Joe Shairs drove the North Shore bus of Gregory Putnam, Todd Callaghan, and I from Peabody to Auburn NH in just under 50 minutes. I have never been to Auburn and frankly never heard of Lake Massabesic or Massabesic Lake. The area was hosting the USATF New England 10 mile road race championship – race number 4 of 7 in 2016. All I knew about the race was that it had some hills as CMS teammates Ed Sheldon, Dave Dunham checked out the course recently. Scott Mindel agreed after racing his 54:40 winning time there a year ago. The 10 mile race was a perimeter loop around the lake. I got my number and then headed over to the timing van to confirm and validate some team stuff. I got set up in the racing gear and did a warm up on the bike path which was nice to see.
The race lined up and I started next to Joe about three rows from the line. The sun was out and temps were in the 70’s and waiting to pop into the 80’s. The race bolted out and I settled in behind some ladies. We got strict instruction from race director John Mortimer to stay to the right of the yellow lines on the street at all times. That was really restrictive in the first few miles of the race. With a course of all right hand turns, it did not matter after 10 minutes of racing.
Joe Shairs, Todd Callaghan, and Josh Perks were about 10 seconds ahead after two miles. I was jealous but respected the pace and distance for which we were up against. I did not want to risk a heavy surge to connect with them. The mile splits were just under or just over six minutes per mile which was in order of my abilities for 10 miles. My goal was to compete well and finish under one hour (wanted to run 58:59). I could not help but be reminded that the course felt like I was running around Lake Winnipesaukee as it related to a lake and the hills.
I got tired of seeing the Aubrun hills as I got to the half way point on the course which was reached in 30:28 (thought my watch had me around 30:19). SRR training partner Kieran Condon passed me right around then and I gave him advice shortly after to continue to fly down any hills he saw for the rest of the course. I am glad the course had the in and out of Hunting Way (even the dreaded pace killer 180 around the cones) so that I could see who I was chasing and who was chasing me. I noted Dan Verrington and Dave Dunham were chasing me. The Perks, Callaghan, Shairs trio was broken up a bit with competitors in between about 20 seconds ahead. Strangely, I did not see any other master runners among them so with me as the 5th scoring runner for the team at the moment, it looked pretty good for CMS.
I was feeling listless into mile 6 but the down hills were helping me. I put a good effort on all that rolled down using it to my benefit and gave me some back and forth with the guys around me like Kieran. I caught up to Joe after 7 miles along Rt. 28. It was nice to finally run with a teammate. A few minutes later, we came upon a hill that looked to be the longest of the course. Joe mumbled a few f-bombs and admitted to be backing off. Dan Verrington flew by on the hill looking very good. He would soon finish as the top Senior (50+) runner of the day. He put a few seconds on me to the top as we reached mile 9. The course would drop right down to set us both up for a few right hand turns into the finish where I scooted ahead of Dan to the finish.
My time was 1:00:53 (gun time) or 1:00:49.4 chip time, placed me 68th overall. The 5 mile splits were: 30:28 and 30:22 – a negative split. Dan was 4 seconds back and Joe was 27 seconds back. Josh and Todd crossed the line in 1:00:11 & 1:00:18. Gregory Putnam ran 56:59 to score as our top master for the team and top master of the race. The masters team picked up the win while the Seniors team placed 2nd and open team 3rd.
The team headed out for an easy cool down on the trails nearby along the lake about 15 minutes later. My right calf cramped on two occasions. The post race venue under the pines trees was cool. I had ice cream and muscle milk which the team appreciated. Looking back on the race, I am glad the race had more shade than I expected. The next USATF races next month for the team and I are the Seasons 20K in Acton and the Lone Gull 10K in Gloucester.