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

1 comment: