Monday, November 29, 2010

Andover Country Club XC race

This year was my fifth time running at the scenic grounds of the Andover Country club. Every year the course has been slightly different and it’s anyone’s guess how long the race is. What you do get every year is a tough rolling course with a mix of grass, cart path, and road. You also get an opportunity to square off against other clubs in the team competition. This is racing as it should be.

I did a nice easy 3+ run in the morning with slowly recovering Steve Peterson. About the only benefit of a noon race is that you can sneak in some mileage in the morning to help the all important weekly total. Temps were in the upper 30’s to low 40’s when I arrived at the golf course a little more than an hour before the start. I parked right behind JJ and saw Mike Q get out of his truck just as I pulled up. He mentioned that Bob Wiles was present along with Dave Q, so it looked like we’d have a strong team. Jim P had mentioned that he hoped to race, so we’d have more than the five needed to score for this years race.

We all gathered at 11:15 and headed out for a nice 3 mile warm-up that included some gymnastic moves to clear the gate leading out of the ritzy neighborhood, we were lucky no one was guarding the gate when we came back…we definitely didn’t look like we belonged. It was cool seeing a bunch of other teams warming up in big groups. After the warm-up I changed into my Inov-8 trail shoes and headed out for more than a mile of strides. I also checked out the last ½ mile of the race. Last year I was outkicked in the final few meters, partly because I thought we had a lot longer to go. I hoped to not make the same mistake this year.

My plan was to try to stick with Jim P for as long as possible. I figure he is running faster than I am right now, so if I want to run faster he’d be the guy to go with. I also hoped he’d drag me along and pull me away from Dave Q. I beat Dave on Thanksgiving, but that didn’t give me much confidence…he is one tough guy and if he is close with 800 to go he’d blow doors on me. Anyway, about 400 lined up for the start and went off like crazy when the gun fired. There were elbows flying and hands on backs as we did a nearly 180 degree turn 100m into the race. The next scary part was the golf-cart-wide bridge and the sharp turn (with a curb), but after that the real racing began.

Jim pulled away a bit as we moved around the fast starters. Dave went by at about ½ mile into the race and I went with him. Soon after we passed Danny F (Acidotic Racing) and started closing on Jim. Dave and I were cutting tangents like mad, nothing illegal mind you, but we were going the shortest possible route. On the long back stretch around two-miles into the race I slightly gapped Dave and made a move on Jim. Dave and I both chose to run on the fairway while everyone in front of us seemed to have taken the slightly longer and deeper grass along the edge of the fairway. I caught Jim as we rounded the sand trap and green and headed onto the cart path. I tried to move around Jim but really didn’t have the turn-over to really get anywhere. I felt great on the downhill sections and would put a few seconds on him then he’d pull back even on the flats and uphill sections.

I checked my watch on a turn and figured I had about a mile to go. It felt all-out already but I wasn’t going to ease up with Jim right there and the footstep from behind indicated Dave was not off the back. On a longish downhill I tried to make a break but just couldn’t quite get away. Jim caught back immediately and with a little over 800m to go Dave went by. I struggled to go with them on the final climb and they seemed to just float away. I pushed the downhill into the finish but really didn’t gain any ground. Jim just edged Dave at the line and I rolled in 3 seconds later. I hit the ground wheezing. Man, that hurt.

I met my goal of running with Jim for as long as possible, but didn’t score for the team (despite finishing 9th overall). Dave had mentioned during the warm-up that the final spot on the team was going to be either him or me. He was correct and despite running the race exactly like I hoped I was not quite fast enough to be on the scoring team. I’m not disappointed…I came away feeling I absolutely ran as hard as I could on that day. Whenever you can say that, it should be enough.

Next up: 10km USA National XC championships 12-11-10

1 Nate Jenkins 17:30 M30 5:01 SAC
2 Jim Johnson 18:21 M33 5:15 CMS
3 Bob Wiles 18:25 M33 5:16 CMS
4 Mike Quintal 18:30 M32 5:18 CMS
5 Joe Donnelly 19:04 M42 5:28 WRT
6 Ryan Kelly 19:21 M29 5:32 Acidotic
7 James Pawlicki 19:32 M36 5:36 CMS
8 David Quintal 19:33 M47 5:36 CMS
9 Dave Dunham 19:36 M46 5:37 CMS
10 Jefferson Welch 19:59 M23 5:43
11 Danny Ferreira 20:11 M28 5:47 Acidotic
12 Brendan Kearney 20:12 M27 5:47 SRR
13 Jonathan May 20:27 M41 5:51 SRR
14 Dermot Neylon 20:39 M29 5:55
15 Harris Hardy 20:42 M47 5:56 AE

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