Wanted to start the year off right with a race, so went down to Wrentham to do the Tom’s Tavern Hangover Classic 5k. I’ve done, and won, this race before race before. It’s a very low key affair, has a great spread, and is pretty flat. The race is located right by where our cyclocross series and race was, making it pretty easy to get to. Nice parking, nice crowd, and the proceeds go to the Lion’s Club, so it is a good cause. A bonus is the great breakfast buffet afterward and the opportunity to drink some more (the buffet I had, the drinking I didn’t. A new year; a new me).
Given my 17 miler on Sunday, and 1+ hour XC ski season on Monday, coupled with the drinking last night (although I was asleep by 10:30), I wasn’t too optimistic. But, I was looking for a good three mile workout before I travel abroad, and this would get the job done. My running partner Bernie (of O’Reilly’s Auto Body in Watertown) met me there so I wouldn’t be a complete loser and not know anyone.
It is usually a pretty small crew there, just over 100 runners (maybe 150). Bernie and I did a 2 mile easy warm up, stretched, hit the head, and lined up for the start. You never know who is going to show up at a race like this. You might get some guy who is a 16:00 5k or something faster. Or, there might be no one. There was the usual contingent of high school kids at the front. They’re usually good for a 1/2 mile sprint at the start, and then quick fade.
The “gun” went off (actually someone yelled “Happy New Year”, which was the start) and off we went. The usual HS kids go quick, but no one else is with them. I’m on their backs into a head wind. There can be a stiff wind on this course. We would get it at the start and down the first turn. After that it should be with us. I’m in total draft mode as we are going around 5:10/mile pace. I’m hoping like crazy it gets reasonable soon, but don’t want to lose ground and end up in no-man’s land in this head wind. It’s me and two other guys as we separate from the main field. We go through the first mile in 5:34. I’m working, but settling in.
Into the second mile, the third guy drops and leaves me and the high school kid. School is in session, and I am “The Professor.” He’s running straight into the wind, and I’m very happy to sit. He doesn’t know enough to tell me to take a turn. I had a moment of charitable feeling, but that left rather quickly. I’ll let him work until he indicates otherwise. During my warm-up, I noticed the wind would be at our backs at the right turn onto Emerald. So, the plan through mile 2 was to sit in and let me work, checking over my shoulder to make sure another person didn’t catch up. Right turn onto Emerald, and we are still well away. He goes for water, and I look at the hill ahead, checking my watch. We hit mile two with a 5:54 mile.
Onto the hill, I put in a surge on his inside. It is a short hill, but he is going to have to respond in-kind to keep up. A quick check and the elastic is stretching. Another check and the elastic has snapped. I’m away. Heart rate is hitting cyclocross levels, and I’m hurting a bit. I’m approaching the right hand turn into the finish, and a spectator lets me know that I have 25 yards on him. Things are looking good as we hit the wind again. Now it is going to be hard to make up ground into the headwind with 1/4 mile to go. No worries as I cruise into the finish with a 5:45 finishing mile and a 17:21 final pace. Works out to something like 5:47 per mile average.
Bernie comes in fourth, just edged out by the third guy in our group. He was first master, however. I’m happy with the win and the workout. I talk to the HS kid afterward, telling him not to let another guy do what I did. Make the guy behind you work too. He seems like a good kid, and I am sure he is going to be ripping people apart soon. Hopefully today’s lesson helps.