Stowe marked my return to the road Grand Prix series. Injuries have kept me away so far this year, so I was really looking forward to running with my teammates and seeing where my fitness level is. I figured based on other races that I should be able to run under 6's. I set a stretch goal of breaking 5:50 pace, thinking that if the weather wasn't bad and I had a great day that would be the outside limit of where my fitness was at.
We (me, Dan, MQ) headed up to Eric's house in Berlin and did an easy 3m run on Saturday evening prior to feasting on pizza and watching a bit of the Sox game. On race morning we headed out early and scored a front row spot near registration. A big group of CMS teammates gathered and we headed out for a nice 3m warm-up on the course. Dan had been sick earlier in the morning and looked iffy to even start, which would be a major blow to our team. We all lined up in box #1 for an XC style start, which was pretty cool.
I tried to relax as just about the entire field went by me. Dan, who always starts slowly, drew up at about 3/4 of a mile and I focused on letting him pull me along. Dan hit the mile in 5:45 with me 1 second back. I got a rough count of the field and came up with about 95 guys in front of me. I started getting into a good groove after the mile and was not passed by anyone (exception below) for the remainder of the race. Dan got up to 7 seconds ahead at 2 miles but I still felt he was pulling me along as we started picking off other 40+ runners (and one or two 50+). By four miles I'd cut Dan's lead down to 3 seconds but just couldn't quite get with him. I lost 3 seconds in mile 5 and another 3 in mile six as I closed on a couple of CMS teammates and sarted moving up on Jim Pawlicki. Dan really blasted in the seventh mile putting 7 seconds on me as we moved off the dirt road and onto the bike path. I caught Jim P at 7 miles and worked hard to ditch him over the last mile. He would not give an inch. With 800m to go we passed TiVO who was having trouble with a stitch but kept putting one foot in front of the other. I made an attempt with about 400m to go, but went too early as Jim rebounded and blew by me with less than 200 to go.
I crossed the finish in 46:30, getting back 6 seconds on Dan in the last mile (thanks to Jim who kept me working ...and was the only guy to pass me after the mile). It was a 45 second masters PR for me and met my stretch goal, despite somewhat windy and warm conditions. Our 40+ team ended up taking a solid third place behind Whirlaway and the very strong GMAA. A good day for the team and I was quite pleased with my run.
Next up: Sapienza 4m on Thursday (if I recover from the 8m in time)
Pic by Tom Derderian