Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Boston Prep 16 Miler

A few days ago I made the decision to potentially opt out of the WMAC race this weekend (Constitution Hill in Lanesborough, MA) as it was just too much driving between two days, especially for just a 3.6 mile race.  I was already going up to North Conway to run in Kevin Tilton's Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble (which is a full day of the event plus driving).  Then trip out to Lanesborough the next day would have meant even longer drives for a shorter race (distance-wise).  I decided to stay local and throw my hat into the Boston Prep 16 Miler (results) in Derry, NH on Sunday instead.  This is about 15 minutes from my house and is over a course I've done many times in the past.  I've only raced this once (back in 2009), but know how difficult this course is, no matter how fast you are going.  Back in 2009, I raced a snowshoe race the day before (like this year) but still ran OK, getting 5th.  This year, I knew that place-wise, I may have trouble duplicating that effort, but time-wise, I wanted to run faster.  I wasn't really feeling the race from Saturday in my legs and felt pretty strong going into Sunday morning.

When I arrived at the school and starting area, I had trouble finding a spot to park and eventually wound up behind the building in a super-secret parking lot that only one car had found so far...unfortunately it was the furthest spot from the actual registration area.  I was surprised to find Mike Quintal there, getting ready for the race.  We walked up to registration, picked up our numbers, and met up with Jim Pawlicki and Andie Colon for a warmup over the first mile of the course.  It was pretty cold out, but not enough to make me want to wear the face mask again.  It would be tolerable...I was just hoping my hands didn't freeze...everything else felt OK.  After warming up, I met up with the infamous Josh Ferenc who was rockin' the sweet half-tights and talking about course records, breaking Pat's spine, etc.  The typical pre-race hype that comes with having him show up to races...  I tried to box him in at the start, but it was no use.

As the gun went off, the 600+ people set out on what has to be one of the tougher courses for road racing in New England...especially at this type of distance.  The hills are pretty much all over this course, but they are especially bad around 5 miles, and 9-12 miles.  Miles 10 and 11 are pretty brutal and typical 5-something per mile paces are reduced (or increased) to well over 6 during this stretch.  Couple that with the wind in the later miles, and the single digit temperatures on almost a yearly basis (and some slick road conditions), and this race gets challenging.  Because of the random patches of ice and snow, I decided to go with my Inov-8 x-talon 212s and it ended up being a great choice.  Even though they are a trail shoe, the big lugs on the bottom, coupled with the sticky rubber and the incredible overall comfort of the shoe made it a great choice.  They aren't that bad even on dry pavement.

The first couple miles were as expected.  Pat Moulton, last year's winner, set out as he usually does, marching to his own drummer and laying down near 5 minute miles...My guess is that the ghost of his brother Casey Moulton's record was looming in his mind during the first parts of the race.  Unfortunately, without a guy like Casey or even a John Mortimer in the race (or a late-90s Dave Dunham), nobody would be helping Pat try to go after that record.  I certainly didn't make any attempts to stay with him early (and sink any chance of having a good race for me)... Ferenc went out with me for the first mile and then started to motor.  I watched him get further and further away, then seem to come back a few steps every once in a while... Once we hit the hills after mile 4,5 or so, he started to pull away from me.  He climbs like there's no tomorrow.  I began thinking that 3rd place would be the best goal to shoot for at this point and just tried to maintain the same distance I had over the next guy, whom I could see every once in a while in the rearview... For the first 3-4 miles or so, it was Ryan Aschbrenner.  He was about as far back of me as I was of Josh for quite a while.  Then, once we hit the hills, I could no longer see anyone behind me due to the nature of the course and it's twisty, hilly roads.

From miles 6-9, you can really motor, as there are some good downhill and flat sections.  This is where I put some distance on the field, which I certainly needed to before the hills kick in at 10+ miles.  I passed the halfway mark (8 miles) in around 44:56 or so, but that was the fastest half of the race by far.  At just before 8 miles, I ran by Krissy K on the side of the road snapping some great pictures and offering some word of encouragement.  A little while later, as you turn past the 8 mile mark, I passed the elder Quintal who gave me some words of wisdom and told me that Ferenc looked to be flailing a bit...but I knew that Josh was losing me the more the race went on.  He may have looked like he was hurting, but he was really just putting the hurt on me!  Just past the 9 mile mark, you have the ungodly misfortune of running into Drew Rd. and a heartbreaker of a hill.  That mile would actually match my slowest of the day (the other being the big Warner Hill Rd. hill).  By the time I got to the top of that hill (which does have the steepest section of climb on the course, but isn't the longest hill), I couldn't really see Josh at all anymore.

Once past that hilly 9th mile, it was down to the 10 mile mark, where I came through in 56:53 (A good first 10 miles for this course I will say). On the long downhill just past 10, I think is the last time I actually saw the yellow of Josh's BAA uniform (if you enlarge the photo above, you'll see him in yellow, way up ahead (just off my left elbow).  From this point on, after you get down the bottom of that hill just after 10 miles, it is all uphill in a series of maybe 4 big climbs from miles 11-12.5 or so.  This is the killer section that can make or break your race.  For Josh, it was definitely a well positioned section of the course..for me, it was probably a wash. I didn't really struggle up the climbs, but I didn't really rock them either. I kind of just went through the motions here and kept the last 3 miles of the course in the back of my mind.  I wanted to have enough left in the tank to work those last 3 miles, one of which (mile 13) is usually horribly windy.

