Monday, November 10, 2008

2008 USATF-NE XC Championships

As the year winds down and I look ahead to 2009, one large thing sticks out in my mind... I have to start doing workouts again to get better. Bottom line. I haven't raced 'fast' in some time now (fast for me that is)... In fact, the last part of this year after the mountain stuff has been pretty mediocre and below. I'm struggling to run 15:50s now in a 5k and my 10k this weekend was a clear indication that I am just running on fumes right now and need to make some adjustments...

Even though I ran essentially the identical time I ran last year, Sunday at the USATF-New England Cross Country Championships (results), I had fun because I was there with an actual full team. This was the first time I toed the line with a team at a XC race in 10 years. It felt really good to get out there and stand next to some guys who all shared the same common bond of running to score for a team... I knew regardless of how fast or slow I ran, I'd have some fun racing and scoring (barely) for a team.

The bright spots this weekend were definitely warm weather, having Kristin and my parents both go to the race (like old times), just being at Franklin Park at a XC race (always fun), and circling back with Coach George Davis (pictured left with myself and Kevin Alliette) who I haven't seen or talked to in almost 10 years. Not only did he look healthy, fit, and younger than I remember, but he was talking to me this time around as just a friend (like we sometimes did back at Lowell all those years ago). Our relationship was sometimes real good and sometime volatile to say the least...and the way we left it (or the way I left it) never sat right with me all this time... Sunday all that kinda went away with a simple glance up to see him walking towards me with a smile on his face...edging slowly towards me with that grin that was immediately familiar to me... This time around, no beard...clean shaven but the same GD I knew. It actually took me about 5 seconds to recognize him without the beard... We had a great talk. He was genuinely happy I was running again and very pleased to hear that not only was I running with some of the old familiars, but that I was enjoying myself doing it. He actually gave me some pointers and chatted with me for quite some time...I listened intently and became aware after a minute or so that it was just like back in the old days...but this time things were different. This time we were talking about running, racing, and strategy like we used to...but were doing it with smiles and a light heartiness that was a breath of fresh longer was it an intense coach to athlete dictation of was just different..and it was great. I'm really glad he was there...and I heard him cheering for me on the sidelines a few times...(which was rare back in the day...mainly because I would do everything he WOULDN'T want me to do during the race...but things have changed and for the better).

I went out conservative (way back in the pack which in itself is pretty disheartening to do) for the first mile... There was a coach on the sidelines at the 1/2 mile yelling out splits. I never paid attention to where the half mile split was at Franklin Park I know it's right behind the stadium. I went through WAY back but in 2:31...then limped through the mile in 5:04 and was getting destroyed. Typical New England cross first mile... Mile 2 introduces you to Bear Cage Hill and hence a much slower and more honest mile split... From there, it became a sh*tshow (to coin the phrase used by Matt Pimentel on many occasions)... Justin Fyffe (new CMS ringer) started out ahead of me and never looked back. Greg Putnam went by me during the first half mile with authority and also ran steadily out of my range... Paul Noone and Kevin Tilton passed me after the first mile and I stuck within ear shot of them for most of the race (more so with Kevin whom I thought at one point I was going to catch)... Looking back at it now, I should have made it a goal to catch up to Kevin over the last mile and a half or so. It would have made all the difference in my opinion of the race...

Typical story here...I went by guys, I got passed by guys, I battled back and forth, and got blown around (as did everyone) by the killer wind. No matter where you were out on the field, the wind was hitting you from what always seemed to be head on. Many guys were indicating after that the wind was a factor that made the day really slow... With Dylan Wykes' close to 30 flat winning time, it's a pretty scary thought...Many familiar faces went by me for the next few miles... Ryan C, Terry, etc. Ben Strain (image by Jim Pawlicki) went down somewhere near Bear Cage (I think) and got pretty bloody. It was hard core and pretty cool looking (blood all over his number)... He had to get stitched up at the ambulance and when I saw him after the race, it was all bandaged up and he was icing it. I guess he fell on a sharp rock...that's cross country!

I went back and forth with a few Dartmouth guys, some GBTC guys, and a couple of SISU guys including Matt Germain who ran a very nice last part of the race to take me on the last straightaway... I had nothing left and basically coasted in... What a feeling it was though, to be riding 5th for the team...that hasn't happened to me since my sophomore year in college when I was coming off of a broken foot... Even at my lowest point on MVS this year, I was 4th man at New Bedford... Also, a new stat for me, but this time not the one I was looking for... Sunday, my 64th place finish is my highest (highest in the wrong direction) finish all year. Granted, the size of this years race and certainly the depth, was a huge factor. I was 38th last year at this race, with an identical time. This year, I finished 26 places worse. The field was pretty loaded. Fun..but humbling.

