The Somerville Road Runners hosted the Marathon Relay Club Challenge event at TuftsUniversity. Twenty six runners make up a team and each run four laps (just about a mile) on the track. Each team was required to have ten women. I was on the SRR-Fire team that was trying to break 2:22:26 which was the new record set last year. Alex White kicked off the race to make up for the .2 and the race was under way as he got our team into the lead that I don’t think was relinquished despite a competitive Cambridge Running Club squad. Robert Cipriano handed the baton off to me as I was the 23rd leg of the race. I took off, felt great for the first lap, coming through around 71 seconds. There was a huge crowd of runners hovering around the finish line cheering everyone on. During the second lap, I felt my hamstring tighten up and tried to ignore it. As I approached 800m, my hamstring let go. I jumped up and heard the crowd sigh in my agony. I thought I heard a split of 2:23. I changed my stride to relieve the pain for the rest of the race (2 laps). It reminded me of trying to finish a marathon when the muscles are cramping. You do anything in your power to keep moving forward. Meanwhile, I never thought about dropping out. If I did, our team would not have finished. I gutted it out and was so glad to hand the baton off to Greg Pickelsimer. I managed to smile in my appreciation for the crowd support and photos. I walked over to my running gear 30 ft away. I couldn’t bend over to get my spikes off or pick up my gear. I was a mess. I stayed there and cheered on the teams. Less than fifteen minutes later, Joe O’Leary, anchored the team for the win with a new record time of 2:19:29. Cambridge Running Club beat last year's record setting time of 2:22:26 by laying down a 2:21:04.
As I finish writing, I am happy to report that the hamstring is getting better each day. I've done a few miles on the bike this week and expect to run a few steps this weekend.
Today was a rare outdoor track event for me in the USATF New England Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Regis College in Weston, MA. I have not run too many 10,000 meter races on the track. I can recall, maybe, three in college and one post college where I set a personal record at the Northeastern Husky Twilight Track & Field # 2 meet in Dedham on May 26, 2001 with a 33:32.5. That was the last time I raced the event on the track. Ten years later and an opportunity came up last month when Dave Dunham was interested in a 10K on the track. The event was not on the schedule for this meet. Dave contacted Steve Viatones from the USATF New England office and he agreed to add the event to the meet schedule. Meanwhile, CMS recruited eight runners for the event that took to the starting line this morning: Chris Mahoney, Ben Strain, Kevin Tilton, Dave Dunham, Dave Quintal, Joe Shairs, Greg Putnam, and I. I figured I could run with Ben, Joe, and Dave Dunham with a goal of a sub 34 minute race. I got out and settled in behind Ben and Joe. The first lap was just under 80 seconds (5:20 mile pace). We were going out a bit faster than I wanted but I also wanted company in the 25 lap event. We went through the first mile in 5:21 with Ben towing Joe and I. This continued aside from the pace slowing down a bit per mile (see my splits below). The stretch between 3 and 4 miles brought about a 5:37 mile and it felt like it. I had just enough energy to yell to Ben and Joe to let them know that we were on the wrong side of 5:30 pace. Joe picked it up and pushed. I hung on for another four laps and started to drag, fade, and lose them. I went through five miles in 27:29 (5:30 mile pace) but knew I was in trouble. Mile 5 through 6 was miserable in 5:38. I had no energy to close the gap between myself and Ben who was closing in on Joe with 300m to go. Ben caught Joe in the final 100m. I followed about 10 seconds behind Joe with an unofficial time of 34:27 at the finish line. I missed my goal with a tired second half and never had the energy to contribute or push the pace. I felt my form disintegrate in the last two miles. Ben and Joe ran solid races. I know they too were looking for a sub 34.
Ben still taking charge
I want to thank Lou Ristaino who called out splits and kept track of laps while our group got lapped late in the race. Meanwhile, thanks are appropriate to Joe Fischetti who had words of encouragement for each of my 25 laps. The team went out for a long cool down around Weston. My right hamstring was completely messed up but got better after two miles. I was beat when we returned to the Regis campus 37 minutes later. Krissy and I hung out at the meet for another hour and watched several events in the meet. The afternoon was capped off with lunch at Sorrento's in Concord. Krissy took several photos showing the 10K event. She was all over the place and certainly captured the physical demands of the 10,000 meter event in June.
Joe Shairs navigated Ben, Krissy, and I down to Lincoln, RI for the USATF-New England 5K road race championship. I went through the mile in 5:14 and among a solid group: George Adams, Ethan Crain, Ben Strain, and Joe Shairs. George pulled away up the hill and I tried to stay consistent as I crested through mile 2 in 10:34 (5:20). It was gut check time in the last mile with Joe and Ben a stride or two ahead in the single file line for as far as the eye could see. Ben pulled away with 400m and I was trying my best to keep Joe close passing mile 3 in 15:53 (5:18). Once the race took the last right hand turn, I looked at the clock, watched it cut over to sixteen minutes, and bolted for the line passing Joe a few feet before the finish. I stopped my watch a stride after the second mat with a 16:24. Granite State Timing gave me an official time of 16:25 (booooooooo) and placed me behind Joe in 58th overall. Joe and Ben got the same time of 16:24. I was pumped for the team who just edged out Team Run and BAA for the win. I got a 5K time under 16:30 which was the goal and was my positive takeaway.