Baltimore, MD - On Thursday, September 11th, four Baltimore runners celebrated America and patriotism by running one mile around Patterson Park. At 7:15pm, the group stood before a lowered flag and proudly sang the National Anthem.
The temperature was still in the mid 80s at start time, but we were treated to one of the most awesome skies ever - captured in the above photograph by Ted Stevens, who happened to be walking his dog through the Park at the time.
From the gun, Ed Aramayo and Graham Peck darted ahead of myself and PJ Anderer. Before the race, we had serious doubts that our aggregate time would be better than 24 minutes. But in the Merica Mile, anything can happen. Ed eventually dropped Graham and blazed to the finish in 4:57. Graham, on his 15th mile of the evening, managed a 5:07. PJ and I ran together the entire way, before I was able to hold him off, 5:45 to 5:48.
The first Merica Mile was held on the track at TNT two years ago, and we didn't hold the event last year. But rest assured, this race is here to stay. We'll find a way!
Next up in the series of race weekends was the last weekend of July, which served as a random mid-summer's marathon weekend.
Out in Oregon, Dustin Meeker and Melissa Tanner had quite the adventure to get to the Eugene Marathon, but once they did it was business time. Dusty, clearly in the marathon shape of his life, had ambitions of a sub 2:30 time. His setup was perfect: chill first 10k, started to pick it up to 20, incredibly consistent splits. The last 10k - as they often do in a marathon - got tough, but he held on and finished up in 5th overall at 2:30:32. Huge new PR and a fantastic result for him. In the women's race, Melissa finished 9th and ran her miles like clockwork, basically even-splitting her way to a 2:55:20.
On the exact opposite end of the continent, Matt Franco and Allison Letourneau were tackling the Nova Scotia Marathon, putting their eggs in the "Canada is cool in July so it'll be easier to qualify for Boston" basket. Franco's story has made the rounds by now, but we'll just say it featured a solid 20 miles, and really tough last 10k after he stopped to go to the bathroom. Speaking from experience, unless you feel absolutely amazing, going to the bathroom that late in the race does nothing but drop a piano on you. While Franco had a rough go, Allison shuffled her way to a 3:33, good enough for 4th and a Boston qualifying time!
Other recent results included:
Megan DiGregorio's Rosaryville 50k win (and course record); Conrad Laskowski finished 14th at the Crystal City Twiligher 5k (15:26) and Andy Sovonick was 36th in 16:22 - side note, this race, a week after Rockville Twilight, is probably one we should look into. Very good competition and hear it's well-organized.
And of course a shout to Brennan Feldhausen, who tore up the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon a week or two ago.
This week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week went to Dusty.
As it's been pointed out, the blog has been quiet recently. Not because people haven't been racing, but honestly because I haven't had time. SO GET OFF MY BACK.
Just kidding. But seriously, I just haven't had the time. And then you know how it goes when you miss one week, it's easier to just miss a bunch of weeks. What I'm going to do is a series of hopefully reasonably short posts with just the highlights, let them hang out up top for a day and then push them down.
This is going to be all about Rockville Twilight 8k. A longstanding tradition among our group in particular, it really is one of the best summertime races out there. With the exception of one year when a tri I was doing conflicted, I've been out there since 2005 - but have only run it 3 times. The race is generally associated with oppressive heat and humidity, and last year's event was canceled after a lightning storm wouldn't move out of the way.
Like the rest of this summer has been, race day came and the forecast was for temps in the low 80s, and by race time it was maybe the 2nd nicest day I've seen in the last decade (behind 2009). This meant fast times were on tap!
Up front, Conrad Laskowski looked determined to race hard from the gun. With a handful guys faster than him, he gritted out a 25:25 8th place finish. Graham Peck, who seemingly never runs this fast in training, blasted a near-PR 25:44 for lucky #13. Our third finisher was Nick Gehlsen, who ran a solid 26:33. Now that should have been our scoring three but apparently in the team results C-Rad was conveniently left off...get to that later.
