Any race where I can listen to Nine Inch Nail's Sin prior to the start is a good one.
I turned off my ipod and waited for the race to start. the elite women standing around me were giving me that 'you don't belong here' look, and well, maybe I should be a row farther back than I was, but I don't feel bad about being there.
The race has such a quick start and you can't help but feel like you're in trouble a little bit as men, women, children and who knows who stream by you. And you know you are going to get beat by all kinds of people. Or well, I do. Of all the races I do this is probably the one where the most women beat me.
I really was committed to running a slower first mile. Mary-Lynn Currier and Cheryl Anderson were behind me, I think, chatting. I saw Chris Schulten go by. I saw David Pantin and Jim Zoldy, Rob Barker, George Buchanan and others. Some where running around me but most were passing me.
I hit a mile in 6:01. That was perfect. I mean, I knew I was going to run slower miles then that. I was looking for 6:20s. But I also know that if I run mile 1 at 6:20 instead of 6:01, that's just 19 seconds slower I run the whole race.
After a mile, Rob Barker went by me. We spoke for a while after the race and he said that part of his plan was to be behind me at mile one, no matter if it was just a second. "Because I go out too fast ?" I asked, and he agreed, that yes, I do. And that is and isn't true. There's a fine line between running a hard first mile that's faster than your race average and blowing yourself up.
However, as Jim and Chris and then Jeremy Howard ran away from me as I headed towards mile two you can't help but feel that you're taking a chance and that, well, you just aren't that good. One of things I'm learning to accept is that guys like Jim and Chris that I know are better- guys that are nice guys, people I like, after all- I have to be willing to run my race and not let it get in my head that I'm getting beaten. After all, in this race tons of guys are going to beat me.
I went through two miles at 12:03 and then started to feel my way towards that slower pace. You climb to the clock at two miles and then power your way downhill.
I hit three miles with a 6:20 mile, my slowest one of the day, and I was feeling OK. Ryan Freitas from UNH Cross Country was somewhere near there cheering people on.
I was sipping at my bottle of Vitalyte by this time.
The section through the bridge is a tough section. It's downhill, there are a lot of people, and they tend to start to push in this area. But I don't want to race or contend with people here, I want to run a nice steady pace. I was having some back and forth with a guy in a green shirt. For the most part, at this point, I felt like he was on my heels, which I don't like.
So when we got to the 4 mile clock I ran straight at the clock, trying to scrape him off. Next time I saw him he was basically in the middle of the road, although as I was running tangents, we would meet again.
I took the hill at just about 85%, not going all out, knowing I would have to run hard on the downhill.
It was here that we picked up a throat-clearer. you know the type. Every three or four strides he has to clear the phlegm out of whatever location it has lodged in his throat. Not his fault. Doesn't change the fact I cannot stand it. The guy in green made a move. I sprinted across the gap to get with him. Next thing I know throat-warbler mangrove (Monty Python) is along for the ride.
Coming down off the bridge you have to be careful. You are running so hard off thebridge but then it flattens out and your instinct is to maintain that stride.
I didn't. I saw people pulling away a little, but that was okay. It turns into an uphill, then winds back towards Long Wharf.
I held my position and took a Clif Shot as I headed to the 10K, which I hit at about 38:37. I was in a pack. Judging from a picture I was sent and will post here tomorrow, Frank Tiorello was right behind me. The green shirt guy started to pull away as we made our way onto Long Wharf. There was a good bit of wind.
I kept on the tangent here and ran solid. People who had passed me earlier were starting to come back to me. I went through 7 miles and I knew I had a shot at a sub 1:18 run, which was great, and I felt like I was solid and in control of my run. James Beaubrun went by me somewhere in here I think.
As we went into the eight mile and there is some more uphill slanting road, I was really working on steady pacing. I watching James pick people off and my goal was to go after those same people even as he separated from me. That was a good strategy. I knew what pace he was running and what pace I was running so it allowed me to set expectations as to how quickly I should be making catches. At each water stop I poured one or more cups of water over my head and pushed on.
There wasn't much tell until we hit East Rock. I saw James catching a guy in my age group that I often have problems beating, so I closed that gap and them we entered the park. there were two guys together and I realised one of the guys he was drawing even with was Barks as they went up the hill.
The hill in East Rock is very short, much shorter than you think, and then it's a long, hard downhill, complete with photographers. I knew I would have to work just to stay even on the downhill, but that if I wasn't careful I would blow up here. I worked it hard, gave a peace sign to the cameras and then enjoyed the bagpipes.I was able to use a long stride to basically hold position. After we turned, now in mile 11, I made my move on Barks and was able to close the gap. As I went by, I reached out and gave a gentle pat and a 'Come on, Barks.' I was hoping he would be able to stay with me.
The last 1.4 miles of this race are cruel because they are downhill, you are running hard and yet, you are not running as fast as you think you should be and there are so many people in front of you.
I was caught by a small number of people in mile 12 (two maybe). But in that last full mile I closed on several people. Right about at mile 12 I heard one of the Hartford Track guys say 'Go Frank' to someone less than 50 yards behind me and I knew he must mean Frank Tiorello.
I got into the last four tenths of a mile and really turned it one. I had a guy right in front of me and I passed him and beat him into the line and overall, it was a good race.
Barks finished right after the last guy I passed.
It was a great day for a race with beautiful weather, lots of sun but not too much heat and I think a lot of people had tremendous days, both in front of and behind me, and certainly the race was a huge success- a nice benefit as a board member. Too bad I'm not fast enough to have seen the top three guys finish within seven seconds of each other- what a race.