Incomplete Splits for 10K XC - 33:25 (5:22 pace) - 64th Place.

Mile 1) 5:04
Mile 2) 5:32 (10:36)
Mile 3) 5:24 (16:01)
Mile 4) 5:33 (21:35)
Mile 5-6.2) 11:49

Incomplete splits for miles 5 and 6 because I didn't see the 5 and 6 mile markers and have no real idea where they are anyways. I would imagine 5 is somewhere near the finish line and 6 is somewhere on the playstead after the base of Bear Cage...

CMS Finishers for Men's Open 10K

44th - Paul Noone - 32:42
46th - Justin Fyffe - 32:43
49th - Greg Putnam - 32:52
55th - Kevin Tilton - 33:06
64th - Jim Johnson - 33:25 (5:22 pace)
105th - Louis Cote - 35:31
114th - Jeremy Huckins - 36:12
DNF - Ben Strain - (rock)

The spread here was only 43 seconds between the top 5 of us.... Not too bad. Had Matt Clark, Dan Verrington, Dan Ostiguy, Jim Pawlicki, Al Bernier, Ben Nephew or potentially any other CMS open guy I've missed that didn't run this weekend, been there....I wouldn't even have scored.... I got work to do...

Men's Open 10K Team - Overall

1Boston Athletic Association33
2New Balance Boston59
3Greater Boston TC114
4Nike Central Park TC116
6Central Mass Striders156
7Whirlaway RT166
8UMass Lowell192
9Green Mountain AA237
10 Hfc Striders263
11 PR Racing Team291

Men's Open 10k Team - USATF-NE Clubs Only

1Boston Athletic Association  33
2New Balance Boston 48
3Greater Boston TC 87
4Central Mass Striders113
5Whirlaway RT117
6Green Mountain AA167
7Hfc Striders183
8PR Racing Team203

CMS Finishers for Men's Masters 8k

12th - Joe Shairs - 27:36
18th - Dave Quintal - 28:13
56th - Joseph Hall - 32:05
73rd - Paul Grogan - 34:24
85th - Roger Nasatka - 36:44

Also, running super amazingly awesome (although he refuses to accept any race where he doesn't PR as a 'good race') was MVS Ace Dan Vassallo (pictured left with yours truly) who ran to a 13th place finish with a 31:37.

MVS' Brad Klinedinst made his appearance this year as did Janos Maku in the men's masters race.

Now on to a couple more smaller races where I can surely do much better than 65th in...then (snow-permitting) it will be snowshoe time! I hate to say it, but seeing how the weather was this weekend and how its been, Al Gore may have been right with all this hodge podge about global warming....he may be on to something...he did in fact after all, invent the each time I blog, I have to take a moment to pause and give thanks to him for all he's given us ;)... jk.

Photos of this lovely day (minus my performance) can be seen in the usual spot but split into three parts (all taken by the captivating and gorgeous Kristin):

Men's Masters 8k

I only took a few shots of the Masters start and half way before I had to warm up. Kristin got a limited amount of the women's race...

And lastly... Episode 5 in my viral video series containing mediocre running exploits and no rants this time......

Below are the usual kicka$ photos (click to enlarge) from Mr. Scott Mason (blog) (Galleries). Scott was there this weekend taking photos of not only our race, but also the NCAA D2 XC NE Regionals for New England Runner magazine...and speaking of that, if you've picked up this month's version of NE Runner, that's his handy work on the front....


  1. Is that guy eating his shirt?!

    Good race report. I particularly enjoyed the connection with the coach part ... funny how those relationships formed under duress can actual be ones we later look on fondly.

  2. Well said man... you hit it exactly right...

    I'm not sure about that other guy...but I wasn't hungry enough to start eating my uniform... I did want a beer pretty badly though by mile 3 ;)...

  3. nice work! i still got you on this course :)

  4. I wondered about the shirt too. it made an interesting and curious shot. Good report, Jim.


  5. SISU is all over your pictures!
    With Matt running along side you, and me watching the finish in the background! :) Our light blue is so pretty! ;)

  6. PS: my brother didn't run because he had a dance competition. :) haha!

    No Joke

  7. It was really good to see Ryan running so well and Matthew taking advantage of my oldness at the end of the race...

    Had your brother been there, we would have scored a couple of hundred points higher and beat the BAA possibly. I hope he enjoyed his dance competition. :)