Sunday, October 24, 2010

Great Bay 5k and Seacoast Series Wrap Up

Saturday I reluctantly wrapped up the 2010 Seacoast Road Race Series with the Great Bay 5k (results) in Stratham/Greenland NH. While this is a great race and a great course, I am just not feeling 5ks this time of year...My mind is set on the upcoming snowshoe season and seeing all the leaves on the ground just makes me want to do trail and cross country running in the interim.  The marathon has also been a quasi-focus, so the local 5ks seem to be last on my priority list.  Also, I love the Seacoast Series, but I consider it a summer series, with Children's Museum 5k being the early summer preview, Redhook 5k kicking off the summer on Memorial Day, Market Square Day 10k fitting right in perfectly the week before Mt. Washington in June, York and Saunders being a couple of sizzlers in late July/August, and then Newington being the nice late afternoon, dog days type of event... The last 2 5ks (Great Island and Great Bay) are both in October, and it just feels different.  It almost feels to me like the Seacoast series should end on Labor Day weekend for some reason....Don't ask me why... That said, I had to miss Great Island this year because of my wedding and I opted out of Fox Point (Newington) because of sour grapes lingering from last year when I was sent in the wrong direction....  So I had to do Great Bay to get my 6th (of 8) races in and qualify for the series final standings and to get my jacket.  All I essentially had to do is show up and not come in last, and I would finish 2nd in the series behind John Mentzer, who already wrapped up the series back in early September up in Newington.

Having been really sick all week with a nagging cough (which has been really bad the last 48 hours), congestion, nausea, sore throat, and general fatigue, I was unsure about where I'd fit in with this race.  I have done little running this week because of the marathon just 6 days ago, but my legs actually feel pretty good.  A little heavy, but good.  I haven't actually run sick in a long time, so I wasn't sure about the combination of the marathon recovery and being under the weather, but I had to give it a go to complete the series...I have done this race for 3 years now and the previous 2 years I had done it 6 days after the Baystate Marathon.  In 2008, I was 2nd in 15:53 and was shocked I broke 16 after having run my first marathon just the weekend before.  In 2009, I ran faster at Baystate and was able to run even faster still at Great Bay, running 15:38 to take 2nd again.  This year, I ran even faster at Baystate than the previous two years, but the fact that I have been sick made me think that this year would be a longshot to actually run faster than 15:38.  I would actually prove myself wrong...

The trip up to the Stratham Hill Park was uneventful, but soon after getting to registration, I noticed Nate Jenkins standing there looking fit and ready to go...but I briefly chatted with him and he was going to be running the Mayors Cup XC race on Sunday in Boston.  He was there watching his fiancĂ©e run.  Good, one less guy to worry about...but I still had to contend w/ my teammate Chris Mahoney, who is always popping his head up at local races with money... (I still don't think he actually has a real job...I think he is a full time roadwhore...more investigating on that to come).... Chris and I scoured the list of entrants on the wall and really didn't notice any names.... Scotty Clark (CMS) was in the house, and it was looking like maybe we could have a 1,2,3 CMS finish....  I actually made the mistake of telling Scott that there was a 2:22 marathoner in the race (tongue in cheek, as to eventually make him realize that it was actually him I was talking about)...but it backfired because his actual PR was 2:21.  Whoops ;)...  Chris and Heather Searles (another frequent casher on the local circuit) joined me for a warmup over the first part of the course.  Chris and I talked about the Mackenzie Mile, which is a bonus cash award for the first man and woman through the mile.  We talked about how maybe we should split it... maybe we should just tie... whether I was going to go out hard or if he was... what pace, etc.  Needless to say, we actually didn't need to worry.  Someone else was going to decide that for us.  For the record, I won the bonus last year, but ended up losing the race to Scott McGrath, who I'm not sure even knew about the bonus ahead of time.

As the race went off, it was apparent that there was a guy (in a full Navy singlet/short kit) besides us who was going to go after the mile bonus.  Chris and I let him go, as we were both focusing on the top 3 spots rather than try to get the $50 bonus and then blow up.  The race pays out $150/$100/$75 + the bonus.  After the first turn onto the main road stretch, the dude from Navy was gone.  There was another guy right behind him in white, then Chris, myself, and a couple other guys right behind us.  By the first mile, Chris and I had shaken the chase pack, but the guy from Navy and the guy in white were still ahead of us by a pretty good margin.  I came through the mile in 5:01 and was starting to lose Chris.

