Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mill Cities Relay

As the Mill Cities Relay slogan goes, 28.3 miles, 5 legs, 2 states, 1 river. I ran my second relay in consecutive years with SRR Coed Open team. I led off with a 5.4 mile leg from Nashua, handing off to Diona Fulton who was responsible for 4.75 miles before passing the baton to Lexi Abel who would rip through 2.5 miles to the boathouse on the Merrimac River in Lowell where Chris Klucznik would run the 9.5 mile leg to hand off to team captain, Sean McDonough, to take it home with a hilly 4.75 miles to commence at the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence. Our team, SRR - Nuke to a Knife Fight, finished 12th overall and fourth overall in the very competitive Coed Open division. All teams by division are here.

Krissy dropped me off at the Claddagh before 7:00 so I could meet up with my team. Lexi and Chris followed Sean and I up to the start. We were surprised how icy the side roads were upon our approach to the start in Nashua. It was somewhat concerning. Someone joked that they forgot their ice skates. I got sorted in my racing gear and waited in the cold Port-O-John line at 7:35. By the time I got out, I only had 12 minutes to warm up for the 8:00 (sharp!) start. I bumped into Todd Callaghan and we ran five minutes out and turned around to head back to the start. We missed the gun. There was a mild panic followed by hustling to get past and up to the front of the race. It took us a few minutes but we were in the top 25 before we knew it. The footing underneath was not too bad aside from ice on a bridge that lasted about 75 yards. I reeled in one runner at a time and got up into 7th place. I could see Mike Quintal way up ahead leading the SRR open. Todd pulled up on me before 3 miles, with a split of 16:42. We had some back and forth with three guys right in front of us (Whirlaway, GLRR, and ?), maybe 8 seconds up. Mile four went by in 22:17 (5:35) as Todd and I continued the back and forth battle, working hard to keep the pace honest and keep the three gents ahead close. Mile 5 went by in 27:50 (5:32). We had just .4 to go. Soon, Todd asked if the exchange was ahead. I was not familiar with the course so I was feeling it out myself. All I knew was that we were looking for a Sears warehouse.

28.3 miles later from L-R, Jim Pawlicki, Sean McDonough, Lexi Abel, Chris Klucznik
We soon started to see runners turn left so we knew that the exchange had to be in there. Todd got a step ahead into that turn. I used discretion and caution not to slip. We ran into the exchange ready to hand off to our teammates. We both slowed down to a crawl as no one was there to accept the exchange from our outreached arms. I walked through the exchange, looking for Diona on the left, right, straight ahead. I saw at least six other SRR mates. Jeers and booing rang from the spectators with their disapproval. One guy told me to keep going. I turned around, walked back to the beginning of the exchange with the baton strip up above my head. Todd found his partner. Then I saw Diona on the side walking in. She had that look of surprise and "oh @#&%?!" She jetted out of there. I think I then stopped my watch at 30:22, not really sure, it was a blur. That .4 accounted for a 2:32 I guess? Sean was huge. He had my bag of dry clothes right there for me. I changed into them a few minutes later after catching up with Krissy and friend Sandy. Sean collected his car and we drove through that second leg cheering mates along the way. We went ahead to the boat house where Chris was getting ready for Lexi. The studs were ready to take off in this exchange...Pat Moulton (GCS), Joe Navas (WRT), Dmitri Drozdov (SRR), Jake Barnett (SRR open), Jose Ortiz (WRT) just to name a few. While hanging out, I was happy to see Chris Simpson come through for the SRR masters. He's a quick dude and it was awesome to see him on the roads as his forte is with spikes on the oval. Lexi came through to hand off to Chris Klucznik who had the longest leg of the day but one that would include a lot of runners to catch. Sean and I drove to the last exchange so he could get ready. While there, I caught up with Scott McGrath (former CMS, then WRT). One thing of note at the last exchange, the Port-O-John's were not there forcing runners to hit the woods. Anyhow, Chris came through to hand off to Sean.

Todd and I entering the exchange zone. Photo by Roger Perham.
I drove Sean's car to the finish with Chris and Lexi in tow. I gave a yell out the car window to anyone that I knew along the way. Sean brought it home and the team finished 12th overall as mentioned above. The next two hours were spent in the Claddagh for the post race festivities. I devoured the meal like a starved fugitive and caught up with several friends. In particular, I spoke with Mike Pelletier of the North Shore Striders, getting the scoop on the Nahant 30K (I got lucky and won this a few years ago) which will be granted as a USATF New England Grand Prix Championship in the next week. I am excited for the opportunity to have a race in my backyard. Soon, it was time to call it a day at the Mill Cities Relay which in summary is the perfect opportunity to get your club to put several teams out there and have fun. I saw that throughout the event and even more so at the Claddagh Pub where members from all teams are in good company. The event for me closed with a team photo which must have been downright intimidating with all of that black and yellow. As I reflect on my leg today, the one thing that sticks out is how quick it went by. I don't mean the time it took run 5.4 miles. I mean how fast it all went by. It felt like it was over in minutes, not a half an hour. I guess that is a good thing.