28 February 2011


I want my nickel back. I feel like I’ve been redeemed. It started happening over the last week, and it really happened yesterday in Hyannis on our lovely Cape Cod. Well, usually it’s lovely, though not really yesterday, but I’ll get back to that.

I’ve felt a bit like a refugee of late. Injuries, work schedules, life events, and this brutal weather have kept me at arm’s length from my club. And though those were the primary reasons, I can’t deny that a couple of bent feelings here and there between various and sundry parties didn’t help matters. It’s hard to get enthusiastic to break out of a pattern which involves the comfort of running mid-day when it’s much warmer and return to those early club runs on a brutal winter mornings when there are sore spots in the camaraderie department. But whatever the cause, I simply hadn’t seen much of them of late, and I didn’t feel anywhere close to speed anyway until just recently, bringing on that refugee feeling on both the social and physical scales.

How many times have I goaded my readers to just get out there? It was time to eat my own dog food. A few deep conversations patched nearly all the social issues, a few club runs including one of those late-night reflecto-vest-and-blinky-light-under-the-moonlight varieties that are just so wacky that you can’t help but enjoy them (thanks, Danno!), and life returned to pretty close to normal. Half redemption.

Just in time for Hyannis, one of our club’s favorite events. Where, as Jake and Elwood would say, we got the band back together. Same bat channel, same bat race, same bat master’s team, but a result that tickled me pink (or perhaps that was just the effects of the wind). By day’s end, redemption complete.

The Hyannis Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10K, and Marathon Relay extravaganza drags four to five thousand people to an otherwise deserted Cape Cod in the dead of winter (how dead? …even the Burger King in Hyannis is shuttered in February) to punish themselves in really bad weather. With a formula like that, how can it not be great? I suppose there have been times when the sun has shone on this event, but I haven’t seen that happen. Granted, my sample size is only two, but so far I’m batting one thousand. Last year the weather was pretty ugly. This year it was wicked ugly. It’s an omen when your trip starts off by dodging the snowplows on the interstate. No worries, the forecast called for an end to all things falling an hour before post time.

Cape Cod was still lovely, but only when you managed to find a vista visible through the gray. Through the snow. Through the rain, the drizzle, the wind. They lied, of course, those accursed weathermen. But when don’t they? Weren’t they an underground group many years back? Perhaps to there they should return?

Can’t change it. Ignore it. Just run it. Off we go, same team, same order. Rocket John on lead-off, Danno anchoring to bracket the ends. Dave the G-man and myself in the middle. To me, leg three is the best. Hyannis is a double loop, so leg three starts right outside the hotel. So how great is that? You can stand there and watch the fun and mayhem of the start without worrying about standing in line at the port-o-johns, then hang out in the warm hotel for another hour and not even have to be transported anywhere to start your leg. It’s the best of both worlds.

Last year I’d done forty-six and a half and thought my pace was about six-twenty. This year, coming off refugee status, I’d long decided I’d be happy, no, thrilled, with six-forties. Now, the long story of the day is how the starting line was moved, how the finish chute was re-arranged, how the exchange zone might have moved a bit so the leg might have been a hair shorter – no more than ten or twenty seconds – but shorter maybe, how I re-measured later that night and couldn’t for the life of me figure how I figured last year’s pace, how…you get the idea, typical OCD runner syndrome stuff. The short story is how this time the splits clicked off in the six-twenties every time save the mile with the biggest rise, which was more than compensated for by putting down the hammer in the last mile, and how I handed off to Danno at a hair over forty-five flat. I’d gotten it backwards. Last year I should have been happy having broken through six-forties. This year I hit the low six-twenties. Surprise.

In what I thought was my present condition – not that I’ve even now figured out what that present condition is – I never expected that. I know my present condition isn’t even close to being ready for Boston, less than two months out. That condition hasn’t hit an eighteen miler yet, and even coming close a week back hurt way too much. But at least that condition has a little more zip than I thought.


After a fifteen minute breather at the Craigsville Beach exchange zone, Rocket John and I headed out in the biting wind – worse on him for having hung out cold and wet since leg one – and circled the remainder of the course, piling on dearly needed pre-Boston training miles, smiling nicely at the spectators unknowingly cheering on a couple of guys out on a training run. At a Rocket John pace, of course, which, on a fifteen minute breather, was more than a bit arduous. But these are the things that make us stronger.

When the results came in and the coveted clamshells were announced, truth be told, I was in the shower. Missed my thirty seconds of fame that day. Matters not. One happy team, repeat master’s champs, and one redeemed (and mind you, clean) runner.

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