Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25 (Sunday) - Boston Prep 16 Miler

January 25 (Sunday) - Boston Prep 16 Miler

Sidehiller was canceled so I decided to head down to Derry for the 20th annual Boston Prep 16 Miler (results).  With not doing any hills any time recently, I figured this would be the good kick in the backside that I needed.  I have run this race twice before (2009 and 2011). I finished 5th and 3rd respectively.  It is always super cold at this race.  Sometimes it can be a little treacherous as well with some snow and ice present on the road.  This year, the temps were looking great (high 20s / near 30 degrees) but they got a storm that moved through on Saturday and the roads were looking questionable.  Probably not as questionable as they were in 2001 however (to the left is DD slugging it out to a win in 1:39:47).

I warmed up for a couple miles on my own over the first part of the course and up a side road to check out what the secondary roads looked like.  The main road was looking pretty wet and sloppy but the other roads didn't even look plowed.  I quickly changed and decided to go with trail shoes for better traction, half-tights and no winter hat, as I was really hot on the warmup.  I headed back down to the line for an additional mile of jogging and strides before the race went off.

My main game plan was simply to try and get through the race without a calf issue (calf has been a little sore the last few days) and maybe try to get top 3 again.  I had my work cut out for me though because Ryan Aschbrenner (GBTC) was there along with last year's winner Sam Fazioli (WRT) and his teammate Eric Williams (WRT).  Also there was Levelrenner's pick for a possible 'W', Tim Catoggio (RUN).  Contrary to the Level article, Tim is not a CMS guy...I wish he was though.  Something in the back of my mind though, before the race, kept telling me that I could maybe win it if all the junk miles I've been doing over the past couple months started to pay off... I only knew a few splits from 2011.  The first mile was one of them.  My plan was to go out in roughly the same type of time and see what was happening around me.

The start - Photo by Dan Curry
The start - Photo by Dan Curry

As the command was given, about 350 brave souls headed up the snowy roads in the first mile of the course that is advertised as only 'moderately challenging'.  I was in the lead immediately.  I knew the other few guys I figured would be near the top were right behind, but I just focused on running my race and the time I thought I was capable of running in the first mile and then see what happens.  The first mile is entirely uphill. I came through in 5:55, which was only 2 seconds off what I went through the first mile in in 2011.  I felt fine and I knew that I may be able to continue at that effort but I was also starting to realize that there was no one close. Everyone had gone out conservatively.  I think I may have had a 10 second lead or so at the mile at that point.  I peeked back a few times and was surprised at the distance I had.  I continued to chug along, picking my spots on some of the sections of road where only a narrow path from a tire was exposing the pavement.  The main roads were pretty good (wet and slushy but good) considering.  The secondary roads were more of a challenge.  You had to weave here and there to get some exposed pavement in some areas.  I went with trail shoes as I figured that the extra lugs may be good if the conditions really got bad on some of the hills or side roads.
The start - Photo by Dan Curry

By 2 miles I think my lead was even a little bigger.  My second mile was 5:35.  Only 1 second behind where I was in 2011 (5:34).  Of course I didn't know this at the time, but felt smooth and knew that I had some work to do before the hill just before 5 miles.  My 3rd mile was 10 seconds back of my third mile in 2011. I ran a 5:15 then, but that neighborhood we had to run through for miles 3 and 4 was way sloppier this year than any year I had run previous.  My fourth mile was actually about 6 seconds faster than 2011. I can only attribute that to running scared. I have never been in the lead in this race so I was in a new situation at this point in the race.  I was looking back a bit and continued to see my lead grow.  After about 4 miles I could no longer see anyone behind me, even on the big stretches.

The 5th mile is a bruiser with a pretty steep little climb up Kilrea Rd.  I was again, about 6 seconds quicker up that mile surprisingly, than I was back in 2011.  Now while running, I wasn't aware of all these splits but did remember my 10th mile split from back the last time I ran.  That was my next goal.  I came through 5 in 28+ and quickly started trying to figure out how I could get to 10 miles in 56:53 (2011's split).  It was going to be tight.

Mile split 6 was a bit slower but 7 and 8 were right on what I ran last time.  At this point in the race, I started to wonder whether or not I would hold the lead.  By 8 miles I felt better about things, but not entirely sure that I wouldn't get mowed down on the hills. I was also running into a headwind that was hitting me during some slight inclines and really making me think that I was starting to slow.  Miles 10-12 or so are the killers.  I envisioned myself getting smoked up those climbs so I continued to push and at least make people work to try to catch up.  

