On Saturday, September 8th, Level Renner will be at Bryant
College University for the Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Race. As was explained in the intro blog post, this race and cause is quite meaningful to me and there will be a series of blog posts appearing here in the days leading up to the race.
The 2007 race was held on September 30 (results here), and this is my account of it as I recorded it in my training log (edited for grammar and logic, per usual):
What a day! We seem to have perfect weather for this one every year, like Shawn’s looking out for us up there. Like I said, pretty much perfect running weather (temps in the 60′s, sunny, light breeze), and things couldn’t have worked out better. What better way to pay tribute to a friend then to win the race that’s in his honor? Here are the splits:
6:07.9 (last 1.1 mi)
Had a longer warm-up, but I’m training through so I wasn’t too worried about that affecting my performance. Like last week, I was combining the long run and the race, so did a seven mile warm-up and then a two mile cool-down. I was in full on taper mode since I was running the Chicago Marathon the next weekend, and I figured doing a longer warm-up would help keep me in check. Originally , I planned on just marathon pacing the whole thing but that went out the window when the gun went off. A half mile in, it was just me and Paul Reiley. Well, I saw my split at the first mile mark and realized I felt great, so I was gonna see if I could get the win.
I know this course like the back of my hand (I was practically raised on it), and I always thought that this gave me an advantage over anybody around me. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter since so much of racing is mental, and the confidence gained from that thinking made me more competitive. With the way I felt, and with the home course advantage, I felt I had the upper hand.
I gained some separation shortly after the first mile, and then I was running pretty much by myself after that. Getting that space made me feel more relaxed, but then I was just afraid I’d fall off pace too much and he’d take me down. I don’t like to look back, but I didn’t hear anything so it seemed like I was safe. It wasn’t until I got to the top of the hill with under a mile to go that I felt like I was safe (but even then, I didn’t know if Paul was lurking within striking distance). With Chicago coming up, I was in no mood for a heated battle for the finish line.
Passing the fields up top, I ran by the fans lined up. Now when we passed them on our way out, they were all shouting ‘Go Paul!’, and ‘Go Bryant!’. It was all for him. He works there, runs with the team, and was wearing a Bryant t-shirt. WTF? I grew up in Smithfield, and I’m an alumni!!! Of course there was no way for these people to know this, but it was still a little discouraging. Going by on the way to the finish I shouted “I’m an alumni! Let’s make some noise!”, and thankfully they responded. One woman even shouted ‘bring me another beer!’ (that’s what it says on the back of our singlets). Awesome (thanks Lori!).
Crossing the line with a W and new course PR of 16:42 felt pretty good. I ran 17:13 last year, and that hurt. I just felt awful doing it. I ran 31 seconds faster this year, and it felt so easy…and that’s with a 7 mi warm-up. I’m very excited about this. It’s not a smoking time, but it’s a challenging, hilly course. Very excited!! To put it in perspective, I’ve been racing and training on this course to some degree since I was in junior high school. My previous PR for this 5k had been a 16:55 that I ran at the class championships my senior year of high school. I know I’m a way better runner now than I was back then, so although it felt good to get under that old mark, it wasn’t far enough under. There’s always unfinished business with this course.
On karma-related note, my friend Vinny had been making some derogatory comments about Smithfieldians throughout the day (some good old-fashioned ball-busting). Just after we left Parente’s, he passed me and on his way by flipped me, a good old Smithfield boy, off. I believe his finger might’ve still been in the air when the lights and sirens went on; Vinny got pulled over by a Smithfield cop. Good to know they’ve got my back!!
Things to note about this year’s race: the race (starting with last year’s) is now held in conjunction with Bryant’s collegiate invitational XC races (schedule and registration here). Hope to see you there!