing at a 15K.

The 2015 Great Stew 15K was originally scheduled in Mid-February as it usually is. Being New England, we always expect cold, wind and general crap weather. What we didn’t expect was 100 inches of snow that were beyond most humble cities’ ability to remove with many more inches in the near future. So the race director did what many others tried and rescheduled for data that would allow a city to recovery a bit, clear up it’s roads and recruit more volunteers!

And that is how we found ourselves on Sunday March 8th with a race at 10AM.

The race is only $15 and $20 on race day, so a great local option for those on a budget. There’s no medals, and there’s no race shirts, the roads are not closed, but there’s a dedicated race director, and an amazing group of volunteers making it a great event. There’s also Stew at the end, but I’ll get back to that.

Race morning I woke up and felt the usual lazy Sunday feeling I’ve grown accustomed to this winter. I wasn’t sure if the race was going to go on or not, so I ran a tempo 10 miler Friday and did a snowshoe walk Saturday.

As I was making my way through my Costco size jar of peanut butter for breakfast, my friend Dan stopped by to pick me and another friend to the race. And that was that for breakfast… I should really get back to a routine.

We got there an hour early to make sure there was parking. As promised, there was a warm place to hang out before the race start at the Knights of Columbus in Lynn and real bathrooms. Nothing is better than real bathrooms before a race with minimal lines. Not sure where the other people went.

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As Dan went to warm up for the race, Sonia and I stay back as I covered by the heater. Eventually it was 3 minutes to start of the race and I decided now would be a good idea to hobble over.

As the race started, I kept a moderately conservative pace. I heard the race was hilly and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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The weather was in the 30s and although I expected to be way too warm in a long sleeve, I decided to run with it and in actually ended up never really warming up. The wind and overcast clouds did not make it feel any more like March!

The race starts on a side street and continues to on a relatively busy road. While there’s power in number of runners around you, I didn’t feel save enough to wear my headphones so I just carried them I guess for decoration. The hills many mentioned were nowhere as bad as Amherst and the only really lung killer for me was around the 4-5 mile mark.

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I really have no idea what I’m thinking here, maybe gee I’m thirsty but I’m too cold to drink water.  Or better yet, I was feeling the joy of the downhill portion.

Towards the last 3rd of the race (it’s only 9.3ish miles) I started to pick up my pace and feeling in a good running spot. I even got to pass a few dudes which always makes me happy!

However in the last mile I started to loss my pace as the mile wouldn’t end! My garmin had me a 9.55 distance versus the 9.3 official distance.  My kick was weaker than I would have liked but I was excited as I sprang through the finish line. For a short moment I regained the joy of running I seem to be struggling with this year!

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And nothing catches you heel handed as these photos demonstrating part of the what’s probably causing my PF!

After the race, I enjoyed some Great Stew as the race name indicates. Although I did put my foot in my mouth as I rambled about not really being a fan of stew and then loving the one they had at the race as I downed two bowls!

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They had a meat and vegetarian option as well as cookies, bananas and hot beverage. I think there was a cash bar too if one wanted to.

There was an awards ceremony afterwards that seemed to be geared more towards the older age groups. They got some small packs and hats I think. It went top 5 in gender as overall winners and then age group winners starting at 40+ going in 5 year increments. So basically the the 1-39 age group and overall winners was one group. I was about a few seconds off from 5th place. If only I didn’t give into the voice for walk breaks up that hill in the middle!

Finish Time 1:08:59

Official Pace 7:25

Division Place – 6/37

Overall Place – 38/173

Overall, for $15 it was a great small race and hope to participate next year!

Bike to the Sea Fundraising Ride

On Sunday was the 20th annual Bike to the Sea community ride. B When I lived in Somerville, aside from walking, biking was my primary method of transportation, especially to Brookline & Cambridge. B Upon moving to Malden my bike has been gathering dust in the basement. B I’m ashamed to admit that I am not brave enough to share the road with cranky Northshore drivers. B Cambridge, Somerville & Brookline did a fabulous job adding bike lanes and making their neighborhoods more bike friendly. B I know Malden is a long way from bike lanes but I still dream that this trend will hit the other side of the Mystic River. B There’s a lot of work, but Bike to the Sea is a step in the right direction.

I’m copying & pasting with someB paraphrasingB a little bit about the Bike to the Sea project from B2C’sB website.

“B2C promotes the development of a bicycle and pedestrian trail from the Malden area to the beaches of Lynn and Revere.B The trail will begin along the Malden River in Everett near the proposed TeleCom City where it will connect to trails heading to Boston and Medford. Heading north to Malden, then east, the trail travels past the locations of the old Maplewood and Linden rail stations to the spectacular vistas of Rumney Marsh in North Revere. Local families will be able to pedal to the Saugus Ironworks or the Saugus River and then to a pathway along the Lynn Waterfront that will connect to Nahant and Revere Beaches.

The largest ride of the year is “Bike to the Sea” held at the end of June. Over 100 families and friends join us for a ride to the beach escorted by local bicycle police. Funds raised at B2C Day have been donated to develop a preliminary design and cost estimate for the bicycle trail and an aerial survey. B2C volunteers regularly participate in local bicycle fairs held by the schools, Junior Police and the Kiwanis. Members also promote safer streets for bicyclists, better parking at MBTA stations and bicycle commuting to Boston. B2C works with MassBike, Rails to Trails and East Coast Greenway.”

Sadly the weather for the 2012 Bike to the Sea was not the greatest. B However, several of us still made it out, bikes & helmets in check. B To get to the start of the trail I had to bike 1 mile from home. B I was a little bit nervous since this would be my first time biking in Malden. B Luckily it was 8AM on a Sunday and all the usually crappy drivers were not out andB aboutB yet.

There was a lot of dust on my bike that’s been sitting idly calling my name. B I wasn’t even sure I still knew how to ride a bike!

The bike ride started on what will soon be the first mile of the Northern Strand trail.

After 10.7 slow escorted miles everyone made it to the beach!

I shivered and munched on some blueberries as we waited for everyone to reach the beach andB assembleB for the return trip. B While I was shivering wishing I had a parka with me, some crazies went for a swim.

The bike trip ended at the Dockside. B There was promise of pizza. B Not sure what happened but we were greeted with salad and pasta instead. B When you’re hungry, food is food so I munched in two plates worth.

There was even cake!

After the cake, pizza came out. B So we eventually did get our promised pizza. B You would think that munching on pasta and cake would prevent everyone jumping for pizza once it came out an hour later. B Nope!

I had a mile bike ride back to home. B This time the scary drivers were out and about. B Sadly I had to use a combination of sidewalks and roads to make it home safely. B There’s not that many pedestrians in Malden so as much as I hate sidewalk biking it was not the worst crime in the world. B I saw these little cute fellows on my return trip.

If you live in the Boston area specifically: Everett, Malden, Revere, Saugus, Lynn area please check out and support the Northern Strand Trail. B More information about the Bike to the Sea project is here. B If you’re from Lynn please talk to your mayor and city officials. B Unless I misunderstood, at the moment Lynn is the only community that hasn’t agreed to the Northern Strand Trail proposal and is part of the hold up.