Sunday, November 29, 2009

30th Annual Andover Striders XC race (3.5 mile)

Sunday morning, I met up with my brother Michael in North Andover and he drove us over to the Andover Country Club (ACC) where we raced in the 30th Annual Andover Striders Cross Country race. The distance for this event is advertised as a 6k but due to construction on the normal finish line area the course was changed a bit so the general consensus was that the distance for today's race was 3.5 miles. We arrived at the ACC about 11:00 and had plenty of time to sign up ($20 which includes a buffet lunch and plenty of beer, and a nifty pair of running gloves) and chat with a number of the locals. In fact, Michael and I parked right next to the ageless coach Deke of Double J fame who knew everyone ! Double D arrived and after he signed up, we (DD, MQ and Jim Quadros) went out for a 24 minute warmup. After lacing up the Innovate's, we headed over to the 5th fairway for the start.

David Labrode, a longtime running supporter and race founder, gave everyone a brief rundown on the "new " course layout and at 12 noon, we were off. Ryan Carrarra (new balance- boston) last year's winner took it out with Chad Carr (Cambridge Running Club) and Al Bernier (CMS) in pursuit. They would finish in that order. I got out really well and was settled in about 5th or 6th and was waiting for the arrival of MQ, DD and Terry McNatt (CSU). I was feeling pretty good considering I raced on Thursday but most everyone in the field had raced on Thanksgiving Day so we were all in the same proverbial boat. At about 3/4 miles MQ pulled aside and I encouraged him to take off and chase the leaders. He seemed to float away with relative ease and continued on for a 6th place finish (19:02). As DD and McNatt arived, along with Tomoaki Uchiki (Greater Boston) I tried to relax and settle in but something inside me was posessing me to force a hard pace so I took off really hard and made a bid to go after MQ. All three runners responded and I hung in about 10th place for the entie race always in sight of McNatt, DD and Uchiki. I was feeling the early surges midway but was not losing any ground to them. I was just hanging back and once I got a feel for the finish line I made a mad push down the hill onto the 9th fairway and made some nice footwork back up the final hill to the finish line. It was a sprint to the finish as I held off DD and Uchiki but lost to McNatt by 6 seconds for another Master's runnerup. I fell to the ground as I crossed the finish mat totally exhausted from the effort. My time was 19:38.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Feaster Five (8k) Andover MA

Thanksgiving morning, I drove over to Andover, MA and ran the 22nd Annual Feaster Five road race. It is advertised as a 5 miler for promotional purposes and every sign and mile marker out on the course indicates it is a 5 miler but in reality it is an 8k. Going into this race, I was not sure what to expect as I still believe I am feeling the effects from numerous fall races and not having a substantial base to carry me through. But I figured I would give it my best shot. After receiving a $5 discount from the $30 entry fee due to the fact that they ran out of t-shirts (there were only 9,000 runners between the 5k and 8k so I don't know how that happened) I went out on the course to warmup. 12 minutes into it I bumped into Double J (Jim Johnson) who was racing in the 8k as well. We went another 8 minutes or so and met up for the jog over to the starting area after lacing up the racing flats (I wore my Loco Banditos and made sure they were good and tied).
After managing to get past tight security we lined up right in the front and I stood next to eventual winner Nate Jenkins and joked that all the slow people should line up in the back and he went along with the joke good naturedly and pretended to move to the back.:) After all the pre race festivities (which get a little played out) we finally got the start to race. I wanted to win the master's division. I am not going to lie this was my goal. I have won the 5k master's division once so I wanted to add the 8k to my resume. My time last year was 27:22 which looking back was one of my best races. I honestly did not think I had 27:22 in me based on my last couple of races but this is why we run the race. Looking at the field I noticed Robert Dabreio (Whirlaway) who I beat at Ollie 5 miler and he beat me at Lone Gull 10k, so I figured he was the guy to beat.
I got out good and actually beat Jenkins, et al to the 50 yard mark but my lead was short lived as Nate took off pretty much uncontested. Matt Ely (BAA) a former Andover, MA resident gave chase but it was clearly a one man race. I was concentrating on staying with Dabreio but I really did not give much of a challenge as I was losing ground early and was about 5 seconds back at the mile (5:52). I felt decent but just didn't have the leg turnover to go any harder early with the long uphill. As we made our way onto Main Street the early morning fog served as a shield and I lost eye contact with the top 8 runners but could see Dabreio the entire way. Turning left and then left again brings us to the top of the hill and then there is a long downhill to the Town Offices and mile 2 (11:38). My second mile was 5:46 and I was giving it everything to stay in sight of Dabreio and actually gained a bit as we winded through the Carmel Woods neighborhood and onto Elm Street. The 3rd mile is very generous and has substantial downhill which helps at this point in the race but wasn't enough for me to get back to the lead master. I ran hard and hit mile 3 in 17:22 and was probably 15 seconds behind. My 3rd mile was 5:44.
Mile 3 to 4 is more downhill to the turn onto High Street and this is where the 8k meets up with the 5k. This can cause problems because several 5k runners drift to the right and hinder your progress at times and also allow runners up ahead to hide in the pack. Of course, this effects everyone so, it is a wash. I actually like this section of the course because I always feel the energy of the pack of runners but it is usually when the pain of the race is starting to hit you. At about 3 1/2 miles Anders Samuelson (Joan Benoit Samuelson's son) went by me and I tried to hang with him. He was running strong and I could not sustain his pace even though I was surging as best I could. I hit mile 4 in 22:53 (5:31) and took the turn onto Lowell St (Rt 133) for the final push home. I actually passed two runners during this long stretch but, as I ran up the final hill to Brookstone Square, they both passed me and I finished the final .91 in 5:30 for a finishing time of 28:22 which put me officially in 13th place and 2nd master overall. Dabreio beat me handily with a time of 27:35.

