On Tuesday night the White Mountain Milers Weekly 5K Trail Series took a week off as it does each year, in order for the locals to run the James Wellinghurst 5k in Madison, NH. This race literally starts .1 miles (one tenth) from my house. I can see the staring line in front of the Madison Church from my living room window. This makes the shortest commute to a race starting line that I've ever had. I literally could see the registration table from my front yard. I jogged up to register and went back down to the house where my parents were waiting to take a walk up to the starting area to watch the race go off. The race is pretty low key, with no bibs and a $5 entry fee. But it is literally in my front yard so I couldn't pass it up.
On Monday, my calf started to go bad on my run and it really made me cautious about my morning run on Tuesday. I previewed the course (which is just over 3 miles and not a full 5k) and ran very easy, as my calf was still a problem. By race time, I warmed up very lightly and shorter than normal and then got on the line and hoped for the best.
The course starts on a downhill on Rt. 113 (Conway Rd) and then hooks right, right in front of my house, and heads down 113 in a nice downhill slope for the entire first mile (with one small bump in the middle). The course then climbs up a little before taking a sharp left onto Danforth Ln and starts to climb for most of the 2nd mile, gradually up Danforth, which is also paved. 3/4 of the 2nd mile is uphill and paved, and then turns to dirt and a logging road that cuts across to Winter St., which is a nice dirt road that is all downhill back to Rt. 113. The course then takes a sharp left back onto 113 and hooks around by the lake and over to the train station / Silver Lake post office to the finish. The last mile is a combination of some downhill and flat dirt road and paved road.
As the gun went off, I quickly moved out to the front and immediately found out that I had a hard time pushing the pace because of the downhill. Starting downhill in a '5k' is tough. I'd much rather have the downhill in the middle or end of the course. Having it at the beginning, when you are fresh, is pretty difficult, for me anyways. I felt like I was going too slow but couldn't really go much faster. It was a weird feeling. I kept thinking that everyone was going to come blowing past me but that didn't happen. I missed the first mile split but I know it was fast. The chase pack went through in sub 4:50 so I know I was a bit faster. I pushed OK up the 2nd mile and felt 'better' but not that great. I cut across the dirt road and over to Winter St. for the dirt road descent back to 113 and clicked through 2 miles in 10:04. I had a pretty good lead and rolled down the 2nd mile and dumped out onto the main road, where I saw Kristin and my mom driving by and they were yelling for me as I hit the last flat road section to the finish. I wasn't really pushing it here and just kept up the steady pace as I didn't think I was going to run that fast after splitting over 10 minutes through 2...but I came across in 15:04. That was 16 seconds under Kevin Tilton's 2004 record run of 15:20. Zach Switaj (UMass Dartmouth) was 2nd in 16:08 or so and Tim Livingston was right behind him by a couple seconds.
After the race, I headed back up the course for a cooldown with Zach before he drove me back down from the church for the awards. For my efforts, I got a Madison Old Home Week t-shirt and bragging rights for taking down what some were saying was the most impressive course record in Madison ;). After, I jogged up to Burke Field with Roger Marcoux (who won this race in 1989) where I met my parents and Kristin for a BBQ and live band as part of Old Home Week. After that, I jogged back up the road (less than a half mile) to my house and called it a night.
Good times in town, as usual...