Monday, October 26, 2009

Great Bay 5k and Seacoast Series Wrap Up

Saturday marked my 57th race of the 'season' and took me back up to the Seacoast for the Great Bay 5k (results) in Stratham / Greenland, NH.  This was my second time running this race (I was 2nd last year to Mark Miller) and both times were just 6 days after the Baystate Marathon.  This past week, I took it very easy and only did 5 or 6 miles a day on either the trails w/ dd or on the treadmill.  I wanted to do this race to cap off my second year of the Seacoast Series. Great Bay is the last race of the series and the race at which they give out the Seacoast Series awards.  I had already wrapped up 2nd place overall in the series, as John Mentzer (who whooped my rump in every race this year) won the series outright, but I wanted to finish all the races for the second year in a row. John didn't run 2 weeks ago at Great Island, as he had already done his 6 races and was wrapping up training for the Marine Corps Marathon, which he won Sunday in 2:21:47.

The weather was crap again, for the second week in a row, on race day. It was cold, windy, and rainy.  It was so bad that I gave Kristin the day off and let her stay home.  It was a good call, as the combination of the weather and logistics of the start/finish of the race wouldn't have been good for her and race photography by any means.  The race used to start at the Great Bay Community College and finish about a mile away at the Great Bay Discovery Center.  This year, due to the closing of the college, the race started across the street at  Stratham Hill Park.  The only 'slight' issue was with the parking, which is now about a quarter mile or so walk from the starting line.  What that essentially means is that you have to park (in a grass field, which was basically all mud after all the rain we got) and walk quite a ways over to the starting area (in the rain).  Then, you race to the Discovery Center and then have to run/walk 1 mile back to the car to change clothes, then run/walk back over to the Discovery Center for the awards ceremony.  This wasn't that big of a deal, because it allowed for a good cooldown, but for a spectator, it would have been a little tricky, especially in the weather.  I do think they had a bag drop for runners, but dd and I just did the back and forth after the race as a cool down.

I met Dave Dunham up there at the registration area at about quarter of 8, and we milled around a bit, basically causing trouble as usual, picking on Andy Schachat, and getting soaked before going out for a warmup over the first mile + of the course.  After almost getting run over by a car at the one mile mark, we turned around and headed back to the parking area.  After changing clothes and running into the wood for a pitstop (getting my racing shoes soaked and muddy in the process) I was ready to head over to the start.  DD had reminded me a couple of minutes prior, to make sure I put my chip on... well, needless to say I forgot and boogied over to the start without it.  We had 5 minutes until the race and all the way over to the start, when Dave looked down at my feet (thank god) and shouted 'YOUR CHIP!'.... This is the second time in a month that I've basically gotten on the line, right before the start, and not had either my chip or number.  I'm not sure what my deal is, but I am starting to space out a bit before races nowadays.  Thank God for dd.  This is one time I wasn't all weirded out and actually thankful that dd likes to check me out.  Had he not noticed, I would probably have been DQ'd (and no, that's not 'Dave Quintaled').  I turned and sprinted the quarter mile back to my car to get my chip...I made it back in time with about a minute or so to spare..but seeing the start was delayed a few minutes, I would have made it without any problems.

Ok, now to the actual race... As the gun went off (finally) I found myself immediately thinking of the 'MacKenzie Mile' which is a race within the race.  This is essentially a $50 bonus for the first one through the mile (while having to maintain a relatively similar pace for the rest of the race).  I shot out to the early lead, but was very aware of another runner right behind me.  I thought it might be Scott McGrath, who I saw on the list of entrants before the race.  Scott ran 15:23 here in 2007 and finished third behind Kevin Alliette and Wilson Perez that year.  My instincts were verified when I ran by a spectator at about a half mile and heard her yell out 'Go Scott!'.  I continued to push and kept glancing behind me real quick only to see him right there within striking distance.  As I made the first left off of the main drag, I could see the mile clock and took one last peek behind me.  He was still there, although not making an obvious push for the additional $50.  I wasn't sure if he knew about the bonus or not, so I pushed up and past the mile mark at 4:52 (the clock was actually reading 7 seconds fast, at 4:45).  Not too long after the mile, the course hooks to the left and I would say somewhere between 1.5 and 2 miles, Scott motored right up next to me and then steadily past.  I gave him some words of encouragement and indicated that I should have let him take the mile (meaning, I should have let him go through, as I had no doubt he'd take me down in the overall anyways).  I kind of felt like I was cheating him out of the bonus money for some reason.   He acknowledged that everything was cool and continued on his way.  I tried to keep him close as we wound up through some nice neighborhoods in Greenland.  At one point (maybe about 2.75) I picked up a little ground on the lead he had built up and thought maybe he was slowing enough that I could catch him.  I think if there had been a more substantial climb near the end, I may have been able to catch back up, but in the end, that wasn't the case.  He got to the top of the hill that was there and took off.  As I came up over, he had picked up the pace and pushed down and through to the finish for a solid win in 15:25.  I went through the 3 mile mark in 15:08 and ran the last slight downhill to the finish in 15:38 for second place.

Overall, I was psyched about the time and the fact that I actually felt OK during the race.  Last year, I struggled with heavy, dead marathon legs to the tune of 15:55 for second place.  This year, I ran 7+ minutes faster at Baystate the week before, and still came back with a 17 second improvement at this race.  I'll take a 15:38 at this point, no matter condition I'm in...  Props to Scott McGrath, who has come back from his own injuries and actual heart issues.  He has only been back running about 5 weeks and did no workouts previous to this effort.  The writeup from Seacoast Online can be read here.

DD (who finished just out of the money in 4th place) and I ran back to the car, changed clothes, and ran up to the observation tower at the top of Stratham Hill, before running back over to the finish area for the awards ceremony.  For the MacKenzie Mile (first one through the mile), I got $50 + $100 for the second place finish, for a total of $150.  Not a bad score.  I also got another hand made glass runner trophy made by Victor Meyer (like the one I got last year) for finishing 2nd overall in the Seacoast Series.  It is a little smaller (obviously) this year because it's a second place trophy.  Maybe next year I'll be third, just so I can have all of them :).

Next up now is potentially a trail race in VT this coming weekend and then the US Trail Marathon Championships out in Oregon next weekend, which is shaping up to be stacked.  More on that later...


  1. Nice run Saturday. You must be in pretty good shape. Cool trophy too.

    They mentioned Mentzer's marathon win on Channel 6 out of Portland this morning. pretty cool.

  2. Hey man, thanks. Hamstring is kinda iffy though. Really bad yesterday and I took it off. We'll see what happens this week.

  3. Hey, I ran 30 for the last .1 same as you! That has to be a first!!!

  4. I shut it down at 2 miles though ;)... And I was firing off the 2nd place guns and high-fiving little kids (and stopped to sign a quick autograph) over the last .3 miles...

  5. Forgetting chip is a true GOON move... nice

    p.s. We need to find a good name for Jon Healey