"Boston Strong"  By Emmett Delaney

 

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This past weekend about a dozen Reston area runners traveled north for the holy grail of marathons - the Boston Marathon.  This was the 121st consecutive occurrence, making it the world’s oldest continuously run marathon, and its strict qualifying times make it a very sought after entry. Boston Marathon hosts a world class field which Monday included 30,000+ runners from 50 states and 99 countries. One runner was making his 50th consecutive appearance. 500,000+ Spectators and 10,000+ volunteers participated to make the day work smoothly. Marathon Monday is a holiday in Massachusetts and it seemed they were all out to help us, one way or another. An ever present aura over the city and this race was the Boston Bombing of 2013. That event and its aftermath unified the city, and made “Boston Strong” their battle cry. It is evident everywhere and perhaps similar to New York post 9/11. 

We have been training and planning for this for months. We have shivered on the pre-dawn winter runs, taped up our strains, popped our blisters, whined about our splits and sniveled about injuries. For some it was their 6th or 7th appearance, for myself and others, our first. Not forgotten were those heartbroken runners who could not make the trip due to injury. We also had many virtual supporters tracking us online and boosting our spirits with messages and calls.

We headed to the Boston Convention Center for packet pickup and Expo. Wow! The crowds and lines snaked around the city block, we were waiting at least an hour before getting our bibs and bling (shirt, bottle opener etc). Everywhere the signs and banners welcomed us. After packet pickup we headed into the Expo for some retail therapy to help calm our nerves. The crowds were intense and browsing the stalls a mob scene - exhausting and stressful. Buying the Boston jacket is obligatory but wearing it before you have earned it, is bad karma. We survived the Expo unscathed but the same could not be said for our credit cards.

On leaving the Expo Marcy was interviewed by a camera crew who were looking for an inspirational talk to motivate the race medics. Who better than Marcy? A natural under the bright lights. Marcy told an uplifting and energizing story about last year and how much the medics helped her. The race could not happen without them.

 Sunday started with a short 2 mile course preview and to check out Wellesley College. The rest of the day was lazy and we did some serious carb loading before an early night.

Monday morning saw us all dressed in racing finest, ready for our pre-race photos. We all had butterflies and nervous energy. These are always the best photos, before we get all sweaty and disheveled. We were in the start area with plenty of time. Adjacent to the start area in Hopkinton we saw 100+ pristine porta potties all lined up and waiting for us. For nervous runners the view was better than the Grand Canyon!  Some porta potties had flowers inside and encouraging notes stuck to the walls. We had the perfect place to wait and watch the various waves start. Excitement permeated the air and the tension crackled. We peered and stared at world class athletes we had only read about.

We hugged and encouraged one another as our waves began. The waves were 25 minutes apart and each wave had 8 corrals, it was a finely tuned machine. Eventually my turn came and I stepped into my corral. Last minute check of laces, gels and Garmin. We were like grapeshot in the cannon - so many tightly packed runners all fired up and ready to race. It was electric. Although I have run many marathons before, toeing the line at Boston was quite an emotional moment for me, my first time at this epic event, a goal I have strived towards for years. I tried to soak it all in. Boom! And were off.

The weather was very warm making overall times (including mine) slower than usual. I could feel the sweat as soon as I started. The entire race is lined by roaring spectators and the din is constant. Like many others, I had my name on my shirt and thus I was cheered personally. It was like having my own orchestra.  It is impossible to give less than your all when people are screaming your name. It gives me shivers just thinking about it. The first miles are very crowded and you have to watch your step, especially near the barriers. Running the tangents is not possible.

We ran through 8 towns along the way, each subtly different. The "Wellesley Scream" about mile 12 was awesome. Hundreds of college girls vying for a kiss. Water and aid was about every mile starting from 2M. Because of the heat, I made sure to drink at every one of them. There were also many informal offers of food and drink along the route. In several places there were water sprays where we could cool down. Running up Heartbreak Hills between M16-M21 was tough. Although not great in elevation they arrive at a bad time. All the early downhill miles had worn our quads. It seemed the entire city of Boston came out to greet us for the final miles. Running down towards the tape on Boylston Street was incredible - I paid particular attention to the shops and people on my left, as this was where the bombs exploded. Then a well-earned medal for everyone.

Many of us ran slower than we wanted or expected and we can blame the warmth and assorted injuries for that. We all want to run our best on the big day, however measuring the entire trip by a number is one dimensional and you have to see the other elements too - the crowd atmosphere, rubbing shoulders with elite athletes, Boston bragging rights, quality times with old and new friends to mention but a few. Not every race can be a PR and some days you must simply celebrate the day.

