Friday, November 26, 2010

Wikd Turkey 5 mile run Salem, MA

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.

530 1056
533 1630
543 2213
531 27:44

Monday, November 8, 2010

East Boston Savings Bank 5K

This is Kristen's race as she is the race director of the third running of the East Boston Savings Bank Fall Back Challenge. The race takes place on the first day of day light savings. The race was consolidated down to a 5K and new course this year. I heard several local runners were disappointed to not have the 11K that was part of the dual race theme last year and the year before. I had no allegiances to the longer race despite having a good race in the 11K last year. Keeping with tradition, I volunteered my services to help out and if possible, would jump into the race as a participant if possible.

Kristen and I got to the bank two hours before the race started to pick up coworker and assistant race director, Nicole Diano. We drove the course to put out mile markers 1 and 2. This gave me a chance to see the course although I saw a map and knew the neighborhood well. The first mile has a tough hill 200m from the start leading into Brooksby Farm for a turn-around. As you exit the property, mile one is passed. Shortly thereafter, you take a right up a slight grade passing the water stop at 1.4 miles which is followed by generous decent to Lowell Street which contains mile 2 and then into the bike path return to Lahey Clinic. About 800m remains back to the East Boston Savings Bank parking lot where Granite State Race Services set up shop for the finish. The course is more or less flat in the second half. I set up the cones for the home stretch through the parking lot so that cars would not park there. I still had 90 minutes to wait before the start of the race so I waited in the lobby of the bank while bank employees arrived to volunteer their services as course marshalls and set up registration.

I warmed up with teamate Joe Shairs and Bill Jackson from the Wicked Running Club who is a regular Danvers 5K participant. We ran the course backwards so that they got a feel for the last mile of the course. Bill and I then ran up the first mile so that he knew what the hill looked like. I got back to the car with 8 minutes before the race start time. There were plenty of Peabody police on motorcycles to navigate the race and block traffic at Lowell Street. The bank's Chairman and CEO, Dick Gavegnano got the race of almost 100 started. Joe and I jumped right out front and charged the hill that followed less than 40 seconds in. I got a few strides ahead of Joe at the top of the hill and took my awkward stride (felt that I needed a hip/back alignment) through mile 1 in 5:35 with Joe about eight seconds back. I stretched out the legs down to Lowell Street passing mile 2 in 10:53. I hit a headwind exiting the bike path while just trying to maintain form and pace. The last 400m had a slight incline but not enough to whine about. As I began to make out the time on the running clock, I saw that it was going to be close to break 17. I crossed the line in 17:02 with Joe coming in second in 17:28. This was Joe's first race since February and it was great to see him back in action. Meanwhile, it was nice to stretch the racing legs again since the marathon. Official results