As we made our way left, onto the next stretch of rolling roads, Chris kept making his way up through the field.  He passed the guy in white to take 2nd place.  I maintained the same spread on the third place guy, but didn't seem to be catching him at all. I was hoping he'd have gone out to fast (attempting to just cash the bonus) and start to fall back, but he wasn't.  The guy from Navy also kept kickin'. Chris did seem at times to be making up ground on him, but then it seemed like the leader would pull away just a little bit again.  I watched the whole race unfold right in front of me as I clicked through the 2nd mile in 4:58, for (9:59).

After the rolling part of the 2nd mile was over, the race turns left and up through some nice neighborhoods on the way to the Discovery Center.  It immediately starts with the biggest hill on the course and throws a couple more ups and downs your way before making your way down to the finish.  About 2.5 miles in, I came up and past the third place guy in white and immediately put distance on him.  I was now safely in 3rd and knew after 2.5 miles of wondering if I was going to even cash in this race, that I'd probably be OK.  Just before the 3 mile mark, I all of the sudden noticed I was now right behind Chris Mahoney.  I made up some ground on him over the last mile and was only a couple second behind him.  Not too soon after that happened, and before I could really even think about trying to make a move for 2nd place, the 3 mile mark hit and Chris heard my footfalls and took off.  I clicked through 3 miles in exactly 15:00 (5:00 third mile) and cruised down to a 15:30 finishing time (last .1 is slightly downhill and fast).  Chris found another gear and held me off for a solid sub 15:30 run (15:27) and a new PR.

For the record, the 'dude from Navy' is Nick Crowell.  Apparently he's here in NH for a year and a half. Expect to see more of him in local races (according to the Seacoast Online interview)....  The 'guy in white' was Jeff Sprague from Maine.

Top 10 plus CMS in Blue

Place Name Age City/State Net Time Pace
1 Nick Crowell  23 PORTSMOUTH NH  15:21 4:57
2 Chris Mahoney 32 HAVERHILL MA 15:28 4:59
3 Jim Johnson   33 SALEM NH  15:31 5:00
4 Jeffrey Sprague   27 PORTLAND ME  15:38 5:02
5 Erik Travis  26 LEE NH   16:23 5:17
6 Chris Ritchie   27 HAMPTON NH  16:29 5:19
7 Scott Clark  44 GILMANTON NH   16:54 5:27
8 Peter McNeil  26 BARRINGTON NH  17:11 5:32
9 David Harrow   26 GREENLAND NH   17:24 5:37
10 Jasmin Lepir     34 PORTSMOUTH NH  17:34 5:40

821 Total Finishers.

After the race, Chris and I cooled down by running the distance back to the cars and then running the course again, before heading over to the awards ceremony, which also doubles as the awards ceremony for the Seacoast Series.  I got another one of my glass statues (I now have one 1st and two 2nds) for the series and $75 for the 3rd place finish in the race (which I more than blew on the way home).

Seacoast Online Article:

Above is the latest hardware (or should I say 'glassware') from the Seacoast Road Race Series.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baystate Marathon

(Updated - Monday - 4:12pm) Sunday was back up to Lowell for my much anticipated (but recently dreaded) return to the road marathon distance since my near miss at Boston in April.  This weekend's Baystate Marathon (results) served once again (3 years straight) as the USATF-New England Championship.  We had a strong team going in and I had some descent training aside from the last couple weeks, where my back was really bothering me.  I sought the guidance and eternal wisdom of Dave Dunham, who agreed back in the summer, to coach me through to the marathon this fall.  The reason I went to Dave was that he's been very successful in the past (qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in 1992 and 1996) at the marathon distance while still being able to race other races and continue on with his normal racing routine.  The reason I run is to race and compete.  Period.  I don't race for anyone else or to prove anything to anyone else but myself.  I run for the fun of it.  If I'm considered a 'recreational runner', so be it.  I run for the love of racing, planning races, going to races, being at races, writing about races, and thinking back about my racing experiences.  From 5ks to Ultras.  From the track to the trails to the roads to the mountains to the snow.  If it's an event where they say 'ok, you start here and you end there and you go from here to there as fast as you can, ok? GO', I'll be there.  I don't care if it involves running over rocks, snow, painted rubber, etc.  If it involves money or no money....  If it's in the sticks of VT or the streets of South Boston.... If there are 25 people or 25,000 people...  If I already ran a race that week or not....I don't care.  I usually don't let others 'idea' of what racing is or what training is, dictate my level of dedication or passion for the sport.  Running is running.  Racing is racing.  Period.  Dave understands this.  That's why I've looked up to him (even though I'm technically taller than he is) for so long.  He actually enjoys going against the grain and has been very successful in racing over all sorts of distance and disciplines all over the world... Most of the time, during the same calendar year... It's his attitude and accomplishments that attracted me to want to run for CMS and be part of it.  Our team is full of guys who just  feel basically the same way, and that's why I love what I'm doing.  There is no drama, no animosity, no disrespect.  There is only competing, winning, and having fun.  That's what we do.  I love being a part of it and had a tremendous appreciation for Dave's willingness to help me achieve one of my goals this fall.  I knew he could make me successful and most importantly, he would understand what I wanted to do, and he would understand that 1 race is not my entire 'year' or 'season'. I have no 'seasons'.  I have essentially one, and it goes from January to December.  There will always be the select few out there who still think that I'm crazy or that I'll burn out eventually, or that I am not living up to my true potential in any one race distance, etc.... but while those folks are busy racing only a few times a year, or being injured from overtraining, or going to a race they've waited 2 years for only to be disappointed, I will have raced 60+ times between then and now, and have enjoyed every waking moment of it all...met and shared moments with some great folks, had some good races and some bad, but I was out there competing..and I'll continue to do so....until my knees blow out ;) (which I'm fairly certain will be out in Western Mass somewhere ;) )....

