Sunday, August 22, 2010

Run Gloucester 7 mile road race

I was looking for a race to do this weekend and Run Gloucester seemed to hit me from a few directions so I plunked down the heavy registration fee. I really appreciate Cape Ann races. In fact, I plan on hitting up the Magnolia 5K next month. I was up at 6am and out the door at 6:45 for a 20 minute ride up Rt. 128 to Patrick and Roberta’s place who live next to Gloucester High School. I got my number, exchanged a few words with Steve Viatones (Gloucester High Graduate ’73) before heading out for a casual warm up on Western Ave. The announcer at the eloborate start and finish line advised of a ten minute delay as runners were running late and parking a bit to close to the official 8am start time. I ran on the other side of the draw bridge, away from the start line and wouldn’t you know that the bridge went up to let some boats through into Gloucester Harbor. I had twenty minutes to get back to the start line which was 400m away so I was not worried but it would have made for an interesting story had it caused me to miss the start.

I lined up in the front of the race a few rows back and stretched out to stay loose during a ceremony introducing the mayor of Gloucester, Dave McGillivary from DMSE, and our national anthem. There was plenty of room as the 6:00 pace crowd gave a lot of realestate to the elite who were in town for the race. Some of them could have very well raced at Beach to Beacon or Falmouth in the past few weeks. They were here for one thing: finish in the money. Cash prizes for male and female brokedown to $1500 for first, $750 for second, and $250 for third. I wondered where I was going to fit in and who I was going to run with today as the gun went off. Three Saucony sponsored athletes including Nate Jenkins ripped up the first hill. They were not wasting any time waiting for a tactical race to cash in. John Ayers and John Gillis were spectating and yelled some encouragement my way. I eased by Tony Darocha and Matt Curran after 800m and set my target on female, Salome Kosgei (Iona College, Westchester Track Club, Kenya), who was trailing fellow Kenyan leader, Lineth Chepkarui (Beach to Beacon 2010 female record holder 30:59), by about ten seconds. I caught her shortly before the mile and we clocked in at 5:34.

I felt pretty good and quickly noticed a lack of competitors at our pacing at this point. The top ten men were already out of sight and Lineth (female leader was solo) in a sea of pavement with only a lead vehicle to keep her company. I did not look back but I knew by mile two (5:37, 11:11 overall) that it was just Salome Kosgei and I. I felt like I was helping her, not really pacing her, but leading the way to protect her second place finish in the money. We went up and down a few hills trading the pace through mile three (5:42, 16:54). It was in these hills, passing Eastern Point, that I ran by Kristen, Roberta, and Patrick who biked out earlier. They laid in some encouragement and Kristen snapped photos. The gap widened between us and our competition as I recognized the course from the Lone Gull 10K that I ran last September. Suddenly around 3.5 miles, Salome slowed down and moved to the side of the road as if she were having some trouble. I was rather concerned as if she was a teammate in battle that needed assistance. I turned back and she bounced back into form as if nothing occurred. She promptly put in a surge into a left hand turn ahead of us.

The course flattened out for the next mile and a half and we traded leads, pace, all while running past the water stops like they did not exist. Mile four was passed in 22:31 (5:37 split) and we climbed a few hills through mile five in 28:09 (5:37 split). She put a few seconds on me on the 2nd half of the hill but I regained it on the backside. This took us onto the Cape Ann 25K course that I know well and begin to ponder – taking an inventory of how I am feeling and how this is going to go down with Salome over the last two miles. There were a few times already that I thought she was going to take off from some dude who has crazy fans on Cape Ann. Yet, she seemed content with my company and I was not hurting her “cash in” position of second overall female. Another thing that I noticed is that she was rather tentative at most intersections which gave me a chance to pull aside or away by a stride - taking the tangent into the turn. Mile six went by with a 5:35 split (33:45 overall). I thought for sure she was going to smoke me going up Main Street on the hill but she was steady and I stayed with her. We were coming up on John Ayers and John Gillis on the backside where I began to open my tired stride. Ayers was yelling and screaming at me to pick it up. I am certain that Salome was laughing inside or felt threatened for her life. Shortly thereafter, she exchanged the first words in our company during the race, “not much longer.” I agreed and let her know that there is only one more hill ahead. Brett Rickenbach was waiting on the side of the road as we exited Main Street and up the last hill throwing me a few words of motivation. I pushed it as Salome and I approached the top and held the two second gap over the last 300m to the finish line on Western Ave where this race began (Joe Shairs said he saw me on a NESN highlight while he was at the Red Sox game). I turned to Salome to greet her with a well deserved hand shake. If it were not for her competitiveness and company, I would have fared a totally different race and slower time.

