Monday, September 30, 2013

Nahant 30K - breaking out of the fog

The Nahant 30K was race # 6 of the USATF New England Road Race Grand Prix on Sunday. I can see Nahant from the house and many Sunday long runs have been run out in Nahant. In addition, I got lucky a few years back and my 6:01 mile pace provided a win at this race in 2008.

This past week of training has been complete crap because of planter fasciitis. I managed to run Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for a total of 16 miles. Thus, I was getting to the starting foggy starting line on Sunday morning with a one mile at a time approach. I kept in mind that Krissy would be on the course taking photos and an easy DNF would be offered if I stopped where she camped out and I could called it a day. A 30K is 18.6 miles – pretty much a marathon by my fitness standards. The early miles and approach of many runners around me had the jolly feel of a marathon. Casual conversations and jokes were bandied about. I liked it. It was fun until the climbing in Nahant began. I got quiet and tried to ignore my previous week of training and why. 6:10 pace was routine for the first 5 miles. I was with Joe Shairs and could not complain about the good race position (top 30 or so) after the first 10K. Then my race unraveled. My legs were junk, muscles in my right hamstring were tight and getting hot. I was not surprised but did not want to accept it half way through the race. I lost ground on each climb in middle third (and last third for that matter) of the race. Joe smartly bolted after Martin Tighe and was out of sight. Spacing between runners at this point is spread out anyway.

In full flight in Nahant
Photo by KrissyK
I never thought about dropping out as slowing down made everything tolerable but not good mentally. The pain in the foot was not flaring up enough to whine but the lower legs were not happy. As bad as I was plodding along (guessing 6:30’s), only a few runners went by over the last 10 miles. Michael Cooney looked the best of them as we rounded the top of the Northeastern lab loop and Krissy for the 2nd time. Running downhill was problematic – legs just hurt - feet slapping and my stride mechanics were sloppy. I saw friend, Patrick Taylor on the corner of the Nahant town hall a mile later. He busted my balls on how far ahead Joe was. True. I told him how I felt, with the PG13 version out loud of course. David Corbett pulled up soon after.  There was less than 25 minutes of running left and the sun burned off the clouds and fog. I forced a second wind and stubbornness to multiply the misery by staying with David no matter what and how tired I was. We ran together trading the effort which I really appreciated over the last 3 miles. Jason Bui blew past us with 1.5 miles to go and looked fresh making me jealous. I managed to pass one more guy and got passed by a BAA runner in the final 400 meters. 37th place, 6:17 average pace per mile, 1:56:58 crossing another finish line that I was glad to meet as there were doubts all week.

I hung out and traded stories with CMS mates and others – seeking to hear their positive efforts, PR’s, and personal wins. They all picked me up. The emotion I saw from Cheryl Taylor Cleary – winning her first New England Gran Prix was priceless. The first two people to call in order was her mom (voice mail) and then her coach, former CMS athlete, Kevin Beck. Dan Vassallo was on top too - I knew how much this meant to him. My dad was in attendance and shook my hand, proud of the effort no matter place or time. Krissy hustled to the finish line to get more photos. Amazing. The CMS men’s open team got the win. They were destined for 2nd place half way through the race but things changed in the 2nd half. Dan Vassallo, Patrick Rich, and Scott Leslie are tough SOB’s, period. The masters team pulled out a strong 2nd place finish behind Jason Porter (top 40+), Joe Shairs, and Martin Tighe (top 50+). The afternoon kicked off by hosting friends, CMS and SRR competitors back at the house for some grilling. We were a tired crowd with good reason.

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