Monday, November 30, 2009

Gabe's Run 5K x/c race

Gabe's Run was a good ol' cross country race on the day after Thanksgiving. Add in rain, wind, and a tough hill after two miles and the table is set. Plenty of puddles, mud, and competition at Patton Park where I played a few High School baseball games against Hamilton-Wenham. I settled into fifth place after 800m. Peter Asaro (former Gloucester HS) hammered out into the lead and nobody was going to catch him once we got out to Rt. 1A. My Adidas spikes were not thrilled about running on the sidewalk during that stretch. I got passed by a few runners up a killer hill beyond 2.25 miles. We were met with ankle deep mud at the top and the worst footing on the whole course. It is amazing that none of us went down or lost a shoe. Coming down the hill was tricky. I almost spilled a few times. I caught a two runners in the last 800m. Official results had me at 9th place in 17:50. My Garmin measured 3.09 miles. Dennis Floyd was not too far back to finish 2nd in his age group. Kristen braved the elements and raced in the women's race earlier. It was her first cross country race ever and 1st race for 2009. My dad was in attendance spectating and got soaking wet even under the umbrella. The bummer for the day was leaving my LaSportiva trail shoes behind at the school. Oh well.

Next up is an indoor 5K event at Jay Carisella Track & Field Invitational at Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center this Saturday. It should be fun.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Essex Turkey Trot

The Essex Turkey Trot race was once an annual race in my racing schedule. My first exposure to the race was no doubt influenced by Salem State College teamate Jason Euzikonis in the mid 1990's. I'd have to research my archives to see how long it took me to run the course then. I recall the course being a bit shorter but the hills were still as demanding. This is a tough New England course, one of which I respect and appreciate. My last effort on the course was a second place effort of 27:35 in 2003. I was not too far removed from a 2:37:59 Chicago Marathon effort (my last 26.2 mile effort) and Nathan Huppe beat me to the finish by :18 seconds that year. I joined CMS a month later and focused on Snowshoe racing all winter with Dave Dunham.

Elevation per Garmin Forerunner 205 as measured during the race

I warmed up with CMS teamate, Patrick Rich. It is always a treat to see him racing. The gun went off at 1:03 and after a 100 yards passing the race host facility, Woodman's of Essex, Patrick bolted out of the reluctant lead pack of ten and took a lead he would not relenquish. I jumped out after him but to no avail. I watched him hammer out the course chasing the lead vehicle, thankfully not the diesel powered Fire Truck from the past and lost sight of him after Prospect Street or 3.25 miles. This course is all about rolling hills. At 3.5 miles I heard applauce pressure from thrid place so I tried to maintain focus. Shortly thereafter I saw John and Patty Gillis cheering for a second time in about five minutes heading up toward mile four. My mile four mile split was 22:10 so I was on the longer side of 5:30's. I had to hustle to get under goal time of 27:30. I caught a side stitch soon after. I could not recall the last time I felt one of those.

A few more turns put me back out to the home stretch with a dedicated coned section over the last 800m. My last peek at the watch showed 26:23 and I could see the finish line in the distance. Patrick was probably already enjoying the clam chowder from Woodman's. I marched ahead with my goal in mind. The Garmin went of signaling five miles a few feet from the finish line. 27:26 displayed with 5.02 traveled. 27:27 is the official time per the results. The course is USATF certified as an 8k. Patrick ran the same time and place as he did last year with the 26:03 clocking. Kristen took a ton of photos. While warming down, I noted how beautiful the backroads of Essex is. I ran by several horse farms, a yard with three huge rabbits chilling out, and plenty of vocal roosters. One of them yelled out my mile one split which I couldn't comprehend......

10:49 at 2 miles
5:36 for mile 3
5:45 for mile 4
5:15 last mile.
Splits taken per physical race markers which were all within a few feet of GPS tracking

The 2nd place, 1st age group placing, granted me a 12lb Butterball Turkey which will be feasted upon on Thanksgiving Day. As if the race were not enough physical activity, I drove over and finished the day off with a mountain bike ride with Bret Rickenbach and Patrick Taylor at Ravenswood Park in Gloucester. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Day and a four day weekend. I am leaning toward racing Gabe's Run in Hamilton on Friday. They have over 500 runners preregistered already for what will be a 5k cross country run with a separate men's start from the women.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New England Cross Country Championships