Now to the race... After getting a massage on Thursday to try to salvage a last minute solution to my back problems, I headed over to Lowell with my sister Kristin, who was adding a second marathon to her recent resume of big racing.  She did Boston this year as her first marathon (running for a charity) and ran 4:18.  She's run the last 2 Mount Washington road races, the Baystate Half in 2009, and the Eastern States 20 miler this past March.  She doesn't mess around.  She cuts right to the chase and goes for the big distances and big events.  She was feeling pretty good about her training and I was not, but we both were sitting there in the Tsongas Arena, getting our stuff on, and trying to get psyched up for the race.  The morning was chilly (low to mid 40s) but sunny.  My back was no better than it had been, but it was too late for anything now.  I was going to attempt to run my desired pace for as long as I could, but I was honestly thinking that I would be bailing at half way if I could even make it that far.

We headed over to the start at 7:45 and I had to find a last minute place to pee before heading over to the line to meet my mates.  Justin Fyffe, Greg Hammett, Scott Leslie, Andy McCarron, Jim Pawlicki, and George Adams all found a spot right on the left hand corner of the staring area and we stood there as the entire field broke out into the singing of the National Anthem, after the announcing crew had explained that there was technical difficulties with the anthem audio track.  In an adhoc fashion, we all broke out into the song after there were a few folks in the crowd who shouted out 'just sing it, just sing it'. I thought that was a great moment in the sport. I was standing right next to Patrick Moulton (BAA), and that kid's got a good singing voice! ;)...

As the race went off, I was out stride for stride with Patrick and felt really honored to be up w/ guys like that and a few of the other folk, as we wound our way up to the first mile mark.  A few R.UN guys (Joseph Koech, Tom Casey, and Ben Ndaya) along w/ Jim St. Pierre (GLRR) and a couple others snuck up and past us.  For the first few miles, they were all ahead of Pat and I, and we both thought at least a few of them may be running the half, but some of them like Joseph and Ben, etc. were running the full marathon.  As the races split (just shy of the 3 mile mark), Pat and I both were shocked to see all 6 or so of the guys in front of us, take the right to go for the half marathon.  Pat looked at me and kind of laughed and said 'Looks like we're leading this race Jimmy'... I was shocked.  Not too long after, I found myself a few steps out front and then I found that by 5 miles or so, I was comfortably out front and had built up a 10 second or so lead on the pack.  I was in another world, looking around, seeing that everyone on the sidelines, cheering, were cheering for me.  The lead vehicle was right in front of me and I could hear the RD and others in the truck giving me was a great feeling. I knew it wouldn't last, but I had to enjoy it while I had the chance...I will always remember that... I was running slightly faster than my planned pace, but I felt great and smooth.  Dave had told me that he thought my pace should be 5:35.  He kept telling me that based on what he saw with my training and racing, that I should be able to run that pace. I never believed I could run that fast, but as the race went off, I figured I'd give it a go and if it happened, it happened...if not, there's always snowshoe season.

