This USATF 5K New England Championship in Lowell was a slightly different course than the Brewery Exchange 5K from a decade ago but the same profile. Up and down the Merrimac River, two bridges, and finish in front of the Brewery. I have my 5K PR here in 1999 (15:47). Today, I was about a minute slower and 13 years older. I was behind Todd Callaghan over the 1st bridge. Then I rolled with Ben Strain (good to see you back racing!) through mile 1 in 5:10. Todd and others were pulling away or I was stepping back. My upper arms were feeling the quick pace. By the time I hit the next bridge to find mile two in 10:41, I was dragging a bit. Even with a downhill into downtown Lowell, I was flat, junk. I rolled past Martin Tighe and Kevin Alliette. Then I got past the Tsongas Arena and the familiar yellow singlet of SRR, Joe O'Leary rolled beside me. It was good to see Joe (also getting ready for Chicago) throwing down here in the Grand Prix. We have had battles going back into the late 90's. He tore me apart in the closing 100m. The finish is downhill, yet, I had no drive. I stopped my watch with a 16:51, good for my fastest 5K for the year. Yeah, that Salem Fest 5K I ran three weeks ago is complete bull crap - short. Yankee Timing got me down for a 16:47 net time and a 16:49 gun time. I stood around beyond the finish and caught up with each CMS finisher I could find and get thier story. I cooled down with them and a path along the Riverwalk which meanders along the river. Joe Shairs recalled and compared the ULowell campus and how it changed from his college days. After getting into dry clothing, I crashed at the Brewery for an hour with the Patriots not exactly giving it to the Bills. Krissy and I watched the 2nd half at my aunts in Methuen. Glad they got their crap together. On the high note of the day, the CMS men's open and masters teams finished in second place in both divisions.
This race, hosted by GBTC, changed venues from Topsfield's Bradley Palmer State Park to Wellesley's Elm Bank Park. This place was a decent venue and can see it getting bigger in the future. I drove down and signed up before the race. Parking was about a half mile from the start and finish. All races were delayed by 20-25 minutes from clogged registration for the youth race (from what I heard). I was happy to see Adam Malek and Mike Quintal warming up while I was checking it out with some HFC Striders. Too bad CMS could not score a team of five. Anyhow, the course was a mix of grass fields, double path trails, and wide trail along the Charles River with some areas that required careful foot placement around roots. My Inov8 flats handled all terrain nicely within the 3 loop course. I got out of the start without any harm. The race was single file within 400m. I pushed hard to keep Jason Cakouras (HFC) close after the mile. He was really the only guy that was in my radius from then to the finish the I recognized. I had a flat spot after 3 miles but regained some momentum on the last loop cutting through the rooted trail section. A WMDP guy who turned out to be former CMS runner, Jesse Regnier, blew by with 1000m to go. I was keeping Jason close and knew he had a teamate, Lee Danforth, right behind. I never caught Jason but I did get run down in the last 50m by Lee. I finished right in the middle of the race (23rd out of 47) and scored a decent 8K time of 27:26. Any day in the 27's is a good day. I recall just two small hills up to a soccer field during the course. Other than that, this is a fast and flat xc course that I intend to hit up in the future. Adam finished 3rd overall with a blistering 25:17 while Mike had some issues, but still ran 27 flat.
I was looking for a competitive and fast 5K to tune up for the Jack Kerouac 5K at the end of the month. Mike Quintal emailed me late on Friday about this Salem Fest 5K road race. I read the email at 6:30am on Saturday. I checked out prior year results and noted the quick times. It was a 9am start on a Saturday which favors my weekend, allowing me to do work around the house, car, and get a long run on Sunday. I ate some yogurt and a granola bar, packed a race bag, and hit the road just after 7. I had a short 40 minute ride in the Nissan pickup which gave me an opportunity to let it breathe on the highway (first since I bought it last month). CMS teamate, Dan Vassallo showed up as I was filling out the race registration form. I wish I knew he was coming as he lives one town away and we could have car-pooled. We grabbed a map to check out the course. There were quite a few turns (counted 24 of the 90 degree variety) on the course. In addition, there were numbered markers everywhere directing us where to go along the course. There were 30 in total as the course meandered around quiet residential neighborhoods.
Dan took off the the start leaving me in a pack of four which included former winner Patrick Ard, Dan LeBeouf, and Sam Fazioli. I brought them through mile 1 in 5:09. Patrick said that was too fast but proceeded to pull away about a half mile later with Dan and Sam following. I missed mile two but was keeping within a few strides of Sam. I passed Sam in the last mile and noticed that marker 26 was coming up - just four more remained so I tried to pick it up. There was a small gradual hill up Briar Ave where I lost a step or two to Dan but there was no way I was catching him with 150 yards to go. I crossed the line in 16:08 for 4th place overall. I was spent but then imediately started to question the quick time and came to the conlusion that the course was short. I cooled down with the guys and we discussed that Jim Johnson went over this course with a car and bike in 2010 after setting a 14:54 5K PR. He measured it out to be 3.16 miles. Patrick said this course was no different that what he has raced in the past. He would know as he has run it every year. Here is the map. The start and finish were about 15 yards from Main Street. I did the google-pedometer measurement and got 3.15 miles. I guess the effort is going in my log as a legit 5K and my quickest in 2012.
Salem Fest 5K
Salem, NH September 15, 2012
1 205 Dan Vassallo 27 M PEABODY MA 14:56 4:49
2 207 Patrick Ard 28 M RAYMOND NH 15:44 5:04
3 203 Dan LeBoeuf 35 M SALEM NH 15:57 5:08 4 206 James Pawlicki 37 M LYNN MA 16:08 5:12
5 127 Samuel Fazioli 20 M SALEM NH 16:12 5:13