Alie and I headed over to the Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth, NH today for the Runners Alley/Redhook Brewery Memorial 5K. I felt optimistic coming into the race since my heel and legs felt good, and my training has been progressing well. I thought 16:20 was achievable, and the goal was to get as close to 16 minutes as possible while making sure I placed well for the Seacoast Road Race Series standings. Unfortunately, Jim Johnson, who is currently leading the series, has been dealing with the stress reaction in his lower leg, so he wasn't in the hunt today. However, I did see Derek Hamel, currently 3rd in the series, as I warmed up on the first and last mile of the course, so I knew there would be some competition up front. The weather was warm for this earlier in the year at about 75 degrees, but during my warm up, it seemed like the 12-15 mph wind was going to be a slightly cooling cross wind. Great conditions for a face race.
By the time the gun went off, the wind had shifted to the same pattern I saw here in 2013: tailwind for the first mile and headwind for the last mile. Lucas Pozzetta, who finished 2nd at this race in 2014, went to the front immediately and started to gap the rest of the field. 200 meters into the race, I looked down at my watch which showed 4:30 pace, and up ahead, Lucas was still pulling away. At that point, I realized I would be running for second, and I settled into a more comfortable pace.
Thanks to my mother, Joan, and sister, Jen, for the great pics!
The first mile is gradually downhill, and with a decent wind at our backs, I could still hear footsteps despite running 4:50 pace. About half a mile into the race, Derek pulled up along side me. We chatted briefly, but after a 100 meters or so, he started to slowly pull away from me. Lucas split the first mile in 4:30 - 4:35, Derek hit it in 4:50, and I was a few strides back at 4:52. For the next half mile, I did everything I could to keep Derek in range. However, I wasn't thinking about trying to catch him. His stride looked so smooth that I thought he might make a move and try to bridge the gap up to Lucas. So, I started focusing on running a solid race and salvaging third.
I hit the first water stop about 20 to 30 meters behind Derek and started to work my way up the small hill just beyond. It's not really an imposing hill as it's very gradual and only lasts for a few hundred meters. Surprisingly, I found that I was naturally bridging the gap to Derek without increasing my effort. It seemed like he was slowing down a bit, so I started actively trying to make my way back up to him. By the top of the hill, I had caught up and started to pull away. I could hear him breathing heavily, so I put in a small move to try to create some distance. A few hundred meters later, I took a sharp turn as I headed towards the 2nd mile mark, and when I glanced back, I was shocked to see he had fallen back quite a bit.
I hit the 2 mile mark in 10:10 and started to focus on Lucas up ahead. I knew I'd never be able to make up the 30 seconds or so that lay between us, but I could tell he was slowing down. So, I focused on trying to put a dent in that lead. I also felt like sub 16 minutes was a distinct possibility if I could pick up the pace slightly and hold it together. I felt really good until the last quarter mile of the race. As I came up the last hill into the headwind, I could feel sub 16 slipping away. The wheels fell off for a moment as I tried to regroup, and my finishing kick just wasn't enough. I ended up 2nd in 16:04. Splits were 4:52, 5:18, 5:13. Don't get me wrong though. I was very happy with this race. I beat my goal time of 16:20, got a chance to mix it up mid-race with Derek, and finished first among Seacoast Road Race Series runners.
4.5 mile cool down on the course afterward at ancient marathoner pace and cheered on Alie who ran a new PR!
Top 10 Overall Results below. Full results can be found here
Overall winners minus Stephanie Burnham who was the 3rd place female
For my efforts, I got $100 cash and a $50 gift card to the Redhook Brewery.
Dan Doyon did a nice write up on the race for SeacoastOnline which can be found here