Ali vs. Foreman...
U.S.A. vs. U.S.S.R...
Yale vs. Harvard.
Throughout the summer, few words motivated me more to put in extra mileage or attack a ball-busting workout than the simple phrase: "Harvard-Yale." For runners on both teams, this race -- one of the few (perhaps the only?) collegiate dual meets still run annually -- is the first true test of the season. It is by no means the last...
After a restless night in a nearby hotel the team rolled in to Franklin Park and prepared for battle. One of my favorite elements of the Harvard-Yale meet is the start. Just a line of runners... blue jerseys fanned out on one side, red jerseys on the other. "Y"'s and "H"'s looking out into the 250m of grass ahead, and preparing for 8 kilometers of competition. A single starter raising a gun, and then it begins.
Instead of writing a new race recap, I'll just post here the comments I wrote in my log after the race:
Quite pleased with my race today, although disappointed in the team's loss to Harvard. Hardly got much sleep at all last night in the hotel room, clearly from nerves, but I was able to just block it out during the race and perform what was up to (or very close) to my potential for the day. Took a Gu pack in the morning with breakfast, and then another one an hour before start-time. The race went out pretty quick, and by 800m a clear gap had formed. Most guys were cruising in the front pack, but Thwaites, Laemel and I relaxed in the second group, still coming through the mile in 5:01. The lead group (with 11 Harvard runners and 5 Yale runners) went through in about 4:47. We maintained a solid effort over the second mile (which includes Bear Cage) and came through the 2-mile split in about 10:21. Started really working to catch runners in the back trails, with Thwaites Laemel and I working well together. It started to hurt by about the 5k mark but we definitely had some momentum and were closing hard on the guys in front of us who had fallen off the lead pack. Ended up catching Richardson and Cunetta about 800m before the final Bear Cage. Caught up to McGowan at the base of bear cage and Thwaites and I passed him going up, then caught up to Richards and a Harvard runner on the descent.
|Matt Thwaites and I, just off of the Bearcage descent, turning for home.|
When I turned for home (about 400m out) I turned on the jets and gave it everything I had. Thwaites pulled up to me in the last 20m or so. Thought he was a Harvard runner so I surged like mad to hold him off. Puked quite a bit after the race, a good indication that I was happy with how I ran. Big P.R. on the day, the only disappointment was that I was about 26s back from Harvard's #5. If I had to do the race over again: I might still let the original gap form between the two groups (because I don't think that going out in sub-5:00 would get me to the finish line any faster), but I might have started pushing to catch the big Harvard pack during the second mile, to decrease the gap to about 10-15 seconds. That way once we started rolling on the second half of the course me might have been in a better position to pick off Harvard's number 5 or even their number 4.
What I didn't mention in my log was how badly it stung to hear Harvard's team singing along to "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" in celebration while we grouped up to prepare for our cool-down after the finish. The bitterness of this defeat will crouch in the back of my mind; it will push me through every mile and every workout; it will torment me until I drink from the Main Trophy within the hallowed walls of xYc.