The last mile with the hills and weary legs clocked in at 5:38t. My official time was 39:24 good for a 5:38 pace, 12th overall, and first in my 30-39 age group. My mile splits were very close on this certified seven mile course with a :08 delta between the quickest (mile 1) and slowest mile (3rd). I picked up a Saucony gift certificate to redeem for a pair of shoes. I have my eyes on a pair of road flats.

5:37 11:11
5:42 16:54
5:37 22:31
5:37 28:09
5:35 33:45
5:38 39:24 12th overall, 5:38 average pace

Kristen, myself, Patrick, and Roberta at the post race festivities

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bridge of Flowers Shelburne Falls 10K recap

Kristen piloted us out to Shelburne Falls which was hosting the 10K road race Championship of New England. I’ve raced this one a few times in the past so knew the logistics of parking, registration, et cetera. Thus I did not panic too much when our commute hit a detour in Greenfield adding an extra twenty minutes to our expected two hour drive. I prefer to arrive at a race at least one hour before the start time. We arrived in Shelburne Falls at 8:19 for a 9:00 start. We were held up on the access road to downtown as the 3K was to start at 8:20. No problem. I jumped out of the car, put my racing flats and singlet on and ran down to the registration area about ¾ of a mile away only to run into another traffic jamb of runners in the pre-registration line that was out the door sprawling into the side walk. I got my number about fifteen minutes later. Good thing I did not have to wait for a porta-john.

The race start had one side of the road dedicated to the women to give them some rare real-estate on the narrow downtown road. The race went off at 9am sharp. The first mile has a few sneaky hills that I always forget about as emphasis or concern is for Crittenden Hill just after mile two. I passed several runners up the hill. This was a slow mile split for me, over seven minutes but was ready to tear it up on the backside. I had my quickest mile into mile four with a 5:10. My legs were beat minutes later where a 5:40 mile got me through mile five. This was one of those races where I wished this was a five mile race. I sucked it up and got a few down hills reeling in Tim Mahoney and ran side by side to the bridge where we raced to the end. He got the best of me but pulled me along for the last 400m. I finished 49th overall with a 35:43 where I was looking for a low 35 minute race. I can’t complain. The splits were honest and I would say this course runs about a minute slow with the hill to make this one of the tougher 10K’s in New England.

Photos by Kristen

Looking ahead, I just signed up for RunGloucester, a new 7 mile race in Gloucester for this Sunday. It is marketed to be the last of the Trilogy of Cape races trailing the third consecutive weekend that featured the Beach to Beacon 10K (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) and the Falmouth Road Race (Cape Cod). The entry fee was steep but curious on the event so I am going. I know the terrain and expect the hills to slow the pace for all but I am sure to see some elites show up for the cash prizes. I will muck it up and shoot for sub 5:45’s.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beverly Homecoming 5K August 5, 2010

The rain cleared about an hour before the 6:30 start. I ran over to the race from the house to get a 21 minute warm up. Kristen picked up my bib number. No shirt tonight due to the high humidity. The race went out and off as expected with CMS t'mate Patrick Rich and Tim Richard (Holy Cross grad heading into the Air Force in two weeks) taking no prisoners. I passed John Ayers into third place 400m after the start. Mile 1 passed in 5:08. John passed me and I hung with him, trading places few times until the end where there is downhill once we entered Lynch Park. I had a little extra but John was not giving much finishing three seconds back. My watch had 16:33 but official time seems to be 16:34 (5:21 mile pace) for third place. Patrick fought hard to the finish and got a PR just behind Tim. My dad was in attendance and picked up my 3rd place plaque for while I was running the course again with Brett Rickenbach (bandit), Heather (ran a PR too), and Patrick Rich. I also picked up first Beverly resident. I thanked John after the race for a great race, keeping the pace honest, and giving me a hard time. He was very supportive in the last 800m - encouraging us to pick it up or telling me to get going into home stretch. We help each other sometimes when we feel like backing off the throttle. All in all, it was a good race, over 30 seconds quicker than a 5K last Thursday and bettered my best time this year by four seconds.