Thursday, August 7, 2014

Last Two Weeks - (Part One) Yankee Homecoming

It's been two weeks since my last update and a lot has happened.

The week after Bear Brook was highlighted by a tired 26:49 at the Hamilton Firefighter "5"-Mile road race (Tuesday) and 18 miles at 6:14 pace on Friday.

I ended up with 82 miles for the week.

The following Tuesday, July 29, Heather and I headed north to Newburyport for the 55th Annual Yankee Homecoming 10-Miler. This would be my tenth trip to the race, and seventh consecutive time running.

Previous Results:
2000 - 57:41 (32nd place)
2005 - 1:15:26 (304th - stepped off course around 6 miles, then finished with Heather)
2006 - 56:58 (9th)
2008 - 56:50 (49th - Grand Prix year)
2009 - 55:14 (13th)
2010 - 54:20 (10th)
2011 - 53:34 (5th)
2012 - 54:32 (9th)
2013 - 53:39 (12th)

My goal coming in was to improve on the times I had run here and hopefully get a new 10-Mile PR (53:19 at '06 Apple Harvest Ramble).

This race is also a full-on reunion with seemingly every person from every corner of my life converging on Newburyport High School. We caught up with newly-minted CMS member Layce Alves along with Jim P., and Nick T. for a pre-race photo from Roger Perham. (Before we had a chance to pin our numbers on...)

Warming up, we ran into my best friend growing up, Ben, and his new wife, Megan, who live in Newburyport and were running the 5k.

I bumped into my top incoming Gordon freshman women, Kasey, and her family. She was taking a shot at the 10-Miler for the second time.

I saw a formidable crew of Cape Ann League coaches and alumni - the Keiran sisters (Tina - UVM and Sarah - UNH), a bunch of former Newburyport Clippers (in the 10-Mile and the 5k), Eric McDonald (UMass-Lowell and Pentucket HS) and coaches from Amesbury (Ernie), Triton (Joe), Newburyport (Foley and Hennigar), and North Reading (Spinney). Noticeably absent was Ipswich HS coach Marty Binette, who I always see here.

Also ran into several others during the two and a half mile warmup around town.

Saw Brandon Newbould and my first "Strava-friend" Steve Dowsett at the starting line and then the gun went off.

The plan was to run 5:20's comfortably early on and hopefully have some strength left to close harder than that at the end. Historically, the first few and the last couple miles are the fastest, but I usually struggle from 4-7. Because I had my Garmin set to take splits every measured mile, my splits didn't reflect the course markings. I know I was just under 5:20 for the first and was 10:40 for 2 miles.

I got a kick out of seeing (80-year-old?) Jack Welch at the water stop on High St. just after the mile mark where I always see him. Jack was a Navy Seal, a legendary football coach at Ipswich High School (the stadium is named after him) and now coaches throws there.

Jose Ortiz (who finished just ahead of me last year) and I were working together for the early part of the race. We were about 10 seconds in back of Brandon and Justin Freeman, and I wanted to be up with them, but also wanted to be smart. As we came into the downtown area just after 2 miles, I saw Don Hennigar in front of the running store where he works and he gave me a cheer. I always get so charged up from there all the way through town, with the streets lined with spectators, and I took a breath and tried to stay in control and not get carried away. The next mile or so is always spent weaving through errant 5k runners (can they please just put a rope up some year?) and then between 3 and 4 miles we get sweet relief and it gets lonely out there.

I think the 3-mile split was 16:06 and 4 was in the 21:20's. There are a couple rolling hills up to mile 5, and somewhere in this stretch I got ahead of Jose and into 6th place by myself. I wouldn't pass or be passed again. Halfway split was almost identical to my 5-mile race time from a week before (26:48). I felt good, but not great, and realized I had my work cut out for a PR. I probably ran from miles 5-7 better than I ever have before, but I lost a little more time off of 5:20 pace (about 10 sec in two miles). The climb up Hoyt's Lane to 113 was a grind. As I got onto 113 (High St) which leads all the way back to the finish, I could see Brandon and Justin ahead (45-60 seconds?) and made after them. I always like this stretch, up and over 95 and back to the school because there is almost always someone to chase.

At times over the last two miles I thought I was closing, but I also knew that the two of them working together would be hard to get. My 8 mile split was 43-flat. I would need to run 10:18 for the last two miles to PR. I went for it, for what it was worth, but mile 9 was a 5:19. Mile 10 I dropped down to a 5:10 and came through in 53:29, good for 6th place, my best time at Yankee Homecoming and second-fastest 10-Miler ever.

Krissy K. got some good finish line shots - I liked this one the best:

I caught up with a few of the guys ahead of me, had a pat on the back for Justin Freeman (once again, he was first 37-year-old) and asked Ruben about what had happened up front where I couldn't see. I was really impressed/surprised to see in the results that Brandon had closed to only seconds behind third place and put a lot of time on Justin over the last couple miles.

Full Results

Heather cracked the top ten women for the first time here, finishing 9th, and lowered her PR for 10M by over a minute to 1:05:28!

Cooled down with Mr.'s Pawlicki and Dowsett on the quiet (and quickly darkening) streets of Newburyport.

Then we met up with good friends Russ and Carmen Queen at the Grog in Newburyport for dinner afterwards. They had run the 5k together - Russ' second race of his life (and second in two nights) after making his debut at the Asbury Grove Mile on Monday.

It's been a time to generate a little positive press for Gordon, and I have had a couple cool opportunities to do so. Tuesday morning, before the Yankee Homecoming, I sat down for about 30 minutes with Joel Richardson as part of his program, "Looking Back on Track". We talked about coaching the teams at Gordon as well as my running.

The next day I had an email to do an interview with the Boston Globe for the North section. Hopefully, that will see the light of day and the publicity will do some good for our program.

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