Road racing is different. Pace is EVERYTHING. What were your splits? What was your pace? It is all consuming and I'm no different then the next guy. I love this stuff!! I'm just a little out of practice and it makes me nervous, that's all.
I needed a test of fitness and the Bradford Valentine 5M Race (results) would do just fine. They actually have a 5M and a 6k race at the same time. Both start together on the same course for nearly a mile, then the 6k breaks off for a bit before joining up with the 5M course again at the 3 mile point and both finish together. How friggin strange is that?
Anyways, lots of familiar faces at this one. I bumped into Bob Jackman (and wife) as soon as I got out of my car, then Dave Quintal, Dan Verrington and Jim Johnson by the time I got to registration, finally Emily Trespas as I headed out for a warm up. Apparently they had a record crowd today, 600+ for the two races, 300+ for the 5 miler alone. Most everyone I saw was doing the 5 miler with the exception of Dave Dunham. Dave opted for the JV race...for good reason (nursing a very sore foot).
I did a solo 3 mile warm up and didn't really feel great. Sluggish. Flat. Definitely didn't feel fresh or fast. A tempo run and a 9 miler yesterday probably didn't help but it is what it is. I like to train and I race when I'm not training. We don't do no stinkin' tapers in Merrimack :-)
With DQ and DV in my age group I was fighting for 3rd already and the race hadn't even started. I smartly seeded myself behind both at the line. At the go command they were out fast! Really fast. Heck, Dan wasn't too far off the lead pack for most of the first mile, with David not far behind. Next was Dunham (6k) and I stayed right behind him until he broke off (at the time, he was leading the 6k). The first 2 miles were a mix of ups and downs but were what I'd call honest miles. I felt great for the first two miles, comfortable and in control, pacing nicely off the heels of Reno Strirrat and passing Danny Ferreira and Aidan Kimball on one of the downhills.So far, so good.
Dave, Danny and Aidan followed by Reno then me-around mile 1Mile 1 5:37
Mile 2 5:42
And then the wheels came off. Ok, not exactly but I struggled (a lot) over the next 2 miles. Granted, the next 2 miles were mostly hills in the up direction accompanied by a brisk little breeze blowing in your face. I just couldn't maintain my pace, heck, any pace through this section. Around the 3 mile mark the 6k race joined back up and the road got crowded so a lot of bobbing and weaving was required. The 6k runners were not my problem though. During this 2 mile section Reno slipped away and Aidan went flying by. That was all the racing action I would see for the day.
Mile 3 6:13
Mile 4 6:14
Near the finishIt finally flattened out after mile 4 and I started to get my stride back again. I tried to pick out a 5 miler to focus on but there were just too many 6k'ers now and I lost sight of everyone. Of course it could have been because they were so far ahead of me by that point. When I came down the last downhill section to the finish I could see the clock already past 29 minutes (my stretch goal) and was a little disappointed at first. I hit the line at 29:27, 3rd masters and 10th overall. I got over it quick enough. It was my fastest 5 mile race in nearly 18 years. I guess that's a pretty good accomplishment in itself. I'll take it but I am hungry for more now!
After the race I did a cool down run with JJ, DQ and DV on the 6k course. An 11.7 mile day was in the books.
Mile 5 5:41
Top 20 Overall
Photo credit - Jim Rhoades
Additional race photos can be found here