Mahoney Repeats on a Tough Day

By all accounts the day was nearly perfect for racing. With the Vortex-fueled cold we seem to have all too often this winter, a day near 50f is truly a gift. But for one runner, the his spirits wouldn’t be tied to so directly to the pleasant weather as was the case with most of the field. Here is Chris Mahoney’s account of his Frigid Fiver race (results), where he repeated as champion.

The goal for the Frigid Fiver was to see where I was at after 5 weeks of solid training since my last race, the Hangover Classic 10k back on January 1st. At the Hangover Classic I ran 34:04 for second place and was seven seconds back from the race winner Garry Cuneo. I was thinking I could probably run 26:20 at the Frigid Fiver, but anything in he 26:30 range would have been acceptable. Last year at this race I ran 26:53 and I felt I was in slightly better shape. Leading up to the race I had talked to Garry and knew he was looking for a similar time, which was great, it meant I would have someone to work with. I was also thinking it would give me a chance to get him back for beating me at the Hangover Classic.

Race morning rolled around and I received the very unfortunate news that my cousin Luis Quiles, only 28, had passed away early that morning. It was completely unexpected and a total shock to me and my family. Competing was far from my thoughts as my mind raced to try to make sense of the news and how this could possibly happen. After some time to think and reflect, I decided to head off to the race and a least get in some hard running (when I am stressed or need time to think, it’s often running that I turn to; it’s the best therapy I have found). I had no idea how my body or mind would react to trying race, but I was going to go and give it my best for Luis.

After a 4 mile warm up I headed up to the starting line. I saw some of the faster guys I expected to see: Garry Cuneo, Steve Dowsett, Tim Hartman, and Jordan Kinley. With the group of runners there I knew this would be a good race. When the gun went off Garry immediately went to the lead and opened up a gap on the rest of us. I tucked in behind Jordan and decided to stay there since we had a slight head wind as we ran the very slightly up hill first mile. Garry continued to gap us by about 20-25 meters for most of the first mile. Jordan and I hit the mile mark at 5:18, and I actually felt pretty good and was surprised by the time.

Shortly after that Jordan decided to push a bit, and Garry started coming back to us. Not long before the 2nd mile mark Jordan and I caught Garry, and I was pretty sure it was just the three of us as I heard no one else behind us. I think once we caught Garry the pace eased off a bit as we hit the 2nd mile mark in 5:25. I was still feeling pretty good and decided I would push a bit on the downhill third mile and see what what Garry and Jordan had for me. As we started the downhill I went to the front and gave an extended surge that appeared to open up a gap. I was not sure how big that gap was but I continued to push the pace till the third mile passed in 4:59. At that point I could no longer hear anyone, I became very aware that this race was mine to win or lose, and I was going to give it everything I had and leave it all out there on the road in an attempt to get to the finish line first.

I pressed on as hard as I could, almost waiting for the legs to finally beg for mercy, but that moment never came. The 4 mile mark went by in 5:07 and I knew I had a very good race going. I needed to keep it together for one last mile. The last mile is the toughest on the course and includes the course’s only significant uphill. I hit the hill as hard as could and kept the hammer down as I crested the top and headed for the bike path finish. As I made the corner to the finish I was shocked to see the clock still reading a time of 25 and change. I kicked the best I could and crossed the line in 25:54, for a 5:05 last mile.

No matter if I had won or lost, it was my best effort and race in a very long time. Thoughts of my cousin Luis filled my mind for the majority of the race and my effort for the day was a tribute to him, an effort I hope he would have been proud of.

Luis must be proud of an effort like that. That’s a situation that most runners can relate to, and many of us have probably experienced it. Maybe it wasn’t a race, but instead a workout. Or even just going out for a run to clear your head. We all have different ways of coping and sometimes the best way is to go and do what you would normally do, only making sure to do it to your absolute best.

There was a battle brewing behind Chris. Cuneo and Kinley were duking it out for second place, and Cuneo was putting up his best effort as he was well ahead of PR pace. “I wasn’t ready for the bit of an incline with a little less than a mile to go and he dropped me coming back into town,” said Jordan of Garry’s move to get separation. Jordan was able to recover and close the gap on the bike path, and finally reached back just a little further to pull out enough speed to complete the comeback. Final times were 26:25 for Jordan and 25:26 for Garry, but Garry was skeptical of that. “I’d be surprised if it was more than half a second,” said Garry. Judging by the accounts from both athletes, that sounds about right.

Losing in a kick in hurts, but knowing he cut 48 seconds off of his PR has to help Garry feel better about it. Speaking of PR’s, Steve Dowsett came in 4th place with a 27:22 and ran a PR by about 10 seconds. Steve ran that off of pretty much no speed work so it’s a good indicator of what kind of shape he’s in.

For the ladies, it was Meagan Nedlo taking it all. Meagan wrapped up an 80 mile week with a win and a strong 29:16. Although Meagan finished in the top ten and had an 18 second advantage over second place, it wasn’t a race run entirely on cruise control. “I went out a little too hard chasing a girl who was running barefoot (yes, totally barefoot) who jumped off the line at sub-5:30 pace,” said Meagan. “I’d never seen her before and had no idea if she was legit, so I didn’t want to let her get away. I ended up passing her about five minutes into the race but it definitely took some of the pep out of my step.”

Meagan was hoping to go under 29:00, but the combination of the faster than expected start and the fairly substantial hill at the end was enough to just miss that goal. But, winning the race and holding bragging rights over her boyfriend Jordan Kinley was enough to soothe any pains there. Earning a win and a bigger payday? Yeah, Meagan totally had bragging rights. “I did gloat a little bit but then Jordan won $75 later that day in a (Super Bowl) squares game so he ultimately had the last laugh,” said Meagan.

The mysterious barefoot runner turned out to be Apryl Sabadosa, who didn’t exactly fade into the pack after Meagan passed her. Apryl still ran a 29:34, bare feet and all.

Defending champion Maddy Hribar fell short of repeating this year despite running a full minute faster than she did in 2013. A five miler isn’t quite the focus for Maddy these days as she’s training for Boston, and oh yeah, just won a full marathon the prior weekend. Who cares about place, right? Win a marathon then come back and improve by a minute in a five mile race? That’s something to feel pretty good about. Maddy appears to be well on her way to achieving her goal of going sub-3:00 at Boston if she keeps this up.

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