I was quicker up Drew Hill (mile 10) than last time by a decent amount. I actually felt OK but of course that hill is pretty short. It's the steepest climb on the whole course though.  That road was a little messy on the way down to the 10 mile split and I was weaving back and forth trying to pick a clear line.  I came through 10 in 57:01 and knew I was about 8 seconds back of where I was in 2011 so I was pretty happy and also amazed because 2011 ended up being one of my better years.  From that point on though, it was looking ahead at the next big test, which was the hills from 10.5 or so, up to past 12 miles.

10 Mile Mark - Photo by Dan Curry

10 Mile Mark - Photo by Dan Curry

10 Mile Mark - Photo by Dan Curry

10 Mile Mark - Photo by Dan Curry

At the base of the climb, I turned back up the road and didn't see anyone.  A friend of mine drove by and yelled that I had a huge lead, but I didn't really know how far.  I just looked ahead and tried not to die on the climb.  I knew that I ran 6-something for the next few miles back in 2011. I believe even Pat Moulton was around 6s or so on those miles and he was way ahead at that point.  I just put my head down and slogged up.  I ran 6:22/6:30 for the next 2 miles all uphill.  I was significantly slower for those 2 miles than I was last time (by the tune of about 29 seconds total). But when I came up and over the last of the hills (I know the course very well), I looked back again and couldn't see anyone. I had a huge mental boost at that point because I knew the real test was over.  Now it was all downhill and flat to the finish.

Photo by Dan Curry

Miles 13 and 14 always have ridiculous wind. Usually it's slamming you right in the face.  This year it was no different.  I ran really slow (over 6s) on these two miles last time...this year I was just under on both of the miles, but the wind was still really bad.  Right after the half-marathon split, my left calf started to feel like I was getting stabbed. This was what I was really afraid of.  I stiff-legged it a bit on the next few miles to the finish.  My 15th mile was a staggering 45 seconds SLOWER this year than in 2011. In reading my blog post from back then, I see that there was a tail wind during that mile. I remember hammering that mile and then rigging over the last mile to the finish.  This year, as I took that last turn onto the last mile, I peeked back again and couldn't see anyone and got assurance from volunteers that no one was back there, so I just focused on trying to hold the lead and not cramp up.  I was able to put together a decent last mile split of 5:34 (far faster than 2011) while occasionally stiff-legging my left side.  It really wasn't until 15 that I really believed at that point that I could win the race.  But I also still had that slight fear that my calf would go and I'd have to stop...anything was possible.

The finish - Photo by Dan Curry
Once I got on that last street we started on, I was confident that even if I had to hop/jog/walk the rest, I may be able to squeak it out.  I came up through the finish in 1:33:25, which was only 39 seconds back of what I did in 2011 but still over 2 minutes faster than I ran here in 2009 (when I was young(er)).  It was also obviously my first win here ever, so I was definitely pleased.  If anything, it was a great mental boost.  To still be able to run w/ some of the young guys was definitely a positive.  Eric Williams (50 years young) was 4th and not too far back, so there is always hope right? :).  Sam Fazioli (last year's winner) wasn't too far behind me...only about 1:20 or so.  I was actually very surprised at how quickly he came through the finish after I finished, based on the fact that I was looking back and couldn't see anyone for the longest time.  Tim was 3rd and right behind him in a pretty tight finish for this race.  I have no doubt that from probably 12 miles on, those guys all reeled me in like there was no tomorrow.  My aggressive early pace was the only reason I hung on....so the gamble paid off.

Top 5 - Photo by Dan Curry
For the win I got a nice fleece top and a big bottle of maple syrup that Leslie O'Dell's young son promptly smashed on the floor in the cafeteria as we were eating during the awards ceremony.  Good times.

All photos courtesy of Dan Curry.

Strava Data:


Some love on WMUR


Warming up - Photo by Dan Curry


 Warming up - Photo by Dan Curry








4 comments:

  1. Glad you got an almost as large replacement bottle!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes Sean, thank you! It was also the under 20 winning bottle..made me feel young again!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, so you like the replacement bottle better then? Glad I'm off the hook now.

    ReplyDelete