I ran out front completely until 7 miles.  Up until that time, I had only run 2 miles that were slower than my planned pace of 5:35, but one of those was the hilliest stretch of the race, and the other was only a tick over the time.  At 7 miles, the entire pack caught up to me, but I stayed out front.  They caught up, but seemed to adjust their pace a little.  I stayed at around 5:30ish and we started running as a big group. There were 7 of us....Me, Patrick, Terry Shea (BAA), Brandon Newbould (WRT and last year's winner), Ryan Carrara (NBB), Matt Helm (GSH), and Eric Blake (BAA).  After that, I couldn't seen anyone back within striking distance.  Somewhere before the 8 mile mark, there were a couple of landscaping timbers or something, that were sticking out in the street a little, and we were running so close together in a pack, that Terry Shea (running on the inside and in the tail end of the pack) tripped over it and went down hard.  I heard him yell out and go down.  We all turned quick and everyone let out a collective word of displeasure after seeing what happened.  Ryan C. had yelled to watch out for it, a split second before  Terry tripped.  I hadn't even noticed it was there, but Ryan saw it and tried to warn the guys behind him, but it was too late.  Terry continued to yell and shout out expletives back at the scene of the crime.  I think Eric stopped for him and we all continued on. I thought Terry's day was over, but he collected himself and continued on.  By the bridge near 8 miles, he was back up on us, which was great to see (even though it meant another guy back in the hunt that was obviously going to beat me ;) )...

I went back and forth in the pack for the next loop, staying right with everyone from 8 miles all the way up to the halfway point (over the Rourke Bridge) and then back over the Tyngsboro loop again.  I was mainly hanging right off the back of the lead pack and just trying to hit my 5:30ish pace...  Somewhere around 16 miles, Eric Blake pulled off to the side (that was planned) and started jogging.  He was out there to pace Terry and Patrick (having stopped for Terry when Terry fell, and stopping for Patrick at about 9 miles when Pat had to retie his shoe).  I was now in 6th place and feeling 'OK'... Suddenly (and funny enough, right as Dave Quintal rode past me on his bike yelling 'stay with this pack') I fell off the pack right around 17 miles.  It was quick.  I'd like to think that in addition to me slowing just a bit, the race really started there and the guys just started to pick it up and spread it out a bit.  I hit just a tick slower through 17, than my planned pace and then that was the last time I'd be close.  It got progressively slower just about every mile from there. I started to think about the time and try to do the math in my head.  I thought that if I could just run 6 minute pace for the last 10, I could 'crack' 2:30....but that would be easier said than done.  As I came through 20 miles at a few ticks under 1:51, I knew I was about 2 minutes or so faster through 20 than I was at Boston, but my legs were feeling much worse.   My breathing was completely fine and under control.  In fact, I almost couldn't help but laugh, thinking over the last 6 miles, that I wasn't even close to being in oxygen debt and I actually felt like I was on a nice easy run (cardio-wise), but my legs, hips, and back were NOT happy with me and were holding me back from any sort of respectable pace.  My hips got so tight and my lower back was stiff as a board.  My hamstrings and calves were hanging on by a thread and I was pretty sure over the last 6 miles, I'd be cramping for sure.  It would be a horrible end to a really great first part of the day.  I just kept waiting.

By 22, DQ rode back up past me, as did Scotty Graham, and they both indicated that Andy was about a minute back.  That was both good news and bad news for me.  The good news was that I knew Andy was running well and a lot stronger than me (if he was now only a minute back).  I wanted us to all be together and obviously wanted the team title.  The bad news was that I kept thinking that I had 4 miles to go and if he was back there, there'd surely be more where that came from....  I started thinking that I was either 1st or 6th/7th the entire race and now, because I was up in the 5:50s with my pace and struggling to hold on, that I'd not even finish in the top 10 and really screw up our chances of winning this thing.   I tried to push through as tough as I could, but my legs were seizing up on me.  My stride was shortening badly and I felt like I was turning to stone right before everyone's eyes.  I peered back a few times over the last LONG stretch along the river and saw Andy coming.   I managed to get up and over University Ave and make my way back down the VFW Highway, still in 6th, but as I clicked through 25 miles and 40k, Andy was right on my heels.  He went by me with authority, just as we turned onto the last bridge before the stadium.   I just tried to hang on, but was assured by folks around me, that there was no one else back there.  I peered at my watch and saw that somehow, someway, I was going to actually not only go under 2:30, but actually maybe be able to run under 2:28.  Instead of trying to outsprint Andy (which wouldn't work anyways) along the last stretch, I chose to stride it in at my current pace and not tweak my muscles any worse than they already were.  I was teetering on the edge of massive disaster and just tried to clip in at my close to 6 minute pace for the last mile around the warning track of the stadium.  I was all rigged up, but I was almost done and looked at my watch and up at the clock as I got close and just focused on the 2:27 and knew that Andy and I had done our part....I crossed the line and was just filled with emotion...I pumped my fist in the air a few times and yelled out as I approached Andy who turned to congratulate me as we had both just run PRs.  Literally seconds later, we both turned to see Scott Leslie coming into the finish line, a few ticks over 2:28 and only with one guy separating us (that guy NOT being a USATF-NE runner either).  That meant CMS went 6,7,9 overall, but 6,7,8 in NE competition.  That was enough to make me think we had it won, but I had to wait to see how BAA's third runner would fair.  Seeing they went 1,2 with two 2:24s, we'd have to hang onto the lead by having their 3rd runner finish a ways back...and that's fortunately (for us) how it went down.  We ended up winning our 2nd straight USATF-NE Marathon Title!

