Monday, April 28, 2008

NETT takes 3 of top 7 at Blue Hills, makes strong Masters showing at the James Joyce Ramble

As I was thinking about how to review all of the NETT-related events going on this past weekend, I thought it would be easiest to do it in the first person—as me, Dave, rather than as the third-person reporter I usually cover our events in. With that said…

So, Saturday morning kicked off well with a nice warmup run on the Battle Road trails before meeting up with Frank KJ, Youngstah, Mary Smith and Tina for a long run from the Battle Road Farm condo plex in Lincoln. As always, Frank dazzled us with his internal map function and took us from his house, by the Sandy Pond reservoir, around Walden and a host of other trails until right when we were starting to think we’d never get home again, we “popped right out” at the end of the Battle Road Trail. Don’t ask me how. I can’t explain it. But a great run followed by bagels and coffee, courtesy of the Wang-Kjaarsgaards. Muchas Gracias!

Sunday, it was what will likely be my shortest race commute of the year, driving the 10 miles or so to Milton for the Blue Hills 10 Mile Trail Race . Quite eventful. Before the race, I meet up with Paul Young, Chris Smith and Rob Smith for a nice easy warmup jog. The legs are definitely a little flat from the long run the day before, but other than, ready to mix it up. Just prior to the race, I catch Ben Nephew and Jim Pawlicki hammering down a hill on the trail and I’m thinking “man, that has got to be the fastest warmup I’ve ever seen!”

Okay, time to toe the line. Looking around, Rob points out a guy that we might want to keep an eye on (he was eventual 3-mile winner Aaron Price). False start and we’re off like bats from hell, but it’s hard to keep track of who’s where, since the 3-miler starts with the 10milers. After a half-mile or so, me, Chris, Paul and Rob are grouped nicely (“Geez, Paul, if you wore your white NETT shirt like me and Chris, it would make a great photo!”) and we look up to see Nephew and Pawlicki on the sidelines cheering.

Dave: What the hell are you guys doing?
Ben: We didn’t know you had to pre-register.
Dave: We all just moved up two places, guys!

At the split for the three-milers, it’s impossible to know what places we’re in, but me, Paul and Rob run close for a while. We do an out-and-back section on the course, and it doesn’t look like there’s anyone else in front of us. A bit later we see the CMS twins again cheering us on loudly and I ask what place we’re in. “I think you’re the leaders” comes the reply. “Okay boys…things just got interesting,” I shout over my shoulder to two of the top masters trail runners in New England and crank the pace up a bit.

I really crank it up on a long uphill just before 6 miles and for the first time in about 40 minutes I don’t hear footsteps behind me. But with two very experienced guys keeping chase, I have to keep the foot on the gas.

At about 8 miles, I get the bad news, as I come through a check point and hear one of the volunteers say “Great work. You’re number 2.” Number 2? First off, no one likes to be called “number 2” but secondly, where did number one come from? Well, long story short, it looks like the first-place finisher was so far ahead that maybe a couple folks didn’t even notice him. So me, Paul and Rob finish 2-3-4 and Chris only a bit back in 7th. Talk about a SOLID masters field!

UPDATE: For photos of the Blue Hills race, courtesy of the host Colonial Road Runners, click here.

Okay, fast forward to the drive home. I know the James Joyce Ramble is clogging up the streets of Dedham, which sits smack between Blue Hills and West-Roxbury, so I’m not surprised when I get stuck at a closed street crossing. However, as I watch some of the runners flying past my eyes pop out when I catch that all-too-familiar coyote image on the front of a shirt! It’s Karen Ringheiser blasting through the 10K on her way to a FOURTH MASTER finish in 41:13. And of course if Karen’s there, Dima Feinhaus is there as well and he too battled a tough masters field to finish 41st overall, 12th master in 38:19.

WHEW! Busy busy. Check back for photos, details.

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