Browsed by
Tag: racing

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

Little Fish, Big Pond

Little Fish, Big Pond

Little fish, big pond. That about sums up where I am with my racing right now. Nothing in my life has been as humbling as my racing results since moving away from Rochester. In western NY, I could expect to finish top 5 in nearly every race and certainly top 3 in my age-group even in the biggest races. At the most competitive races like the Lilac 10k or Bergen 5k which served as the USATF Niagara Championships I never finished worst than 4th in my age-group and that was running my second slowest 10k time of 36:14 at Lilac in 2010 30-39 age-group.

Since moving to New England I’ve been handed one ass whooping after another. And while I have lost a bit of time (OK more than just a bit) even if i was running my master’s PRs I’d still be looking up at the finishers on the podium at many races. For the past 2 years I’ve been using that as an excuse for not running my best, and not training as I should.

The New England USATF 5 Mile Championship (AKA Ribfest 5 Miler) was my wake-up call. I allowed myself to start 6 or 7 rows from the front. I tried to shuffle around people for the first half mile which I ran in 3:11. It was right then and there that I decided I had to get serious about my training and my racing. I may not be in peak shape anymore but I am not yet resigned to shuffling along in the middle of the pack. If I had merely started closer to the front and run the first half mile in 2:50 (a very reasonable 5:40 pace) I could have finished 3rd in the 40-49 age-group. My gun time/chip time difference of 7 seconds was double that of everyone that finished ahead of me. I’d convinced myself I didn’t deserve to start with the leaders, so I didn’t finished with them.

I managed to close the last mile in 5:32 feeling great on a very hot and humid day. I need to take that feeling with me into each workout and race. Maybe I’m not as fast as I was 2 years ago, but I’m not ready to be an also ran just yet. I’m stuck right in the middle of my age-group with no good excuse for poor performances. So as the other Dylan said…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Ribfest Results here.

 

0SPF: A #TrailsRoc Story | Short Film

0SPF: A #TrailsRoc Story | Short Film

Take a few minutes out of your day and watch Ron Heerkens short film about the 0SPF Trail Half marathon. It is really the story of a group of dedicated runners sharing what they love with the rest of the running community. After watching the movie head over to #TrailsRoc and see what else Eric and his crew are up to.

0SPF: A #TrailsRoc Story | Short Film from Ron Heerkens Jr on Vimeo.