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Category: Josh’s Blog

Land of bourbon, horses, and harriers

Land of bourbon, horses, and harriers

Got on a plane and flew to Kentucky with Derrick Jones. While sitting at the gate in Chicago I started texting with Derrick trying to figure out if he was in the same terminal as me. He texts his gate number, I look up and there he is sitting 10 feet away from me. It was a pretty funny moment, kinda like something out of a cheesy sitcom. We crammed ourselves into the back of the regional jet and headed off for the little hop down to Louisville KY. From there it was an hour drive to our hotel in Lexington. The hostess was so brimming with Midwestern hospitality I wanted to tear my ears off. I felt like she was just taunting me with her niceness. I realize this is a character flaw in me, and only a little bit her fault.

 

 

We dumped our stuff and headed over to the course for a look and run around. I was imagining some nice manicured path lazily wrapping around a lush Kentucky Bluegrass infield. This is not what we found at. The park was a frozen wasteland of hills and turns and broken clods of turf. A North wind was whipping down from the hilltop prison on the horizon. It was only to get worse by race time.After a nice dinner and beers with some of the team, it was back to the friendliest place on earth to try and get some rest.

 

Saturday morning dawned grey and cold and windy. I loaded up and coffee and headed to the race. USATF had setup a large heated tent. The air in it was so think with BENGAY, IceyHot, and Vick’s Vapor Rub, I was sure the gas heaters was going to ignite the fumes and blow us all to hell.

The race started like all cross country races start, with everyone forgetting all about any ideas of rational pacing and sprinting across the field, slowing forming and arrowhead and shaft. I like to think I kept my calm and settled in quickly to a reasonable sustainable pace, but my opening 5:35 doesn’t exactly back that up, especially when it was immediately followed up by a 5:50. I manage to settle into a nice rhythm after mile 2 and started grinding out 5:40’s and slowly working my way up.

It’s impossible to tell from the photos how uneven the ground was. Several runners, including Derrick fell during the race as the landed badly on the frozen clumps of earth. I managed to stay on my feet, but was thankful for my flexible ankles which rolled more than a few times.

I finished further back than I would have liked. I was hoping for top 50 (I was 51st in 2014 in 34:32 but that course was 200 meters short so more like 35:12) but finished 66th in 35:22. At the 4k split I was in 77th place, it was a ton of work to pick up those 11 spots and with the benefit of hindsight I feel like I could have been much further up at that point. But it is just as likely I would have then faded and lost places, ending up in the same final spot or worse. 35:22 is about what I’ve been racing for 10K on the roads, so overall this was a solid time. My team, the Central Mass Striders, finished 4th. I thought we had outside shot at the podium, but we finished nearly 100 points behind the 3rd place team. So while our placement was close to top 3, we got whooped pretty good by West Valley Track Club, Boston Athletic Association, and Bowerman Track Club.

Team Photo
Right to Left: David, Derrick, Joe, Josh, Dave, Chris

Individual Results

Team Results

I had a great time racing this year. Being part of a group of dedicated old guys, who show up in heat and cold, who hop in their cars or on planes to race, has helped keep me motivated to be the best runner I can be. While my times may be gradually but inexorably slowing, I still find joy in racing and trying to squeeze every last second out of these legs.

Next up is some shorter races starting with a downhill road mile to mark the new year, and then some indoor track races. Also keep your eye out for a possible Star Wars The Last Jedi review in the next few days. You can also look back at these past Star Wars related posts.

Millennium Falcon and Disney Star Wars Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

2017 Team Accomplishments

1st place USATF New England Masters Grand Prix

2nd place USATF National Masters Grand Prix

4th USATF National Masters 10K Championship

1st place USATF National Masters 5K Championship

2nd place USATF National Masters 5K XC Championship

4th place USATF National Club Cross Country Championships

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