The Level brain trust was on hand for the Doyleâ€™s Emerald Necklace 5 Miler on Sunday, which was also the opener of the New England Runner Pub Series. But we werenâ€™t there on the clock, as we normally wouldâ€™ve been. We did something we donâ€™t normally do - just race and have a good time. But then of course we had to get out some coverage…it didnâ€™t feel right otherwise! This isnâ€™t about how we did…no. This is about the Pub Runners, and that finish between David Wilson and Bronson Venable.
Both David and Bronson ran a 24:54.0 but the win went to David. Bronson closed on David in that last stretch like you wouldnâ€™t believe. If only we had pictures. Oh wait…we do!
Bronsonâ€™s mom was on the spot and lucky for us had a quick ‘trigger fingerâ€™ on the smartphone. Can you believe how much ground Venable made up in the final meters? Crazy. We had to hear more about it.
Hereâ€™s a Q&A with Bronson, with plenty of insight into how it all unfolded:
How did it go in the early portion of the race? Were you guys just feeling each other out?
Early in the race there was definitely jockeying for positing and feeling each other out. During the first mile, every time I tried to take the tangent or make a move for the lead he would either pinch me in on the corner or put a surge in so my move was unsuccessful. For the first mile he must of looked back at me 10 times at least to make sure he knew where I was and that I wasnâ€™t going to get by him. To be honest it got under my skin a little because I figured we were going to hammer side by side until someone dropped, but he made it clear he didnâ€™t want me next to him or in front of him.
After about a mile I had enough and I made a serious move for the lead. As I went by him I was listening to hear how he was feeling and he was breathing pretty heavily so I honestly thought it was only a matter of time before I dropped him. I had gapped him by almost 5 seconds after a half mile and I donâ€™t know if I let up a little or he made a move by right around mile 2 he had caught up and took the lead again. He then made a move right before the turn around and slowly started to gap me on the way back and the lead grew to about 5 seconds so the tables had turned. After this, the gap remained the same and he kept looking back every turn for me but I wasnâ€™t going anywhere.
When did things really heat up? The last half mile? Quarter mile?
It wasnâ€™t until I went by Scott Mason with about .3 to go where I figured it was now or never. I hit the flat section and everyone down the straightaway was screaming “get him”. So I waited and waiting and second guessed myself because he had looked back so much I figured if I started coming he would look back and see me coming; but I had nothing to lose. So I made a move and I was closing pretty damn hard. He didnâ€™t look back at all which I was surprised by, as we got closer to the finish was coming back faster and faster. I prayed that he would let up at the line thinking he won because I knew it was going to be close but he didnâ€™t. He thought I had got him after the race but I knew I just missed it. Pretty sure they said by 1 100th of a second. ”
Whatâ€™s it like being engaged in a tight battle like that all the way to the tape?
Honestly majority of the races thereâ€™s either no competition (I like my local 5ks), or the competition is stacked like the grand prix series and Iâ€™m nowhere near the lead. It was awesome to have competition for the entire race and the “kick” I didnâ€™t know I had it in me to be honest. Iâ€™m usually the one getting outkicked, but recent training switches have brought some speed I guess. If we were side by side with 100 meters now thereâ€™s no doubt I would of had him, but more credit to him for a good race and gapping me just enough for the win. Now I know I have the kick, and Iâ€™ve already warned Matt Pelletier that Iâ€™m running his old legs down in a race soon (Run 4 Kerri, Bobby Doyle)!
So youâ€™re running Boston…what time are you shooting for?
Yes sir, Boston is almost here! This will be my second marathon, however the first one was part of the Dopey challenge (5k Thurs., 10k Fri., 1/2 Marathon Sat., Marathon Sun.) in 2015 which I was not ready for and ran 2:56. My undergound coach Matty P. wants me locking in at 2:40 pace for the first 20 then letting it go if I feel good. Iâ€™ll probably sneak into running 6min pace and start clicking away for a while. I feel like I can definitely go sub 2:35 but for Monday Iâ€™m going to pull it back and wait for the next marathon before I go all out.
Anyone that knows me, knows itâ€™s a surprise Iâ€™ve been running this long because of my prior injury history so just to be able to toe the line healthy is a blessing in itself. Iâ€™m definitely going to enjoy Boston. The road has been a fun one and I have to give credit to 4 big parts of my training (Dave Principe, Robert Jackman, Matt Pelletier, and Brad Highcove). These guys have not only been there the majority of the miles, but have given me so much knowledge and help. I feel like I owe it to them to continue to improve and get better because without that supporting crew I wouldnâ€™t be currently running the times I am now.
After pulling an all-nighter at work, then showing up to run really well at Doyleâ€™s, how confident are you going into the race (assuming youâ€™ll be getting some sleep the night before!)?
