CMS stud Dan Vassallo has been tearing up the roads big time lately, winning the Mount Desert Island Marathon in course record time (2:21:45) and just three weeks later, capturing the USATF-NE title in Manchester. Not to mention he led his CMS team to victory along with Scott Mindel and Eric Narcisi’s 2nd and 10th place finishes. Even after all that fast running, he was still too quick for us to get him on camera. But here’s a Q&A panel where Dan explains his accomplishments:
This is the 3rd time you’ve competed (and 2nd time winning) the Manchester Marathon. Briefly compare this race to the other two. Was this year’s the most satisfying?
In 2013, I was banged up, and in 2014 I had a speed limit. Sunday my only speed limit was imposed by the race I did three weeks ago. I wanted to run more conservatively than I ended up running because I didn’t know how my legs would respond to going through this again.
This year’s was definitely the most satisfying: as I said then, it was weird to be the first person across the finish line in 2014 because I knew Jason Ayr deserved it. I was trailing Scott and Antonio early in the race when we re-traced the part of the 2014 race where Jason disappeared, and I told Scott to pour one out for Jason.
Which course variation did you like best?
I liked the fact that miles 20-22 on the other side of the river from the old course got moved to earlier in the race. Going up those inclines after two hours of running was a sick joke! That was the part of the race where I kind of took control this year.
Being three weeks removed from a win (and new CR) at the Mount Desert Island marathon, were you expecting to be as strong as you were at Manchester?
No. My game plan was to go out at 1:15 and come back hard enough to keep Scott nervous. I assumed Scott was going to run solo from the front, and when I realized that wasn’t going to be the case, my game plan changed. My legs felt good through the first six miles, but once I started closing the gap at about eight, I started to feel MDI a little bit. I was very concerned that it was going to be a long way home, but at that juncture I wanted to make sure that Antonio wasn’t going to sit on Scott for 24 miles and outkick him. From 40 seconds back, that’s what I saw unfolding in front of me: I saw my teammate doing all the work and the other guy freeloading on a windy day. I’ve lost too many races that way, and it was worth being a little reckless to prevent it from happening to Scott.
Even after Scott put some time on me and Antonio (who I refused to let draft off of me) around mile 12, I was okay with that. I broke this drafting nonsense early, and if my race suffered for it, so be it. I knew that Scott was aiming to run this race for the win all season, but I was there to be a warm body for CMS.
How long were you trading off with Scott and Antonio prior to breaking it open?
I caught up to them around nine and a half miles and told Scott I could take the wind for a while because Antonio wasn’t giving him any help. I may have used some choice language to convey my annoyance. Scott dropped back and Antonio started drafting, so I weaved around to the other side of the road – he got the hint. Scott re-gained the lead and the same process repeated itself around mile 14. At 15 Scott started to drop off a bit. I was afraid that he was falling apart, but it was actually just smart racing. At that point I thought my best chance to have the race play out the way I wanted to would be to run away from Antonio, so that’s what I did. My legs never felt much worse than they did at eight miles. Antonio made a move and caught back up around 18, but I re-asserted my lead, and next time I saw them Scott had broken him, too. At 22 miles, I looked back, saw Scott about 150 meters behind me, and knew we had locked up 1-2. I didn’t want it to come down to a kick so I gave it one last push before we hit the wind at 25.
What’s next on the racing schedule (after a well-earned break)?
I’ll be doing a couple of races back in Peabody for my friends in town, doing the long leg for a Wicked Running team at the Mill Cities Relay, and then possibly trying to help some buddies go under 15:00 in the 5K this winter. No marathons until next fall for me.
Any other shoutouts you’d like to add?
1) I’m really happy for my wife Kat and her teammates on Craft for securing the overall Grand Prix title. Just like us on CMS, Kat and Melanie were doubling back from October marathons. And Nedlo ran up the score!
2) I said before the race that Eric, Scott, and I were going to have to eat this “dessert” together, and we did. We won it as a team, and that was fun.
3) I didn’t like the drafting thing, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Wilson is a beast. I saw him run in Hartford, and when he came back at me at 18 miles, it scared the crap out of me.
Congrats to Dan on his standout road racing and wishing him the best with his recovery weeks and future training.