I entered the USATF New England championships with hope of closing out the season with a decent effort at 5,000 meters. I’d run 17:26 three weeks prior at the masters championships so I was hoping to improve on that time. I felt pretty sure that I could run around 17:10 and if everything broke my way maybe I could duck under 17. I posted the “over/under” on how many times CMS teammate Nate Jenkin’s would lap me at 3. My fear was that the entire field would lap me and I’d be the last person on the track alone for an entire lap, and that could happen even if I ran a decent (for me) time.
I picked up Dan Verrington and we got into Harvard an hour before our race. There were a surprisingly large number of in the stands when we got there. It looked like some high schools brought full team. We got our numbers and headed out along the Charles River for a three mile warm-up. I felt about how I normally feel before a short race, really nervous.
I changed into racing flats then jogged around the track as the women’s heat finished up. We got lined up in a barrel start, which put me and Dan high up on the bank in the outermost lane. We were both a bit skittish about getting too close (Al has witnessed my trepidation when it comes to “exposure”). As the starter lined us up I asked a loaded question. “When I get lapped, I hold the rail…right?”. He gave an affirmative and then sent us off for 25 laps.
Thirteen guys just flew out, by the time we got to the cut in line we were half a straight behind the leaders. Dan asked where Joe O’leary was (Joe was between Dan and me at the masters 5,000) to which I did not reply. I hit the first 220 yard lap in 41 flat, right on my goal…but man did it feel fast. Dan was already pulling away and during the second lap Joe blew by and caught up to Dan. I was running alone but at least I could see Dan and Joe up ahead. After a slower second lap I settled into a good rhythm. One lap before the mile the lead group of three came storming by. Nate gestured as he went by, I couldn’t figure out what he was telling me but took it as a positive note. I reached the mile in 5:27 right on my goal time but I felt like I was pushing too hard this early. Dan was 7 seconds ahead, but I could still see him on the straights. Soon after that he was no longer in sight and I really was out there on my own. At 2km I wasn’t sure if I could make it, but by half-way I was feeling a bit stronger. I kept thinking “get to 2 miles and see how you feel”.
A little before 2 miles the lead group of three came flying by again, this time Nate gestured with two fingers and I got it. He was counting off the number of times he lapped me! I laughed out loud, and despite feeling rough kept my steady pace. I hit two miles in 10:58, which was about how fast I ran (adjusted) for the 3,000 meters back in December. Dan was still out of sight twelve seconds ahead at 2 miles. Soon after two I caught one of the high school kids who had gone out with the pack and was paying the price. I’d slowed a bit but was counting down the laps and knew the time would be decent. I kept plugging away as the leaders roared by for the third time (and Nate flashed 3 fingers). I didn’t have much of a kick over the last few laps but was motivated as Dan drifted back into sight and really slowed on his final lap. He held tough and broke 17 ad I came in 7 seconds back in 17:06.
I was pleased with the result, basically near the fast end of what I could have hoped for. Dan and I went back out on the bike path for a nice easy four mile warm-down joined by our GLRR friend Keith O’Brien.
1 Adam Pacheck Greater Bost 14:47.5
2 Matt Hillard Battle Road 14:51.3
3 Nathaniel Jenkins Central Mass 14:55.4
4 Aaron Lozier Unattached 15:30.6
5 Eric Blake Unattached 15:39.6
6 Andrew Chalmers Greater Bost 15:46.2
7 TJ Unger Hfc Striders 15:49.0
8 Thomas Mackin Unattached 16:00.0
9 Daniel Lounsbury Battle Road 16:25.9
10 Owen Curran Unattached 16:39.1
11 Joseph O'Leary Somerville R 16:50.4
12 Daniel Verrington Central Mass 16:59.9
13 Dave Dunham Central Mass 17:06.3
14 Dillon Selfors Unattached 17:12.0
15 William Curran Unattached 17:23.6
-- David Hunt Unattached DNF
40.7 81.5 5:27.1
41.9 83.4 05:31.2
41.3 83.0 5:33.6