Friday, September 19, 2014

12th Event of 2014: Michelob Ultra Half Marathon Boston

12th Event of 2014: Michelob Ultra 1/2 Marathon BOSTON

Thursday, September 11th:

It didn't occur to me until I got to the airport and saw some of the airline employees wearing pins that today is 9/11, the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center and United Airlines Flight 93. Flight 93 was targeting DC but crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA after passengers and crew tried to overcome the hijackers. One of the crew on Flight 93 was a flight attendant from here in Greensboro, Sandy Bradshaw:

It seemed only fitting that this morning seemed particularly dark and somber...I took some time to remember Sandy and the rest of the many victims of that terrible day.

View from my seat at 5:05am as we depart over Greensboro, NC on 9/11/2014.

With the sun finally rising as we land in Charlotte, my heavy heart seems to be lifting as well.

Less than 2 hours later we're approaching Logan Airport in Boston, MA on a beautiful day.

I love seeing the Boston area by air.
By lunchtime I'm at my hotel in Revere, MA...about 30 minutes drive from downtown Boston. It's just as well that there isn't much to see near my hotel because I have so much work to finish--I don't need any more distractions than necessary. I would've stayed home an extra day except we are always trying for media opportunities and these tend to materialize in the days leading up to a I am ready and on-call just in case!

The view from my hotel room window...

The view from the desk of my hotel room...

My incentives to put in a full day's work: the opportunity to
read at bedtime, followed by a complimentary breakfast in
the morning!
Friday, September 12th:

I worked in the hotel all day yesterday and today while Jim was off in Connecticut working with his reps. Last night I grabbed a sandwich from a local grocer and went to bed early--totally exhausted after being up at 2:45am yesterday morning. Today I awoke about 6am--sleeping in by my latest standards--and had the fitness center treadmills all to myself. After my complimentary breakfast it was another long day on my phones and computer so I have nothing of any interest at all to share with you.
I love getting rooms with microwaves and fridges. Not only
do I save money on food, but I get to eat more of what I want,
when I want.

My office for Thursday and Friday.

I didn't rent a car this trip but Jim had been up here for a few days working in Mass. and Conn. so he had a rental for use. When he finally met me at my hotel in Revere it was about 6:30pm and I was ready to find groceries or dinner somewhere close. Not knowing the area too well we drove into the town of Revere, only to find the options very limited. There were several nicely-rated restaurants in Revere but we didn't realize we needed reservations for what turned out to be a busy Friday night in town.
Driving around Revere looking for a place to dine.

The sunset over the inland waterway about a mile from Revere Beach.

We found a restaurant with open seats!

As it turns out, this was a popular "family-style" Italian eatery with a menu that
heavily emphasized homemade breads, pizzas and pastas. I was looking for something
a bit 'meaner and leaner' so I started with an uninspired salad...

...while Jim chose the other salad option which featured candied pecans and bacon dressing.

Be careful when you're searching for a "mean and lean" dish here because the
closest option they have is more like "plain and mundane". This is broiled
scrod with lemon...

...and a side of broccoli.

My choices were definitely not the features here, so you shouldn't judge DeMaino's
restaurant by the food on my plate. The pasta and bread served to all the nearby
tables looked--and smelled--wonderful. While my meal wasn't my all-time
favorite, I certainly got a well-cooked and healthy entree which was just what I wanted.

Saturday, September 15th:

This trip has been so uneventful thus far, especially compared to the rest of my chaotic (but important) endeavors when traveling with the Allard reps & working PR for these race events. As much as I'd prefer to get media opportunities it doesn't always happen...and this week I've been grateful for 2 quiet and extremely productive "office days" from my hotel instead. I got so much more accomplished being able to sit for 8 hours straight without knocks at my door or the land-lines ringing in addition to my 2 mobile phones. Today I feel accomplished and rested, a perfect way to start the race weekend!

After breakfast we headed into downtown Boston to pick up our race packets and await any potential media calls.

