Luckily for those of us running, some early fall-like conditions arrived just in time for the Six03 Summerfest 10k in Dover, NH on Sunday. The weather wasn’t going to be a concern but two other issues weighed heavily on my mind: a.) Would my Friday Night Lights blisters continue to be a problem? and b.) Would I heed my coach’s advice and not attack it right from the gun?
The blisters turned out to be a non-issue, but the timing was pretty amazing. Having just caught up on The Night Of, where John Turturro’s Jack Stone has foot eczema condition that everyone seems to be asking about, the humor wasn’t lost on me when people inquired about the blister situation. I think that’s finally behind me.
As for Coach Donnelly’s advice, the plan was to go out super relaxed (slower than marathon pace even) and then start into 10k pace miles for the final 4.2 miles. I didn’t think I’d be able to, not with a win and some cash on the line, but was able to think big picture and stick to the plan. Of course, when you see Andrew Huebner milling about the start (you know…the same Huebner who ran a 2:17:05 marathon and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials), it’s a little easier to forget about chasing the win. But then again…gotta take a shot at a guy of that caliber!
Well Andrew hadn’t raced in 9 months (aside from his Trials attempt) due to a battle with some unfortunately-timed high hamstring/groin issues. So he’s not 100%, I’m using a race strategy typically not associate with winning…it was going to be interesting. We chatted about our current situations, and then it was go time.
The gun went off, and so did Huebner and the lead pack. The four of them (3 for the 10k along with the eventual 5k winner) bombed down the hill and were off to what seemed like a pretty big lead right away. It’s always a tough tightrope to walk when you’re laying back but also want to keep a late race surge in play.
5:28 for the first mile, which was much faster than I wanted but it was pretty much all downhill. All good. Except it felt like I was at least 15 seconds behind.
The second mile took back what the first mile gave, and that split ended up being a 5:48. The lead didn’t quite grow, but Huebner was pulling away. The pack behind him was starting to get strung out a little bit so there was at least hope of nailing down second place.
Third mile…time to get to work. Over the course of that 3rd mile I was able to pick off the guys in pursuit, but Andrew was out there all alone in front and looking smooth. 5:14 3rd mile. 5:17 4th mile (including the turnaround point at about 3.7mi). He was coming back! It doesn’t matter if it’s not ‘A game’ vs ‘A game’, it’s a race and Huebner can bring it so seeing him come back was definitely motivating.
It was shortly after we hit that 4th mile where I finally pulled even with Andrew. It was a good feeling, but also a fleeting one because I knew I probably was too eager in reeling him in and was paying the price for it. After what only seemed like 10 strides together, Huebner took off again and broke me just as quickly as he had served up that hope. It seemed like his lead was just as big as it had been early on, and it only took him about a quarter mile to do it (seemingly).
5:38 5th mile, first place running away from me. The pace was slowing, but one thing kept me going: the King of the Hill prème. The last third of a mile featured a descent hill that the race directors cleverly turned into another point of competition. With a timing mat at the bottom of it, the fastest man & woman to crank up that last stretch would get the title. I was feeling pretty confident that I would at least get that. Keep him within in range over the last mile and then hammer the hill. All I would have to do is gain on him by a measly second and I’d get the title.
— SIX03 Endurance (@SIX03Endurance) July 31, 2016
Well, Huebner broke the tape in 34:25 and managed a 2:25 hill split. Dropping the hammer, I pulled out a 2:19 hill split and made the finish a little more interesting, but still crossed in 34:33…so not exactly a photo finish. But the hill title had to be mine now…right?!
Wrong! Erik Travis annihilated the field from way back in 44th place. Travis ran a 1:58 split on the hill and crushed the hopes and dreams of all other king wannabes. That was his plan the whole time, and he managed to pull it off. It’s not even like he jogged it and just barely nipped it. He demolished everyone else on it. Nothing left to do but say ‘congrats your royal highness’ and tip the cap to him.
Huebner might not be back in 2:17 shape yet, but it looks like he’s well on his way back and even though I was on the receiving end of the beat down, it was great to see him back in action.
For the ladies, you’ll never guess who won. Leslie O’Dell! Leslie was once again victorious in the Six03 gear as she ran a 40:08 and led the Six03 podium sweep (Sara Canney in 2nd and Rhyan Raddack in 3rd). Unlike the men, the top women also showed the same dominance on the hill as the top 4 overall also placed in the same order on the hill split. Again, no surprise as the mountain goat O’Dell ended up being Queen of the Hill.
— SIX03 Endurance (@SIX03Endurance) July 31, 2016
Casey Carroll (17:06) and Taryn Litterbrant (20:49) were the 5k winners. The 5k course was a new addition this year for the event, which was in its 3rd year overall.
For more info…
Seacoast Online recap: