Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5k

Thursday night it was up to Manchester, NH for the 17th Annual Cigna 5k Road Race (results). This is New Hampshire's largest race (by far) and the largest 5k in New England. It is also the only road race in New Hampshire (aside from Hollis, which is downhill and not record eligible) in which the 14 minute barrier has ever been broken. Up until this year, it had only been broken once, and that was in 2003 when Joseph Mwai ran a New Hampshire all-comers state record of 13:54.73. History was made this year however, when Alene Reta was able to better that by 1 second, running a course and state record 13:53.

Photos used in this entry are by Union Leader Photographer Mark Bolton, who got some very nice shots of the race that are being sold on the Union Leader's website. In each shot, I am right over Justin Freeman's shoulder to the left (he's #867 with no shirt).

I headed up solo (so no photos of my own...) and wandered into the registration area in Veteran's Park to see Scott Clark (CMS) and Tim Cox (who was not racing). Scotty (who won this race back in the day) and I joined Bob Wiles (CAA) and did a nice easy warm up around the neighborhoods and into the cemetery at the end of Chestnut St, where we saw 2006 Winter Olympian Justin Freeman (and ultimately 1st NH runner of the day) doing his warm up. After circling back and throwing on the racers (I went with the Invo-8 f-lite 230s yet again) I headed up to the starting area where there were already 1000s of people getting ready to go. When I got to the line I said quick hi's to Mark Miller, Kevin Alliette, Eric Beauchesne, Pat Ard, Ruben Sanca, and Chris Volante before doing some last minute strides and stretching. My hamstring was OK and has been decent, although not 100%, the past couple days. I was a little worried, but felt pretty good overall considering the amount of running/racing I've been doing. There were a TON of fast lookin' dudes warming up and I knew it was going to be a smoke show up front but I was willing to try and hang on to Kevin Alliette and Mark Miller for as long as I could. I quickly asked Mark what he was lookin' to run and he said 15:15 or better... That was good enough for me to know that if I could stay near him, I'd probably run well.

I was right behind Patrick in the second row at the start as the gun went off. Immediately there was a pack of (what seemed to be) 8 or 9 East African runners, Ruben Sanca, and a couple others. As we hit a half mile or so, it was that first pack and then a pack that included Kevin, Mark, and maybe 10 or so other guys right in front of me. Between the two packs, Justin Freeman was in no man's land but looked strong. Somewhere before the first mile, I dipped a bit behind that second pack but it started to thin out. I passed Titus Mutinda and a few others from that second pack. I went through the first mile in 4:53, which was right where I wanted to be at. I focused hard over the second mile to try to actually pick up the pace. I figured if I could work extra hard during the second mile and get a decent 2 mile split, I could hang on for the last mile and gut it out. Over the course of the 2nd mile, I came up on one of the African runners who fell off the pace and a bunch more college-looking runners who went out a bit too aggressively. The second mile has a nice downhill (after a lot of the first mile is a very gradual incline) and I came through in 9:44 (which was actually my time at Sully's 2 Miler this year). I felt great. Probably the best I've felt through 2 miles all year if not ever. I was also gaining on Kevin and Mark who were falling back off the pace. Shortly after 2, I came up past Kevin and a few others as well as Joseph Ekoum (NY), who I've never even been remotely close to in a race before. He let me pass before motoring by me again not too long after. I continued to chase down Mark (who I've also never beaten) and passed him right before the last turn up the big hill to the finish. The course is super fast until this last section which is a cruel uphill climb to the 3 mile mark and then finish. I passed a couple more guys up the hill and was side by side with Joseph Ekoum at the top, when Mark flew by me with one of the most impressive kicks I've seen. The boy's got some wheels! I clicked through the 3 mile mark in 14:39 (my fastest 3 split since coming back to running) and just reached for home, in a slew of guys all around me. I may or may not have passed anyone from 3 to was all a blur, as there were dudes everywhere, all running fast. I came across the line starring at the clock as it ticked from 15:11 to 15:12 and made sure to stop my watch after the second mat so I wasn't going to be disappointed when the results were posted...and to my amazement, I was in sync with the official results... It is (to date) my 30+ PR for a road 5k (that wasn't considered a downhill course, seeing I ran 14:55 last year at Hollis). I was also in the top 15, finishing 14th overall, which was totally unexpected. In the words of dd, 'I'll take it'.

My Splits - 5k - 15:12 (4:54 pace) - 14th place (5th New Hampshire)

Mile 1) 4:53.36
Mile 2) 4:50.84 (9:44.20)
Mile 3) 4:55.24 (14:39.44)
last .1) :33.13 (15:12.57)

Top 20 of 4956 finishers.

113:5313:534:28Alene Reta27New York NY
214:0314:034:32Bajo Kiorku New York NY
314:3014:314:40Derese Deniboba Bronx NY
414:3214:324:41Abiyot Endger 23Bronx NY
514:3414:354:42Ruben Sanca 22Lowell MA
614:3914:394:43Joseph Koech 40Somerville MA
714:4314:434:44Mathew Kiplagt 26New Rochelle NY
814:4714:474:46Tekiu Denek Bronx NY
914:5114:514:47Justin Freeman 32New Hampton NH
1014:5514:564:49Geoff Trethewey 20Manchester NH
1115:0015:014:50Daniel Hocking 29Dover NH
1215:0615:074:52Dave Hausherr 19Townsend MA
1315:0815:094:53Mark Miller 28Keene NH
1415:1215:124:54Jim Johnson 32Salem NH
1515:1215:134:54Joseph Ekuom Bronx NY
1615:1215:134:54Jonathan Gault 18Bedford MA
1715:1715:184:56Elarbi Khattabi 42West Chester PA
1815:1815:184:56Kevin Alliette 28Raymond NH
1915:1815:194:56Francis Hernandez 17Windham NH
2015:2215:224:57Nate Brigham 26Laurel MD

WMUR Videos of the start (first one you'll have to click the link to watch) below (I'm right behind Pat Ard who is in the red Whirlaway singlet).



    (my word verification is, and I swear I am not making this up is "guiness" - I think that is an omen that you go celebrate with one).

    Sweet. Excellent report - had me wondering if you were going to blow up or rock it. Way to get it done.

  2. Nice racing, JJ!

    My word verification is "inessni" - so go drink one of those, too:}

  3. Great work! That's some nice even splits given the course. Mark ain't the only one with some wheels...