Sometimes a race catches me by surprise. The Ed Erichson was straight up shocking. I’ve had a lot of success racing the E.E. 5 miler, winning it twice and finishing second twice, but I hadn’t run the 10 mile until last Sunday. I was expecting a tough course with the two 200′ hills you can see in the image below, but I was not expecting tough competition. Occasionally some young burners show up for the 5 mile, and the two times I finished second I got smoked by over a minute, the 10 mile however, tends to be less competitive and I thought I would be in for an hour long grind against the clock.
Scott Downing (23-year-old former NJCAA 1500M National Champion) was expecting the same thing. It wasn’t until we were a few miles into the race running shoulder to shoulder that either of us realized we were in for a serious battle. After the race Scott confessed he was looking to run 6:10-6:20 pace as a training run and grab an easy win. Once the race started he assumed I was just going out too fast and would drop off the pace after a mile or two. By mile 3 he was trying to figure out if he would be able to out kick me if he could stick with me until the end. It turns out we were thinking basically the same things both before and during the race.
I spent the whole race trying to break away from Scott. I figured his youth would give him an advantage if it came to a sprint, but my “experience”, would give me an advantage in a long grind. Each lap I managed to pull away by 8-10 seconds, and each time we hit Croft Hill he closed the gap. You might think living in New Hampshire would give me an advantage when it came to hills, but it takes more than proximity to hills to get good at running them. I’m going to have to stop avoiding them on my training runs.
Scott came up on my shoulder as we flew down the Bushwick hill and I couldn’t shake him over the last mile. We made the turn onto Stringham with me on the inside stride for stride. We stayed stride for stride for about 3 strides and then he was gone. In the final 500 meters Scott put 6 seconds on me to win in 58:34. Despite being beat after leading nearly the entire race, I am very happy with my race. Without someone pushing me, I doubt I could have broken 60 minutes. He helped me run my fastest 10 mile race since I split 58:09 at the Flower City Half Marathon way back in 2011.
So thank you Scott. I hope you are still out there racing in 21 years, when some young punk crushes your dreams of glory with 1 minute to go in a race!