After the race I was a tad weary and trying to walk to the hotel via the shortest route. However one of the streets was blocked off with barriers and adamant guards. A member of Boston’s finest (ie. A police officer) came up to the barrier, put his hands on my shoulders and asked the guards to let me through. Still a firm no, quoting rules and regulations. The police officer responded by offering to accompany me the whole way through the secure area. At this, they acquiesced and the magic gates opened. The policeman walked with me several blocks to ensure I reached my destination and everyone was happy. It moved me deeply that a very busy officer on a very busy day would go out of his way to help a tired stranger. While his kindness was special to me, it was typical of the warmth and hospitality shown by the entire city of Boston.

Thanks to my wonderful Reston Runner and Morningstar friends for making this a great weekend. Thanks to Sarah Humphrey for editing and repairing my drafts.

You want times? Look up our team on Bill D'Agostino's list or at baa.org

Boston Strong

Emmett Delaney

Devil Dog 100km - December 17, 2016 -  Race Report by Emmett Delaney  

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Race Report Devil Dog 100km 12/17/2016
 
2016 started with injuries, limited training and many uncertainties. I wanted to run and compete but wasn't sure I could even start. In the course of this year there were also major personal setbacks. Through this year I have gradually (and unevenly) progressed from that low to an Ironman, Marine Corp Marathon and Stonemill 50mile. Similar to the Maryland Ironman, yesterday's inaugural Devil Dog ultra race had many weather issues. Yesterday's event was the highpoint of 2016 by running my farthest  distance ever.  
Physically and mentally I was ready for a challenge. Endurance events test you like no other. Things will go wrong, you will get hurt, you will get tired, you will want to stop. On the flip side, finishing these events gives me a great sense of accomplishment, achievement, hope, possibility, and confidence that spills over into other areas of my life.
By November I was feeling strong and uninjured (a rarity) and 100km/63miles did not seem much farther than the Stone Mill 50m. Devil Dog is held at a convenient local location (Prince William Forest, about 45 mins from home). Also the course is 3 loops for 100km and 5 loops for 100 miles. I thought a looped course easier for spectators and logistics, probably less chance for getting lost. The stars aligned and I registered about 3 weeks ago.
Race day there was an ice storm and the roads conditions, not too mention the trails, were very slick. The area around the race start area was covered in ice and walking anywhere was treacherous. We sipped coffee, made final adjustments and chatted nervously. I was apprehensive and edgy about the dodgy weather, great distance and my stamina. Nonetheless, at 6am we started ice skating down a rocky slope in the dark. We had to cross a wooden bridge to get to the main trail and this was the site of many falls, including my first. There was just no safe way to cross. The section of the trail near the start/finish was very rocky and the footing was treacherous. Clambering up and down the craggy trail required runners to test different strategies. I resorted to grabbing branches, sliding on my rear and back stepping. After about 2 miles the path improved and we could start running. It was still dark and so we were careful with our footing. 
Somewhere in the early morning, freezing rain came down on us. I was glad of my new rain jacket but it too was soon covered with an icy frosting, making the jacket stiff and crunchy. There were many small bridges over streams, all frozen - few with handrails. I bravely led the way on many of these crossing by avoiding the bridges and leaping over the streams.  At mile 12 I slipped and fell backwards into a stream breaking ice on the way down. I got soaked from neck to feet. The worst part of this was my gloves, leaving me with the terrible options - keep the soaking gloves on against the external 25F, knowing that I needed the protection for grabbing branches, or remove the wet gloves and risk frostbite another way! I opted for both - constantly removing and replacing my gloves. I did this for another 12 miles until I arrived at the next aid station where I could change into a spare pair from my drop bag. The gravel roads were no easier as some were quite steep and the pebbles slippy. Crossing the occasional blacktop was comical - we simply skated on some and crawled across others. My first loop took about 5 hours 15 mins and I fell 5 times. 
During the first loop I experienced an amusing incident. A runner came by me and in his Texan accent said "I got bit hard." Thoughts that crossed my mind were had he been bitten by a dog or even worse - a snake or bear. "What?" I asked. "That blacktop bit me hard, I fell so bad" he explained.
The 2nd loop went much better although by now it was quite muddy in parts. I fell 2 more times including a heavy fall at mile 32. This fall knocked the stuffing out of me and it took ages to get going again. I don't even know how it happened. I was running quite fast on smooth trail, next moment I was airborne then crashing to a halt. It was the lowest point of the race and I was only halfway through - alone, bruised and feeling beaten. In trail running (as in life) sometimes there is no option to DNF and no escape but to carry on. It was very isolated and I had no other option here, other than to pick myself up, take some deep breaths and start moving. I think I crept 2 miles before running again. In many places the path was above a river bank and any slip would have put you in the drink. I stayed dry but I know others got a frozen dunking. At the end of loop 2 it was great to have Yancy and Janet tend to me and provide some TLC for a few minutes. Loop 2 took me about 4hours 30mins.
Loop 3 (last loop!)  started off great. I ran a strong 7 miles but then darkness descended and I had headlamp problems. Despite new batteries the lighting was very weak and insufficient to see any real distance ahead. Miles 50-55 were at a 20+ minute pace. A fellow runner, Doug,  was extremely helpful and we shared his lamp for several miles. Then he moved ahead on the twisty trail and I was back in the dark. Next runner along was just the opposite. He objected to me "drafting" off him, even though I was not slowing him. He kept side stepping and sprinting ahead to lose me, which is unlike anything I have ever seen or heard of from a fellow trailie. When I got to an aid station, a volunteer (Becca) kindly loaned me her headlamp and I was able to run/walk the final 7 miles in. Those final miles clambering over rocks seemed to take eons.  There were no "1 mile to aid" signs and therefore some guesswork as to the remaining distance. 3rd loop was about 5hrs 30 and total race time about 15hours 32 mins. Despite all the challenges and setbacks, the falls and the bruises, I finished my first ever 100km. I was euphoric to cross the line.  Yancy was there to cheer me into the finish. It is fantastic to have a friendly face at the end and she was so patient to have waited 10+ hours.
Final thoughts - Overall a tough day and not what I expected or planned for, but it finished OKAY and now I have a story to tell. Many others had similar reports of constant falls. There were many DNFs (Did not finish) too. I have so much additional respect for the 100 milers out there. Considering the very tough conditions on the course, it took grit for runners to complete any part of the race and spoke of their commitment and dedication. Of the 100km starters 38 were DNF and 61 finished. Of the 100m starters 65 were DNF and 41 finished. Post race I am stiff in many unusual places from all the teetering and balancing I was doing. Also bruised and scraped from my assorted falls. Other Reston area runners on the course were Lucas Moten, Ned White and Bret Kinsella. Thanks to all volunteers especially K.C., Amy, Marwa and Mike. It was encouraging to know that so many friends in Virginia and Maryland were following me online.
Emmett