Photo above and below, courtesy of Krissy K.  Me, Andy, and Scott moments after we all finished (below):

Top 20 Plus CMS Men in Blue:

PlaceNameAgeClub/TeamCity/StateGun TimeNet TimePace
1PATRICK MOULTON    28BAAPROVIDENCE RI       2:24:412:24:38.25:32
2TERRY SHEA JR      36BAACAMBRIDGE MA        2:24:442:24:42.65:32
3BRANDON NEWBOULD   29WRTDOVER NH            2:25:052:25:03.15:33
4MATT HELM          24GSHLONGMEADOW MA       2:26:172:26:13.95:35
5RYAN CARRARA       34NBBHUDSON MA           2:27:112:27:07.75:37
6ANDY MCCARRON      27CMSKEENE NH            2:27:262:27:22.95:38
7JIM JOHNSON        33CMSSALEM NH            2:27:362:27:33.75:38
8JEFF SCOVILL       36MINNEAPOLIS MN      2:28:022:27:58.15:39
9SCOTT LESLIE       29CMSRUTLAND MA          2:28:162:28:13.45:40
10DANIEL MCCUE      33CAMBRIDGE MA       2:28:342:28:30.6 5:41
11DAVID NASH        29JERSEY CITY NJ     2:29:502:29:46.4 5:43
12TOM DEEG          29WRTEASTHAM MA         2:30:102:30:08.2 5:44
13TIMOTHY CATOGGIO  25RUNSOUTH_BOSTON MA    2:32:542:32:51.6 5:51
14JASON PORTER      40WRTBEDFORD NH         2:33:442:33:41.5 5:52
15TITUS MUTINDA     45RUNLOWELL MA          2:34:072:34:05.6 5:53
16MARK HUDSON       33WRTREADING MA         2:34:192:34:17.3 5:54
17GREG HAMMETT      33CMSCHESTERFIELD NH    2:34:342:34:31.4 5:54
18JEFF EDMONDS      33NASHVILLE TN       2:35:582:35:54.2 5:58
19MARK GIBSON       43WRTDURHAM NH          2:36:192:36:16.6 5:58
20GEORGE ADAMS      40CMSGILSUM NH          2:37:242:37:20.2 6:01
26JIM PAWLICKI      36CMSBEVERLY MA         2:40:042:40:01.16:07
30KEN TRIPP         40CMSAMESBURY MA        2:40:282:40:25.06:08
35DAN VERRINGTON    48CMSBRADFORD MA        2:43:062:43:03.3 6:14
79DAVE DUNHAM       46CMSBRADFORD MA        2:58:062:58:02.46:48
131ERNIE BRAKE      49CMSACTON MA          3:07:183:07:05.57:09
298DAVID HARPER     43CMSLEOMINISTER MA    3:20:473:20:25.77:39
331KEVIN FALLON     42CMSW.BOYLSTON MA    3:22:463:22:32.37:44
372JOSEPH ALFANO    44CMSHOLDEN MA         3:25:443:24:00.17:48
424EDWARD COLEMAN   48CMSAUBURN MA         3:28:543:28:39.27:58
1098BOB TOMCZYK     46CMSSTERLING MA      4:10:414:09:27.89:32
1141PHILIP DINSKY   62CMSFRAMINGHAM MA    4:15:234:14:46.19:44
1339MATTHEW GRIGAS  51CMSMILBURY MA       4:37:274:36:23.410:33

1564 Total Finishers.

2:27:23 2:27:34 2:28:14 (2:34:32) (2:37:21) = 7:23:11

2:24:39 2:24:43 2:37:55 (2:41:41) (2:47:04) = 7:27:17
2:25:04 2:30:09 2:33:42 (2:34:18) (2:36:17) = 7:28:55
2:26:14 2:40:20 2:52:08 (2:56:28) (3:10:04) = 7:58:42
2:32:52 2:34:06 2:53:09 = 8:00:07
2:37:57 2:40:15 2:44:37 (2:58:45) (3:05:30) = 8:02:49