Next 3 were Andy Sovonick, who ran an absolutely great race to run his fastest time on the course (26:59) followed closely by the Prime Minister of Swag himself, Sean Caskey, in 27:05. That's a great first crack at Rockville, and a fine Falls Road debut. There were a few other notable male performances: Erik T. Orberg, in off-season form, ran a solid 27:37; the wolfpack of Ed Aramayo, Terence Baptiste and Brennan Feldhausen all...finished; and to toot my own horn, I ran 30:11. Not that this is spectacular, but my times here have been: 30:24 (2005), 30:03 (2007), 30:03 (2008). So, at least I'm pretty consistent, and technically I ran faster at 32 and broken than I did at 23 and slightly less broken.
Once upon a time, I actually used to beat Chrissie Ramsey...
Now she wipes the floor with me. Fortunately, I'm not the only one. In 2009 Chrissie won Rockville in a PR of 27:15. It was easily one of the best performances I've ever seen, maybe for her only topped by a 1:14:57 half marathon and 2:44 NYC Marathon. Earlier this year she won the other Rockville-based race, Pike's Peek 10k, and despite moving out of Baltimore we'd hoped she would come race again to cement her status as Queen of Rockville Pike. Just a day before the race I finally found out that she was racing (don't get me started on this!) so I couldn't make sure she was added to the team roster, but she looked ready to go on the start line. She also started campaigning for the Brita Grothe B.A. Award, wearing the tiniest Brooks bottoms we've ever seen.
Chrissie ripped along the course, ultimately finishing 3rd but in a very good time - 27:25, just 10 seconds off her fastest 8k time. For team purposes, Kiera Harrison was our first finisher, 8th in 30:16, and then we had what I thought was the surprise performance of the day come from Kaylyn Peck. Kay ran 31:32 for 11th, which was about a minute faster than I realistically thought she might run. With teams scoring 5 (3M/2F), Kaylyn helped seal our team victory!
As always, it was a fun night down in Rockville, and many thanks to our hosts Montgomery County Road Runners. This race is one of my favorites and is one I always look forward to each summer. Post-race was much less congested this year, and a bunch of us went to Ted's Big City Diner afterwards for late night breakfast food. It ends up being a pretty late night by the time we get back to Baltimore, but it's worth it for a race that brings the team together!
Earning the Purple Drink Athlete of the Week was Chrissie, and Kaylyn won the KC Masterpiece Award this week.
Independence Day. A day many associate with hot dogs, fireworks and the beach. Or for some, an eating contest that rewards overindulgence on nitrate-laced pork byproduct, loud bright explosions and traffic.
Either way, it's AMERICAN and gosh darnit, you'll freaking like it!
And while summer has technically just started, it generally signifies the halfway point of summer, because from here on it, it's going to fly by faster than Maverick buzzing the tower.
Naturally, there are some races held annually on Independence Day, and they attract reasonable sized crowds. The Arbutus Firecracker 10k is a tough course, but top 3 in each age group are rewarded with cash prizes. Erik Anderson was the overall winner in 33:14, and Matt Franco was 9th in 36:06. I originally missed Franco's result because his last name was listed as "France". Dave Berardi ran 37:24 and Joel Gladfelter came in at 38:08.
For the ladies, Megan DiGregorio was 3rd in 39:35 and Suzanne Hurst was 5th at 42:03. Denise Knickman wasn't far behind in 6th at 42:41.
Dundalk has a Heritage Festival that lasts a week and, prior to their parade, racers jump out for a 6k along the parade route. Winning this year's event - in jorts and a t-shirt that read "turn up for America" - was Sean Caskey. He ran 21:05 and then he and his 5 friends proceeded to consume 90 cans of drink. They truly turned up for America. PJ Anderer was 11th in 24:29 and Jen Sheely was 2nd F in 26:29.
Elsewhere there were some great results, such as Tom Stott's 19:41 at the Autism Speaks 5k. Great to see Tommy Stott getting back into action. Another result I missed in the email was Amy Horst's Firecracker 4 Mile in Wisconsin, where she held 6:12 pace and finished 5th in 24:51.
But the race of the day and winner of our Purple Drink Athlete of the Week was Justin Gerbereux, who ran 30:18 to finish 9th at the Southampton Firecracker 8k.