Kristen and I arrived at Franklin Park 15 minutes before the start of the masters race. She brought her Nikon D60 and was ready to take photos for the day. It was great to see CMS have a full masters team. They were led by Eric Morse, Scott Clark, Dave Quintal, Dave Harper, and Ernie Brake. Francis Burdett, who races for CMS at Mt. Washington finished 2nd overall to teammate Kent Lemme. It was clear that it was a fast day for racing as several masters ran quick on the dry course. The men's open team and I headed out for a 20 minute warmup before the women started their race. We finished as the women crested the first hill. Before I knew it, Kristen took a team photo a few minutes before our race went off at 11:32am. We had eight guys toe the line among two starting boxes. I was the only one to start in the 2nd row.

I went through mile one to the sound of a 5:14 split. The GPS went off a few steps beyond to signal mile one but I marked off each split according to the course markings today except for mile 6. I was in good shape leading into mile two under 11:00 and headed through the 5K around 17:05. My goal was to run quicker than my 8K time at Mayors Cup going through 8K. I was right on plan. I passed runners throughout and heard cheers from several all over the course which was helpful. I remained focused through Bear Cage Hill and zipped through 8K, pulling up a bit on the throttle, through a 27:20 or so which is 39 seconds quicker than Mayor's Cup two weeks ago. I was very happy with this but knew the hard effort would catch up as I was starting to tire a bit but still managed to reel in a few folks in over the last 2K. I caught the last runner I was battling with into the finish as the clock turned over into 34 minutes (sub 34 was my goal). I had 34:08 on the Garmin and 6.21 for distance traveled. The results posted had me at 34:10.

The team ran very well and the consensus was that everyone did go through 8K quicker than two weeks ago through the muddy Mayor's Cup. It was good to see the team almost double in participants today. We ran a short cool down and everyone was talking about plans for the upcoming season which includes indoor track, snowshoe racing, and at least one more x/c or road race around Thanksgiving. Sounds good to me.

Kristen took over 800 photos of each of the three races.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

East Boston Savings Bank Challenge 11K

Kristen is the race director for this 2nd annual race in which also includes a 5K . I volunteers my services just I as I did last year. We drove the course yesterday to confirm mile markers with my Garmin 250 and marked the spots with chalk. Wouldn't you know it would rain last night so we had to go over the course again at 6:30am today. As of last week, my volunteer role was to co-pilot her in the lead vehicle throughout the 11k. As the morning progressed, all volunteers had everything under control. Granite State Timing Services was setting up. Mile markers, water stop equipment, water, cups, and course Marshall's headed out for their duties at 8:10am. Then I worried about having time to run today as I made a commitment to help my friend Patrick move up to Gloucester after the race.

With this in mind, I asked Kristen if she needed me for any other volunteer duties before the race and or if she'd clear me for running the race. I did pack a bag with my running equipment, flats, and CMS uniform just in case. I was cleared to race it so I handed over $20 at the registration table in exchange for bib 67, yellow EBSB race t-shirt, and a chip. At 8:22, I was off for a warm up with Doug Chick who was doing the 5K. We ran the 5K course for the warm up I went over the course with him and explained my role in marking the course twice over the past 14 hours. I gave final instructions to the volunteer at 1.5 mile water stop and where to place the 5K turn around marker.

As I was not mentally and physically prepared to race, I did appreciate the opportunity and wondered what sort of effort the legs felt like putting in. The 11K is a tough course with plenty of hills. I headed out behind Doug Chick, Wes Lassen, and John Ayers. By the time Doug turned around at 1.54 miles and headed back for the 5K finish, I pulled even with John Ayers into the lead, going through my favorite part of the course, uphill, splitting the golf course. We ran together, occasionally chatting it up, through 5.3 miles. Meanwhile, Kristen was in the EBSB lead vehicle as the pace car the whole time. I pulled away from John after going over Rt. 128, leaving Centennial Drive. I hustled to the finish line with a time of 38:55 for the win. My GPS advised that I ran 6.77 miles, 38:54, and 5:44/mile pace. John followed with a solid race in 39:20.

More importantly, Kristen had 100 runners overall with 66 in the 11K and 34 in the 5K which was an increase over last year. The event was smooth and the volunteers did a great job. I ended the event picking up following the race awards packing everything back in the bank. Kristen and I drove the course to pick up all mile markers. I will be at the New England X/C Championships next Sunday, spikes on, ready to race.