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The course is notorious for its hills. In the third mile is a mile-long climb that gets pretty steep toward the top. Mile 5 there's a reservoir to send you icy headwinds. the course rolls on until 8 and a half miles where it climbs and climbs again. You have to run downhill, past the finish, into a school parking lot where you run a cruel lap back to the chute. There are enough prizes and notoriety here to draw people from all over New England.<br><br>
With a race up Mt. Washington on the slate this year, I took this one as seriously as any. I ran the course a couple times with my club, once and once again with repeats of the hills for 15 miles, each time at 8:00 pace. Tracking my buildup of vertical feet as well as distance this year, I took myself from about 25 mi. and 2000' to 35 mi. and 3000', tapering 80% from 10 days out.<br><br>
I still didn't know what to expect from myself, having very little opportunity speed work. Much easier for me to get out into snow and mud up barely passable trails than to line up a good place for speedy repeats. There was my very fast 5k mid January, for me that's 20:30. When ice and snow limited the possibility for speed, I'd run pickups for as long as terrain allowed for a fartlec or 'islec'. A week out I did some Mile repeats x 3 at 6:15 to 6:45 in mud and rain. Mostly I ran a lot of long slow climbs, the best being an impulsive 17 mile 1600' double of an icy local mountain road at 9:00 pace, having a blast.<br><br>
Obnoxious cracks and pops and aches and pains a few days out told me that the taper was probably working. Either that or I was about to go out and really hurt myself. My goal of 1:15 jumped to 1:10. I mapped out a plan ranging from only 7:00 to 9:00 miles on the course and still came close to 1:10. Feeling the need for speed, I was coping with the fall-out from overtime at my desk job mostly with moving yoga/core exercises, chomping a the bit.<br><br>
If nothing else I was well prepared and behaving myself. At that desk job, the current issue of NERunner was always close at hand, and ironically I would read the "The Ace of Spades" with some satisfaction. As it recommended I had (1) run the hilliest courses I could find. (2) ran more and longer than I ever had (3) ran twice a day a few times.<br><br>
Pre-race went smoothly, warm up was good and I toed the line feeling good if anxious. Unfortunately I started too far back, fought for a decent position and felt like I was clawing my way forward for the first mile. I wasn't comfortable but mile 2 was about 13:00 and 3 was 21:30 halfway up the big hill. At the steepest part I finally had my legs under me, but I only passed a couple guys but I didn't worry. Most were overdressed, expecting the weather to swing from low 20's to 30's, attrition would be my friend later on maybe.<br><br>
I soon hoped so, as one young overdressed guy with a bottle I had passed pulled ahead on the downhill, and I had a side stitch that took a mile to shake. The pace was good but felt like such work. Immediate strategies to lose my side-stitch would be no help if I could not loosen up, relax and enjoy myself. Working for a 'good time' on the clock needed to feel like a good time, now. That would become my mantra for the rest of the race.<br><br>
Phil B. caught me around mile 4, he's experienced and consistent, so I drafted behind. Mile five was 36:00 and I felt I had gotten the hard work over with. There was sloppy footing, headwinds, and a refrain of 'good times now!' The major discomfort was over and I had settled in. I had verbally stated a goal of 1:10 to Dan M. before the race and it no longer seemed a leap. Ed B. caught up to me at mile 5, Mr. Ultra-runner from our club and I hung with him for a couple few miles, gaining some of what I'd need for sure.<br><br>
Phil, the overdressed kid and I traded places back and forth as the course rolled on. Ed drifted away. On the hill at mile 7, an old guy with obvious Mechanical challenges raced past, Boston Track Club on his back in racing flats, this was willpower beyond my ken. Down the Hill he flew past the overdressed kid. On the downhill, I allowed myself to calculate what I needed to do, hitting mile 8 at about 57:30. I usually avoid this as it distracts from what matters on the course. The final hills began and I easily passed the young over dressed dude. I pressed ahead and held some speed to pass even the old track dude.<br><br>
I was working hard turning on to Strong St. for the last mile. For a moment the summer of hard mountain running ahead loomed onerous, but in came the 'have a good time now' mantra. There was a short dip between hills and that old dude was on my tail. Up the last climb I made slow gains on a dark Indian guy ahead and passed him as I crested, praying I could hold on.<br><br>
Every trick in the book from the previous 10 miles went into that last half mile, light-footed as possible down into the parking lot. I heard the heaving sound of Boston Track Club behind me. We swung around the island of plowed snow and he took the inside. I swear I heard snow crunching and he put on a furious sprint ahead. Giving a 50 yard chase, I finished 3 seconds behind him in 1:11:18.<br><br>
There were plenty of opportunities to make the goal that I probably missed. I felt no disappointment though, and had placed well with the club. We would take 3rd place as a Men's Team, I was 5th placeholder. That was beyond my comprehension as I stood at the table where results sheets were being corrected and the crowd milled shoulder to shoulder, necks craning. The old guy that beat me, his name looked familiar.<br><br>
Conversation caught my attention as people were talking softly about the course designer, who was standing across the table from us. 'What was his name, Tom ...?' and I'd answer, 'Derderian? No way.' I looked across the table and that indeed was the guy, and that was indeed the guy that sprinted past me. Double-take, I double checked the name on the results ...Tom Derderian, 'My Word' columnist in NE Runner, co-designer of the course. Star struck, I chatted very briefly with him. Very briefly, I may have shook his hand twice, and left hardly feeling that I was 'playing with a full deck' in any sense of the word. The race leaves me with confidence in the long hills and good times, and a heightened appetite for speed work.<br><br><a href="http://www.masslive.com/cgi-bin/stats/redirect.cgi?r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.masslive.com%2Frepublican%2Fstories%2Findex.ssf%3F%2Fbase%2Fsports-0%2F1203927714284920.xml%26coll%3D1&page=http://search.masslive.com/sp?aff=100&keywords=jones+road+race&x=0&y=0&rs=planetdiscover&re=click&rcrt=textlink&rcmp=search_blogs" target="_blank">Local Write-Up</a>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Johnny B.<br><br>
The encounter with Tom Derderian was incredible. I have a very short history as an athlete, about 3 years. Come to find out, he was a very influential figure among the most seasoned runners in my running club. His girlfriend was the first woman to run the Mt. Washington Road Race in NH, while I was in diapers. He himself ran it before I was born. This 7 mile race with 5000' climbing he also ran in 1998 -ONLY 3 MINUTES SLOWER - than in 1972. I'm running that race this year so I feel very lucky and honored that we crossed paths the way we did.
 

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Great Run Corrade.<br>
And excellent report.<br><br>
Sounds like like you have the stuff to make good on Mt Washington.<br>
Train Hard<br>
Train Smart<br>
jjj
 

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Dude!!! Awesome race and time!!<br><br>
I grew up in Amherst but that was long before I understood that people actually ran for fun <img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif"> Sounds like a race I'll have to go back for one day.
 
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