This was the sixth time I've run the Andover CC XC race and each year the course is slightly different. The flavor is always the same, a mix of grass and paved and a lot of "rolling" hills. This year I was really aiming for this race and took a (relatively) easy week. I didn't run any triples this week and trimmed a few miles off my weekly tally in hopes of a fast run.
On Sunday morning I headed down to Chelmsford for a nice easy 5m run to loosen up a bit. My plantar fascia was still very sore from racing on Thanksgiving. It was great to break up the morning with an easy run on the rail trail with Dave La and Scott (and his friend) while Petey biked along.
I spent the rest of the morning trying to not be too nervous about the race. Boy do I hate noon starts, too much time sitting around thinking about the race (never mind that I was running the race course over and over in my mind all week). I headed over at 11 and met up with the Quintal brothers when I picked up my number.
Jim Pawlicki joined us and we headed out on the road for an easy three mile warm-up. Last year Mike Q took fourth place, Jim took 7th and David and I were 8th and 9th place respectively. Mike is back in good form after foot woes and Jim is also on the mend from plantar fascia problems. David ran an excellent sub 28 at the Feaster Five so it looked like we'd all be out there mixing it up. After our warm-up I changed into racing flats and did another mile with some strides to get the pulse (way) up and get a feeling for how the various parts felt. Nothing fell off so that was a good sign.
I headed over to the start line and found a good spot in the middle of the fairway next to my CMS teammates and Nate Jenkins. As is always the case in XC, people just blasted out at the start. I went out in control, knowing the course very well and how hard the hills would hit if I red-lined early on. There is a dangerous little bridge crossing and a 180 degree turn both in the first 200-300 meters of the race. My goal was to safely negotiate both and then start moving up. I was in 10th or so at the 180 then started rolling. I focused on catching Jim and then slowly moved up and passed David in the first 1/2 mile.
Jim and I continued to move up as Nate was gone off in the distance and Mike had moved into third. David flew by us at an amazing pace about 1 mile into the race. Over the next mile I worked my way back to David and slowly edged ahead of Jim. I caught David somewhere near 2 miles and clawed my way up into fourth place soon after. Mike was well up in third and looked very strong, I was thinking more about how close DQ was behind me. I knew if he was close with 1/2 mile to go he'd use his great kick to do some damage. I snuck a peak on one of the turns and tried to keep moving. Mike mentioned how he crawled up the final hill, but it didn't look that way to me...he really turned it on and was out of sight. I CRAWLED up the final hill and tried to work that last 1/2 mile. I ran as hard as possible right to the line and was happy to hit the finish (and the ground) nearly a minute faster than my time from last year. David rolled in a few seconds later and Jim was not far behind. The only sour note of the day was not fielding a complete team of racing team members from CMS.
Next up: USATF convention in St Louis and a hilly road mile race in the shadow of the Gateway arch.
Here is the course map from the Andover CC race:
Andover CC 3.5 Mile XC Race
November 27, 2011
Place Div/Tot Div Name Ag S No. City St Team Gun Time Pace
===== ======== ========= ==================== == = ====
1 1/44 M2039 NATE JENKINS 28 M 1 Andover MA SAUCONY 16:53.59 4:50
2 2/44 M2039 ERIC ASHE 23 M 6 Boston MA 17:03.00 4:53
3 3/44 M2039 MIKE QUINTAL 33 M 185 North Andover MA CMS 18:14.20 5:13
4 1/70 M4049 DAVE DUNHAM 47 M 8 Bradford MA CMS 18:43.00 5:21
5 2/70 M4049 DAVID QUINTAL 48 M 203 Salem NH CMS 18:57.35 5:25 6 4/44 M2039 DAN LOUNSBURY 29 M 7 Cambridge MA New Balance 19:10.17 5:29
7 3/70 M4049 JONATHAN MAY 42 M 196 Charlestown MA SRR 19:12.37 5:30
8 5/44 M2039 JAMES PAWLICKI 37 M 260 Beverly MA CMS 19:16.33 5:31 9 4/70 M4049 JOE O'LEARY 44 M 4 Medford MA SRR 19:20.73 5:32
10 5/70 M4049 DAVE HANNON 40 M 214 West Roxbury MA NETT 19:37.21 5:37