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OK, just a few more.

OK, just a few more.

So much for calling it a season. I was all set to wrap up my team racing for the year but duty called and I found myself toeing the line at the USATF New England XC Championship 2 weeks ago. I’ve also booked my flight to Lexington Kentucky for the USATF National Club Cross Country Championship on December 9th.

The New England XC Championship was back at Franklin Park, but this time it was an 8k race. BAA took off as a blob of yellow from the gun, and managed a perfect 15 points. Greg Putnam was our only runner to even challenge their top 5 finishing a few seconds back. I was second for CMS in 12th overall about a minute behind the lead pack in 28:10. The team finished 2nd Full Results Here.

Next up was the After The Leaves Have Fallen Half Marathon at Lake Minnewaska, NY. Lake Minnewaska is a beautiful state park on the Shawangunk Ridge, overlooking the Hudson Valley to the east and the Catskill Mountains to the west. The half marathon course (actually closer to 20k this year) loops around the 2 lakes that sit at over 1600 feet, and provides amazing views throughout the race.

This was a rare instance when I actually noticed more than what was immediately in front of me on the ground during a race.

Since this wasn’t a team scored race, I broke out my Roadkill Racing kit and added a splash of red for maximum visual impact. Look good-feel good-run good!

After a very hectic morning and an last minute save by my mother in-law, I made it to the race at 11:15 for an 11:30 start. Luckily a half marathon doesn’t require much warm-up and I was as ready as I could be as we lined up. It was a cool afternoon, but I’ll take 35 no wind and sunshine any day. The family were the ones who had to wait around in the cold while I kept warming running up and down the carriage trails.

For the most part the race worked steadily uphill for 8 miles before plunging down to it’s lowest point at mile 10. We were treated to the 2 steepest climbs in the last 2 miles, but thankfully they were both very short.

By the time I reached the last 2 hills I had opened up a gap on field including 2 time champ Mike Chow but I knew they would be on me in a hurry if I gave into my screaming quads. The dash down the mountain had really taken a toll and I wasn’t looking forward to the possibility of having to sprint it out to the finish. At the start Mike informed me that is what the race had come down to the last 3 years, and I was doing everything I could with 3 miles ago to avoid that. Mercifully the race was half a mile shorter than expected and I was spared from having to find another gear while on wobbly legs.

This was my first win of the year, made extra special by getting it on my home turf in front of my family and some old friends. It was great to be at a low key but well organized event. Big road races can be fun, but there is something special about trail races and the community of people who put them on.

The only downside to the day was there wasn’t anything to fill my beautiful new pint glass with!

Race Results Here.

Next up is Club Nationals!

Calling it a season.

Calling it a season.

It has been a busy 6 months of racing. I’ve done 8 races, 7 of which have been USATF New England or National team races starting with the USATF 10K National Masters Championship in April. Sunday was my final team race of the season, the USATF National 5k Masters Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park.

Syracuse Festival of Races Winning Team Picture
Greg Putnam, Joe Shairs, Joshua Perks, Derrick Jones

Before the start of the XC championships we took a minute to celebrate our win at the road championship (somehow I got left with the plaque which is now hanging up in my office). We knew we had a steep hill to climb if we wanted to win today’s race, but with some added depth and were ready to give it our best shot. BAA was the odds on favorite. Even with one of their top runners down we knew we would all have to have great races if we wanted to take them down.

Derrick took the team lead early, and showed again that he isn’t afraid to get out there and mix it up with the leaders.

I spent a good deal of the race trying to find some rhythm, I have not had much luck lately settling into a steady pace and I’m guessing my yo-yoing in and out of packs isn’t the most efficient race strategy.

By the final mile I found myself a bit behind Joe, which I was hoping was a sign of him running well and not me having a bad day. Joe and I are usually pretty close unless one of us is off, so being the optimist that, I am assumed we were both running well not poorly. With about 600 meters to go I was trailing a pack of 8 or 9 runners including 2 from BAA. I thought I might have a shot at running them all down but I waited too long to pull the trigger.