This solidifies us as 2nd place overall in the 2010 USATF-NE Grand Prix. The top 4 teams play out like this:

10M 13.1M 12K   5K   8M  10K 26.2M PTS
BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION     15   18   15   15   13   14   13     103
CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS           14   16   16   13   12   13   12      96
WHIRLAWAY RACING TEAM           12   15   13   12   11   12   11      86
GREATER BOSTON TRACK CLUB       13   14   12   14   10   11           74

Greater Boston was lucky that they had enough ground on the next few teams that they could get away with not fielding a complete team at Baystate and still not lose any ground in the standings...

Splits in case you are interested in how it all went down....
** botched my watch for the first 2-3 seconds (almost false-started) so the cumulate times were a couple seconds off from the overall time was a couple seconds faster each split.

Mile 1) 5:31
Mile 2) 5:23 (10:57)
Mile 3) 5:30 (16:27)
Mile 4) 5:30 (21:58)
Mile 5) 5:28 (27:26)
Mile 6) 5:37 (33:03)
Mile 7) 5:22 (38:26)
Mile 8) 5:36 (44:02)
Mile 9) 5:31 (49:34)
Mile 10) 5:33 (55:08)
Mile 11) 5:26 (1:00:34)
Mile 12) 5:27 (1:06:02)
Mile 13) 5:30 (1:11:32)
Mile 14) 5:29 (1:17:01)
Mile 15) 5:30 (1:22:32)
Mile 16) 5:33 (1:28:05)
Mile 17) 5:36 (1:33:42)
Mile 18) 5:40 (1:39:23)
Mile 19) 5:45 (1:45:08)
Mile 20) 5:48 (1:50:57)
Mile 21) 5:51 (1:56:48)
Mile 22) 5:57 (2:02:46)
Mile 23) 5:51 (2:08:37)
Mile 24) 5:54 (2:14:32)
Mile 25) 5:52 (2:20:24)
Mile 26) - missed last mile split but last 1.2 was 7:13 (which evens out to near 6 min + a 1:13 last .2...
Finish: 2:27:36 on my watch... 2:27:33 Net.

There were many folks out there taking photos.  Some of these I've used in the post were from Tom Derderian, Mia Edwards, Krissy Kozlosky, and Scott Mason.

Full sets can be found here:

Photos: Krissy K
Photos: Scott Mason

I know MQ took some video and there were a lot of photos taken from the lead truck (as I was right behind it for miles)...I'll link those up as I find them being posted online...

To add to my exciting day, my sister Kristin shocked not only me, but herself and everyone else on the planet, as she qualified for the 2011 Boston Marathon with a 3:49:18!!!  She was (ahem) thinking she'd run around 4:10 or so.  She not only had a bad cold, but also a wrenched neck...and she still pulled off a BQ time and cruised to a 29 minute marahon PR!!!  You can see by our faces, we are shocked at the news!...Needless to say, we both registered for Boston today...we'll see how it goes....

Lastly, a nice mention from everybody's favorite Seacoast race announcer, Andy Schachat... in his column this week in Fosters Daily Democrat he writes:

How about this from last week's New Hampshire running scene? On Oct. 9, Salem's Jim Johnson won the UNH Homecoming 5K while Heidi Nadeau of Portsmouth won the Celebrate Pink 5K. Also, Dover's Dan Poliquin was an award winner at the UNH race. On Saturday Johnson got married while Nadeau and Poliquin got married on Sunday.

The full article is here:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

UNH Homecoming 5k and other happenings...

Friday night, I was up in Durham, NH for my wedding rehearsal dinner.  While we were up there, we heard a lot of fireworks downtown plus I noticed a lot of people in the general area, walking around, partying, etc.  One of the women at the Three Chimney's Inn told me that it was Homecoming weekend at UNH and asked me if I was racing in the morning.  I said no, but didn't realize that there actually was a road race on Saturday morning, literally a half mile up the road at the UNH campus.  I didn't think much of it, as I was getting married in the morning.  Also, I had planned initially to do the Great Island 5k in New Castle, NH, which was on Sunday....but that was nixed by many who thought I should be spending time w/ my new wife on Sunday instead of racing ;) I decided to bail on Great Island this year and not make it 3 in a row.  When I got home that night (Kristin stayed up at the Inn with her Maid of Honor and her family), I looked at CoolRunning right before I hit the sack at about midnight and noticed that there was in fact, the UNH Homecoming 5k in the morning, and I couldn't help but look at the course map to see that it literally almost went by the very Inn that I would be getting married in, only a few hours later.  I decided to head up in the morning, run the race, and then head over to the Inn for my wedding.  If all worked out, I would actually be at the Inn even earlier than I needed to be.

