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Another Week at Good Times 5k Series

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Sunday, April 27, 2014
in Road Races

This week was the third week in the 10 week Good Times 5K Series. The interesting part of this week was the race format. For week three women start first and then 2:30 later all of the men start the race. The overall winner of the race receives $100, man or woman. I am not in competition for the $100 but beating my wife in this race is a yearly goal.

 

Although I enjoy the format of this race I do not enjoy the race conditions. The Good Times course is narrow in many places and it is very difficult to navigate through 200 women on the course.

The weather was a balmy 65 degrees and a little muggy. After the women started we waited the 2:30 and then took off. As I expected running along the Riverwalk was extremely difficult and at times I had to almost come to a stop to wait for an opening through the crowd of women runners. Now this week I decided to run without a watch so I do not have any split times but I felt like I had a slow first mile. I struggled a bit over the second mile (third week in a row) and continued to press on. Finally I got on the Aiken Street Bridge and in the distance I saw my wife. Now I knew that even though I was feeling terrible there was no way I wasn't going to catch her. I continued at a steady pace and passed her just before the Tsongas Arena and pushed to the finish.

As I mentioned last week, in a ten week series there are a lot of ups and downs. This week's goal was to 1) Catch my wife; 2) Run a steady time....How did I do? Well, I beat my wife and I ended up running 20:14. That is 2 seconds faster than week two and my fastest time so far in the series. (not that fast)

This is not a misprint...I ran 2 seconds faster than last week but came in the same position overall and in my age group.

20:14  10th overall 2nd in age group...on to week 4.

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Good Times 5k Series Week One Race Report

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 09, 2014
in Road Races

Finally after what seemed like the longest winter of all time the 12th Good Times 5k Spring Series began last night. This series has come to symbolize the start of spring and the racing season for me and many other local residents. It is always interesting to see who starts the season in good form or who may have put on a few pounds over the winter months. 

 The New Course

The series started with a slightly new course due to the demolition of the University Avenue Bridge over the winter. The start line of the course was moved up a bit but was in the same general area behind the parking garage. The course remained the same until a new but very short gravel section near the dorms. After passing the dorms, the new bridge is about a block past the old bridge so now the hill up to the bridge is longer. After that the course remains the same until the finish. After the left turn to the finish behind the parking garage the finish line is almost right away. Now you should start your finish line sprint before the turn to account for this.

The Race

If you had asked me mid-day yesterday how the weather looked for the race I would have said fantastic! Winds were calm and it was 65 degrees. Unfortunately as the afternoon waned, the winds picked up significantly. By race time it was about 55 degrees with a heavy wind.

It was nice running in shorts and a t-shirt on April 8th but the wind ended up being a huge factor. The first mile is somewhat protected from the wind but you could definitely feel it. I ended up running a nice and controlled 6:18 for the first mile.

Soon after the first mile mark the protection of the dorms is gone and the wind was in full effect. I really struggled running up the hill to the new bridge. As I climbed the hill the wind was blowing hard from my right and I felt like my race number was going to be ripped off. After I turned right on the new bridge the wind was in my face and I felt like I came to a stand still. I was barely moving and struggling. I recovered a bit on the downhill after the bridge and tried to get some kind of running form back on the VFW highway. I crossed mile two with a split of 6:48...ouch!

Once I reached the Aiken Street Bridge I again was faced with a tremendous wind. I ended up holding my race number down with my left hand the whole way across the bridge. I finally got to the final straightaway and muscled home to the finish. My mile 3 split was 6:38. One interesting point is that I ran 13:26 for the last two miles of the race and only three people passed me. That would never happen in a normal Good Times Race. Usually 20 people would have passed me if I ran that slow after mile 1. That proves to me that I was not the only one struggling with the conditions. 

 

After the race we checked out the new venue for the event. Finn's Pub had a much bigger downstairs bar than Hookslide Kellys and a much bigger area for the pre and post race announcements. The bathrooms were cleaner as well. I think this new venue will work just fine. I will miss the outside patio area but for the Spring Series most of the time it is cold or rainy so being indoors is probably better.

My results: 20:23   14th overall and 2nd age group

 Hope to do better next week!

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Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
in Road Races

Yesterday I unfortunately experienced a very scary medical situation. Let me give you some background. First off I need to say I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical experience. In addition I do not recommend anyone use my actions as a guideline for handling similar situations.

On Sunday I started feeling run down and had a few bouts of sweats and feeling light headed. I didn't do much and went to bed early. On Monday I felt OK in the AM, ran 7 miles, and did some errands. After the run I had lunch and then started feeling really run down and had a bad stomach ache. I battled extreme stomach pain all during the Red Sox home opener. The pain slowly subsided and I went to bed early again. Yesterday I woke up with pain and tightness in my chest and was still feeling run down. I worked for several hours in my home office and started feeling light headed and still had the tightness in my chest. Around 11:00 AM I started making lunch and broke out into a sweat and started feeling faint. The bottom line is that I had pain and tightness in my chest, had the sweats, and was feeling faint. I couldn't believe it but I thought there may be a possibility I was having a heart attack. Me?

To make matters worse I did not have a vehicle as I had let my daughter take my car to school as I didn't plan on going anywhere yesterday. I considered calling 911 but thought there is no way this could be happening. Unfortunately I couldn't deny the way I was feeling and knew I needed medical attention ASAP. So what did I do? I quickly threw on my running shoes and walked to the Walk-in Center a half mile from my house. I was feeling very faint and weak and thought more than once on the way over that if I collapse this would turn out to be a very dumb decision.

Once at the Walk-in center I was quickly examined and the doctor told me based on what she was seeing I needed to go to the emergency room ASAP. I had no car but it didn't matter because they said I also needed to go via ambulance. To make a long story short I ended up being at Lowell General Hospital for the next 5 hours undergoing a whole battery of tests on my heart. I was examined thoroughly and I would like to thank the great staff at Lowell General.

What were the results? I had a surprisingly lengthy conversation with a cardiologist who explained to me that after all of the tests my heart was fine. They do not know what caused my symptoms but it wasn't heart related. I was probably fighting something off and maybe I strained a muscle in my chest...not sure. Regardless I was glad to hear that I did not have an issue with my heart. During my discussion with the cardiologist I mentioned I was a runner and in fact I had planned on doing a 5k road race later that day. Here is a snippet of our conversation heavily paraphrased:

Doctor: After all of these tests we do not know what caused your symptoms but it is not heart related.

Me: So my heart is fine?

Doctor: Yes.

Me: So there is no reason why I can't run in a 5k tonight?

Doctor: Well, I can't tell you what to do once you are discharged but your heart appears to be healthy.

Me: Ok..Thanks.

 

 You have to understand that after a lifetime of running and racing one of the scariest things that could happen to me is to have a heart condition. We have all heard of fit runners having a heart attack. It does happen. Once I heard my heart was fine I was instantly injected with relief and knew I was running in the Good Times 5k that night. I left the hospital at 5:30 PM quickly changed and went to the race. You see, I can deal with feeling faint, weak, sick, etc. Many long distance events I have completed at some point I have felt that way during the race. I wasn't feeling at my best (obviously) and completed the race in 20:22.

The moral of the story is that if you feel you are having a heart attack it is better to be safe than sorry. Know the warning signs and by all means call 911...don't try to walk a half mile to the doctors. A heart attack is survivable but only if you get immediate medical attention. If you have the symptoms and feel it may be happening don't wait and become a statistic....call for help. I also don't recommend running a road race after leaving the emergency room.  Smile

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

Chest Discomfort: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

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