Friday, October 6, 2017

Race Report: Hyannis Marathon

I added the Hyannis Marathon on my calendar in December of last year, after communicating with the race director about potentially singing the national anthem at the start of the race.  My original Massachusetts marathon and national anthem was to happen in November 2016, but my unfortunate tendinitis injury kept me from being able to even run that race. The Hyannis Marathon has a long history since its start in 1978 with 170 runners, eventually becoming a marquee race with well over 1500 half marathon finishers, 300+ 10k finishers, and 300+ marathon finishers.  Despite the weather in late February for Massachusetts being predictably cold, this is one of the first major distance races of the year in this part of the country.  Some folks advised against it, because of the potential of blizzard weather - in fact, the race was cancelled in 2015 due to the heavy winter snowfall in the northeast still affecting the area.  But that wouldn't stop me...

Instead of my normal Friday departure, I decided to leave on Saturday morning, with the race being on Sunday.  Of course, I get a late start - first, because I didn't pack until the morning I left, so I'm rushed out the door; and second, the weekend subway trains were running late.  In the mad rush, I forget my Garmin, so for the first time ever, I'll be running a marathon without any watch to know how my pace is.  I get to Terminal 4 and get through a relatively ok TSA Precheck security line... but of course, I get flagged, and my bag needs an additional security screen because of the 8 ounce tub of cookie dough I was bringing to Boston for my friends Pam and Steve.  Thankfully, the TSA agent let me through.  By then, I'm freaking out - the flight has started boarding, and with it being a tiny plane to Boston, they can board the whole plane in less than five minutes.  I bust my ass RUNNING through the terminal, because my flight was a mile away at B50.

Of course, I get to the gate, and it's not even there... the incoming flight was getting in late.  So, grumbling to myself having run like crazy, I sit down.  Luckily, silver lining -- I get upgraded to First as I was boarding!  But then, after the plane taxis out to the runway, we sit on the tarmac for a REALLY long time, as there were several flights ending up leaving at the same time.  We ended up being on the tarmac longer than we were in the air for the 37 minute flight.

We land in Boston Logan Airport, at thankfully a very close gate to the exit, and Steve and Pam were at arrivals to pick me up.  Luckily, not too much later than the 10:25am arrival time. Steve and Pam drove down from New Hampshire and agreed to pick me up from the airport; with lots of time on our hands, we decide to head into town and enjoy Boston for the day, going first to Union Oyster Bar for lunch.  We had a DELICIOUS meal of oysters, both grilled and on the half shell, before walking around the North End afterward. Later that afternoon, we headed down to Hyannis for the race, where we were stuck in traffic for more than half the time.  Masshole drivers, whaddaya expect.

We all checked into the Cape Cod Resort and Conference Center, and then went to the expo also onsite, where I retrieved my bib and also met with Paul Collyer, the race director to discuss race logistics.  We ended up meeting with our friend Sue, who doesn't live too far away, and her friend Meredith, and we decide to all get together for dinner at 6pm that night.  At first, we were going to go to the Dockside Restaurant, with great views of the harbor, but surprise surprise, it was closed for the season!  February on Cape Cod... go figure. We ended up going to Alberto's on Main Street, and had a delicious Italian meal, in a slightly more formal setting than we anticipated.. but it was very tasty!  Afterward, we headed back to the hotel, and turned in; I played around on the computer for awhile, since I wasn't in any rush to go to bed, as the race was at 10AM!

With Bill Rodgers
The next morning, I woke up at 8am, and got myself ready and out the door a little before 9, meeting with Mike Thompson, the start captain, at the start line on Scudder Avenue in front of the hotel - thankfully, everything for the race was right there, no need to have to use shuttles or anything. After guests Frank Shorter (1972 Olympic Gold and 1976 Olympic Silver medalist in the marathon) and Bill Rodgers (4-time Boston and 4-time NYC Marathon champion) spoke, I was up at the mic to sing the national anthem.

Singing the national anthem

Gathered at the startline
The temperature was slated to be pretty cold, and cold it was... the race began in very brisk 39 degree weather.  I was clad in my teal NYC Marathon volunteer jacket, a long sleeved shirt, gloves, and an Austin Marathon cap, prepared for the weather.  The course took us up Scudder Avenue, and around one arc of the rotunda to the east of the resort, and then up Main Street. We then take a slight turn right onto South Street, and continue eastward, past the Hyannis Ancient Cemetery, turning right onto Sea Street.  We continue southward on Sea Street then turn left on Gosnold Street where we hit the 1 mile mark.  We then turn left again onto Old Colony Road on a northeasterly direction until we reach our first water station, then take a slight right turn onto Bay Street, as we pass the parking lots for ferries to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, which would obviously be very packed over the summer months, but were mostly empty as we passed them at 10:30 in the morning.  There were not many people out, being that it was pretty cold out there - but the fact that there were people at all to cheer us on at these early junctures of the race was impressive in and of itself!