I arrived up at the Whittemore Center at UNH for the Homecoming 5k (results) at around 8am and quickly registered for the race.  I saw Nate Huppe (Rochester Runners) running around near registration and knew I would not have such an easy day afterall (I wasn't sure who'd show up, but Nate's always a threat)... I headed out on the course to do it ahead of time as a warmup.  I met up with Nate as he was coming from the other direction, about halfway around the big loop course.  He turned around and ran the rest with me and we talked about race strategy and who may show up.  I figured maybe a couple of UNH grads like Ben Jenkins (CMS), Matt O'Connor, and maybe Pete Mallett (CMS and last year's winner) may show up.  I returned back to the car, changed into my singlet as the weather was good enough to go without sleeves, and then headed over to the starting area.  As I started doing strides, I caught a glimpse of two more CMS racing jerseys hanging off of two Ben's....Strain and Jenkins (whom I anticipated being there)...  Ben Strain loves to hammer early and Ben Jenkins is always a threat for the win...either way, I knew we'd have a great pack for a while, with us 3 and Nate Huppe.  Right before the start, Nate pointed out Matt O'Connor, who was incognito in just a regular plain singlet.  I figured right there that I'd be running for maybe third behind Matt and Ben J.

The gun went off and I quickly went out to the lead with all of the above gentlemen right in tow, plus one more lad from UNH, Tim Mallard.  By the time we had taken a couple of turns and hit a couple of downhills, it was Ben Jenkins and myself going back and forth.  Ben would pass me with authority on the downhills and I would catch back up and put some distance on him on the flats.  We both passed through the one mile mark in about 4:47. Ben was right behind me and I actually told him the time, as we had been given some crazy slow time by a girl standing there reading splits.  Right after that, I started to pull away.

By 2 miles, I had a good lead and was just trying to hold it.  I kept looking back and could see Ben, but couldn't really tell who was next and by how much.  I also wasn't confident I could hold the lead as I clicked through the second mile in a much slower time (coming through 2 miles in 9:58-9:59).  The second mile did have essentially the only uphill on the course...the wind was also blowing pretty good in our faces for what seemed to be most of the latter stages of the race.

Over the last mile, I was able to stretch it out and was confident I could hold it, as most of the last mile is downhill or flat, with only really one turn.  You end up running around the perimeter of the athletic fields in front of the Whittemore Center before finishing.  There was no visible 3 mile mark, but I was probably around 5:02 or so for the last mile and then an additional :32 or so for the last .1.  I came through in 15:35, which felt relatively smooth despite the windy conditions.  I also broke Wilson Perez' course record of 15:40 from 2007.  The results actually said that the old CR was by local legend Mike O'Brien from 2004 at 15:47 (at age 44 no less), but as I see from Coolrunning, it was actually 15:40 from 2007. Either way, I was pumped to get my first win in the month of October, to keep my streak alive (having at least one win in each month this year).  I also was pumped to get the course record in a race that has had some very good guys show up (this year was no exception, as it was a pretty deep field).  Nate seemed to really think the day was slow for just about everyone with the wind, etc. but I didn't seem to struggle all that much fortunately.  Looking at the times though, he may have been right...and perhaps my effort was a little better than the time dictates...

Article (Seacoast Online)

1Jim Johnson      33Salem NH    15:355:01
2Benjamin Jenkins 23Durham NH   15:595:09
3Matt O'Connor    23Rhinebeck NY16:145:14
4Timothy Mallard  21Durham NH   16:245:17
5Nathan Huppe     30Dover NH    16:385:22
6Andrew Clemence  21Durham NH   16:435:23
7Ben Strain       32Beverly MA 16:575:28
8Samuel Lalinde   23Epping NH   16:585:28
9Jack Bauer       21Durham NH 17:365:40
10Graham Hayslip   19Durham NH   17:385:41

345 Total Finishers.

I joined Nate, the two Bens, Matt, and Tim for a nice cooldown in the trails right off of campus.  I then returned in time to get my cool $100 for winning the race and then I was back on the road for the 1/2 mile drive down the street to the Inn to get ready for my wedding.  The weather was absolutely perfect and our day could not have gone any better.  Great friends and family joined us for a fun and memorable day.  Thanks to all who joined us in our special day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pinnacle Challenge

