Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Children's Museum of NH 5k

On Saturday, I went up to Dover, NH once again to run in the Children's Museum of NH 5k (results) (also known as the Footbridge 5k).  This was the 3rd year in a row it's been in Dover.  4 years ago and prior it was in Portsmouth, NH.  The Portsmouth course seemed a lot easier and the Dover course is fairly slow as it climbs for most of the first half of the race, then has a steep descent around 2 miles, and then rolls the last mile.  This is also the first race in the 2011 Seacoast Road Race Series (one of my favorite series).  I headed up in anticipation of just hopefully either being able to run relatively easy and still either win or come in top 3 or so.  In prior years, I lost to Sam Wood (in 2008), Chris Mahoney and John Mentzer in 2009, and Bob Wiles and John Mentzer in 2010.  In 2009 and 2010 I didn't run particularly well.  This year, I knew Chris and Bob were not going to be there because of the Grand Prix event on Sunday (which I was also going to run).  I wasn't sure about John, but he hasn't missed the race in the past few years (he's run it every year I have).  I was thinking that if there was a Mentzer or someone else like that there, I'd just let them go and try to save a bit for Sunday.

I showed up pretty early and checked the board of registrants.  The race hadn't sold out yet so I knew that the names on the board wasn't the definitive list, but I also knew that there certainly could be guys on the list that I just didn't recognize by name.  Bob Wiles had mentioned to me last week that a friend of his was going and was planning on trying to run 15:40 or so, so I knew there might be some decent guys despite the usual suspects not being there.  I warmed up by running over the course and again was amazed at the amount of climbing over the first 1.5 miles or so (for a local 5k).  I got back, switched into my bare Xlite 150s and headed over to the start for some strides.  I saw a few guys that looked like they could be pretty good and then I saw Nick Crowell from Navy, whom I had forgotten about.  Nick won the Great Bay 5k last October by running a 15:21.  He was a 14:36 guy at Navy and I knew was going to be able to run fast.

As the gun went off, Nick headed out all alone and I stayed back just a bit.  A second runner, Rob Levey, took off fast as well and was in front of me, looking like he was going to go after Nick.  I stayed in 3rd place for the entire first mile, as Rob made a surge up to Nick, who was out in a commanding lead.  The first mile climbs up pretty good and keeps going, with 3 or so major hills.  I came through the first mile in 5:08, which is about right for the amount of climb.  I was losing ground on Nick and was hanging a little closer to Rob. We were way out in front of the rest of the field and I assumed I'd be a good third place and be able to save some  for Sunday.

In the middle of the race, the course loops down around a nice neighborhood and climbs back up a bit to come out of it.  Nick was continuing to chug along and I was able to pass Rob as we were in the neighborhood.  Rob came back to try to pass me on the way out of the neighborhood, but I held him off just a bit (contrary to me just wanting to 'settle' for third).  I figured that if it came down to a race between us, I would have to run hard to at least get 2nd if it was going to be close.  The course then goes back against the traffic and hooks left to go down a very steep descent (essentially losing all of the previous climb in a very short distance).  I passed 2 miles in 10:16 and hit a second 5:08 mile.  Pretty even so far.  At about 2.5 miles in, at the base of the big climb, I had just moved up enough to get Nick actually within striking distance and soon found myself going by him.  He started to dangle his arms down and I knew he was slowing down.  I figured he wasn't in the same shape he was in October, and certainly wasn't in his 14:30s shape just yet, but I knew I could take advantage and just kept moving past him.  I had lost Rob, moved past Nick, and just tried to power on home.  There was one last uphill grind and then the course hooks down across the bridge and on to the finish. I went through 3 miles in 15:14 (4:57 mile) and kicked to the finish line in a very surprising and unexpected win.

In the end, I came through in 15:46 (about 7 seconds faster than last year).  I was able to hold off Nick and Rob and was very pleased to have won my 3rd race in Dover this year (and 2nd time I've come across a finish line to break tape on Henry Law Ave. this year (previously winning Reds in April).  The first Dover win came in early April at the Helping Children Hear in NH race across town.

After the race, I cooled down w/ Nate Huppe, who took me on his promised (and much publicized and anticipated) 'Tour of Dover'.

