Sunday, September 7, 2008

S. Boston to Newington

[Updated: 9/8/08] Yesterday I ran into the only conflict between the USATF-NE GP and the Seacoast Series...but it wasn't exactly a conflict per se, but rather an inconvenience... Both the Ollie Road Race (results) and Fox Point Sunset 5 Miler (results) were on the same day, but at different times...making it technically feasible to do both... It wasn't exactly a necessity that I do the Foxpoint race, but I had planned on it and wasn't about to let the weather bully me around...

What can I say about the first race other than it was just damn uncomfortable out there... just to stand around was brutal enough... Humidity at 100% made yesterday's race almost as bad as last year, which I didn't think would even be possible. I don't think I've been that uncomfortable standing on the starting line of a race and I certainly haven't been that fried after a race because of the humidity. Factor in (again) many people showing me Garmins with longer than 5 mile race distances and I have to say that Ollie is definitely not where you go to PR at 5 miles...not even close. Looking at last year, there were a few great times at the top, then a slew of mediocre times, and a ton of horrible times by really good runners. This year was no different. If you look at who ran what time, and then looked to see what they usually run 5 miles in, you'd see how brutal this race was. The times here don't dictate a really good New England 5 mile championship and they didn't last year either. I just hope another race at least tries to bid for the 5 mile championship next year (to my dismay, no other race even bid for it this year). 5 miles is such a great distance and we've been (in no offense to the race organizers, volunteers, etc.) screwed by having it be Ollie the past 2 years in my opinion. Don't get me wrong though, the race was well directed, had great volunteers, adequate water stops, good food at the end, etc. It's just not my favorite course for a New England championship race...but then again, neither is Rhody, New Bedford, etc. The one bright spot of the day was my parking spot. I probably got the best parking spot there is. I had to get there 2 and 1/2 hours early to get it, but I got it. 2 years in a row with a pretty fine parking score...my only highlight of this South Boston neighborhood tradition that is 68 years in the running.

Not much to say about the way this race played out.... Got an OK start...felt fine through 1 mile... passed Casey Moulton who had to stop for a bit right out of the lead pack to tie his shoe. He passed me a minute or two later (still with an untied shoe) and battled back up to the lead pack for a gutsy 9th place finish... I then proceeded to dog miles 2, 3, and to an extent 4. I got passed by gads of runners...some I never beat, others I occasionally beat...but in every case, based on the way I felt during this race, anyone that ran faster than I did deserves a huge thumbs up from me... I was junk. I actually felt like just stopping during mile 2 but pressed on along the water in one of the most boring stretches of any race I've run... Dan Verrington passed me while chasing Kent Lemme at around mile 3 or so... At about mile 4 or just after, I caught Dan again and went by, only to be run down by Brad Klinedinst around 4.5 who was absolutely flying. I haven't been passed by someone like that, that late in a race all year. He was in full sprint with a good 3 minutes or so left in the race... very inspirational...but not enough to light a fire under my arse... I was actually struggling with a cramp over the last entire mile and was lucky to run as fast as I did. I had my sights set on Terry Shea at the end (who is still coming back from a very serious lung collapse) but couldn't run him down. I would like to point out that I held off Dan Verrington (and have now fulfilled my quota of 3 mentions of Dan per race writeup...). One last race tidbit...I would like to mention that once again (as If we expected anything less...) Dan Vassallo ran another inspirational race and finished in 8th place with a blistering 25:39 (5:08 pace)... by far the MVP for the striders this year, beating some legitimate studs on a horrible racing day...

After a few minutes of post race jibber jabber (it was nice seeing former UML teammate Phil Cootey lacin' up the dancin' shoes again) with the usual suspects hanging out around the finish area, I laced up the trainers again and cooled down with the CMS dudes, Brad, Heidi W., and Larry Sayers....then grabbed a quick bite and hit the road to get back up to the house and grab a nap before the next one...

The interim details:

Home around 12:30pm - quick shower, 90 seconds of stretching or something close, some water, then a 1+ hour nap. Up at 2:30 pm, threw some stuff in a bag, had some water, and sat on the couch at 2:45 pm to contemplate if I should go to the next 5 mile race which was up in Newington, NH at 5pm. To make the race, register, and warm up I'd need to leave at 3. 5 minutes later, our entire neighborhood lost power. I was sitting there in the dark with all my stuff ready to go. The decision was essentially made for me... I reluctantly hit the road.

