By Michael Pelletier
After being the top-ranked Super Veteran team in USATF/NE for 2013, the NSS 70+ men reassembled the team last Sunday to compete for the 2014 New England 5-Mile Championship.
In 2013 on a very humid July day, Joe Giannone, George Geis, Mike Pelletier, and Armand Claveau were the first Super Veteran team in the Carver Cranberry 5-Miler, last year’s USATF/NE Championship.
In 2014 in Merrimack, NH, the temperature and the humidity were significantly lower, but the four Striders were each a year older and to increase the odds against a repeat performance, the Gate City Striders had found two 70-year-olds, new young guns in the division.
Undaunted, the four Striders headed to NH to defend their crown. For a warm-up we jogged back to the car (1/3 mile uphill) from the registration area, affixed our race numbers and jogged back downhill to the start. With over 2000 runners in this race, the starting area seemed too narrow, being barely one lane wide with fencing along both sides. George, Joe, and I shamelessly pushed our way into the 7-8 min/mile group and awaited the start. (USATF races always use gun time instead of chip time to determine awards, both individual and team.) Not being as experienced (or shameless) as the three of us, Armand moved quietly to the back of the pack for the start.
George said he was reminded at the James Joyce Ramble (the National 10K Masters Championship) of the importance of not going out too fast. So he started easy (just seconds in front of me at 1-mile) and picked up the pace a bit with each subsequent mile.
I ran pretty consistently for 3-miles (about 8:38 pace) before fading to 9:00 for the 4th mile, but then stepping up to 8:29 for the last mile.
Joe was in front of me as usual, but only in the first mile. Joe said after the race that every mile felt like it was uphill. When Joe is at the top of his game, he feels like every mile is downhill. Joe was injured running in the Nahant 30K last November where he finished 3rd M 70+ and he hadn’t been able to resume running until the beginning of May. Unable to run without pain, Joe played golf in Florida every day for five months. Now back in New England, Joe’s comeback race demonstrated why Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon and not Tiger Woods.
Armand was also slowed by injury, but his was more recent than Joe’s. Only ten days ago, Armand was felled by “jumping jacks,” his bête noire, and has vowed to never do them again.
In the final results, the Gate City Striders M 70+ team finished 1st with an average time of 42:06 while the North Shore Striders M 70+ team was 2nd with an average time of 43:51.
Individual Results in USATF/NE 5-Mile Championship
Last year in the New England 5-mile Championship, when we were so much younger, Joe was 2nd M 70+; George was 3rd M 70+; I was 5th M 70+; and Armand was 9th M 70+.