Heading up Old Colony Road, 1.5 miles into the race

Ocean Street, toward the ferry port

Approaching mile 4
At this point in time, I start to feel the hat and gloves becoming more of a sweaty burden, so I stuff them into my jacket pocket. We then turned right and then ran along Ocean Street, bypassing the empty resorts (at least, at this moment in time) that sit along Hyannis' harbor. We proceed down Ocean Street, passing right by the John F. Kennedy Memorial and adjacent Veterans Memorial Park, heading straight down to our first views of the ocean, then run along Hawes Avenue. Here, we began to feel the wind hitting us as we skirt by the shore. We hit the 3 mile mark, and then turn right onto Estey Avenue, before re-emerging onto Gosnold Street, but head in the other direction, back toward Sea Street.   We take a slight right, and follow Ocean Avenue, passing Keyes Memorial Beach, as well as a jetty that I recognize as a spot I'd like to get my headstand photo taken after I finish the race.  Ocean Avenue curves around toward Hyannis Avenue, and we follow Hyannis Avenue towards the notable lighthouse that sits at the end of the road as it curves into Washington Avenue.  I run past a couple photographers then make a slight turn onto Iyannough Avenue, then follow Wachusett Avenue all the way back to Scudder Avenue.  There's a bit of a hill here as we head northward, but then a nice downhill hits and we head northwestward onto Craigville Beach Road.  Now mind you, the first four miles of this race I was in pain.  I felt like my left calf and my right ankle were tightening up like crazy, so I was taking more walk breaks than I usually do.  But after we hit that downhill just after the five mile mark, I felt like I started to hit my stride, despite not really knowing what pace I was doing.

The lighthouse near Hyannis Port Beach

Welcome to Hyannis Port
At this point, we entered the village of Hyannis Port, and it was a nice long stretch down Craigville Beach Road.  I ran up to Sue, who had passed me earlier, and was taking a walk break.  We chatted for a brief minute before I headed off and continued a nice even pace, as we made the approach to Craigville Beach.  This part of the course was open to the elements and a bit windier than the previous parts of the course where we were right along the water.  Thankfully it wasn't a long stretch, and we were back on a northwesterly direction, crossing over a little bridge off of an inlet, and eventually making our way onto Craigville's Main Street.  We stayed on, winding our way through the residential streets in a northerly direction into the village of Centerville, then bore left onto Henry Place, where there was a well situated water-station, before we headed southwest onto Park Avenue and then Bumps River Road.  This road had some rolling hills, and a nice downhill heading around a corner where we passed what looked like some open irrigation area, before we turned right onto Fuller Road and made our way northward, through more residential streets, eventually becoming Old Post Road.  We passed Beechwood Cemetery (so many cemeteries!) before finding our way eventually onto the very busy Falmouth Road, aka Route 28.

Craigville Beach
Sleepy corgi!
For a good amount of time, we were limited to maybe four feet of space along the mostly non-existent shoulder of the road, only blocked out by sporadic orange cones, so it was a little scary with cars passing us mere feet to our left, and nary a way for us to pass each other unless we used the sidewalk (which was sometimes there, sometimes wasn't.)  Eventually, we came off of the busy road, making a slight turn onto West Main Street, where I spotted a corgi with its owner, cheering on runners - except this corgi was just laying on its back!  It was quite a sight to see, this plump little corgi, just upside down, and when I went to take a selfie, it plopped over onto its side!  I soldiered on, turning south on Strawberry Hill Road, and then a slight right onto the downhill Old Town Road.  We then took a bit of slog up a hill along Old Town Road before it flattened out again, and we followed Old Town Road through a heavily residential area, twisting and curving around until we happened back onto Craigville Beach Road.   Our little sojourn on Craigville Beach was shortlived, though, as we headed eastward onto Smith Street, with around roughly a mile to go before hitting the halfway point, and hearing all of the "you're almost there's" making me feel somewhat discouraged that I still had another loop of the route to go.

Strawberry Hill Road, mile 11/24
The narrow shoulder along Main Street
As we pass the finish line, I continue to the left of it to begin my second loop.  Without my watch, I have no clue how I'm doing timewise, so I yell out to a spectator, asking what time it was - it's 12:21pm.  So I figure, I finish my first loop around 2:20. Ok...  I could still very well sub-5. I glance down at my phone, and it's at 38% battery; strange... I hadn't really even used it at all, and it was fully charged when I woke that morning. All by my lonesome (or rather... with the only runners in my line of sight,) I head back on the loop, bypassing folks who had finished the half or the 10k.  I can only see some five or six runners in front of me, even on the long stretches.

