Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 USATF New England XC Championships

1000m into the race
Photo by Tom Derderian
Stanley Park in Westfield, MA played host to the men's and women's open and masters New England Cross Country Championships. The open race was a rare 8K distance this year as it is usually a 10K. I prefer the 8K anyhow. I am no stranger to the Westfield course as I ran it several times in Division III competition with Salem State College - mostly by means of the MASCAC Championships that brought all of the state schools together. Since then, I have gone back several times each October to compete for the Salem State Alumni team in the James Early Invitational. The team did not compete last month due to missing the entry deadline. Thus this was a great opportunity help the Central Mass Striders fill a team and race. We were fortunate to have five men coming today so that we could score an open (all runners under the age of 40 years old) team. I picked up masters (40 years or older) Joe Shairs, Greg Putnam, and Greg Ward and we were in Westfield in just over 2 hours. I warmed up with three easy miles with the CMS masters team and Scott Mason who planned on taking photos of all races. I showed them and explained the course. To save time, we concentrated on the wilderness loop where I could show them mile 3 and 4. Soon the masters race went off at 11:00. I cheered them on and got my money's worth as they ran their asses off. All seven guys fought for each second. It paid off as they got the bronze - 3rd place out of nine teams. Once the women's race got started at 11:50, I got the open guys going for a warm up to precede our 12:30 start. Again, we previewed the wilderness loop. I got back to the field about 15 minutes before the start of the race. I settled into my Inov8 flats and was soon in our team box on the starting line, next to the five from Whirlaway. 11 teams were represented overall for the massive start.

Closing on the finish line
Photo by Tom Derderian

I got out and stayed composed through the mile which looped around the perimeter of Stanley Park in 5:14. We then dropped into the wilderness for a quick in and out back to the fields to pass mile two in 10:46.93 (5:32). That was the last mile split that I would record as the race dropped back into the wilderness loop that would get me through mile three. This is my "all business loop." I like to press in here and get into a groove. I was in a perfect pack (behind a single file). I matched strides but did not gain on Dan Princic. I got around Steve Dowsett with whom I have had a few battles with in 2012. I saw mile four on the ground. I had to regroup after the climb and rollers that got us back up to Stanley Park. I certainly lost precious seconds in that area. Steve led us out to the field and we kept pace around it. I was looking to let a kick fly but did not want to start too early. I got a step on him on the last turn when someone yelled that I had a chance at 27:30. That was my goal today and I opened up my stride over the last 100m to hit the line in 27:33 (76th out of 107 runners) for the 8K. I was very happy with the time - four seconds quicker than what I ran last October with the Salem State Alumni team. Steve had a good time and was just two seconds behind me. I walked through the finish line shute and gave the bottom of my bib tag to Steve Viatones. I pump fisted a few competitors that I knew, silent acknowledgement for well earned efforts. I walked back to the end of the finish line shute as I traditionally do to see my teammates in. Timothy Mallard, Tim Mahoney were close together. Then Sam Wood came across the line. Just one more to score it out as Thomas Brown wheeled in. The race was in the books. We cooled down out on that wilderness loop again (four times already). I was out there enjoying the company as we discussed our battles on the course. It meant a lot to me to have Central Mass score teams in the open and the masters divisions. My car pool packed the GTI and hit the road for a quick pizza on the way home.

Full Results
Scott Mason Photography

Looking ahead, I will be racing the Wild Turkey 5 mile road race on Thanksgiving Day - looking for another 27:30. I was thinking about the Gabe's Run the next day but I might be asking for a torn achilles. I will do a  leg for the Somerville Road Runners in the Mill Cities Relay and then put the flats back on for the Mount Hood golf course cross country race in December. If all goes well, I will get into a few BU mini meet events in late December and get into oxygen debt on the oval.

Navigating into the wilderness loop around 2.5 miles
Photo by Scott Mason

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