The second New Balance Boston Twilight Meet (5/30/15) featured a big crowd for the 5000m races, many of whom had their sights set on the USATF-NE All Terrain Runner Series.
There were three heats total, with the first heat featuring the fastest men and the remaining two being co-ed. The top two men went under 15 minutes: Ryan Place ended up winning Heat 1 in a speedy 14:31.69, followed by Andrea Sorgato (NBB) in 14:53.
In some ways the real excitement wasn’t at the front, but a little further back in the pack where runners were competing for the to win their respective heats and also jockeying for position in the ATR Series. It’s tough to tell exactly who is and who isn’t participating, but based off of who’s submitted times so far, but it looks like Chris Mahoney was the top ATR runner on the day. Chris ran a 16:22 and placed 6th in the second heat (which was won by Constantinou Fivos in 15:30).
Heat 3 was where most of the ATR action was, and that was won by Daniel Button (Sisu) in 16:30. Dan’s been all over the place lately, from Boston to Burlington and now the track. Dan ended up only running the first 16 miles of VCM as a workout since his recovery from Boston had taken longer than anticipated.
“Marathon day the plan was to run at least the first half of VCM since I did spend the money already and then continue on if I felt good,” said Button. But he didn’t take it easy going into it. The day before VCM, Button was on the track at UVM and did 3 x (5X400 @ 5k pace), with last interval of each set @ 3k pace. Then the next day he was running 2:50 pace for what ended up being 16 miles of the USATF-NE marathon championship. Not a bad weekend’s work!
Now, Button’s on the track. “I ran the Twilight 10k a few weeks back, just to try out racing on a track for the first time and had an absolute blast!” He’s locked in on getting faster this summer and plans on using the NBB Twilight series as a means to that end. “I was hoping to run mid 15 something in this 5k and set a good time, but just felt zapped 1k in.” Although he’s ‘zapped’ now, the work should pay off in the fall when he lines up for his next marathon.
“My goal is to just keep going backwards from the normal racing trajectory since I started as an adult and went right to marathons. That being said, I’ve now experienced the 10k and 5k on track, and will probably be making a fool of myself trying out the steeple in the next Twilight race. In the final race I might go back after that 5k time I want, but we’ll see how the legs are feeling right after Hollis Fast 5k. I’ll definitely keep racing on the track though, so much fun even on a bad day!”
That seems to be a popular sentiment. So many are getting onto the track for the first time, and ATR Series is certainly a motivator there.
For the ladies, Renee Baillie was the top dog in 17:20, although it was far slower than the 15:25 that the Mizuno runner was seeded at. Renee was the only woman to run with the men in Heat 2, and suffered through a rough one. “I suffered in the heat and from not being fully recovered from racing at high altitude in Colorado earlier that week. I think dehydration and fatigue were my main problems.”
Although she knew it wasn’t the best of circumstances for her, she still gave it a shot. “I had a great opportunity though to race with the men so I went for it even though I wasn’t feeling so well…sometimes you have to risk failure to go for the great.”
In Heat 3, the rest of the women’s field battled it out. Jess Minty (NBB) led the charge in 17:30, but like the men, the bigger excitement was a little further back in the field where the stakes stretched beyond the oval. Amanda Wright and Leslie O’Dell were duking it out for the honors of top ATR runner that day, and both had the remnants of VCM in their legs from 6 days prior.
“I realized that in order to count for the ATR series, I was going to have to do outdoor track. So I looked at the schedule thru June and realized this meet was the ONLY one I could pull off. The timing was horrible being 6 days post-marathon AND I had a race to direct the next morning. But I decided to just do it and get it over with.” Clearly Leslie was oozing with excitement over this particular race.
But it’s not like Amanda was there because she planned it that way either: “I would have run a track 5,0000m prior to the marathon, but I pulled my hamstring in the weeks leading up to the marathon. I had to run this one because this was my only opportunity to do a track 5k. I have a bunch of other weekend commitments coming up. I tried to get Dan Button to talk me out of it, but that was a mistake because he tried to talk me into it. Then I saw Leslie O’Dell was running and I thought ‘Now, I can’t back out…she also ran the marathon and beat me!'”
So both competitors were there, angling for the same thing and facing similar degrees of fatigue. It was hot, it was windy, and there were plenty of laps to fully experience those conditions.
Neither runner seemed to be locked in on sticking with anyone in particular. For Leslie, she just went after who was right in front of her. For Amanda, it was the same, except that person happened to be Leslie for much of the race.
The two were right with each other until the end, where Amanda got some separation and pulled ahead to beat Leslie by a few ticks. Amanda ended up with an 18:46 to Leslie’s 18:52. They placed 5th and 6th out of the women in their heat, and 6th and 7th out of all the women on the day, respectively.
“I didn’t have anything left in the tank by the last 2 laps. I was just hanging on through the sufferfest at that point,” said Leslie.
It was a different story for Amanda though. She pulled off The Triple last fall (Mayor’s Cup, Manchester City marathon, and the New England XC Championships all on successive weekends), so she’s no stranger to racing like this. Amanda also just focused on running 90 second quarters, which is something she’s practiced a lot. “The pace is pretty much muscle memory for me,” she explained. In this case, the muscle memory edged out the empty tank.
Next up in the ATR series is the mountain leg: the Loon Mountain race. The mountains would seem to be where Leslie would gain an advantage over Amanda. Will Amanda be able to hang with Leslie on the unforgiving Upper Walking Boss? We’ll see.
But both runners are up for the challenge. In fact, they both surprisingly picked the same event as their favorite so far this year: the snowshoe race. “That is my element, so I felt at home there. But I still have x-c on my ATR list. That will be another race out of my usual type,” said Leslie.
Whereas Leslie was right at home on snowshoes, it was something new for Amanda, but she still loved it: “Snowshoe by far! I didn’t know what to expect and I was out of my comfort zone. I didn’t do well in the race, but I had a lot of fun with the ATR ladies. I am really happy about the ATR Series because it’s showed me new races and introduced me to a lot of amazing athletes in all these different events. I am very excited to be so out of my comfort zone again on Loon Mountain.”
Counting down the days until Loon, and we see so many runners right at home out of their comfort zones.
To see these 5k race (and any others from NBB Twilight #2), check out their YouTube playlist.