I got a good effort in and was happy to come out of it relatively unscathed.
I shot 10 minutes up the road to Beaver Lake in Derry, NH to run the Greater Derry Track Club's 37th Annual Turkey Trot. This year, they had over 1500 finishers, making it the largest Thanksgiving Day race in the state of New Hampshire. As I warmed up over part of the course and along route 102, I noticed a ton of fast looking dudes who mostly looked to be college runners who were no doubt back in the area for the holiday and looking to burn off some cafeteria food. I knew John Mortimer (whom I have interestingly enough only raced once ever, back in 1994 at Foot Locker Northeast Regionals in the Bronx, NY) was there and supposedly not really in tip top shape (according to sources). I knew it didn't matter if he was in shape or whether he was 100 lbs overweight, he'd still find a way to squeak out a win on his home course (for which he holds one of his many CRs). Once I ran up and toed the line, I found myself about 2-3 guys back on the line, surrounded by a slew of guys who looked like they were ready to blast 15-something over this relatively hilly race around Beaver Lake. After some technical difficulties w/ the National Anthem (a-la Baystate Marathon), we all sang in unison and then the race got underway.
I quickly found myself with a lead pack of maybe 8 guys as the race headed down 102. As we turned onto N.Shore rd, John was up front with Andrew Sears (Keene State) and was just sitting and waiting. I jockeyed for position for a bit and was going back and forth between 4th and 5th place when John took off (shortly before the mile). I clicked through in a pedestrian 5:06 and was in 5th place or so. Right after the 1 mile mark, for anyone who has run this or the Foot Health 5k (same course), you know, the course goes straight up a pretty good hill for almost an entire mile. I actually got passed here by one guy and passed another couple as I took the hill somewhat forcefully (but was still losing John who was just cruising).
As I reached the top of the hill and clicked through 2 miles in 10:30 (for a whoppping 5:24 uphill mile), I passed another guy and found myself working towards 2nd place, with only one guy between me and John (a guy who had passed me on the climb). The last mile is downhill almost entirely, with maybe only two small uphills right before the last road. I quickly caught the 2nd place guy and held 2nd for a brief while before Pete Najem (Keene State) flew by me for the first time. Pete won this race last year and has wheels (he's an 800/1500 specialist). On the first of 2 uphills in the last mile, I caught Pete again and was able to charge by. At that point, I knew I could hang on if I could put a little bit of daylight on Pete before we both reached 'kicking distance' (at which point, he'd smoke me).
As I turned onto Pond Rd and was within earshot of the announcer and with the finish line in sight through some trees, I noticed I had gained quite a bit of ground on John who was either fading a bit over the last mile or was just mailing it in with the win. In either case, I was excited to see that I had gained a lot of ground on him and was doing all I could to hold off Pete, who was only a few seconds behind. I kicked it in to a relatively mediocre 16:01, but in the end happy to have been in the hunt and actually competitive in a pretty good field of guys. Most importantly, I was happy that I was able to race on my foot and ankle, which has not felt good at all this month. There was only slight discomfort during the actual race (although it took me a while to actually warm it up).
Top 10 Overall:
|1||John Mortimer||34||GRANTHAM NH||15:53||5:08|
|2||Jim Johnson||33||SALEM NH||16:01||5:10|
|3||Peter Najem||24||DERRY NH||16:04||5:11|
|4||Andrew Sears||19||DERRY NH||16:08||5:13|
|5||Jake Hawkins||18||HAMPSTEAD NH||16:15||5:15|
|6||Ryan Busby||21||DERRY NH||16:21||5:17|
|7||Benjamin Dutton||17||SALEM NH||16:44||5:24|
|8||Todd Swenson||30||SOMERVILLE MA||16:48||5:26|
|9||Mike Giberti||18||DERRY NH||16:54||5:27|
|10||Jonathan Sears||20||CHESTER NH||17:01||5:30|
1573 Total Finishers.
After a cooldown over the course again w/ Andrew Sears and Pete Najem, I collected my 2nd frozen turkey of November and headed home...
Part 2 - Andover CC XC to come...