Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rolling in Amherst

Finishing up 10 miles in Amherst, MA. Photo by Kristin Wainright.

Ben Strain arrived 7:40am to car pool a crew from the North Shore. Junyong Pak (Beverly) and Brett Rickenbach (Danvers) arrived about five minutes later and we zipped down Rt. 2 to Rt. 202 into Amherst following a caravan of would be racers. Our objective was to survive a rolling course that was designed by my college coach (Salem State College) and current Greater Boston Track Club coach, Tom Derderian way back in the early 1970's.

I ran on the course for the 1st time back in 1999 when it was the USATF-New England 10 mile championship. I managed to run 56:24 that year. My second run on the course was in 2005 when Joe Shairs and I went out there for a tune up to get ready for the New Bedford Half Marathon. I ran a bit slower in 57:27 and seemed to be running alone for much of the race. I recall the hills seemed very long and tough.

As for this past Sunday, Amherst again was the host of the USATF-New England 10 mile championship. I really did not set a goal for the race. I ran 5:43 pace in the Great Stew Chase 15K several weeks ago in Lynn, MA on a fair course so figured no worse than that in Amherst, even with a tough hill in the closing miles.

I went out for a 5:38 mile and noted how strung out the race was before mile 2 where there was a healthy down hill. I just did my thing as I caught up to Ben Strain. Dave Quintal, one of our top masters, hung tight before I ran a few six minute miles on some hilly sections. Then I ran over a stretch of ice that seemed to last 1.5 miles along the reservoir. The footing was not too bad but I did some slipping where the trees have not allowed much sun over the previous week. The next few miles had plenty of downhill as I ran with Mike Cooney for 2 miles into mile 8 where I began to fade a bit dreading the last few climbs into the finish. I was spent so I just tried to keep pace with a few dudes who passed me with one mile to go. I finished with a 57:37 chip time.

Splits per my watch:
5:44 (28:53)
5:58 (57:39) 57:37 chip time

I'll take it. It was a good effort. The one takeaway from today's race was that the hills did not seem as long or as tough as they did in 2005. I imagine that being a Grand Prix race with plenty of competition and runners around at all times helped out.

The CMS men's open team ran a great race for 2nd place overall behind BAA and a few seconds in front of GBTC. Justin Fyffe came in 5th overall, Kevin Tilton ran solid, Matt Clark & Andy McCarron tore up their old training grounds, and Jim Johnson closed out the scoring for the top five. Meanwhile, the CMS masters team took charge with 3rd place behind Whirlaway and Greater Springfield. Joe Shairs and Dan Verrington placed 2nd and 3rd overall in the masters category, only seconds from the 1st master. Dave Quintal was 7th master and Dave Dunham cleared his goal to break 60 minutes. These guys are going to have a solid year ahead of them.

Next up for me is the New Bedford Half Marathon. I am going to bust my tail and see how long I can run 5:40-5:45 pace. It might get ugly out there.

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