Monday, September 20, 2010

SalemFest 5k

Saturday morning I headed just 5 short miles across town to my first ever race in Salem, NH. The SalemFest 5k (results) was the scene, and it ended up being a great day for me.

Since I've lived here AND been running (moved here in 2004, started actually 'racing' in 2007), there hasn't really been any races here. Since I started really racing a lot, there has only been 2 that I know of: Kiwanis Run the Highlands for MS (XC race in November of last year) and the first annual SalemFest 5k in September of last year. There was a 'Salem Run for Relief 5K' in 2008 and in 2007, and that was it. There used to be a 'Salem Five' race that ended in 2005. I believe this was the 'Shirt Factory 5' or 'Silkscreen 5' that was a very popular race for many years... But since I've been living and running here, there really hasn't been much to point to as far as an actual race in Salem, which I've found odd considering the size of the town and the location. When I saw the 2nd Annual Salem Fest on the Coolrunning calendar, I had to try and make it (even if it was before my planned 50k).

I headed over in the morning, and LOVED the fact that my drive was literally like less than 10 minutes.  Shortly after I registered for the race, I saw Patrick Ard (Whirlaway) who is coming back from injury, but has been keeping fit and is (as I put it) 'well rested'. :)   Pat and I headed out to run over the course for a warmup and we discovered the course was anything but easy to follow.  The course has 27 turns.  It was so confusing (doubling back over itself in multiple areas) that they had little orange signs on each corner, that were numbered from 1 to 27.  You just had to follow the numbers.  I had a course map in hand, so we were also following that as well.  The course is entirely in a neighborhood in the center of town, but loops all through various streets.  I was hoping for a lead vehicle to help me along and relieve me of having to figure anything out during the run.  Shortly after getting back, we met up with Dave Quintal (CMS), who was late getting to the race and didn't do much of a warmup.  Dave was also coming back from injury, but has been keeping very fit (even if he refuses to admit it) and is also 'well rested' ;).

As the gun went off, I headed out immediately and worked to get out and on my way.  Nobody seemed to come with me and I was soon alone (after only a couple of turns).  I knew I had to be sharp here, otherwise Patrick would surely run me down, even though he hadn't been racing much road stuff lately.  I felt really strong and seemed to power around each corner and enjoy the fact that there were no really long straights for me to mentally check out on.  I clicked through the mile in 4:49 and felt pretty strong still.  About halfway through, we go up and around a little turnaround area near some condos and I got to see Patrick and DQ in 2nd and 3rd places respectively.  I came down and through 2 miles in 9:42 (making my second mile a bit slower in 4:53).  I still felt really strong and kept pushing, now thinking I could salvage a good time, maybe in the low 15s if I didn't let up too much.  As I came through 3, I knew I was running fast, clicking through in 14:28 (for a 4:45 3rd mile) and just had a good downhill push to the finish. I started to hammer this last part, not letting up and going all out in the end stretch for the first time in a 5k, since I can remember. I wasn't even trying this hard at Cigna, to run fast at the end.  I knew if I could just keep it at 30 or under, I'd be safely under 15.  With the little downhill and then straight shot to the finish, I was able to cruise down and through in a new road PR of 14:54.

Top 10 Overall (CMS in Blue):

1Jim Johnson     33SALEM NH14:544:48
2Patrick Ard     26RAYMOND NH15:595:09
3David Quintal   47SALEM  NH16:485:25
4Joe Mulligan    48METHUEN MA17:245:37
5Michael Fraysse 38DERRY NH17:305:38
6Trevor Bouchard 20DERRY NH18:225:55
7Zach Blinn      21PLAISTOW NH19:106:10
8Eric Rahtamoni  17SALEM NH19:496:23
9Scott Turner    45HENNIKER NH20:036:27
10Tom Ramsdell    43SALEM NH20:046:28

132 Total Finishers.


1 Mile) 4:49
2 Mile) 4:53 (9:42)
3 Mile) 4:45 (14:28)
3.1) 14:54 (4:48 pace) - New PR.

** last .1 was slightly downhill then flat...

Course Map (check out how crazy this course is).

Photos (except the one of myself and Pat Ard) above are from the SalemFest Flickr page.

There was also video of the finish I believe, but it is not up online yet. I'll post when it is up.

