|Going "Pre" With the Retro 70's|
'Stache at the RI 6-HR Relay
[Scott Mason Photography]
Warwick, RHODE ISLAND -- One of the best things about the evolution of acidotic RACING is the plethora of opportunities to race "team"-type events like the Rhode Island 6-Hour Relay hosted by the Tuesday Night Turtles. When I put the call out a couple of months ago, the six team spots filled immediately and with the response that I got it appeared this collection would be pretty competitive. The only one of the 'original 6' who did not make it to Warwick City Park last Sunday was Geoff Cunningham who remained sidelined with a sore toe. As it turned out his replacement, TNT's own Alan Bernier, more than made up for Geoff's absence. Rich, Wolfe, Danny, Charlie, and I met Alan in Warwick on a chilly RI Sunday morning. While we had discussed several race strategies, the final decision wasn't made until less than an hour before race time. We would run the first rotation 1 lap at a time and then make a decision about doubling up or sticking with 1 each. When everyone else had arrived it became apparent that our competition would come from two teams...Pat Moulton and his girlfriend and at least one of the teams from FuelBelt. Charlie led us off and scotched the 2.7 road course finishing in the lead with FuelBelt and Pat in hot pursuit. Alan, an equally accomplished runner, padded the lead with a blistering turn of his own. Now almost 2 minutes up on the next two teams Danny took his turn. In what was perhaps one of the most fitting karma moments of 2010, Danny missed the first critical left hand turn less than 50 meters from the start. Danny had been dogging me during the car ride down about my failure to correctly navigate the Busa Bushwhack several weeks earlier resulting in my first loss to teammate Rich Lavers. Danny not only missed the turn, but ran sub 5:45's for another 2-3 minutes before realizing his mistake. By the time he doubled back and hit the 1 mile split (at 11:00 and change) he had not only given up the lead, but he put us 2+ minutes behind the 2nd place Pat (running the first 3 hours by himself). Clearly upset with himself he retreated into his fortress of self-reflection and geared up to help us get back to the top of the podium. Wolfe took his turn and ran a very brisk sub 16:00 getting back almost 2 minutes to the leaders. By the time Rich handed off to me (running #6) we were within :45 of Pat (in 2nd place) and :90 to FuelBelt (still in 1st). Aside from Reach The Beach, I hadn't run a "road race" all year. A few weeks back when Wolfe asked me to estimate my pace I told him I'd be happy to run 6:10's but wouldn't be surprised if I ran 6:20's. I also hadn't raced this short of a distance (2.7 miles) all year. When Rich handed me the bracelet I took off after Pat whom I could see just ahead. I tried to get out hard in the first few hundred meters, settle into a groove, and at least maintain the gap that the 2nd place team had on us. I figured with our top two coming up again after me, if I didn't give anything else away I'd be doing okay. I was stunned when I hit the 1 mile marker in 5:44. Taking stock I felt like I was running in control and certainly not redlining. Pat was just ahead but I felt like I was closing the gap between us. By the 1/2 way mark I had run up behind his left shoulder. A much smaller and infinitely more talented runner that I, the objective became to use his incredibly consistent pace to pull me along. We ran together past the 2 mile mark (11:48 split) and finally caught our first glimpse of the 1st place FuelBelt team. The course rolled through the final .7 and it was here that I moved around Pat and attempted to track down the guy from FuelBelt. Within 200 meters I had caught and passed the 1st place team erasing the final :90 gap and putting us back on top of the podium...where we'd stay for the rest of the event. I finished my first lap in 16:00 (5:56's) and then went on to run a 16:06 (5:58's) and 16:08 (5:59's). We ran the rest of the event 1 lap at a time slowly building our lead behind the strength of our runners. When the overall team win was secured, the next question was whether we'd be able to surpass the 60 mile mark. In the end we set a RI 6-HR Relay record by running 59.4 miles (22 laps) in 5:53:58 averaging 5:58's. FuelBelt finished 1 lap behind. For our efforts we won 3 cases of LongHammer IPA from Redhook. Oh the hoppy taste of success!
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