After a stressful couple of weeks, the Q household got back to normal and I got the green light to race the first Grand Prix race of 2010. With Double J driving out to Amherst (thanks, JJ) along with brother MQ we enjoyed the ride and met up with the CMS family at race headquarters. Last year the Jones 10 was a master's PR performance so I had good course knowledge and positive memories to help out with race strategy. The plan was to try to break 58 minutes (5:48) and see if I could help score for the team. I knew going in to the race that I was not 100 % mentally and was a bit physically drained but whenever you arrive at one of these races, the atmosphere allows you to gather some extra special reserve and the competitiveness within you is easily tapped.
All the best runners were in attendance and the weather was perfect (for Feb 28th) so no more excuses to not race hard. At the gun, the lead pack raced away as I tried to not get too caught up and held back to hit the mile in about 5:40. I actually passed Dan V (DV) as he was racing "conservatively" early and was aiming to hit 57:30 or better. The 2nd mile is quick and is difficult to hold back with all the downhill. DV passed me for good on the 1st big downhill but I kept close contact with him until mile 5. I hit mile 2 in about 11:00 and felt okay and actually looked forward to the next 3 miles of challenging uphill and dirt road. My split at mile 3 was 17:00 so I was on target for 58:00 and I was having no real problems and I was in contact with several runners who have always beaten me so I was encouraged to be in the position I was at this point in the race. Mile 4 was a bit of a grind (missed split) and I was starting to feel the effort around midway (29:30).
At about mile 6 (or some downhill around that point) is when I discovered the tank was near empty as Reno Stirrrat, Jason Porter and Mark Hudson (all Whirlaway) screamed by me like I was standing still and I had no response in me. I tried to maintain contact but was having no success and was beginning to become concerned about breaking an hour. The only consolation was that the final 5 miles of this race is (in my opinion) quicker than the first 5. At mile 6-7 I came upon and passed teammate Kevin Tilton who was struggling with side stitch issues. I thought it might of been ankle issues so I told him to save it for a later race. I was wrong because by the time I got to mile 8 and was battling Greater Boston's Ray Davie, Kevin flew up the hill by us and was running strong. He put on over a minute over the final 2 uphill miles on me and all I could think of was what Mount Washington would be like come June. I really tried hard to bring it in as fast as I could to the finish but was not having much success as runners came up and passed me one by one. In the final stretch I got outkicked by another Whirlaway runner, Mike Platt. Exhausted at the finish I hit the line in 58:52 (34 seconds slower than last year).