Thursday, March 2, 2017

Amherst 10 Mile Race Review

This past Sunday I ran the Amherst 10 Miler for the first time.  This was the first race of the USATF-NE Grand Prix Series and I had been looking forward to it for months!  I found this to be very ironic, because for years I would basically avoid this race.  The course had a reputation for not being PR friendly and was also very hilly.  I am not the best hill runner and I was not on a team competing in the Gran Prix, so I saw no point in racing there and running slower than I wanted in a 10 miler.  I would typically joke when asked if I would do Amherst, that "I was not looking for a good time, I was looking for a fast time".  I could not have been more wrong on so many levels!  Being trapped in my RI bubble I never really took into account the team competition aspect of the series or the level of competition that would be at this race, especially in the Masters and Seniors age groups.

I left RI at around 7:35am and got to the race at about 9:15am.  It was an easy ride and I got there early enough that parking was not an issue.  Race time was at 11am so there was plenty of time to chit chat with friends and meet some of my new CMS teammates.  There were a lot of familiar faces around and some new ones too.  I had on my CMS jacket and a bunch of CMS people I did not know were coming up to me to introduce themselves & / or just to wish me good luck.  It was great!  We also had a small RI contingent (Me, Bob, Jackie, Martin and Mike D) come up to the race as well.  The weather was good, but not as good as the day before.  I had pretty much decided it was a gloves and singlet day, as I usually do.  I am not one to get too cold while running and I like the feel of just a singlet when racing.  When it came to time expectations, I was still a little undecided on my time goal.  I knew that I was at least going to try and break 60 min, regardless of how difficult the course was.  I had never run here before and other than Dave Dunham's Pre Race report and my conversations with my training partner Bob Jackman, I knew very little as to what to expect.  My thoughts were that I was in better shape at this time of year as opposed to last year when I ran The Foxboro 10 miler.  I ran 59:32 there and was assuming that the added fitness and more difficult course would at least balance each other out and that sub 60 should be attainable.  After a discussion with Bob, we both kind of decided to try and run low 59ish and see how it played out.

I seeded my self in the 4th or 5th row at the narrow starting line and had a good start.  Bob and I had discussed staying in control and going out in 5:50 for mile one, which is exactly what I did.  Mile 2 was a bit quicker (5:25) but there was some down hill so the effort was not too much greater.  Then I saw the hill!!  It looked pretty long and pretty steep.  As I stated above I am not the best hill runner, so I wanted to make sure I did not overdo it on the early hills and then have it come back to bite me later in the race.  The next 2 miles were mostly uphill and my splits reflected it.  I was 6:17 and 6:16 for miles 3 and 4, but feeling strong.  Once up the hills, the course ran on a dirt road for over a mile.  The dirt road was hard for the most part, but you could feel your feet sink in if you ran in some of the more heavily traveled spots on the road.  Most of the dirt road took place during mile 5 and my split was 6:02.  I knew there was some down hill coming and was biding my time till I could see it.  Once I saw the course was heading down hill, I ran that down hill pretty aggressively.  I am a pretty good down hill runner, so I was hoping to make up some of the time I lost on the earlier up hills.  Mile 6 and 7 were 5:35 and 5:25 respectively, so I certainly made up some time there.    At this point I had been going back and forth with my CMS Seniors teammate Ed Sheldon and working my way back to Bob Jackman who had gaped me on the early up hills.  I believe Ed and I both caught back up to Bob at the end of mile 7 or in the early part of mile 8.  That was probably why I ran a 5:25 in mile 7.  We all ran together for a short stint and mile 8 was 5:39 for me, but I had trouble hanging right with them and was back a few strides.  Plus I knew there was another hill coming and wanted to conserve a little energy for the hill.  Even though I was back a few strides, I still felt like I was within striking distance of both of them.  Then we hit the hill and I sort of knew they would need to falter for me to catch them.

My split for mile 9 was 5:50 which I was happy with.  Then at the top of that hill we started to descend back toward the finish area.  I was excited to be going down hill at this point in the race and really did not realize there was another up hill just around the corner.  I must admit I was mentally unprepared for another hill.  For what ever reason I had it in my head that the last big hill was at mile 8 and paid no attention to the fact that the course over lapped mile 2 on the way back to the finish which was going to be a good climb.  I was tired of running up hill and just tried to buckle down and get over the top of the hill and then finish as best I could.

My split was a fairly slow 6:13 for mile 10, but I held my own.  I do not believe I gave up any places in that stretch, so at least that hill did not cost me any spots.  I am sure everyone was feeling the same at that point.  There was a little down hill on the way back into the finish area and I had someone right on my tail entering the parking lot.  I knew I had to work the last 200m in the parking lot hard to stay in front of him.  I was able to hold him off, but ironically due to the Chip Timing rule, he actually finished a couple of tenths ahead of me in the overall results even though I crossed the finish line before him.  He was a Open Runner so it did not effect me other than overall placement, but there is something so wrong about crossing the line in front of someone and then having them listed in front of you!!  Anyway, that is a story for another day.  My finish time was 58:34, which needless to say I was very happy with especially on this course.  I was 4th Senior overall and 2nd Senior on my team.  I also scored 4th on the Masters Team, which was real cool as well.  What a great way to start off the series.

After the race at the finish line area it was great to have so many teammates around.  Everyone was congratulating each other and asking how it went, etc.  The team aspect of the series was something I really wanted to be a part of and I was not disappointed.  I had a smile from ear to ear and not just because I ran well individually.  I was honored to be a part of the winning Seniors and Masters teams.  The team aspect is something I have preached to DJ for years and also something that was missing from my racing.  Not any more!!  Onto New Bedford!!

*Thanks to Scott Mason for the awesome photos!  Check his race photos out at


  1. Great race, Dave! I was in the same boat when I joined CMS 2 years ago. I finally realized what the whole team aspect was about, and I love it! It's truly my favorite part about participating in the NE GP. See you at New Bedford!

  2. Thanks Leslie! Great race for you too! It has only been one race, but I really enjoyed it!