The last USATF NE championship was back in March (1/2 marathon) and it seemed like a long layoff from action. Now we’ll have three championship races in the next 6 weeks! This week’s brutally hot weather left me feeling a bit more nervous than usual as the race approached. I was not confident going into this race, having basically only done Mountain racing over the last few months also left me worried.
A few of us headed out for a short (2 mile) warm-up and returned soaked. It was 85 degrees and the humidity was about the same. I changed into racing flats and left the singlet in the car, too hot. My plan was to be as conservative as possible for the first mile or two and then try to make up some ground. Dan didn’t seem to believe me when I said I was aiming for 6:00 for the first mile. I thought 30 minutes was an outside possibility given the conditions. It seemed like we were on the starting line forever. It was just brutal out there.
I went out very controlled as people went flying by in the first ½ mile which I hit in 2:59 and felt good. I was tempted to pick it up but knew that would be a mistake. By the ½ mile no one was passing me and I was already starting to pass people. I hit the mile in 5:55 (Garmin splits, not race splits) and was still feeling pretty good. Passing a lot of people tends to do that! Right around 1.5 (2:56 for that ½) teammate KG went by offering encouragement (he was the only one to pass me from the ½ mile to 4.9 miles. The 24’ hill from 1.5 to 2 miles slowed things down. I also almost came to a complete stop at the water table as a couple of people in front of me stopped. I grabbed a cup, and realized right away that one of the stopped people was going for that cup. I felt bad and yelled “sorry!” as I headed on down the road. At least I didn’t knock anyone down (or get knocked down). I hit 2 miles in 11:57 (3:07 ½ mile) a 6:02 for the 2nd mile.
There were a few turns in the next ½ mile and I could see teammates Ed Sheldon and Dan Verrington up ahead. My next ½ mile was 2:59 and I was still catching people and feeling “okay”. I caught sight of our top female master Regina Loiacano up ahead with Ed and thought that they would be my goal in the 2nd half of the race. I hit 3 miles in 17:51 (2:55 ½ mile and 5:54 mile). My hope that it’d be cooler along the ocean was a false hope. It was hot, I swear there was steam coming off the water. There was a timing mat at the 5k mark and I could see that Ed was 17 seconds up on me and College teammate Jason Cakouros was 13 seconds ahead. I was hoping to finish in the top 10 in the 50+ (I was 12th last year) so I kept my eyes focused on them and strode on.
The fourth mile in this race is the slowest, it has a few turns and 50’ of climb. I passed about a dozen people from the 5k split to the finish but most of those were during the fourth mile despite a 6:21 split for me. I kept focused on the people in front of me but couldn’t get up to Jason or Ed (or Regina). During the last 200 meters two guys blew by me but I was already fully kicking and couldn’t go any faster. I wasn’t happy with my time but can’t complain about a 10th place finish in the 50+. Our Senior squad also picked up first place topping Whirlaway by a little less than a minute.
Time for some cooler weather.
Top 10 50-59
1 29:06 Michael Cooney WRT
2 29:11 John Sullivan HFC Striders
3 29:24 Robert Cipriano SRR
4 29:45 Dan Verrington CMS
5 30:05 Titus Mutinda GBTC
6 30:10 Mark Reeder GLRR
7 30:14 Christopher Smith SRR
8 30:20 Ed Sheldon CMS
9 30:32 Jason Cakouros HFC Striders
10 30:37 Dave Dunham CMS