Lastly, after running the race and thinking about the time all day, I decided to go back and make sure the course was a full 5k.  I don't want to call something a PR when it was short.  All of us were getting together, talking about how fast everyone ran and how it 'must have been short'.  Most of the time, if I run a short course, I can tell immediately that it was short because I just didn't put the effort in that I think it would have taken to run that fast...but this wasn't one of those times. I know I'm fit and I feel strong (legs are beat, but I'm strong after all the workouts and training I've been doing).  I guess the combination of Pat and Dave both running faster than they were expecting, made me feel even more like we got short-changed with this course....I just kept hope alive, thinking that maybe just due to the nature of the course, we all ran faster than we would have if there was any sort of major hill or two in this race...the course has only 56 feet of total ascent and 56 feet of total descent.  Practically flat.  I went back to make sure it was a legit 5k course and to prove to myself that we all ran well today.

Race Course Examination - Post Race - via Car and then via Bike.

Photo 1) My odometer after I pulled my car right up to the start line, cleared the trip computer, and drove the course (cutting tangents as best I could while other people were still on the road)...It hit 3.1 about 30-40 yards or so BEFORE I reached the finish line. This was to be expected, based on the fact I couldn't cut left-hand turns as closely as you would be running them.

Photo 2) My bike's trip computer as I start to ride from the starting line. Note, it is zeroed out.

Photo 3) Trip computer at the 1 mile mark.  This mark in the road was exactly where the stand-up marker was during the race. Note the distance is 1.05 miles.  I cut every possible tangent (even closer than I ran in some spots).  I kept the bike within a foot of the grass or sidewalks on the turns, to make sure I was getting the shortest possible distance, to err on the side of caution w/ the measurement.  I also kept the bike straight to all the tangents on the straight parts.

Photo 4) Trip computer at the 2 mile mark.  This mark in the road was exactly where the stand-up marker was during the race. Note the distance is 2.07 miles.  I cut every possible tangent (even closer than I ran in some spots).

Photo 5) Trip computer at the 3 mile mark.  This mark in the road was exactly where the stand-up marker was during the race. Note the distance is 3.06 miles.  I cut every possible tangent (even closer than I ran in some spots).

Photo 6) Trip computer at the scribbled out 'Start'.  Initially I thought this was the Finish line. If you look at the next photo below, you'll see there is a difference of about 10 feet or so, with this scribbled out 'Start' being BEFORE the real Starting line.  I figured this was where the finish was, until I looked closer at the photos from the race on Flickr and remembered that the actual clock and finish line was AFTER the Start, making this course even LONGER than 3.16. Note the distance is 3.16 miles on my trip computer as I come through this mark.  I cut every possible tangent (even closer than I ran in some spots).

Photo 7) The evidence of the scribbled 'Start' and the real 'Start'.  About 10 or so feet. We started at the non-scribbled start.  I stopped my bike's computer at the scribbled start, initially thinking that was the finish, when in fact, the finish was even further up, past the real 'Start' in the road.

Photo 8) The 'scribbled' start evident in this photo of a little dude finishing the race.  Note the finish line is absolutely PAST this mark (making my 3.16 distance actually short of what the race really was...which, for an 'official' 5k, it should be a little longer than 3.10 miles).

Photo 9) The start photo, showing exactly where the staring line was.

In summary, I have no doubt this is a fast 5k course, but a real 5k nonetheless.  If it were ever to be certified, it should pass as-is for sure.


  1. I lived in Salem for years. Grew up there in fact. The reason there aren't more races in Salem is because Salem hates runners. At least the drivers do anyway. Never ran in a more inhospitable NH town.

  2. Great job JJ. It is funny that you would go to the trouble of double and triple checking the course. I'm the same way. I think you've done enough verification to call that your legit PR without a bit of doubt or disclaimer. You're just freaking fast, that's the explanation. And that course does have a ton of turns. I would have got lost for sure. And you must have been running back into other runners a few times as well!

  3. A real ultra-guy would have done his warm up and cool down from his house. Just sayin'...

  4. Congrats, nice PR! No doubt that the course was 5k.

  5. Great job JJ. I remember back in the early 80's there was the Salem 5 mile race. They brought in top guys from all over the US. I ran 27 and change and I finished in the 100's. I was shocked. But then again I was slow.

    Great job once again. You've worked hard and deserve it.