Instead of going as soon as we got on the field with about 400 meters to go I waited for the final 150 straight away. I swung wide and tried to drop the hammer, but I came up short. I managed to pick up a few spots but not the 2 important ones pictured above running with Joe. You can see me in the background clearly out of range with 75 meters to go. I’m not sure why I thought I could make up some much ground in 150 meters, I’m going to blame it on lack of blood flow to the brain.

I take some solace in the fact that I even if I had passed those 2 or even if I won the race, BAA still would have beaten us. Still it would have been nice to have beaten their 4th and 5th place runners.

It has been a great season of team racing for the CMS masters men. The team won the USATF 5k Road Championship, finished 2nd in the USATF 5k XC Championship and won the USATF New England 5 mile, 5K and 10K championships. Many of the guys will be finishing out the season by traveling to Lexington, KY in December for USATF Club Nats where they will compete with some of the top West Coast teams who don’t usually make it out this way even for national championship races. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make that trip, so I’ll have to cheer them on from a far. Run Tuff guys!

USATF 5k XC Overall Results

USATF Masters National 5k Championships

USATF Masters National 5k Championships

I’m now halfway through my fall racing schedule and things feel like they are starting to come together. Greg, Joe and I traveled to Western NY to meet up with Derrick and race in the USATF Masters 5k Championships. I’ve done this race one other time back in 2014 as part of Roadkill and I ran my 40+ 5k PR of 16:14. Back then I was striving to break 16 minutes, this year I had a much more modest target of helping the team win a national championship.

We finally got a break in the weather with the start time temps in the low 50’s and no wind. While none of the CMS team had an exemplary performance, we all ran solid races and that was just what was needed to take the win.

CMS at the S
Derrick added for posterity.
  1.    49:04 CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS                        (  16:22)

1    16:03  Greg Putnam           47 Stoneham             MA

2    16:20  Derrick Jones         45 Henrietta            NY

3    16:41  Joshua Perks          43 Windham              NH

4 (  16:55) Joe Shairs            49 Peabody              MA

  1.    50:21 GARMIN RUNNERS                               (  16:47)

1    16:25  Brian Crowley         52 Hillsborough         NJ

2    16:33  Mark Williams         44 Columbia             NJ

3    17:23  Peter Kashulines, Jr. 54 Mountain Lakes       NJ

4 (  18:15) Robert Decarlo, Jr.   40 Saddle Brook         NJ

5 (  19:57) Joel Garrell          59 Morristown           NJ

  1.    51:08 ADIDAS GARDEN STATE TRACK CLUB               (  17:03)

1    16:42  Thomas Knowles        41 Oakland              NJ

2    17:01  Chuck Schneekloth, Jr.40 Franklin             NJ

3    17:25  Gary Leaman           58 Hardwick             NJ

I wanted to say a special thanks to Dave Oja, who directed all 25 years of the Syracuse Festival of Races. Having directed the Wally Waddle 5k for 8 years I have just the tiniest bit of understanding of the amount of time and effort that goes into putting on an event like the Festival of Races. Dave is stepping down as the director and it is uncertain anyone will take up the mantel to keep the race going, but I hope someone does. There is a shortage of well run AND highly competitive races and the Festival Races would be sorely missed. A Syracuse news station did a nice piece on Dave and the race, which you can watch HERE (look for a certain blogger finishing at around 45 seconds.)

Next Sunday is the USATF Masters 5k Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston. The competition is shaping up to be a bit tougher for that race than for the Syracuse race, but the 5 man scoring plays in our favor. We will be fielding a very deep roster to take on the likes of BAA and the Atlanta Track Club both of whom were absent from last weeks race. This will be my first cross country race 2 years, and I’m excited to lace up the spikes and see what I can do to help the team win 2 championships in a row.