Held on coastal roads in Westerly, Surftown offered the opportunity to improve on my 1:25 PR and serve as a fitness barometer before embarking on NipMuck in a few weeks. Weather was perfect - sunny and cool. With 1800 runners it was going to be a pretty big event but I avoided most of the traffic and had plenty of time to pick up my bib and warm-up.
The race was delayed about 15 minutes because so many people were in line for the john and everyone was getting antzy. Finally it was go time and I toed the line alongside teammates Muddy and Ryan Woolley (whom I finally met after the race.) At the gun we took off and I found myself very briefly in third place as Ryan and Muddy took off ahead. Then Jeff and some fast ladies went by followed by a few others. Over the first mile people continued to pass me until equilibrium was reached which left me in around 20th place. I got into a good rhythm and my pace was in the 6:20s.
The loop around Weekapaug featured some minor hills and I picked up a couple spots as some guys slowed on the inclines. As I came back onto Atlantic Ave I found myself in a group with four other guys. We all were happy with the 6:20ish pace we were running and stayed together for most of the race. This was a big help as each guy seemed to take turns running ahead before the rest of the group reeled him back in.
Amanda and Ezri were waiting at 7.5 miles. I ran to the far side of the road to give 'em high fives and it gave me a surge of energy. I also seemed to pick up the pace after the water stops. I started with water for the first half of the race and then switched to gatorade. It seemed to work.
Mile 7 was the fastest yet at 6:17 and now it was beginning to feel like work. This is where running in a group really helped. One guy had already dropped back and I didn't want to suffer a similar fate - I pushed harder to stick with the other three guys. The four of us continued to run in 6:20s as we approached Watch Hill, slowly gaining on two other runners ahead of us. As we entered the historic district I found myself pulling ahead of the other guys. At the hill leading up to the Ocean House, I kept the pace up and caught up to the two men we had been chasing.
Suddenly I found myself out in front of everyone. The hill had slowed all of them down but it had given me strength. I knew this was my window to put some distance between my competitors and I pushed - miles 11 & 12 were 6:14 and 6:12. I was moving very well at the end of the race - at one point during mile 11 I glanced at my watch and saw a sub-6 minute pace.
By the time I turned onto Maplewood Ave I was tired and ready to be done. I glanced back as I turned onto Atlantic and there was no one to worry about. The homestretch was a slog - I felt like my pace was awful though the spacewatch says otherwise. As I approached the finish line, a guy told me I was 13th which was awesome. Then I saw the 1:24 on the clock and that was even better.
1:24:00 on the dot! PR by one minute exactly! (kind of weird that I ran Ocean's Run in 1:25:00.) And it was a big day for WTAC all around. Ran into Muddy and learned that he won the whole thing! Ryan in 3rd and Jeff Walker in 6th (after completing a half Ironman last Sunday no less.) Young Matthew Walked finished 26th in under 1:28. Pretty impressive for a 13 year old - I'm not sure how long I'll be able to hold him off. Another big PR for Crutch.
|Swag and Spoils|
I did a short cooldown then grabbed my free beer and waited for the awards. I came in 2nd in my age group (Surftown has generous five year categories which helps) and snagged a pint glass and visor. Overall everything worked out perfectly. I ran a smart race and was able to save my best for the end. A huge motivational boost with NipMuck approaching!