Talk about a last minute, casual approach to a Thanksgiving Day race. I woke up without the alarm just before 7am. It was too late to zip up to Newburyport for a 5K cross country race. Thus, a five minute ride to Salem for the Wild Turkey 5 mile road race (8am start) made sense. I ran the idea past Kristen who was in no mood to wake up but she was supportive as long as it promised a trip to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. I was able to dash into the registration area at 7:25 and plunk down a check for $25 to freeze my ass off in slightly altered but USATF certified course with more ocean view than in the past. I warmed up over in Pickering Wharf in the racing gear which allowed me to rock a pair of brand new racing flats courtesy of a Marathon Sports gift certificate redemption in Melrose last Sunday. The Saucony Grid Type A4 features a very thin sole and weighs in at 7oz. I noticed a pronounced wind on my return back to the Salem Common which was going to be a factor in the race which I heard featured a round trip ticket in the domestic United States from Air Tran for the male and female winner.
As I got to the starting line of over 1K runners, I was pleased to see Salem State University athletes Alex DeRosa and Alex Gomes. They were coming off strong cross country seasons under the guidance of Dennis Floyd. Furthermore, Ben Strain was rocking the CMS Polar Singlet and admitted his last minute approach to the race was much like mine (in the last 60 minutes). The race went off and I was buried behind 25 runners in no time. I caught up to Alex DeRosa and went through the first mile in 5:25. Ben was ahead of us by ten seconds and I told Alex that I need to catch Ben by mile three. I whipped around Winter Island and was closing in on Ben and Alex Gomes who seemed to be struggling. I caught Ben before three miles and then we hit that nasty head wind in Salem Willows. I got a few strides ahead of Ben at Dead Horse Beach exiting the Salem Willows and was hoping to reel in Gomes but I did not have any surges left to give. I was pretty flat in the next five minutes gaining nothing but seemed to loose nothing. With about 1000m to go, Alex DeRosa came up on me and passed me strong. I encouraged him to catch up to his teammate, Gomes, who did not seem to far ahead. I tried to keep pace with DeRosa but I began to fade and take a nap. About 300m remained and the foot steps of Ben Strain aggressively approached and passed me like I was standing. I was not in the mood for searching for "that" gear. I went after Ben and Alex at the last left hand turn with 100m to go and they held on and kept position. Alex ran 27:41, Ben ran 27:43, and I one second back with a 27:44 which placed me at 8th overall.
Alex asked me what I was looking to run before the race and I thought 28 minutes was in store based on the 5K effort a few weeks ago. Deep inside, however, 5:30 pace or 27:30 is my 5 mile standard for decency. I went off for a cool down with Alex, Ben, and 52 year old phenom, Rich Tabutt. I bailed on the post race food and awards due to my lack of warm clothing and I was freezing my ass off. Kristen, as well, was all over the course snapping photos and needed to exit the cold and get her cup of coffee at Dunkins.