Once I made it up and past the Warner Hill Rd. section of the course and back down to the 13 mile mark, I was actually pretty bummed to see my 13th mile was not under 6.  Yes, there is still some climb, but I figured that 11 and 12 would obviously be over 6 and the rest I would be able to salvage sub 6s on, but it wasn't to be.  13 and 14 were really windy, with 14 being just over the top.  It felt like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. During that mile, it is a long, straight, exposed section of road (with a big open field on the left side of the road) where the wind just rips across and straight at you.  Mile 14 is essentially flat, but I ran my 3rd slowest mile there because of the wind.  The good thing about that section of the course though is the fact that you can see over a quarter mile back at least, at the tail end of that section.  I couldn't make out anyone behind me as I took the turn off of that section and started mile 15.

My 15th mile was my fastest mile and I think most people were in the same boat.  I managed a 5:13 on this section of course w/ some flat and minor downhill sections, coupled with a nice tailwind.  When I went through 15, I had my first thoughts of being able to hold 3rd place, as I couldn't see anyone else behind me.  Little did I know that Tim Catoggio was killing the last 3+ miles and catching me...but my initial lead was a bit too much for him to come into my rearview.  I struggled a bit on the last mile, as the roads were pretty bad on this section.  There was lots of snow and ice, coupled with a couple of small hills.  My right eye also started to actually freeze closed.  I had to keep rubbing my eye to keep it open and my vision was getting blurred.  By this time, my face was just completely frozen and I couldn't feel my lips, nose, etc.  I was just reaching for the finishline at that point. I felt OK otherwise... no cramping, no pain or issues anywhere... I didn't take any water or GU or anything in the race.  I think that was a bad idea, but it didn't come back to haunt me thank goodness.  I think if the race was any longer, I would have needed it for sure.  16 miles is enough where I can get by without it.  It's good to know now, seeing we have a half marathon coming up soon.

In the end, I rolled up to the finish in 1:32:46, which is 3:08 faster than I ran in 2009, so yes I will take it!  I've said it before and I'll say it again, any year I'm faster than the year before in the same race, I'll gladly take it... Also, finishing in the top 3 was a surprise.  A couple guys I know that were planning on going, ended up being sick and didn't go, giving me a better chance to get a top 3 spot.  Patrick Moulton is in a different category when it comes to local racing...he's a national talent and there are only a select few guys that can even run with him for even part of the race, in distances ranging from 5k to the marathon.  It was no surprise that he just went out and ran his race from the very beginning, putting everyone else in their rightful place (and out of the top spot). Josh has represented the USA in the world championships for mountain running and can run uphill better than most people can run down them.  He's also just a really strong runner, no matter what the terrain (snow, trails, mountains, tracks, roads).  I wasn't surprised that he ran up in 2nd the whole time.  I was just thankful to be able to stay ahead of the rest of the guys in this talented top group.

Top 15 Overall (CMS Racing Team Members in Blue):

Place Name Age City/State Time Pace
1 Patrick Moulton     29 PROVIDENCE RI 1:28:31 5:32
2 Joshua Ferenc       29 BELLOWS FALLS VT 1:30:40 5:40
3 Jim Johnson         33 SALEM NH 1:32:46 5:48
4 Timothy Catoggio    25 SOUTH BOSTON MA 1:35:04 5:57
5 Kevin Gravina       32 CAMBRIDGE  MA 1:36:08 6:01
6 Ryan Aschbrenner    33 NASHUA NH 1:36:53 6:04
7 Kyle Powers         21 WATERFORD VT 1:37:36 6:06
8 James Pawlicki      36 BEVERLY MA 1:37:46 6:07
9 Humberto Rodriguez  24 MANCHESTER NH 1:37:59 6:08
10 Andie Colon         29 METHUEN MA 1:39:23 6:13
11 Jeffrey Cole        32 BIDDEFORD ME 1:40:03 6:16
12 Mike Quintal        32 N ANDOVER MA 1:40:17 6:17
13 David Lamoureux     30 LAKEVILLE MA 1:40:26 6:17
14 Jason Dunklee       37 WATERTOWN MA 1:40:41 6:18
15 Patrick Connelly    47 CHESTER NH 1:40:51 6:19

669 Total Finishers.

Splits: 16 Miles - 1:32:46 / 5:48 pace - Very hilly course

Mile 1) 5:53
Mile 2) 5:34
Mile 3) 5:15
Mile 4) 5:30
Mile 5) 6:09 - w/ Kilrea Rd. Hill
Mile 6) 5:23
Mile 7) 5:35
Mile 8) 5:37
Mile 9) 5:38
Mile 10) 6:17 - w/ Drew Rd. Hill
Mile 11) 6:17 - Hills
Mile 12) 6:12 - Hills
Mile 13) 6:03 - wind
Mile 14) 6:08 - ridiculous wind
Mile 15) 5:13 - MY second wind and some downhill/flat/tailwind
Mile 16) 5:53 - Eyes freezing shut...just looking for the finish line at that point.

Photos of the race courtesy of Krissy K! Check out the photoset here.

1 comment:

  1. 3 mins faster than last year. Not bad. Killer course. Good work, Double J.