Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blessing of the Fleet 2015

Narragansett, RI
Friday, July 24, 2015

This was my 13th straight year running this race.  While I do not have triskaidekaphobia, I still had plenty of nervousness bound up in me. When we left Westerly I was worried about the 81 degree sunny weather.  Mike B was kind enough to pick up our shirts and bibs earlier in the day in order to make for a smoother drop-off and transition to the race.  Jana dropped Mike, Matthew, Jonny E, and I off right near the start and we quickly joined Jonny H, Chris, and Wooley for a WTAC warm-up of 7.

Anomalies in '12 and '13 of pacing Matthew at a young age of 12 and 13.
Otherwise, overall a general slow tick faster in time.
How would I fare in '15?

A Goal:  sub-60, B Goal:  PR (1:01:32), C Goal:  sub-64.  Together with Matthew and Jonny E, we wiggled our way to about 6 or 7 crowded rows back.  As stated in Matthew's post, it was a huge relief when anyone with a bib number of 100 or less was asked to step forward into the makeshift corral.  By now the weather was cloudy and probably mid-70s.  The gun went off and the chaos began.

Out to Scarborough (start to Mile 4):  The frenzy of passing and being passed goes on for a mile before settling down.  I saw Jonny 'til about 1/2 mile in and resisted following him.  Fellow 51-year old Norm Bouthillier (Tollgate X-C coach) saddled up next to me to begin the long haul.  We were both acutely aware that the only other 50+ guy had just gone by (Glen G of the NRA) and when Stan Mickus of Mystic went by with his graying blond hair, Norm quickly asked me how old that guy was, but I told him to relax that Stan was in his late 40s.  We passed through our first mile in 5:47 and I was worrying that Norm was speaking so easily and chatting the whole way thus far.  At Mile 2 (6:01 split), I pulled up to Glen and said hello.  We ran next to each other (Norm had dropped back) through Mile 3 (5:52 split) and with headwinds at Scarborough Beach, I ducked behind a muscular tattooed guy to try to draft.   At one point I got to close and bumped into his leg, which through off his gait.  He looked back, made a motion with his arm and didn't look happy.  I backed off, but at that point he were turning off Ocean Road and out of the headwind anyway.  Passed him wide at Mile 4 (6:07 split).

Highway miles (mile 5 and 6):  This stretch along Route 108 is always my slowest and least favorite, as you have car exhaust, heat, and direct sunlight.  Fortunately, with ever darkening clouds and cool temps, I was able to keep my pace going (6:01 and 6:08 splits).  Part of that was also probably the continuing rivalry with Glen, as on 108 we switch first place amongst geezers 2 to 3 times.

Soggy finish.
(Photo by Jana)

Return wet stretch (Mile 7 to finish):  As we turned off 108 into the dark forest, I surprisingly passed Bob Jackman, who mumbled that he was out of shape.  Glen pulled ahead here for the final time.  The rain came down hard, I was having trouble adjusting to the darkness, and several times had to duck abound groups of walkers in the middle of the road.  Not exactly tangent running.  Mile 7 was a 6:04, but Mile 8 ticked all the way up to 6:14.  I'm doing the mental math that it should be pretty easy to beat my B goal (PR) by just maintaining a 6:15 pace, but then as I finish Mile 9 (6:11), I decide to throw in a new goal (what is between "A" and "B"?  A.5?) or going sub-61.  Bob Jackman passes me again in the final mile, and I'm just hanging on at a faster 6:01 pace to finish.

1:00:52.  48th overall out of 2,385.  2nd in age group out of 246.  Full results here.
With Matthew and Mike at the finish

Another Blessing PR!!  Psyched!  Finished just in time to turn back and see Matthew finish with a 6-minute PR in 1:01:42.  There was no one his age or younger ahead of him.  Turns out it was an awesome day for WTAC PRs across the board.  Hung around (sorry, Mike B for  making you wait) to 8:30pm to get awards and then catch up with Chris and Jonny's for a chilly rooftop dinner at Phil's in Wakefield.
Wearing a vintage 2005 Blessing shirt as I am really happy to pick up
a hard-earned award here (2nd place in my age group).
Picked up a pair of Nike shorts and a tech shirt as awards,
and a Del's courtesy of Mike B!

Now I get thinking ... I "only" have another 52 seconds to take off to go sub-60.  Is it possible?  Faster by 6 seconds per mile?  I'll be 52 next year and nobody 50+ went under 60 this year, and there's also the weather variability.  Hmmm ... we'll see, but in the meantime I am really happy with my time and PR!  My best performance this year to date.


  1. The fear of thirteen kept you moving! Well done!

  2. Fantastic race! Congratulations!