Monday, August 30, 2010

Bridging the Gap

The Bridge of Flowers 10k Classic was conceived in 1979 and has remained on approximately the same course ever since that first competition. The one notable exception is that (back in the early days of the race) the runners actually ran across the Bridge of Flowers. However, in the 1980's the Bridge was rehabilitated and the course was slightly altered. What has not changed is the beauty & charm of the village and the warm & friendly people of Shelburne Falls. This year’s race was the sixth race in the New England Grand Prix Series and it was another great day of running and team camaraderie for the GCS-Triad Racing Team.

My personal goals for this race were fairly simple. Don’t blow up on the big hill & try to run faster than the last time. The “last time” was from 2008 when I was training for what turned out to be my closest attempt yet at a sub-3 hour marathon (3:00:22 @ Baystate). So, running close to my BOF time from two years ago would go a long way in showing I was nearly back.

The drive to Shelburne Falls is always a tough one. The traffic is generally light, but the road is long and winding. The trip was made even a bit longer this year by a nifty little 12 mile detour (up and back) on route 91 in Greenfield, MA. The detour, coupled with a painfully organized race packet distribution “system”, made for some anxious pre-race moments. But, after a quick warm-up, we were all corralled onto the Bridge for the start. This year they separated the men and women with a row of cones & tape down the center of the street. So, when the gun went off, the guys were packed together and the girls had plenty of room to move - at least for about 200 yards when the two groups merged. Worth it? I dunno.

The first couple miles of this race are kind of weird. There are lots of turns and a few sneaky ups and downs where, if you’re not careful, you can find yourself being over extended. And, that’s a bad thing considering what awaits you in mile 3. The Crittenden Hill starts off easily enough. A couple quick ups under the train tressle and through the neighborhood. But, then the road turns and the wall presents itself. It goes up and up seemingly without end – kind of like Washington. However, unlike Washington, you do get the benefit of being able to run down the back side.

My plan for this race was to bide my time through the early portions of the race, maintain a consistent effort on the hill, then use my weight advantage to hammer from the top of the hill down to the finish. That plan worked nearly to perfection as I passed a ton of people from the 3 mile mark until the end of the race and was just nipped near the finish by two guys who were not in my age group.

Splits – BOF 10k: 6:14, 6:18, 8:34 (up), 5:51 (dn), 6:24, 6:05, 1:12. = 40:45 (6:34) The Final Results showed I had a hard-fought 11 second course PR, was 5th GCS Master, and only managed a 128th placing overall. I still hate NEGP races. Well, at least I was again the 1st finisher from Nashua!

Team-wise my running club had 28 runners make the trek over to Shelburne Falls for this classic summer-time New England race. Our Mens Open team finished 8th overall, Our Mens Seniors & Womens Open finished 5th, Our Mens Masters & Womens Masters finished 4th. And Our Mens Veterans Team took home the New England Grand Prix 10k Championship trophy with their First Place finish!

All in all I was pretty happy with my race here. I feel like I have made some big strides these past few months in getting myself back into the kind of shape I was a year ago when I got injured. All that’s left before my marathon are a few more long runs, some tempo work (and a prep race at Cape Ann) and hopefully I’ll be all the way back!

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