Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Ahead 3 Miler

On Saturday I headed up for a quick 3 mile road race in Concord, NH.  The Spring Ahead 3 Miler (results) is run at the New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI) in Concord, NH.  This race is essentially the first 3 miles of the NHTI/Delta Dental Road Race (race #3 in the Capital Area Race Series) held in April.  I ran that race a couple years back and knew the course was relatively fast and flat with only two hills (up and over Rt. 93 twice).  Because the last .1 miles in the 5k finishes on the quad lawn at NHTI, a mid-March race there is typically not feasible if there is snow, so the race turns into a shorter 3 miler instead.  New CMS teammate Matt Pimentel, who is coming back from injury/surgery/and a couple of years away from serious training and racing, joined me for the trip up.  This would be his 3rd race of the year and his first in a CMS singlet.  Scott Clark was also in attendance, giving us a strong 3. As we registered and warmed up, I saw Danny Ferreira (acidotic), Mike Wade (GCS), and Darin Brown (WMM) but that was about it for people I knew.  The numbers weren't as I had envisioned and it didn't look like the turnout would be over 100 people.  After the warmup (over the course), I threw on my new f-lite 230s (new pair for 2010 after wearing out my other ones over the course of last year) Matt and I headed over to the line for a couple of last minute strides and then we were off.

As the race headed out, I took the early lead and figured I'd push the pace to around or just under 5 minutes and see how that went.  It was a little on the windy side, but not too bad.  About 3/4ths of the way through the first mile, there is a roundabout that you run around and you can get a good view of who is behind you.  As I came around, I noticed I had a runner whom I had not seen befiore the race, breathing down my neck.  He was not too far back and gaining on me.  I noticed Matt back in 3rd and Scotty not too far behind him.  Right after the first mile, I heard a spectator yell 'Go Connor' as I went by and knew that the guy right behind me was Connor Jennings.  I had raced him last year at the SEA 5k and knew he had wheels.  He's also very young (results say 19, but he told me after the race that he was either 20 or going to be 20).  Not too soon after I heard someone cheering for him, he motored on past me and took the lead.  He was running really smooth and strong and I figured pretty quickly that he'd be in control the rest of the way.  

As we made our way out towards the overpass, I tried to stay within striking distance, but he seemed to be slowly pulling away from me.  As we went up and over the highway, he had a few second lead on me.  We wound down around and under the "Root Canal" (a tunnel under the road) where the 2 mile mark is. I clicked through in 9:55 and he was a couple ticks ahead.  I glanced back to see Matt and Scott still in 3-4, as we headed back up and over the highway.  By the time we came down and back into the campus area, I noticed that Connor seemed to be coming back a bit and started to think I could maybe pull up along side and stick with him until the end.  As we turned around the perimeter of the campus road, I was matching his stride and was riding his shoulder.  With about a quarter mile or so to go, I rolled out around him and headed for the lead.  He reacted and kept right behind me as we made our way around a couple of turns and headed into the quad.  I was in an all out sprint here basically (or about as fast as my aging legs can roll at this point)... I ended up squeaking this one out and edging Connor and his charge by 2 seconds.  It made me feel pretty good to be able to run with a 20 year old college guy (he runs for UVM) this early in the year (and especially coming off of snowshoe season).  More importantly, I ran 14:54 (4:58 pace), which I'll certainly take.  I wasn't envisioning sub 15, but with going out hard for the first mile, having Conor work the next 1.5, and then having him to sprint with at the end, it made sub 5 min. pace possible for me.  

Matt ran another strong race as he is on the comeback trail (this time next year he'll be a full minute+ ahead of me in 5ks), finishing 3rd.  Only 11 ticks back was Scotty Clark, who also ran strong, giving CMS 3 in the first 4 overall.  We hung out afterwards for the awards ceremony.  We both won cookies and gift certs. I got a gift cert to Dicks Sporting Goods for winning my age group, and a gift cert to the Bedford Village Inn for the overall (yes, they allowed 'double-dipping') plus a NHTI pint glass.  The race was held to support the NHTI cross country teams.

Top 10 (plus CMS in blue)

1JIM JOHNSON      32SALEM NH    14:544:58
7DARIN BROWN      43MADISON NH  17:065:42
8DREW TUTTLE      14CONCORD NH  17:125:44
9JOHN TUTTLE      52MOUNT ROAD  17:145:45
10COLTON HAM       15WEBSTER NH  17:435:55

102 Total Finishers.

Next up will be the writeup for part 2 of my weekend double (the Granite State Snowshoe Championship)... 

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