Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yankee Homecoming 10-Mile (A short personal history)

This was my fourth straight Yankee Homecoming, and seventh time total.

In 2000, I ran 57:41 for 32nd place on the course that started and finished on Low Street by the Middle School. I was training for my first marathon, Bay State, which I ran in 2:47:34, just over my goal of 2:45.

In 2005, I stepped off the course around 6 miles (before Maudslay), then finished the race with Heather. This course finished down Turkey Hill Rd (not straight back on 113) and ran through a neighborhood off Hale St(?) on the way up to the high school. The finish was in the same spot as this year's. Fall of '05 I ran my 2nd marathon (Cape Cod) and finished 8th in 2:38:15.

In 2006, I finished 9th on a very hot night in 56:58. That fall, I ran my best marathon (a 2:31:06 at Cape Cod).

In 2008, I had only been running about a month after about a year almost completely off, and I ran the 10-miler as part of the Grand Prix with CMS. I was pleased with a 56:50 result, my fastest on the course to date, good for only 49th place in the Grand Prix year, and a far cry from my best 10-Mile time of 53:19, which I ran in October '06 at the Apple Harvest Ramble in Harvard, MA.

In 2009, I finished as 2nd 32-year-old, (by three seconds), 55:14 to Jim Johnson's 55:11. I was 13th overall. Jim ran with me the entire second half of the race, encouraging me and telling me he was struggling. Finally, in the last mile, he told me to go ahead and kick it in; I didn't have a lot left, and Jim had a little more.

In 2010, I finished one spot behind Jim again. This time, I went out hard and came back to him. He and Mark Hudson went by me around mile 6 and put a pretty big gap on me. After the hill coming up from Maudslay I got a second wind and closed hard over the last two miles to catch Mark but not quite get Jim. I finished 10th, with a new best Newburyport time of 54:20. Jim ran 54:18.

This year, I joked with Jim at the start, that I would start in line behind him, because I knew that's where I'd end up. He said he was hoping to run around 5:20's and that sounded good to me. The night was cooler than most up there and I have been running a lot, although I'm still getting used to the higher mileage.

The race started and I was up near the front as things strung out on High Street. I had a pretty good look at the way things were developing: there was a pack of four up front - 2 RUN masters, a Winner's Circle runner I didn't recognize, and another unfamiliar runner (Bryan Morseman). They were closely followed by Jim Johnson and Justin Freeman. I was behind them. Before the one-mile mark, a guy came cruising by me and I wondered how far up he would move.

I went through the first mile in 5:14 and tried to stay relaxed. Mile 2 was a 5:19 as we turned down Marlboro Street and headed downtown. I felt the enthusiasm of the spectators downtown and felt great as I sped through the lined streets and into the back of the 5k pack. I have to agree with JJ it was a little tight with the 5k runners strewn out all over the road; I seem to remember everyone staying to one side in the past. I took advantage of the water stops all along this stretch as I know I've run into problems here on hot nights in previous years.

When we broke free of the 5k runners I settled down and prepared for the work ahead. The guy who had gone by me so fluidly in the early stages was definitely slowing, so I moved up on him. I also noticed that Jim seemed to be moving up on the Winner's Circle runner (Matt Manning) and one of the RUN masters (Ekuom). As I came alongside the seventh place runner, he told me he was struggling and asked me what I was hoping to run. I told him 5:20's or sub-54 and he said he wanted to break 55. He wasn't wearing a watch and I asked him if he wanted to know our 5-mile split. He said sure - it was right around 26:40 (5:20's). I told him the next hill was always the toughest part of the course for me and we worked our way up it together on the way to my slowest mile of the night (5:34), then I really started to work on catching Matt Manning for 6th place.

Mile seven was a 5:29, with the jog through the neighborhood, which was a little surprising. At first I thought we were avoiding the climb after Maudslay, but then we just dumped back out onto the course. I caught Matt on the climb and made the turn onto 113 which goes all the way back to the high school. At this point I could see Ekuom as well as JJ and a couple other runners near him. I knew I was 6th at this point, but thought I could catch Ekuom if I worked the last 2+ miles. Mile 8 was a 5:20, Mile 9 a 5:16 and I had gained a lot of ground. People were yelling, "You can get him!" Then just after Mile 9, I caught him and tried to push all the way back. I knew there was the little climb and (I thought) the football field, which I was dreading, but I just tried to concentrate on running fast and relaxed. Now that I was ahead, people were telling me, "He's right behind you!" even though I had just passed him.

We made the turn into the school and everyone was yelling. I mustered a final push and as I crested the hill, was relieved to see the finish line in the parking lot, not around the corner on the field.

I did my old man sprint across the line for a last mile of 5:10 (with mile 4, my fastest mile of the race) and an overall time of 53:34, good for 5th place overall and 3rd 34 year-old.  (Jim and race winner Justin Freeman are the same age.) I felt very pleased with the race and had a good time afterward talking with la lot of people.  Cooled down with Heather and Greg Krathwohl (a future CMS runner - entering his sophomore year at Middlebury), who I coached at Ipswich High. He finished 11th in 55:28. Heather ran a 10-mile PR for the second straight year (last year: 1:09:40; this year: 1:07:52).

A good night!

Left for Texas the next morning...

Photo by Peter McClelland.

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