The dilemma:

Ollie was a given...to get my jacket and iron runner status, I'd have to do Ollie... But the Seacoast series had an out. There are 8 races. This one was #6. I had done the previous 5 and had 5 first place finishes. To get the jacket for this series you need to do 6 of 8. To win the series and get the cash and award, you need to take your best 6 races. Races 7 and 8 of this series are both 5ks and are the week before and the week after Baystate. So I am up in the air on those.... The decision was to go do this one, to get my 6 in for the jacket and (if I did OK) get my final points for the series individual title. Then I wouldn't have to exactly worry about the other 2 in the series.

I got up to beautiful Newington, NH (much different from S. Boston...no offense to anyone who lives in S. Boston, but I'll take Newington any day)... registered for the race and went for my warm up. I felt kind of tired but not too bad. The humidity was still oppressive, but rain was looming. The race was capped at 800 but only fielded 481 because of the weather. The rain unfortunately held off (I was hoping for a downpour to cool stuff off)... My plan after looking around and seeing that it was going to be just myself and a couple of the other series diehards in the running, was to just go out with whoever else decided to lead, and just run off those guys and take it at the end without worrying about time. The first mile was excruciating. 5:46 and felt just way too easy. I was weaving all over the road and trying to stay with the rest of the group, but started to lose them even at 5:46. I decided to drop it down a bit and run around 5:30 pace and build up a good enough lead to coast in and get my points without getting hurt. I soon found out that after mile 2, this race gets HILLY. Miles 3, 4, and 5 are just constant rolls and some pretty good uphill stretches. I almost don't remember any downhill stretches whatsoever after mile 2. That being said, I was all by myself and enjoying the scenery. This race goes all around some nice back roads and through some farms and nice wooded areas. There's a ton of shade, but the sun wasn't the issue...the horrible humidity was killing me even at 5:30 pace... I had a cool yellow convertible as the pace car the whole time with a nice lady sitting shotgun and occasionally clapping and cheering for me...there were also quite a few people spread out on the course cheering on the runners. Overall a pretty enjoyable race (humidity aside). The end was very cool and had lots of volunteers, families, and spectators cheering on the runners. I came across in 27:42 (which was faster than my Ollie time last year) for 1st place and locked up my series individual title with 6 straight 1st place points. I grabbed my trainers immediately (didn't want to cramp up and wanted to get my last run of the day over with)... I went for my last easy 3 mile run with a couple of other series competitors and then waited around through a Texas Roadhouse catered post-race party for my nice 'Best of Newington' basket filled with produce from local farms in Newington, a couple of nice hand crafted ornaments and trinkets made in town, a book on the town history, a race hat, and a few other cool things including a check from the Newington School Supporters for 150 beans... Not a bad score at all for the Seacoast series... Pretty awesome I must say..considering I ran 1 minute faster at Ollie and paid $30 to run it and got nothing. I paid $18 to run this one and came home with my hands and pockets full.


Slightly over 20 miles total for the day... and most importantly I survived it!

Ollie - first Mile video courtesy of Dave Dunham:



Ollie - last Mile video courtesy of Dave Dunham:



Ollie Splits - 5 Miles - 26:50 (5:22 pace) 30th place out of 1049.

Mile 1) 506
Mile 2) 517
Mile 3) 529
Mile 4) 531
Mile 5) 526

Team Score

6th Place (out of 15) - Men's Open

MERRIMACK VALLEY STRIDERS

25:39 26:33 26:50 27:30 28:46 ( 30:35) ( 31:34) = 2:15:18
Dan Vassallo, Brad Klinedinst, Jim Johnson, Jon Healey, Todd Lagimonier, Lars Bjune, John Mulligan


Fox Point Sunset 5 Miler Splits - 5 Miles - 27:42 (5:32 pace) - 1st place out of 481.

Mile 1) 543
Mile 2) 534
Mile 3) 525
Mile 4) 537
Mile 5) 522

Ollie Race photos: My SmugMug Photos courtesy of the lovely and talented Kristin :)
Ollie Race photos: Ted Tyler Photos courtesy of Jim Rhoades' website.
Ollie Race photos: Dave Dunham's Photobucket pictures courtesy of the currently injured legend himself.

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