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Downtown Temple,NH

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Mill Cities Relay

MCR (results) is an invitation only (Merrimack Valley running clubs) 5-person 27.1 mile relay from Nashua, NH to Lawrence, MA. It probably has the highest member participation of any event all year. With 20+ clubs and 200+ teams, it's where all the cool kids go on the first Sunday in December.
I've run in the Mill Cities Relay every year since joining the Gate City Striders in 2005. I take that back: in 2006 MCR wouldn't let me run because of an idiotic 'rule'. Even though I was a dues paying, active member of GCS, I ran one USATF race in 2006 for the Moose Milers racing team (in March). This somehow made me ineligible to run for GCS. I'm not bitter though.... :-)   (For the record, that rule is no longer in place).I'll get down off my soapbox now.

For the 2nd year in a row I'd be running on a Coed Masters team. Last year I was fortunate enough to be teamed up with some fast teammates and we won the Coed Masters division. This year I was teamed up with all new teammates (hmm, should I read into this?). Just to be clear, I don't pick my teammates. The Gate City Striders pay Michael Wade big bucks to waste hours of his own time arranging 140 runners into 30 teams in 12 different divisions in order to put our club in the best position to score enough points to win the Mill Cities Trophy. All I have to do is show up. My kind of relay!

This year I'd be teamed up with Randy Macneill (leg 1- 5.6m), Julie Hanover (leg 2- 4.75m), Carla Chandler (leg 3- 2.5m), Joe Rogers (leg 4- 9.5m) and I'd be running the 5th leg (4.75m) for the 2nd year in a row. I had some reservations about running this year. The event is fine, but I've felt a bit off the last month or so. I certainly have not felt fast (mostly tired). I was actually thinking about taking a whole week off from running.....gasp!

I kind of like running the last leg. There is no stress in getting to my leg on time and I get to watch the entire relay unfold. This year I hung out at the 1st and 2nd transition areas and took some pictures before finally driving down to Methuen to hang out at my transition area, parking my car about 100m before the actual hand-off area. I really didn't know exactly when Joe would arrive but guessed it would be around 10:30am. I got dressed and was ready to go by 10:15am and was thinking about going for a short warm up (since it was bloody cold out). As I stood by my car talking to Keith Obrien I happened to see Joe running by. Whoops, I guess I'll have to skip the warm up and I raced Joe up the hill to the transition area, getting there just in time to snag the baton and head off on my run. That wasn't planned very well :-)
Leg 5 elevation profile

Leg 5 starts off fairly flat for the first 2 miles, climbs a decent hill in mile 3, descends in mile 4 and is flat as a pancake in the last mile. Last year I went out a little quick and suffered on the hill a bit. I had a decent time (28:30) but it wasn't easy. This year I tried to go out a little easier in the first couple of miles and work a little harder on the hill. I felt fairly comfortable as I hit the first mile in 5:43 (really?) but decided to back off a bit so I wouldn't repeat last years effort on the hill. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by my time. I decided not to check my watch again until the finish. I passed a half dozen runners in the first mile or so but generally ran alone the rest of the way. When you take the final turn you can see the finish but it's probably a 1/2 mile away. I saw another runner pretty far ahead and was definitely gaining but there was no way I was going to catch them. I crossed the line with a leg time of 28:07 (5:55 avg) and a team time of 2:48:32, good for 2nd Coed Masters team, 20th team overall. It turns out the runner I saw in front of me was the winning Coed Masters team. They finished 14 seconds ahead of us!

Big thanks to all the GCS runners (especially Michael Wade) for putting together an incredible team effort. The Gate City Striders took home the Mill Cities Trophy for the 3rd year in a row!

2010 Mill Cities Champs