Sunday, August 10, 2008

2008 Bridge of Flowers 10K

Saturday was the USATF New England 10K Championships which was held at the 30th Annual Bridge of Flowers 10K road race (results) out in Shelburne Falls, MA, which is basically like a different state (although I live in NH now which IS a different state, I grew up in MA and this joint still seems like a completely different state). I guess anytime I go anywhere past Worcester I feel like I've left Mass and am in some weird new place I've never been before... but I digress. I almost have no desire to blog about this race for a couple reasons...It is what it is... It was the 30th Annual, so they obviously charged $30 bucks. That's right, 30. Steep? Yep. But I paid it...because I was already there (2 hour ride)...and it was worth it as far as the race, town, and competition goes... The townspeople were all really nice... anyone and everyone we asked for assistance, information, directions, etc. were all extremely nice. The spectators were all great. Basically it felt like all 1900 residents came down to the small center of town, welcomed us in their home that day with open arms and cheered us on. That part was great. The weather was also really nice...practically perfect for a 10K even.

I picked up Dave Dunham, Dave Quintal, and Kevin Tilton at the entrance to the Merrimack River Trail at 5:45am and we headed west, 2 hours, to Shelburne Falls. Along the way, I took the usual ripping by DD but this time, it was in front of the lovely and talented Kristin... This being a first for her, it was pretty amusing...we'll see how she feels once she gets used to it. When we got into town, we plucked a very serious parking spot within a baseballs' throw (with my weak arm) to the start/finish. We walked down to registration and after remortgaging my house, I was able to fork over the 30 beans to get my number. Tim Mahoney, Ben Strain, Jim Pawlicki, and Robert Lukaskiewicz met up with us for the warm up over the last mile of the course. We caught up with Dan V. and the (again) stacked Whirlaway contingent for the last little bit.

The race itself started on the bridge right in the center of town (next to the actual Bridge of Flowers). The course winds up an initial hill and around some neighborhoods before coming back down through town for a somewhat 'flat' first 2 miles. The third mile is where the real fun happens. There is a half-mile or so uphill that rivals the paved sections of some of the mountain stuff... Then the road turns into a dirt country road for the remainder (maybe even a bit longer) of the third mile. The road then turns back to a paved back-country highway and than loops back around to some quiet neighborhoods before coming back down into town. The last mile is a little rolly but then provides a very nice downhill stretch to the finish which is across the bridge and back right into the center of town. The lead pack, which included a couple of serious looking NY runners (with money 10 places deep, this happens), Casey Moulton, Eric Blake, and Nate Jenkins went out fast and were soon way ahead of a chase pack that included Justin Fyffe (USATF NE Mountain GP Champ this year) who ran really well. I stuck around a third chase pack that included Kevin Tilton, Kevin Alliette, and a few other usual suspects. I battled Kevin Tilton, Matt Haringa, and Henry Scollard up the hill between 2 and 3 and also stayed right behind Kevin Alliette until the top and then was able to pass both Kevin A and Dan Ostiguy on the way down. At the bottom, Ostiguy passed me back and over the next 2 miles, I battled both Dan and Kevin until Kevin made a pretty strong move and passed me right around mile 5. I then stayed with Dan for the last mile and was able to out kick him on the final bridge to the finish. I felt good, never was in distress, ran within myself, was able to finish strong, and feel like it was an OK overall effort for the course. I still don't know how to 'race' and start out harder and hold it...but that will hopefully come (before I am a master)...

10k Race Splits:
Mile 1: 5:20
Mile 2: 5:21 (10:42)
Mile 3: 6:52 (17:34) (uphill)
Mile 4: 4:59 (22:34) (downhill)
Mile 5: 5:23 (27:57)
Mile 6.2: 6:10 (34:08)

34:08 (5:31 pace) - 23rd out of 736.

MVS Open Team (11th out of 17 scoring open teams):

11. MVS 34:08 39:00 43:21 44:19 44:36 ( 47:10) ( 47:23) = 3:25:24

A very special acknowledgement to the guys above for representing MVS at the 10K champs and stepping up to battle a pretty deep field.

The cool down was a run across town with the CMS crew and then a run/hike up to the Mount Massaemet fire tower. This is a stone fire tower with about 75 winding steps up to an observation deck. It was built in 1909 and is still in use today.

Aside from the complete lack of food and the side affects that come along with hypoglycemia, it was a really cool run. Tim showed us about 3 different berries that were safe to eat up at the top and also sweet grass which basically saved my life and allowed me to continue back down to town...

Before we left for the trek down, we came across another hiker who graciously took a group photo. Thanks to Dave D. for this picture.

L-R (Back row): Dan Verrington, Jim Pawlicki, Dave Quintal, Kevin Tilton, Jim Johnson, Dan Ostiguy, Tim Mahoney. (Front row): Dave Dunham, Matt St. Germaine, Justin Fyffe, Tim VanOrden, Ben Strain.

My photos from the race, courtesy of the lovely and talented Kristin, can be viewed here (Smugmug).

Professional race/event photographer (and cool dude) Scott Mason also has awesome (in-race) photos from the start, the hill, and the finish bridge at his site:

Next up 'may' be a trail race this weekend, but I'm not sure yet. It all depends on my desire to drive out west again...I may substitute for a local race instead... Next week the SCRS continues with the Rye 10K on Thursday and then Chambo 6K XC on Sunday.

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