Jim realized as we got to packet pick-up at City Sports in Brookline that he forgot to
register for this event. DOH! At least it wasn't closed out already, here he is making
his entry official.
Yesterday's pick-up was at the City Sports near Copley Place, today's was here in Brookline
where the parking was prevalent and the store was less crowded.
On the drive over from Revere we went straight through city center to get to Brookline and discovered that there was a huge event taking place in the entire Boston Commons acreage. We learned that it was a music and food festival called MixFest and saw that it was jam-packed with people. Our original plan was to park somewhere near the Commons and then go for a walk along the Charles River to get our 60-minutes' exercise for the day however we scrapped that plan in order to avoid the chaos downtown.

We opted to remain in the much more sedate Brookline area and found a neighborhood surrounding a reservoir which looked like an excellent place to explore. We started our Garmins and proceeded on our walk through what turned out to be a very tony neighborhood once we got further from the reservoir trails. As it turned out, we just so happened upon a very historic area which I will detail following these photos:

HUGE mansions stood on every corner of this beautiful neighborhood...

As Jim helps to demonstrate perspective, there is easily a block or two's walk between the
property lines of each of these homes.

Many of the homes could barely be seen from these private streets so the only photos I'm sharing are of the "smaller" of the mansions. 

I was so taken with this neighborhood and its stunning homes and forestry that I snapped the street sign photos  above to remind myself to go back and look up the history.

After a 30-minute walk through the neighborhood we made our way back down to the reservoir and walked around it 1-and-a-half times back to our car to complete the hour-long walk.
The view from the Southwestern end of the reservoir, looking back towards
downtown Boston in the far background.

There was no signage around these paths but I later learned that this is
officially named the Brookline Reservoir.
As promised, here is the historical rundown of the area we happened upon:

You'll notice the intersection of Warren & Dudley marked here--right next to the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site!! I can't believe we stumbled upon Olmsted's suburban Boston home and the "world's first full-scale office for the practice of professional landscape design". We actually came up through the back and didn't go further around to see the official signs but now it's a must-do tour next time I'm in Boston. I first fell in love with Olmsted's work when I toured the Biltmore Estate grounds in Asheville, NC but then later learned that some of my favorite urban spaces in the US were all attributed to him--many of them the sites of my race finish lines these past few years, including: Presque Park in Marquette, MI (Run for Life), Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY (Rock'n'Roll Brooklyn), Jackson & Washington Parks in Chicago, IL (Rock 'n' Roll Chicago) and views along Rock'n'Roll USA's DC event as you run by the Olmsted designs of the US Capitol grounds. In addition to these I've run in some of his other parks: NYC's Central Park, Mount Royal Park in Montreal, Belle Isle State Park in the Detroit River and the Grand Necklace of Parks in Milwaukee, WI. Finally, one of my favorite books chronicles (in part) Olmsted's role in the making of the Chicago World's Fair, Erik Larson's Devil in the White City. I HIGHLY recommend this nonfiction book:

Did you know?? Olmsted translates into “Place of the Elms”. Some say his planting of these trees could be considered similar to the signature of an artist. 

From our wonderful discovery-walk in Brookline we made our way around the festival traffic to Charles Street in downtown Boston. We wanted a small bite, some postcards and a freshly-brewed coffee before we headed back to Revere for the evening. Mission accomplished! Not only did we find everything on our list but also right on Charles St. was a small gourmet grocery where I could pick up high-protein snacks and vegetarian frozen dinners for consumption back at the hotel. I know it doesn't sound so great but I was quite tired and didn't want to spend more time in a restaurant on this eve before the race tomorrow.

Leaving Charles St. and heading back to Revere where tomorrow's race will be held.

My main entree tonight: a vegetarian Amy's bowl topped with plain Greek yogurt. In
addition I had some Kale chips and an organic granola & nut cookie--exactly what my
body was craving tonight.
Sunday, September 16th: RACE DAY!!

Today's Michelob Ultra Boston 1/2 Marathon starts and finishes just 3 miles from our hotel. The event takes place at Suffolk Downs and winds through Revere Beach--2 places I've never visited until today.

