USATF New England Road Race Championship number one kicked off the new year at the Jones Group 10 mile in Amherst, Ma. There was a buzz of communication that took place in the days before day light on Sunday morning with a pending snow storm. The race director pushed the start of the race until 1pm to offset any poor driving conditions with whatever mother-nature spit at New England over the weekend. Joe, Krissy and I left Peabody at 9:30 and rolled into Amherst two hours later. The rain / snow line was right around Rt. 495. The skies got brighter as we approached Amherst which greeted us with light drizzle, temps in the mid 30’s, and a little wind that did not appear to impact the race course too much. I was happy to hear that the course was 99% clear and the dirt road was certainly runnable (no ice).
|After mile 9 in Amherst looking ragged|
Photo by KrissyK
I warmed up with the CMS guys and decided to wear the Inov8 195’s that Todd Callaghan (GCS) gave me last year. I got a good start and quickly looked for company to roll with for the next few miles. I was pretty cautious to not go out too fast. I have done this race at least five times so I know the hilly terrain well. It does not get any easier with the experience and age increase. This is not a PR course. I had my GPS watch on but purposely kept it covered under my long sleeve. The first two miles are and up and down, down, down affair. I was at the back of a group that I felt was fast enough for my liking. Sean McDonough (SRR) and I talked before the race and we had a similar goal of sub 58. We started the climb into mile 3 where we both spectated last year during this very race. I reminded him of that as we passed the water stop. It was nice to be racing this time. We had a steady dose of climbing and light ascending before flattening out into the dirt road. I recall big snow flakes coming down but it did not cause a problem. I set sights on catching Stephanie Reilly (Team Run) which I was successful in doing around 4 miles. She was cursing and swearing the dirt road which was firm amongst the puddles but my traction was decent.
I caught Kevin Alliette (WRT) and we passed through mile five. I was too lazy to check my Garmin for the time and distance so I asked him what we just passed through 5 in? 29:08 replied Kevin. He took off on me shortly thereafter and put almost a minute on me to the finish line. In the distance, I could see Joe Shairs and then Dave Dunham and thought maybe I could close in. I was closing on Todd. I was only able to get within his heels. I encouraged him, no, told him, that he needs to start rolling around 6.5 miles which has some decent down grade if he wanted to catch the master runners ahead. It was at this point that my right calf was starting to not feel good. The Inov8 195’s and my less than perfect stride were no doubt catching up to me (denial that my fitness is not where it should be). Todd took off. I only wish I had the fitness to join him as he got some decent momentum. I focused on getting to the low point of the course and did not worry about how I was going to get up the hills and into the finish. I was a mess on the climb up to mile 9 but held it together as best I could. I started to hear Stephanie behind me so I had to get a move on (hustle) as I was in no mood give up position in the last mile. I got it together after the rail road tracks and held on into the parking lot where I got within a few feet of Ryan Miller. I finished 53rd out of 510 runners. My time was 58:26 (5:51 pace) and just three spots away from page 1 on the posted results. Page one has been elusive for me in the New England Championship races. The effort was strong the whole way despite fadeding a bit after 7 miles which was totally expected. My training for the week was not the best as I missed some days after wisdom teeth (2) extraction and some good ‘ol pain all week (thankfully does not hurt while running). No excuses though….