Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Doyle's Emerald Necklace 5 Miler

I am a little over a week late in getting this out, but here is my write up on the Doyle's Emerald Necklace 5 Miler from April 9th.  This race was not a USATF Grand Prix race, but it is a race that I made sure was on my race schedule.  This is my 3rd consecutive year running here and surely won't be my last.  The course rolls through Franklin Park and basically runs from Doyle's Cafe and back, but not on the exact same path.  There is a great after party in the parking lot, so we always get here real early and set up a tent with a fold out table so we have a home base.  More on that later in the blog.  I really enjoy this course and I have run well each of the previous 2 times I have toed the line here, so I was hoping today would not be any different.  Last year I ran 28:26 for 18th place overall and was 3rd Master.  This year I would be competing in the 50 - 59 age group and was hoping to place a little further up overall and in my new age group.  My time goal was to try to break 28 minutes, but anything under last years time would make me happy.  I have been running well for the last few months and training has been consistent, so that seemed like good goals heading in.

The race started out on a road in the park that had a few wash outs spots of sand and water, so you had to navigate through the good spots but it was not an issue.  I made sure I was out well enough that I could see the road conditions and plan accordingly in those spots.  The weather was awesome as well.  The sun was out and there was a little wind to cool you off since no one is really acclimated to any sort of heat yet.  Anyway, in the first mile I ran along side one of my over 50 rivals Greg Picklesimer and an over 40 rival Joe Navas, which seemed like an appropriate spot for me.  I had no illusions of staying with Greg the entire race and he pulled away as we approached the 1st mile marker as expected.  Joe and I went back and forth for another mile and then he got a gap on me before the turn around point.  We had gone through mile 1 in 5:26, which is a little on the rich side for me in a 5 miler, so I adjusted over the next 2 miles.  I had 16:29 through 3 miles on my watch, so I was where I wanted to be time wise and kept pushing onward.  Mile 4 had a little head wind, but it felt good.  Like i said, nobody is acclimated to the heat yet, so I am sure I was not alone in appreciating the cooling effect it had.  During mile 4 I watched Joe pull a little further away from me to the point where I knew he was out of reach no matter how good of a last mile I could throw down, but again I was on the pace I wanted and kept competing with another runner just in front of me.  Mile 4 was my slowest mile, but that made sense on this course.  Mile 5 has a fast last half mile with a little down hill as you start to leave the park and go through the picturesque stone bridge.  At that point I was in hot pursuit of the runner in front of me.  I did not want to make my move too early and decided to sit on him until we got through the stone bridge.

There is a little down hill path right after the stone bridge for about 100m and then it is 1/4 mile straight away on the road back to Doyle's.  I made my move on the down hill and then it was time to hang on for dear life over that last flat 1/4 mile!  As I got closer to the finish line I could feel the pressure subsiding as I had opened up a little gap.  The clock was coming into view and I could see that I was close to finishing in 28 min.  The legs were going as fast as they could so there was no last burst of speed to be had.  However, I was able to hold off my competitor and crossed the finish line in 28:05!  That was a 21 second improvement over last year and a PR (Personal Record), so I was very pleased.  I did not know my place at that time (13th overall, 2nd senior and 3rd over 40), but that would have to wait till they posted the results.  I had other things to attend to, like the after party!!

I came through the finish line and shook a few hands, but kept walking to our table with the bottle of water I got in the finish shoot.  I placed the bottle on the table we set up and then went straight to the beer trailer.  The race is sponsored by Sam Adams and they start pouring beer as soon as the 1st competitor crosses the finish line.  One of the perks of finishing quickly is that there is no line at the beer trailer.  A few of us who finished up front, went back and forth to the beer trailer several times and stocked up so our teammates would not have to stand in line when they finished.  We had a great group to hang out with after the race and everyone had a blast.  The NE Runner Gang was set up next to us and several other teams were all hanging out listening to the DJ and having a great time.  This is one of my favorite races for this reason!  Usually everyone has commitments to get too right after a race, but most people hang out for the after party here.  If you have never done this race and like after parties, I highly recommend running the race next year.  I know I will be there!!

Next up on my race docket is the James Joyce Ramble 10k on April 30th.  It is the USATF Master 10k Championship so it should be very competitive.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading!!

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