Friday, April 27, 2012

Nobska Lighthouse: Mile Markers

Nobska Lighthouse is one of my favorite places and the hill to the top is one of the best short hills you could ever run. I visited the lighthouse again yesterday, but did not run, which was very hard not to do.

Along the shore on your way out of Woods Hole you encounter a giant painted number one in the road as you start running up the hill. This is the first mile mark for the world famous Falmouth Road Race. It is at this mark on the left side of the road that I saw my Stony Brook School cross-country coach from New York, Marvin W.Goldberg,  for the last time photographing the race as I steamed up the hill years ago. It is also the point where I took the lead in the Falmouth in the Fall Road Race over 10 years ago (same course as the summer version but with only 500 runners). I held the lead for only about 1/2 mile, but it was very memorable leading my hometown race in Falmouth just like all the great stars in the summer did. It got very quiet out front with just my footsteps to listen to and a pick-up truck with the race staff sitting in the back ahead of me watching me in the lead. Then some young stud went by and my dreams of winning Falmouth (albiet a smaller version of the race) were shattered. I did eventually finish in third place that year, but for a brief moment I got to imagine what it must feel like to be a champion runner cresting Nobska Hill in the lead of a road race.

Just a few meters after the one mile marker painted on the road, you come across the 22 mile marker for the Cape Cod Marathon. If you ever race the CCM, I suggest that you make this the place where you start your hard drive to the finish. The flat easy portions of the race are too tempting to go out hard. If you save your best energy for beyond the 1/2 point and you start accellerating through the Sippewisset Hills, you may be in for a wake-up call during the last few miles of the race. However, if you get past the Nobska full of energy, you will end up flying home the last few miles and passing all the runners who can't lift their legs who you let pass you earlier in the race. This is a smart strategy particularly if you are running on a windy day like in 2006 with the 50 mph wind gusts. It was a tailwind the last few miles and some runners just couldn't take advantage of the gusts of wind. I recall just letting loose when the wind picked up and looking down at my GPS watch that said I was running 12 mph at times. I felt bad for the runners who were barely moving due to their lead legs.

As you near the top of the hill, the beautiful Nobska Lighthouse reveals itself. Can't you just smell the salty air?

Yesterday my 12 year old daughter Hannah, said she is going to run the Falmouth Road Race some day, maybe in a year's time. She says she has run 4 miles and that is almost 7 miles! She had fun running up and down the hill yesterday.

This is how the hill and lighthouse looks on a hot August Sunday morning.


Brian Baker said...

Love this post! I'm going to be at my Falmouth house Memorial Day Weekend. Any chance you'll be in town?

Jim Hansen said...

Hi Brian,
Right now we have tentative plans to go up north that weekend. Don't you love all the mileage markers on the roads of Falmouth? It was very weird walking the roads yesterday and not running them.