It was fun to see the starting gates for the horse races up close upon our arrival.
For those of you like me who had limited knowledge of Suffolk Downs, here's a link that details much of what you can read when you're inside the track's main building:

As with every race, and many of my training runs, I dedicate my efforts in part to my
I Run 4 Michael ( buddy, Andrew. Andrew and his
brother are both living with chronic pain and other complications as a result of
being born with Juvenile Arthritis.

Jim Ingegneri (Allard rep for Boston area) and I are racing out of the gates.

Jim Austin and I are ready to go!

The "start line village" indoors on this slightly chilly morning in Boston.

With September being Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder Awareness
Month, Jim and I show our support.

The view from the indoor, upstairs viewing arena overlooking the track at Suffolk Downs.

Jim and Jim chat before the start of the race.

Normally this hall would be filled with folks ready to place
their wagers on the horses. Today it's all about the 2-legged
runners instead.

A crowd of about 4,000 showed up for this beautiful day to run.

Counting down and ready to get running--it's chilly out here!


The first 3 miles of the race are run through the neighborhoods up on the hillside overlooking
Suffolk Downs.

The next few miles are run through this beautiful park adjacent to the water.

More in the park...

Coming to the turnabout in the park where the elites are exiting and the rest of us are still
in the thick of the park...

The last stretch in the park...

And now out along the main road to Revere Beach...which is where I see Jim I. taking
photos and cheering us on.

Heading due East to Revere Beachfront on a gorgeous, fall-like beach day.

Boston's Finest protecting the runners as we make our way to the boardwalk area.

And now for several miles up and back along the beachfront...

Jim Austin is walking today's race due to his still-lingering calf injury. He takes this shot of me coming back along
the boardwalk as I take his photo going out.
I'm really enjoying this run and this course today...

Picture-perfect weather: cool temps, clear skies and breezy.

Jim starting his Incredible Hulk pose, but I turned back around and kept running before
getting the full effect...instead of Hulk-strong he sort of looks dejected. Sorry, Jim!

The stretch after the 7-mile turnaround at the end of Revere Beach.

I couldn't resist getting down to the beach on such a gorgeous morning.

From VaBeach to Revere Beach...this weather is much more suitable for a Half Marathon
than last week's VaBeach event!

This shot courtesy of Jim I., who was able to catch us coming back
down the waterfront at about mile 9.

I made it through to the finish...not the lead horse but also not the last.

Jim wants to know if Ron, Susan and Kevin (some of our favorite RnRGypsy
race-walkers) think this is proper form...

Thumbs up for Getting Back UP and for CMT Awareness Month!

Finish line photos while we wait for Jim to cross the line.

Success! While nursing his calf injury along the way, Jim still managed to break
3 hours while walking the 13.1 miles.

Jim met and walked a lot with this man, Christopher Kennedy, who suffered a stroke a few years ago.
He now walks with the aid of the Bioness electronic stimulator which many people with foot drop
have tried. This technology doesn't work for everyone, including people like me who've had spinal injury
in the lumbar region, but it is working great for this half-marathoner...who finished within seconds of
Jim's official time. They celebrated their personal victories today with a brief chat at the finish line.
Congratulations, Christopher, on Getting Back UP & not letting your stroke keep you
from accomplishing your goals!
For anyone considering a late-summer race along the East Coast, I actually really enjoyed this event. It is superbly organized, not too crowded but very well-attended and quite scenic. I'm sure you can never count on perfect weather along the Boston shore but today certainly was spectacular for running...I hope to do this run again in the future.

A hop, skip and a jump over to the southside of Boston's Inner Harbor for post-race food.

We chose the waterfront location of Jerry Remy's Sports Bar and Grill for both the food and
the viewing of today's NFL games. I ordered the Seared Tuna salad which was fabulous.

A final walk along the waterfront before making our way back to Revere for the night. We
have to leave the hotel at 3:15am tomorrow for our 5:00am flight back to Greensboro.
The medal, which oddly includes a bottle-opening feature since the Mich Ultra's I've
had were either twist-off caps or in cans.

Thanks, Michelob Ultra and Boston for another great race...and thanks especially to WMUR for sharing our Get Back UP message as far away as New Hampshire:

Next stop, Philadelphia, PA for the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon next weekend--hope to see you there!