Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Take My Breath Away

It's no secret: I love spectating races.

Don't get me wrong, I love racing, too. But there are some weekends where the racing action is so intense, so exciting, that they have the ability to light a fire under everyone. When one person does well, it's cool. When dozens of people do well, it's a movement.

And that's precisely what this past weekend is. While I wouldn't rank it ahead of weekends like Boston, Baltimore, Rockville or Club Challenge, the Shamrock 5k is in the upper echelon of event weekends. This year we had people scattered all over, from the land of the pilgrims to the shores of Virginia.

Saturday was the race formerly known as the National Marathon and Half Marathon. The event organizer, who shall remain nameless, is fortunate that this race was established before they inherited it. The half is a fun race; you take a nice little trip throughout DC while experiencing a challenging hill in the middle. Then you get to take in one of my absolute favorite views: running head-on towards the Capitol. Max Hacker ran an incredible race, setting a personal best of 1:13:44. I'd say he's squarely on track for a grand performance at Boston. Chrissie Ramsey was in 2nd place at mile 11 before she came roaring back to win the race for the 2nd time in 3 years. Her time of 1:19:27 was a little slower than her time last year (1:18:45ish) which got her 3rd. A win is a win! Megan DiGregorio ran 1:23:26, which was about 23 seconds faster than she ran there last year. There were also big performances from Alley Firey, whose 1:48 was faster than she ended the 2013 season, and Stephanie Granlund, who ran an 11 minute PR and nearly broke 2 hours (2:00:14).

The marathon was highlighted by Curt Forst's 2:53:40. Ryan Dietrich finished at 3:06:43, and Dave Ploskonka guided his 3:10 group into a 3:09:44 finish. Dave Alianiello ran 3:48, and the milestone of the day went to Pete Mulligan, who ran his 50th marathon!

Sunday morning was a big one for Cory Donovan. He'd been targeting the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon since shortly after Chicago last fall. We all know Cory is a pretty enthusiastic guy to say the least, and his excitement was boundless throughout this miserable winter as he churned out week after week at 80+ mpw, recording a high week of over 90 miles. He was fit and ready to take on the race. He came through the half in 1:31, and ran well through 22, when the winds picked up and impeded his progress. He held onto finish at 3:11 and a two minute PR.

A couple of the guys headed up to Massachusetts for the New Bedford Half Marathon. To quote the locals, this is one wicked pissa of a race. Nate Brigham had an off day, running 1:13:30, but that was only good enough for 67th! And it's not like it's a cake course on a perfect day. No, it's hilly, and it was cold and windy. Nick Klastava has been In the Zone after kicking his season off with that GW 10k. He ran a 1:17:45 for a PR himself, and finished right with former Falls Road employee and now MA resident, Rory Jenkins.

And then it was time for the fastest 5k around, the Shamrock 5k. The race keeps getting bigger and bigger and the field gets clownier and clownier. But hey, it's still better than a Color Run, am I right? With a couple of the favorites out of commissions, due either to illness/injury or failure to register, it was anyone's race...or so we thought. From the gun Erik Anderson had the lead, and built it up to a comfortable margin as he cruised to the win in 14:46. But, giving chase behind was Dustin Meeker, who ran an incredible 15:05. This knocked out his old personal best of 15:17 set at last year's BAA 5k. 2nd place earned him some ducats and provided some confidence that his training is working!

Ed Aramayo was next up in 15:49 (6th) and Dan Miranda was 7th in 16:04. That's a 9 second PR for him, and it came on the heels of a 20 mile run the day prior. Jason Farber came in at 16:40, and I was really glad to see Arjun Majumdar have a strong run at 16:55. Kris Simms, another year older now, ran 17:04, and big Tom Stack finished at 17:25. Joel Brusewitz crossed the line about 10 pounds heavier than normal but managed a respectable 18:04 (hey, he and his wife just had a kid, I'd say it's okay). Jon Miller came through at 18:17 and Tom Stott, who hasn't raced in a year and a half after breaking the same bone in his foot twice last year, put forth a great effort to get under 19 minutes.

The ladies race was one for the ages. A year ago it was Melissa Majumdar taking the win in a new PR of 17:40, ahead of Meg D at 17:48. This year Meg wanted to regain her title, but she had her work cut out for her. With 1200m to go it was a pack of 4 women and looked like it could come down to a kick. Meg mitigated that circumstance and took the win in a new PR of 17:34 (the day after her 1:23 half!) and Melissa Tanner ran the fastest 5k for her in a few years, taking 2nd in 17:42. Amy Horst (running as Christa Wagner) hasn't been running a ton lately, so her 19:01 was somewhat of a surprise - but an awesome one! And Sara Damiano's 20:29 was a minute PR.

Incredible performances make me excited to get out and race. I will continue to patiently bide my time until my season kicks off, and in the meantime I'll just watch all of you!

We awarded this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week to Dusty. Then it got cold, and snowed again.

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