photos by Ted Tyler of Coolrunning
Mark Hudson picked me up bright and early on Sunday and we carpooled up to Good Harbor Beach for the Lone Gull 10k, the USATF NE Grand Prix 10k. It was downright chilly when we left Reading, but by the time we got up there and started our warmup it was turning into perfect racing weather.
We did a little jog on the first and last couple miles of the out-and-back course with Dan Princic, Dave Dechellis and a few of the other Whirlaway guys. As usual before a grand prix race the atmosphere was festive, with most of the New England running scene on hand. Just before the start I got to chat a little with Dan Vassallo, the Colby grad now running for Adidas New England, whom I've known since he was in high school. Dan has been on fire lately and would go on to finish 2nd in 30:39.
After the usual pre-race chit chat I wisely buried myself a few rows deep on the starting line to keep from getting sucked out way too fast. The race got underway just a few minutes late and the pack of 800 runners thundered along Atlantic Road. I took it easy for the first half mile and let the crowd settle down before I started moving up through the pack to find my spot. My legs were by no means fresh, being in the heart of marathon training, but I figured if I could get through the first couple of miles without doing something stupid I would have the strength to close well. I wound up hitting the 1 mile mark in 5:45 and the race had settled down around me by that point.
I was 18:04 at 5k and starting to pick off a few more people. I passed 6 to 8 people between the 5k and 5 mile markers--it was good to have so many targets around as the pace was really starting to feel intense. Around 5 miles (photo below) I passed Robert Cipriano of Somerville RR and the 2nd place woman, Tammie Robbie of Whirlaway. My 5 mile split was 28:59.
The last mile featured no more passing, just hanging on with white knuckles. A short, steep little rise just before the 6 mile mark completely finished me off for the little run in to the finish. As I charged (wobbled) for the line I could see the clock winding toward that 36 minute mark but when I hit the finish mat the clock still read 35:56 so I felt confident I'd squeaked under. The official results had it a little closer, however.
The final tally: 79th place overall in 35:59 / 5:48 pace. Not bad for a USATF NE championships race.
It was my 2nd fastest 10k ever (granted I haven't run many of them) and my fastest 5 miler in 5 years en route. 5k splits of 18:04 / 17:55 indicate I have some good strength right now. The race itself was well done and features a beautiful seaside course. I would run this one again in a heartbeat.