Jim Johnson took 4th overall in 26:10. As I walked past the finish line his dad took a photo of the two of us. Overall I am pleased but feel I have more in me for the future because my foot is not bothering me and I should be able to start to bring the mileage up and start building for future racing. Next up is the Andover CC 6k XC race Sunday morning.
Story and video from tribune

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Taste of Track

Today I decided, after a 31 minute warmup, to incorporate some track work and see how my legs and feet would respond. As my route took me through North Andover, I made my way over to the Middle School track (Alvah G. Hayes football field) and decided to do 4 x 400 with a 200 jog rest and 2 x 200 with a jog across the football field as my recovery. Things went well as I hit 85/83/82/82 and 36/35. Finished up with another 30 minutes of easy running. My legs and feet feel good and I am encouraged to keep going back to the track each week in preparation for some future races.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

USATF-NE XC 8k Championship (Masters)

Sunday morning, I drove down to Franklin Park in Boston to compete in the USATF-NE XC Championships. It would be the second time racing in this masters only race as I raced it last year. The distance is 8k and features 4 loops through the woods and trails of Franklin Park near White Stadium. For the masters race, we get to charge up Bear Cage Hill twice through our journey of this course which also serves as the site for numerous collegiate and high school xc championships.
After signing up and conversing with several CMS teammates (Ernie Brake, Scott Clark and Dave Harper) as well as longtime running supporter, Brad Hurst, I warmed up with the elusive Eric Morse who made the three hour journey from Vermont to give a try for a New England title.
Cool temps, little wind and blue skies topped off a beautiful morning and would serve as excellent conditions for racing. And the field that was present would lead to fast racing.
As the 12 CMS runners lined up in the box (5 master/7seniors and vets) we were off at 10:00 AM. My plan was to try to run even which meant not going out too hard. As I could not get my watch to start I went through mile 1 in about 5:30 which put me in about 30th place. The pace seemed fine and I felt good. Along came Mark Reeder and I tried to go with him and John Barbour but could not hold pace and sort of lost a bit midrace. I hit two miles in 11:20 and 3 in about 17:05 and those were the only splits I got for the race. I was battling several Dirigo runners the entire race and passed Chris Teague (HFC) at about 4 miles and started battling with a BAA dude up our 2nd climb on Bear Cage but he pulled away on the downhill. I ran as hard as I could and finished up with a 28:21 about 8 seconds slower than last year. All in all it was a good team effort as we finished 4th overall. We were led by Eric Morse (5th), Scott Clarke (12th), myself, Ernie Brake and Dave Harper. These results are unofficial as no results have been posted on coolrunning or the USATF website. Kent Lemme won the race and Francis Burdett (both of the Greater Springfield Harriers) was runnerup. Greater Springfield won the team title.

I stuck around and watched the men's and women's open races. CMS men's team ran strong and finished in 4th place overall. Congrats to all for a great job!

Results are now on coolrunning.

Above photo courtesy of Krissy K.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

TIP 4 mile, Lawrence, MA

Sunday morning, I went over to Lawrence, MA to race in the TIP 4 mile road race which started and finished at the Claddagh Restaurant. Previous races from the Claddagh usually start on Essex Street and head up Water Street towards Tower Hill and feature a nice out and back course. The course for today was more of a tour of South Lawrence as it crossed the Middle bridge and took us out towards Winthrop Avenue and ended up out on Route 28 and came back down South Broadway and back over the Middle bridge via Merrimack Street with a final loop around the restaurant. It was pretty flat with two minor hills and a nice downhill on Route 28 at the now defunct Nassar Ford. Well,enough about the course and lets get to the race.
It was a small field (117 runners) and with all the other racing going on, the field was pretty slim. I decided to take it out with some effort and hit the mile in 5:15. I was all alone and just kept form and hit two miles in 10:50. As I approached mile 3 (16:47), it was getting very windy and it slowed me down a bit especially as I crossed the bridge for the second time. I wanted to break 22:00 but the quick first mile and the wind determined otherwise as I finished in an over 40 PR of 22:29.