Sunday I shot up and over to Newport, NH to compete in the Pinnacle Challenge, which is a 4 event relay race consisting of an 8k (they called it 5 miles but it was really 4.97) road run, a 5.4 mile mountain bike, a 13.75 mile road bike, and a 3.5 mile trail race.  Steve Wolfe and the boys over at Acidotic racing needed another guy to do one of the two runs.  I found out about this towards the end of last week and decided to give it a go.  It sounded like fun and I had never run in Newport before (hence 'bagging' another NH town).

The morning was rather crisp and as I headed down through the Sunapee area, a bank's display showed that it was a cool 30 degrees out.  There was frost all over the grass and hills along the road.  As I pulled into the parking lot of the school where the start/transitions/finish area is, I immediately spotted the van-de-la-Quintal with 2 bikes leaning up against it's side.  I figured maybe both Mike and Dave were doing the 2 person relay.  I walked over and grabbed my Acidotic singlet from Wolfie and the boys and headed inside to use the facilities.  As I got inside, I noticed a team of faster looking dudes in the corner, getting their gear together.  It was none other than Justin Fyffe (CMS), Greg Hammett (CMS), Mark Miller (CM...I mean BAA), and Josh Ferenc (BAA / US Olympic Cycling Team).  They had put together a team called 'Four Runners' (even though Josh is officially retired from running) and they looked to be the favorite.  I also spotted Dave Quintal (CMS) who was there solo and was going to do the whole thing himself.  I was amazed, considering he's been out w/ injury for a while and has been doing light running / cycling to try to climb back into racing shape.

I went out on a warmup w/ Justin, Josh, Marc, and Greg along the road course and then headed back over to throw on my singlet and get ready for the showdown.  As the race got underway, Justin and I ran the first mile and a quarter or so together along the main highway and then winding up the backcountry road (complete with an old wooden covered bridge). For the first 3/4ths of a mile or so, we had a couple guys right behind us.  As we made our way up the windy road (mostly uphill on the way out) Justin started to pull away just a little bit.  There were no mile markers so I had no clue how fast I was going, which was probably a good thing.  Halfway out, there is a small island in the middle of the intersection of two country roads, which you run around and then back down the same way you came up.  I may have been 10 or so seconds behind Justin at this point.  As I came back down the road, I noticed the 3rd place guy wasn't too far back and then some more runners coming up the way including Dave Quintal, who may have been going a little too hard in the road race portion, considering he was doing the entire relay himself.

Over the course of the next 2 or so miles, it seemed like a lot of downhill and twisty roads back down to the main highway.  As I took the right back onto Route 10, I was maybe 20 or so seconds behind Justin and that's where I stayed.  I never really lost any distance on him over the last mile or so. Right before the main highway, I was actually closing the gap just a little bit, but that stopped once the road flattened out and the long main highway stretch was all that was left.

As I came by and down into the transition area (which is a tight turn onto dirt, then grass for maybe 100 meters), I glanced at my watch and saw I was going to dip under 25 minutes, which I was thrilled about. I hadn't broken 25 min for an 8k since college.  I passed over the finish mat just under 25 and had to run another 40 yards or so before I saw Austin Stonebreaker (my relay teammate doing the Mountain Bike stage of the race).  I tagged him and on he went.  He was about 20-25 seconds back of Mark Miller, who was doing the Mountain Bike leg for the Four Runners.

After catching my breath, I grabbed my clothes and headed over to the section of the mountain bike/trail run course where the racers come out of, and started filming the rest of the event.  Below are 2 videos I pieced together with mainly my footage from my Iphone 4 + a brief 8k clip from the run and a couple of clips of Greg Hammett finishing the trail run portion, all given to me by Justin Fyffe.  I missed Greg coming out of the woods because my phone wouldn't come on for some reason, and I didn't get any clips of my actual race because I'm not Ken Skier ;).  The Four Runners won first place overall in the relay and my team was 4th overall. I believe there was one solo runner just ahead of us, which is very impressive.

I'm saying this now...I am somewhat inspired to maybe do the entire thing next year (a la DQ), but we'll see.  I think Mark Miller said he was considering it. I think it would be fun. First I need to get a decent road bike and learn how to ride it (and learn how to mountain bike).

I highly recommend watching these in the 720p version...

Video 1: Events 1 and 2:

Video 1: Events 1 and 2: