For a coastal town surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, this is not your easy sea-level endeavor hosted by the North Shore Striders. However, if you take a few moments and glance around, you can't beat the scenery in Nahant. The goal for the day was to engage in a marathon paced effort for the 18.6 miles (30 kilometers). After running 6:01 pace on this course in 2008, it was easy to yearn for the same pace. I also nailed that same pace this past Monday at the tough - Cape Ann 25K. It turned out, today, that I was a bit aggressive with the anticipated pace and did not want to go overboard too early. One mile passed in 6:08 with Tomoaki Uchiki (GBTC) and Dan Verrington, master ace from CMS. When asked, Tomoaki agreed that 6:00 per mile pace was his goal so that validated that I was in good company for the outset for Dan and I. However, our pace was averaging 6:08 pace through the first few miles. I did not feel particularly light footed and was reminded of the Cape Ann effort early and often. Dan dropped back and Tomoaki and I kept company through ten miles (60:35) up and down the hills. He began to pull away and chase down Rich Smith (GCS) and Joe Donnelley (GCS) who were less than 30 seconds ahead out around the Northeastern owned campus. I got as close as 15 seconds to Rich but he held his own reeling in Joe as we were out on the bike path of the causeway (16 miles). I started to feel the day's pace as I passed by what was going to be the finish in two miles with a quick loop around red rock and back. My pace slowed in this stretch with mile 17 clocked in with my slowest mile of the day (6:30). As I approached the finish line, Kristen was taking photos with her Nikon D60. To my surprise, my dad was standing there with her and cheering me on (he got there five minutes before my arrival). I gave him a high five while the finish line 40 yards away and around the left hand turn awaiting my tired legs.
My official time was 1:53:30 (6:06 per mile pace), 2nd in my age division (excluding the overall winner) and 7th overall. I did not bother with a cool down, instead opting for a banana and a can of Sprite. I gave Tomoaki, Rich Smith, and Joe Donnelley credit for hanging tough through the wind over the last five miles. These guys, as well as I, hope to toe the starting line at the Bay State Marathon on October 17. I went to the car, traded my flats in for my crocks and a warm long sleeve shirt. Then I headed back onto the course about 200m from the finish and directed runner traffic for the last 1/3 of the race who had about 2 miles left.
Not all is good news. I most certainly flared up my left Achilles which was hinting to me on Wednesday that something may be brewing. This miserable issue kept me out of racing the Bay State Marathon in 2008. I will keep close tabs on this one. Unfortunately, 55K of road racing in six days may put a damper on the running and racing in the near future. Stay tuned.