Monday, May 27, 2013

Race Report: James Joyce Ramble 10k


Webb: Most people in Boston mark the coming of spring with the first Red Sox game, others with the running of THE Marathon, or simply Boston. For me, it is almost always the last Sunday in April (and in rare years, the first
The guys, post-race
Sunday in May) when the good people of Dedham host The James Joyce Ramble, a challenging foot race over 10km. (This year it acted as the USATF Masters National Championships.) The end of April is by no means a predictable month. It could be high 30's with rain or 80 degrees with an unrelenting sun. We've ran in both.

This year was to be different. I've placed special attention on running in the off-season with definite neglect of my swimming and inconsistent and infrequent attention paid to my bike. There is no question I feel stronger and fitter in my running shoes. I decided the Ramble would be my first test. I have not run many 10k races and if I added up all the non-Ramble 10k's I have run they would number less than the times I have run the Ramble. It is not a race one typically chooses for a PR. There are hills. Neither mountains nor rollers, they make a poor choice for setting personal bests. That said, this is less about capturing time as besting myself. This is my measuring stick. If I can run a good hard race here, I can run a good hard final leg in an Olympic triathlon.

Elle: This year was different for me too. Really different. Super different. In that I didn't run.
The 'Ramble' was my first ever race. I remember how nervous I was 13 or so years ago. That morning I
Justin rockin' the hula hoop
was truly doubting my reasons for doing this crazy thing. I was never a runner, I had never run in a race before, this was all just nonsense! But Webb, the uber supportive training partner that he is, totally pumped me up, assured me that I could do it, and even ran the whole way with me, sacrificing his own race to make sure I had a good experience out on the course. I ran 9-minute miles that day. Since then we've run the Ramble around 8 times. The last time I ran I did so at a 7:40 min/mile pace. Needless to say, this was going to be a tough day for me. To watch everyone else go out there and crush it on the course while I sat on a picnic blanket, watching everyone's stuff. It did sting a bit.

Webb: This year was also different because I had two boon companions to lead me on my way. Justin and Jason, two fellow members of SEAC>Elite, offered to pace me. Both guys are strong runners who could easily sit out in front of me to make sure I was staying on form. Neither was totally confident how they would feel on race day. Justin just ran Boston beating his goal time. Jason ran 20 miles the day before. I did not have a good taper week myself. On the Sunday prior I did a brutal on-bike/off-bike strength routine. Lots of big gear sets interrupted by a variety of squats, lateral-squats, dumbbell deadlifts and bridge-ups. I followed that with a SEAC>Elite workout on Tuesday that involved 4 miles of intervals at 5k pace. Ouch.
Mimi - the hula hoop master
Thursday saw light speed work on the track. Saturday's shake-out run felt terrible, which is a good thing - best to run the terrible out before the race. Or so I thought.

At the sound of the pipes (the race always commences with the playing of bagpipes), we lurched forward with the masses. Through the first mile I was about 15 seconds ahead of pace. Justin reminded me to keep it cool. The second mile marker rolled up and I was about 20 seconds fast. I felt pretty good and was glad I was closer to getting on pace. The first climb is between miles 2 and 3, that is where Justin and Jason separated from me. I let them go and allowed the hill to be what it is. After all I had banked 20 seconds - all the better for the second half of the race. Mile 3 is at the foot of a descent and just before the most difficult segment of the course. I was perfectly on pace and ready to die.

Miles 3 to 4 featured two climbs or one climb with a bit of mischief in the middle. The first part of the climb takes you through a serene area with some not-so-serene grade. Thankfully the climb is not very long and the top is a visible goal. Oh the "top." You crest the hill and drop down for about 30 meters and take a right at the stop sign. The right turn takes you to what I consider the worst part of the course. It is less steep but longer hill that takes you to Mile 4. There is always welcome water at the top on the left side of the road. While everyone was headed to the left I noticed a volunteer on the right with one cup of water. Oh how I wanted that water. My throat was dry and constricted. As I approached him, one of the runners headed to the left suddenly changed direction, crossed in front of me and took my water. Yes, my water. The volunteer looked at me and apologized. He knew I had locked onto him. I knew he had no choice but to give that bastard the water. Another insult awaited me shortly at Mile 4 where I learned I had fallen well off my goal pace.

The next two miles were about hanging on to my pace. You can't coast your way to a PR, you have to earn them. As much as I wanted to cash it in and say it wasn't my day I knew I had an opportunity to practice running through pain. I decided no matter how I was doing, at Mile 6 I was going to give everything to the final .2 miles. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I crossed the finish line and immediately collapsed on someone's lawn.

Next thing I know Justin or Jason was telling me Good job and handing me a bottle of water. I ended up running a PR that day. Even though I was disappointed I ran :15/mile slower than my goal, I still took about 2:00 off my old PR. Both Justin and Jason had great races too. Neither had run the Ramble before and did not know what to expect. I think they may have both set PRs also. Given Justin's performance at Boston and Jason's 20-miler the previous day, that is pretty damn impressive. SEAC>Elite-3, PRs-0.

Elle: Even though I was a bummed out in the beginning about not running, after the race was over, we all lounged on our blanket in the grass, and enjoyed the sunny, gorgeous day. Some other running friends joined us, and we had a fun time hanging out, drinking beer, and even got to see a real, live hula-hoop champion (who declined a photograph and mention here). It was a great day, and for me, there's always next year...


  1. webb - awesome job. i always forget how much stand-alone 10ks hurt until i do them ... which is pretty much once a year at the bolderBOULDER. ow.

    elle - i know it sucks to not be running, but rehab that knee! you'll be back stronger than ever before you know it. :)

    1. Hey T! Thanks. I think I forgot how much they hurt too until I arrived at the start line. Once there I may have psyched myself out. - Webb

  2. Great post! That was a great day.

    1. Yes it was. We should really be thinking about a relay.