Heading up Old Colony for the second time, I run alongside a guy wearing a "Marathon Globetrotters" singlet, who I strike up a conversation with. His name is Al, and it turns out, he's  one of the very few runners who have completed all fifty states... while driving to 48 of them!  What an accomplishment - and so much time behind the wheel!  As the course gets lonelier with fewer of us running along the road, we approach the Atlantic Ocean, and it's considerably windier, as we pass the water - the forecasted wind has come, and there are less bodies to shield me from it.

Are all dogs in Hyannis this sleepy?
About halfway through the second loop, we began to approach the corner of Wachusett Avenue and Longwood Avenue in Hyannisport, and there just happened to be a course marshal at that corner directing traffic.  He had a Siberian Husky with him, but it seemed like the dog had no interest at all in anything going around him, because the dog was fast asleep in the middle of the asphalt!  It was a sight to see... and a perplexing thought after seeing the tired corgi earlier in the race - do all dogs here just conk out on Sunday mornings?

As I approached the last eight miles of the race, I ended up playing leapfrog for two miles with a fellow runner named Chris, who was running his 9th marathon.  Chris would end up picking up his speed and finish about fifteen minutes ahead of me.  We got to Craigville Beach Road and I was still feeling good, and giving me a nice consistent pace for a little while as we let gravity do its work on the downhill. But when we got to Craigville Beach itself, the wind had picked up considerably and was so much worse than the first go around.  I ended up putting back on my hat and gloves.

It was really lonely as we ran through the residential areas for the second time; a few times there were other runners around me, so it was nice to have some conversation, but the wind had picked up, so trying to catch my breath was more important.  Over the last 6 miles, I kept on asking bystanders for the time, to see how I'm doing in comparison to the fact that a little after 3:00pm (with the race starting at 10am) was the 5 hour mark for me.

Braving strong winds!
The last six miles are always tough, and by then I was alternating my running and walking as the legs were getting TIRED.  When I reached the last 5k of the race, I realized I really could definitely achieve a sub-5 and by a decent amount.  By how much, I wouldn't know until I made the curve around to the Resort and Conference Center parking lot.  Finally, I made it back onto Scudder Avenue as we headed to the straightaway into the parking lot.  Despite being 3pm and most of the runners escaping the cold and headed home, there were still lots of spectators and cheering coming from the remaining crowd.  I loved seeing Pam there at the finish, photographing and videotaping me cross the mat, as the announcer beamed about my quest to finish fifty states... I cross the mat, finishing in 4:51:43!

I was so cold and hungry, so I head inside to get some warmth and get some soup inside the Conference Center. As I entered and sat down, I saw the race director, Paul, up on stage announcing age group award winners.  When I finished, I headed up to him to say thanks, and he mentions that Cape Cod Times was looking for me, but they had already left.  After warming up, I head back to the front desk to reactivate my room key (since it would stop working at 3pm, and they were allowing me time for a shower) and I get back to my room to shower, and also blindly email the Cape Cod Times to give them more details about my challenge, and my number to call me back if they're interested in still featuring me.  I get an email immediately from Steve Derderian who would call me back later that evening, and they end up covering my story on their feature about the Hyannis Marathon, which you can find here.

Headstand on the beach
With Pam in front of the JFK Memorial in Hyannis
JFK Memorial
After freshening up and re-packing, Pam, Steve, and I head out to Keyes Memorial Beach, to the spot I had made a mental note of doing my headstand photo at. I get that photo done as the wind whips us around, and then we find some extra time to check out the JFK Memorial in town, another landmark we passed during the race.  The memorial is overlooks Lewis Bay, where President Kennedy often sailed throughout his life while living in Hyannis Port. The Kennedy family called this area home, and in fact, the Kennedy Compound is located on waterfront property on Cape Cod along Nantucket Sound.

We sufficiently got our tourist on in the area, and decide to get on the road before the sun went down, and Steve and Pam stop into South Boston to take me to my cousin Kathy's condo, where I get to meet her daughter, Gigi, only a few months old, for the first time.  We get some time to hang out and eat before my flight that evening; and my 7:30pm flight becomes delayed anyway by an hour and a half.

Baby GIGI!!!
Kathy's husband Billy takes me to the airport, and I find out at the airport that there was mechanical issues with the plane in Minneapolis.  The plane ends up having a rough time landing, and so we're given a different plane at a gate further away, but luckily we take off, and despite the two hour delay, I'm back in NYC later that night by 11pm.  An adventurous weekend, for sure, but lots accomplished!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry about the Cookie dough stop... It was fantastic.. Thank you.