|Richie Blake Photo|
March 22 (Sunday) - 3 mile w/ up + 5 mile race + 2 mile cooldown = 10 miles.
Paddy's 5 Miler (results) in Portsmouth, NH. Absolutely brutal day to try to run fast. Probably the worst headwind I've ever had to cut through in a race. I've had a couple of experiences with headwind strong enough to stop your progress almost completely but not for multiple miles like this. The warmup and cooldown were almost comical when 'running' against the wind. On the way down to the race, I was skeptical of the decision to even go because my car was practically blowing off the highway at times. I got to the parking lot down at Pease Tradeport and could barely open the door. I actually thought about just going home. Funny thing is that a couple of other people I talked to there thought the same thing (just turning around and going home). I reluctantly registered though and had to spend all the extra time before the race, hunkered down in my car because the windchill was in the single digits and even standing in the tent was too cold and actually nerve-wracking when the wind picked up.
I warmed up w/ Dan Verrington for just over 3 miles of the course and it was obvious there was going to be some slow times. The course is very flat with only a couple of small rolling hills at the end. It's a PR course or close to it, if the conditions are right. There is one cone turnaround which is different than the USATF certified map, but besides that, it's pretty fast. However with 40-50mph wind gusts, it was going to be a sh*tshow for at least half the race. My goal became to try to win and run as hard as I could despite the challenges. There were a few fast guys there including Derek Hamel whom I have never run against before. When he started running and winning a lot of NH and Seacoast races, I had kind of moved away from doing a lot of those and we never overlapped until today. He's been running well for a couple years now and Casey Carroll was also there. He's usually dangerous as well and just came off a nice win last weekend in Dover. He's fit as usual. My hamstring was sore and tight, but manageable. By the time the race went off, I didn't even notice it which is great. It's sore now though as I write this, of course.
I wore long tights and man was that a great decision. By the mile mark, my hands were completely frozen. I couldn't feel any of my fingers at all. My bathing suit area was also rather frozen. I towed along Derek for the first mile, which I think was just south of 5 minutes (funny how the tailwind doesn't feel like anything at all but it does make a difference). I kept glancing over a few times and could see him lingering. I knew miles 1.5 to 3 would be BRUTAL and 3.75 to the end were going to be the worst. That's basically it in a nutshell. I calmed down after the mile and settled into a cadence while the wind was in check. I was 10:07 or so through 2 with a little bit of wind but then it was almost un-runnable at times. I finally hit the 3 mile turnaround (around a cone) after trying to cut through the wall of wind that was almost comical at times, and you now had about .75 of a mile of again, an unnoticeable tailwind before the nightmare last mile and change. I had a decent lead at the turnaround but not sure of the time. I was too focused on trying to feel my hands. Derek was still in 2nd but Casey was right behind him and looking strong. Bob Wiles (the announcer for the race) told me after that just past the turnaround, Casey made a move and pulled away.
I moved along against traffic for a bit and felt great but then the turn up the hills and directly into the wind sucked any of the life I had, completely out of my legs. It was like running under water. The last stretch back up to Paddy's had to have been far north of 6 minutes but my current fitness was enough to pull me through ahead of the field. I have got to think (after talking to a few people there who agreed on the time) that it was 1:30 or so slow today. I know I am in south of 26 shape for sure and today should have been there if it wasn't for the weather. It's been a long while since I had a road race affected to this degree. 'Maybe' one year at ES20 it was bad, but not like this. I heard a couple years ago at the race it was nearly the same deal. I ended up with a 27:22 which was completely mind boggling that I ran that fast today. I was thinking before the race that sub 30 would be good in those gusts. To run 27 mid is a great sign. Maybe some weekend this year, another 5 miler will creep up and I can get another shot at running a 'quick' time, but the effort was certainly legit today. And I got the win, which felt great. I love running in Portsmouth and can't wait for many more runs in the Seacoast this year.
It was great catching up with some folks today. I haven't really talked to Dan Verrington a lot in some time, so it was great to chat with him on the warmup and after the race. It was great catching up w/ Bob Wiles as well. I hung out w/ some of the acidotic folks after the race (Phil and Scott) and talked shop before hitting the road and heading north (with a $100 bucks more in my pocket).
I had to make a stop in East Wakefield to try to dig some paths out for my parents when they come back from their winter vacation next week. It took me over an hour to make a 12 foot pathway to their front door, through a mountain of snow and ice. I have a lot more to do but am going to wait a few days for the temps to warm up and for some of the snow and ice to melt.
On the way back from Wakefield, I took the scenic route and hit up Joe Viger's house in Freedom to pick up my award for winning the Northeast Snowshoe Championships back a few weeks ago. It's a sweet metal print that stands out from the wall when you hang it. It looks amazing. Special thanks to Joe for putting it together and Chris Dunn for commissioning him for the awards.