Monday, October 22, 2012

Westerly Run for the Pumpkins Race

Yesterday was my second time running the pumpkin (less) race in Westerly.  I was rather nervous leading up to the race, as I won it last year (my first and only road race win), and I knew that the field was going to be bigger, and include some of my fast WTAC teammates.  This 5K is very hilly, including a steep 98' climb about halfway through: 

Last year, I ran 19:00 flat, and this year I was thinking I would be low 18's, but my goal was sub 18.  It also would be nice to finish first again.  The pressure was on! 

I arrived early with my dad, and picked up my bib and shirt.  In the parking lot, I noticed an unfamiliar fit-looking guy.  I also saw fellow teammates Jeff (directing and running) and Mike B.  My body was tight, and I decided to head out and run the entire course as a warm up.  The weather was spectacular (about 60 degrees and sunny, some wind).  Running really helped me relax and focus.  I glanced at my watch and I was going a little too fast during the first mile (mid 6's).  Oops.  I slowed down and continued to the big hill.  I tried not to storm up it.  I was impressed with its steepness and length, thinking that I had been exaggerating it in my mind from last year's race.  It made me think that it definitely was going to be an advantage to me place-wise (I love hills!), but not time-wise (goodbye 17's?).  On the third mile, the stranger from the parking lot jumped onto the road ahead of me.  He looked smooth and fast.  I checked my watch - I was running about 7 flat and he was pulling away from me on a warm up!  Yikes.  I finished up around the fields at the registration area and found my wife and kids.  Next thing I knew, it was almost time to start.  I ran some more and then waited at the line. 

At the gun, I sprinted to the front.  I tried to dial down my enthusiasm and stay under control.  By the time we were exiting the park, I was passed by the fast stranger.  He steadily increased his lead over the first mile.  After the fast start, I settled into my goal pace for the first mile (5:30).  I could hear footsteps behind me, but they weren't too close.  I reached the first mile in 5:32.  I continued on to the long downhill section until the course turns left onto the big hill.  I figured it was a good sign that Jeff hadn't run me down by now.  I began the ascent, watching first place ahead of me to see how he handled the hill.  I was gaining some ground, but he was still 15-20 seconds ahead of me.  Then the course turns left, but continues to gain in elevation.  I was really feeling the burn here.  As I crested the hill, it took a while to recover, but luckily it was downhill (briefly).  One more small climb, and I saw first place glance back at me.  I took this as a sign that he was tiring, so I tried to pick up my pace.  This was right about at the 2nd mile mark (6:01 split).  I felt like I had narrowed the gap to about 10 seconds before the course reaches its highest point, and then he descended speedily towards the finish in the park, and increasing his lead.  I got my pace back in to the 5:30's, and picked it up to low 5's as I finished through the park.  I was surprised that the clock was still under 18 when it came into view, and I sprinted to finish in the 17's, which I thought I had in 17:59.  SNERRO strikes again, just like last year when I thought I finished in 18:58, the official time was 19:00, my time this year was 18:00.  Oh well.  The winning time was 17:45.  Jeff came in 18:30.  My dad finished in the 24's.  I chatted with the winner, and then was greeted by my wife and kids.  After more mingling with fellow WTAC runners and watching the awards/raffle it was time to go. 

Finishing up.  Photo courtesy of Jeff Walker. 

Overall, I was super pleased with this race.  Last year I ran 19:00, and then 18:08 a couple of weeks later on a flat course.  I'd love to duplicate that 52 second improvement when I race that same flat course next week.  Kudos to the WTAC for putting on a great event! 




  1. Awesome race, Jonny! I'm excited to see what you can do on a flat race too.

  2. Great race, and a great showing by WTAC!!! Looking forward to the FOP race next week!

  3. Great job, Jonny! You really crushed it on that big hill!

  4. are a monster!! Good work..hope to catch up with you soon.

  5. Huge PR coming up on Sunday for you!!

  6. Hey Jonny! Westerly Sun pictures show you across the finish line, and the time on the clock is still at 17:59...!