The past 2 races have been after my 3rd shift at the airport working for Southwest Airlines and I have 2 PRs (15:22 5k, an 24:54 5miler) so maybe I donâ€™t need the sleep…just kidding! To be honest everyone works just like me so we all go through the same thing. The only difference is when the majority of people are working Iâ€™m sleeping, and when Iâ€™m working the majority is sleeping.
Iâ€™m just looking forward to continue to improving on my times and starting to mix it up with the front guys during the upcoming Grand Prix races. Between the Grand Prix and some outdoor track races I should have a packed schedule coming up and Iâ€™m ready to go!
We should mention that Bronson is running Boston with bib #2864.
Hayley Sutter, a Boston University grad now living in Nebraska and competing for Lincoln Running Co Racing, was back competing in the Boston area. Â Hayley put quite a strong performance, winning with a 29:04 (nearly a 30s margin of victory). We shot a few questions out to Hayley:
Have you done any pub races before?
No, this was my first one! I honestly didnâ€™t event know it was part of a pub series until a few weeks before the race.
What are you training for right now?
I am training for the Lincoln Half Marathon on May 1. The Lincoln Marathon is the pinnacle running event (the race is capped at 12,500 people and sells out in a matter of hours each year) in Nebraska and has been a sponsor of my racing team since our inception in 2010. With that said, this is THE spring race people back home look forward to. I have jokingly been referring to it as my ‘Homecoming Paradeâ€™ (even though Iâ€™m only home for a week).
What was the key moment in the race for you?
I think there were two. 1) The race had a long out-and-back portion, which meant from about mile 2.2 to mile 3.5 streams of other racers were cheering for me as we passed each other. It was so motivating to hear people cheering “first woman!” or “Go 373 (my bib number)”. And mind you, these people were also racing so for them to use precious oxygen to cheer me on was awesome. All I could muster back was a weak smile and a thumbs up but I was really thankful for the cheers. Looking back at my data after the race, my 3rd mile was my fastest and that was definitely thanks to everyone cheering me on.
The second turning point for me was coming into mile 4. I was actually really nervous for this race because I had just ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8k (in Chicago) the Sunday before and was training through the race. With that said, I was nervous because I had no idea what I was capable of running on tired legs. I had set a goal of 29:40 before the race (which is a funding standard for my racing team) but honestly thought it was slightly unrealistic. When I came through the 4th mile there were race volunteers reading out the cumulative race time. I donâ€™t remember what they said my time was but I know I did the mental math and realized I could run a 7:00 minute mile and still be under 29:40. This was the first moment in the race that I really comprehended what pace I was running and that I wouldnâ€™t struggle to get the standard. Of course, in retrospect I wish I would have pushed a little harder to the finish and tried to dip under 29:00. Runners are never satisfied, are we?
Behind Hayley was Sara Donahue in 2nd with a 29:30 followed by Kara Haas in 3rd with a 29:49. Karaâ€™s been on a roll lately and had this to say about her race:
Doyles was a blast - I tried hard to hang with some cool kids in LVL singlets but they dropped me about moat time into the race. Having procured babysitting for every upcoming Pub Race, Iâ€™m fired up to run the entire series, and, potentially compete in 4 of the 6 USATFNE ATR series (hmm…more babysitting dates on the calendar….). Both are tons of fun, with simply the best people on the planet: New England runners. I like my chances to be first in line to imbibe adult beverages post race, but I may have to cut in line in front of Sarah Donahue or Haley Sutter ðŸ˜‰Â Maybe theyâ€™ll be kind to their elders.
Not everyone can hang with the cool kids in the Level singlets. Thereâ€™s just something about that singlet… But one guy who has no problem with that is TJ Unger. We need to throw the spotlight on him here, although heâ€™s reluctant to step into it.
I had a front row seat to TJâ€™s impressive Merrimack River Trail Race on Sunday. He blew by me early on the return portion of the out and back course as if I was standing still. I couldnâ€™t even keep him in sight after that. TJ went on to run a 58:52 and finish 5th in the race, which served as both the USATF-NE trail championship and also another event on the USATF-NE All Terrain Runner Series. This is a hard race on a challenging course. It beats you up. But there he was the very next day, racing Doyleâ€™s. TJ wound up 5th in this Pub Series opener, running a 26:15 (thatâ€™s 5:15/mi pace). And as fatigued as he may have been, he was still able to point at things with flawless form:
Watch out for TJ in the Boston Marathon, where heâ€™ll be racing with bib #503.
Lastly, a shoutout to all the Pub Runners. What a race that was! The after party was epic. We got to hang out with Fitzy, Michelle, and Sam Adams…a legendary trio.