Krissy (KrissyK) and I headed out to Westfield State University this morning for the James Early Invitational where I was competing with the Salem State Alumni team. I raced James "Jim" Earley while I was at Salem State. He lost his life in a motorcycle accident heading into his Senior year. This race is the 16th year in a row with funds from the race going toward scholarships in his honor. As usual practice, Westfield State had a competitive Alumni team. Otherwise, there were 30 or so collegiate teams (mostly Division III) along with the Greater Boston Track Club. My goal was to run under 28 minutes. The weather was perfect, maybe the high sixties and sunny. There was a minute scattering of mud in the wilderness loop but it was not going to be a factor so I wore my New Balance 790's. Our Alumni team took a major blow as Dan Smith was not 100% and did not make the trip from Cambridge. He ran 1:07:50 (missed his PR by three seconds) three weeks ago in the Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. Still, we had Mark Dawson, Alex Derosa, John Bowser, and Brian Beaulieau. John, the jester of the group, had us laughing as usual. While we were in our starting box waiting for the official starter to raise his hand and fire the starting gun, he said "we will be waiting for Chistmas!" He was right, the starter took at least a minute to drop the white flag and raise the gun to get the 300 racers going around the soccer fields in this spectator friendly course. I found myself battling for position and trying to stay out of any bottlenecks that occur on the 90 degree turns. At one point, CMS teammate, Tim Mahoney and I had to jump over a bag of soccer balls as the race ran right by a soccer game's sideline. I saw it coming and yelled over to Tim to watch out! The soccer coaches were not too happy with our race on the edge of their game. I put in several surges to move up and get decent position. I got through the mile in 5:22 still surging past college guys. Mile two split with Mark Dawson along side was 5:35, just under 11:00. I got up to Eric Mendoza from GBTC and bolted into the wilderness loop. I held my own through mile three (5:47 split) hanging onto another GBTC runner, Adrian MacDonald, all the way back up to the fields. It was with about 800m remaining that I encouraged him to go after the single file group of 8 runners a few seconds ahead. I was giving him the advice that I wanted to employ, but I was all out already. We kept our positions into the finish line. I got an official time of 27:37.72 with a placing of 33rd. I was the first Alumni from Salem State. Mark Dawson and Alex rolled in behind me. Brian, who is training for the New York City Marathon, and John Bowser wrapped up the scoring for our team. We finished 16th out of 31 teams. Westfield State Alumni crushed us with a 5th place showing. The awesome news for that day was Alex Gomes, a Senior with Salem State, won the meet outright, improving on his 2nd place showing last year. He was seven seconds quicker this year and his nearest competitor was 17 seconds behind him. He is certainly up for some accolades later this fall if he stays healthy.