Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Better Off Red's

This past Sunday was the 30th running of the Red’s Shoe Barn 5m. It’s now officially called the Red’s 5 Mile Road Race and 3 Mile Walk for a Better & Brighter Community, or something like that. But, I’m going to continue to call it Red’s Shoe Barn because the new name is just too lame. It’s sort of like calling the Boston Garden the TD North Center for the Indoor Sporting Arts or calling Fenway Park the Bank of America Stadium for Grassy Outdoor Events - it just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Anyway, this was my 4th time running Red’s and, like each of my 3 previous excursions to the mean streets of Dover, this race was expected to be a knock down, drag out, turf war that only the New Hampshire Grand Prix can provide. As the second race of the 2011 NHGP Series (and first scoring one) this race could very well set the tone for the rest of the season.

Casey Saves The Day
The race day weather was near perfect – 60 degrees and  sunny, with very little wind. The beautiful weather also made it easier to bring my family along to watch and (in the case of my 19 year old son) participate. Casey had been enlisted to run in a couple of NHGP races in the past, but he hadn’t raced in over a year. So, based on that (and the fact that he had just rolled out of his dorm room bed at UNH) we weren’t quite sure what to expect from him.

The course is somewhat challenging: with two longish hills in miles 1 & 3 and a sharp up at the end of mile 4 followed by a screamingly steep last mile. After a brief warm-up over the first & last miles I tucked myself into the second row and waited for the gun. Looking around during the National Anthem I had hoped to see my son (and wish him luck) but he was nowhere to be found. Maybe he hadn’t rolled out of that bed after all.

As usual, my plan was to run the first uphill mile conservatively, then start to open it up on that second (slightly downhill) mile. Unfortunately, this course is notorious for inaccurate mile markers, so I had to run this one on feel. Fortunately, for me, I felt pretty good. I hit the first mile in 6:05 then started to reel some people in during a 5:35 (short) second mile.

Charlie Bemis
By this point in the race, I had developed a back and forth battle with GDTC masters runner Charlie Bemis. Charlie and I were fairly evenly matched during last years NHGP and had finished within a few spots of each other at many of the series races. In fact, at the 2010 Edition of the Red’s Race, I nipped him at the line by a mere 4 seconds. So, I knew I was in for a dogfight.

I opened up a small gap with a 6:33 (long) third mile, and despite a 6:05 fourth mile he came charging by and gapped me back as we started up the last hill. I tried to hang with him over the climb, and pull him back on the descent, but I just couldn’t close the distance. My last mile was a quick 5:49, giving me a 30:08 finishing time and 18th place overall – 3 spots and 13 seconds behind Mr. Bemis. Casey came in a short while later – in 32:51.

Fortunately, my Running Club showed up in great numbers (52 GCS participants in all) and pretty much ran away with the overall team points – unofficially 172 points, to Greater Derry’s 133 to Granite State’s 83. And, our Masters Team of Dave Dunham, Brian Ruhm & Randy Macneill went first, second & fourth overall to score a whopping 26 points for the team. Unfortunately, despite my high placing, I didn’t figure in the team scoring due to the fact that NHGP only scores 3 deep - and I was 4th

Me and the "Little" Son
Overall I was still pretty happy with my race. I pushed the pace early and felt pretty strong for most of the 5 miles. I would have liked to have caught Charlie, but as it was I still set a new Red's Course PR by 30 seconds and beat my last years time by a full minute and a half. I still have a long way to get where I want to be. But, at least I can see it from where I'm standing!

Casey finished in second place in his division and scored 9 big points for the club. At least someone in the family still has some clout! Afterward, we all headed over to my sister’s place in Maine for an early-season bar-b-que. Next up for me is the James Joyce 10k & then the Medical Center 6k and I’ll need to do a better job at training (or a worse job at recruiting) for those races - in order to score some points for my team!