For the win, I got my hands on some more Weathervane lobster dinners...this time for 10 people!  This kicked my Seacoast Series off in style, but I will say that I am probably in for a tough fight at Redhook and beyond, as Nick and Rob are planning on doing the series, as well as (I'm sure) the rest of the usual suspects.  This was the 4th different Seacoast Series race I've won (out of 8).  Previously I've won Redhook, York Days, and Fox Point Sunset.  The races that still elude me as far as wins go in the series are Market Square, Saunders, Great Island, and Great Bay.  I've scored a 3rd place best at Market Square (definitely the toughest race to win even though it is not my 'worst-best' placing), a 2nd place best at Saunders, a 4th place best at Great Island, and a 2nd place best at Great Bay.  Regardless of how I do in the series, I still enjoy these races and can't wait for Redhook. It should be a great field as usual...looking to maybe run a big race there....

Photos in this article (except finish line photo) courtesy of Margaret Theobald.

Fosters article.
Seacoast Online article.

Top 10 Overall.

Place Time Pace Name Age Town/State
1 15:46 5:05 Jim Johnson     34 Salem NH         
2 16:07 5:11 Nick Crowell    24 Portsmouth NH    
3 16:09 5:12 Rob Levey       36 Somersworth NH   
4 17:05 5:30 Chris Ritchie   28 Hampton NH       
5 17:17 5:34 Fergus Cullen   39 Dover NH         
6 17:29 5:38 Matt Weber      30 York Beach ME    
7 17:46 5:44 Ryan Proulx     31 Portsmouth NH    
8 17:53 5:46 Tyler Doyle     27 Sagamore Beach MA
9 18:05 5:50 Cameron Barth   14 Lee NH           
10 18:27 5:57 Jacob Eisler    29 Dover NH      

952 Total Finishers.


  1. Hi Jim,

    I'm a long-time reader of your blog...great stuff! I'm from CMASS, ran at Stonehill College, and race from time to time, but look to local racers (including you) for inspiration...so first, thank you! Your blog is a great read.

    One question for you: I noticed that you were a DNF at Boston this year (I was myself in 2008)...could you enlighten your readers with a description of that experience? I'm curious to hear more about it.

    Also, do you do workouts during the week, or do your races act as workouts, since you do them so frequently? Is there a certain stretching routine that you swear by?

    Sorry for all the random questions. Again, your blog is a great read for many, and provides me a lot of inspiration in my own running.



  2. Thanks Jeff! I appreciate the kind words...and thanks for reading my banter :)....

    I was (and still may) do a writeup of Boston w/ splits, etc. I'll probably do that soon. It was just one of those things where I ran well for 99% of the time and then as soon as I started feeling that 1% right at the end (literally 5 minutes of the race just pushed me to stop)... I went through fast for half (1:11:18) and then ran 1 'ok' mile and some of the 15th mile but just pulled off after feeling like I would probably not PR and I got selfish and decided that if I wasn't going to PR, I'd just save it for another day. Very strange, because it's unlike me...but I did it...almost self-consciously...I found myself stopped and walking into the medical tent for a ride. I know I was dehydrated a bit, but other than that, I just had an off day...and didn't feel like laboring through a 1:18 second half to try to just salvage a 2:30 on a record setting day.

    On the workout front, I almost never do a 'serious' workout on the track or hills, etc. If I do, they are usually ad-hoc. I'll hop on the track and do workouts with others who have a scheduled workout , and sometimes go to a workout with the GTD folks, but I never really crank out a crazy workout that is catered to me personally. I like to just run whatever I feel like that day (mostly just road or trail runs)...and at least a couple times a week, I 'tempo' the solo efforts... meaning I just go and run a lot faster than a typical run should be, and then race whenever I feel like. MOST of the time, my races are my workouts (speed work and strength). The snowshoe and trail/mountain stuff is strength work. 5ks, etc. are where I build my turnover. If I did a serious workout during the week, and raced as much as I do, I'd be hurt more often for sure. I just race myself into shape and race all year, so I can maintain year round race fitness so-to-speak. When I do actually do a 'workout', it's usually last minute and it's usually with someone who was already doing one...I'll piggy back...so sometimes it will be a lot slower than I'd usually do one (for example, Tuesday I did sort of slow quarters for me personally, but I was helping a friend of mine who is coming back from injury)...

    Hope that helps...and thanks for reading! :) Good luck with your running and racing!

  3. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the quick response! This is all really helpful. I seem to run into injuries pretty frequently (at least recently), so it worries me to think of my future in the sport sometimes. Although I also know that I sometimes push my easy days a bit too much (running 6:30 pace 4-5 days per week).

    I have also found some hope in my racing future, as I've run high 16's for 5k (PR for me) on just a month's worth of 45 mile weeks.

    Anyway, sorry to hear about Boston...I'm always rooting for you in your races. Hope to meet you sometime in the future!

    Thanks again for being so open about your training.