 

2015 Freedom's Run - Shepherdstown, WVA

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Congratulations to the Reston Runners who participated in the Freedom’s Run last Saturday. The race started in Shepherdstown, WV and ran through the Antietam Battlefield National Park. The weather for the race was perfect.  Our club was well represented with 13 people running or walking in the half marathon and one runner in the full marathon.  A great time was had by all.  Finish times are as follows:

Dave Breese                         2:14:44

Bill D’Agostino                      1:54:14

Ann Deschamps                   2:43:39

Paul Durfee                          1:55:12

Tammy Durfee                      1:55:12

Sabastian Esteve                 1:50:44

Ellen Hart                             1:54:14

Geoff Lewis                          2:30:56

Kate Lewis                           2:35:26

Mike Mackert                       1:51:26

Jarrett Marquis                     3:21:50

Anna Newcomb                   2:08:37

Pablo Rafo                          1:50:31

William Turrentine               4:06:13 (full marathon)

Dulles Day 5 10K

Reston Triathlon 2015

 

I was pleased to complete this year’s Reston Triathlon on a beautiful early Fall day, but this report is not about my race. Instead it is about appreciating the great people that makes Reston Runners stand out among all the running, triathlon, and bike clubs out there: shared participation and cameraderie over time.

Starting in the swim, I was doing my usual thrashing in the lake, getting punched hard in the face, and having some kids in one of the “safety kayaks” run into my head when I started thinking whether I should switch hobbies to something like stamp collecting.

But everywhere, there were friendly, familiar faces, friends.  Helpful, enthusiastic volunteers and fellow competitors. Reston Runners. It was great being cheered on at every intersection by volunteers who are serious athletes in their own right. Runners would yell out “great job” encouragement to others. I can tell you from personal experience that you don’t see that kind of cameraderie at the big impersonal triathlons (e.g. Nations, Chicago).

Commitment to the event: many train and participate year after year. Just to name a few: Deb Margraff (14), Jim Nagle (20),  Jim Bradford (21), Anna Newcomb (21), Dan Grove (26), Jerry Bonnes (30). Thanks to the RTA Board members who keep this great event going including Bunny Bonnes, Joe O’Gorman, Donna Rostant, Kevin Kunkel, and Mary Ellen Wolf.

Kudos to our award winners including Deedee Loughran, Chris Dettmar, Marcy Foster, Jeannie & David Johns, Mary Klaff, Dave Breese,  Manfred Boehringer, Bob Lambert, and (the great) Tony Panizza.  You are all inspirational (particularly Bob & Tony).  Every finisher was a Winner. 

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