Tag: twilight meet

Vassallo Continues Hot Streak, Earns Title

Dan Vassallo is in pretty good shape. Pat Rich, who is pretty quick himself, came into the shop the other day talking about a recent 5 mile race where Dan bested him by over a minute. That race was the Backshore 5 Miler back on May 9th in Gloucester, MA. Vassallo won that won handily with a 24:52 solo effort (Rich ran a 25:56 also by himself for second place). Because of performances like that, people were listing him as their pre-race favorite. Here’s our Q&A with the 2014 USATF-NE outdoor track 10,000m champion.

Did you focus your training with a fast 10,000m in mind, or is this a byproduct of training for another peak race?

NB Twilight Vassallo Derderdian

Vassallo cruises alone in the dark, courtesy of Tom Derderian.

I have not really been training for a 10,000, as I’ve just been trying to maintain a good base for a fall marathon and peppering in a few workouts to stay sharp for whenever I feel like hopping into a race.  I PRed in the 10 mile in Virginia in April, and after that, I scoped out the Twilight Meets.  I was happy to see that the meet with the 10,000 didn’t conflict with weddings, bachelor parties, or a 5K road race in June that is pretty important to me, and thrilled to discover that it fell in the two weeks in between the spring MBA and summer MBA semesters – so I could sleep more than 5-6 hours a night.  I guess I’d been focused on the race since I found out it would work with my schedule.  I did a few 10K-specific workouts, but nothing that would take away from my base training.  I felt I had an outside shot at running sub-30:00, but a more realistic expectation of running around 30:15.

This was a pretty big PR for you. When was your last attempt?

My last honest attempt at a 10,000m PR was in April 2011, and I was unable to run what I wanted to.  Since then, as you know, I pretty much spent two years being injured and accumulating ping pong balls.  My 10k PR was at Lone Gull in 2009, when I ran a 30:39.  In fact, most of my PRs were in 2009.  Jess Minty, who also flirted with a 10K PR Saturday, has a pretty similar story, and I think we are both equally thrilled to finally be back to where we were five years ago.

How long were you with eventual winner Byrne?

I warmed up with Jake, and I knew that if the rabbits were going to do 71s, it might be disastrous to stay with the rabbits for an extended period of time.  Also foolish, though, would be trying to run 72s by myself.  So I stayed at the back of the single-file lead pack for maybe seven laps until I couldn’t hold on anymore.  There were a couple of other guys who fell off the pace later, and they fell off harder than I did.  I’m really happy to see Jake run under thirty, as I think that’s his first time under that mark.

What did you think of racing in the dark?

NB Twilight Outtage Derderian

Checking the results by the light of the race clock, courtesy of Tom Derderian.

Running in the dark was cool – much cooler than running in the dark all winter.  I guess it gave me the opportunity to feel the way my college teammates felt during the 4×800 Blackout Relay.  It probably didn’t have an impact on how fast I ran one way or another.

What does it mean to you to be NE champ?

I’m a little bashful to admit that I didn’t even know this was a championship race – just knew it was an opportunity to run a fast 10,000.  But it’s really just another reminder for me about how nice it is to be healthy and running close to my potential every once in a while.  This is probably already my best year since 2009, as I’ve been able to get almost 2,000 miles in so far, PRed three times (10 mi, 5 mi, 10K), and have only run one bad race.  What really matters, though, is whether I can keep this going until November 23rd in Philadelphia.

What’s next?

Next is the Cabot Trail Relay in Nova Scotia with sixteen of my closest friends from Maine.  Depending on how much abuse Smokey Mountain puts on my legs, there may be a few more races in June.  At least one.

Lastly, what were your splits?

No idea what my splits were.  I don’t think I ran any laps slower than 74, and I know my first mile was 4:44.  My five-mile split may have been 24:09?  I just remember calculating how slow I could go while still catching my old PR.

You know you’re in good shape when you’re figuring out how slow you can run and still get a PR. Dan’s time for this race was a 30:16.3.

Nash Takes 10,000m Crown, PR’s

Here’s our Q&A with Melissa Nash, the Bentley grad and 2014 USATF-NE outdoor track 10,000m champion. Melissa ran a 34:36.9 en route to the win on Saturday in a race that was held in the dark due to a power outrage at the track.

Is this your first NE championship?

No, this is not my first NE championship. I have won the 5k indoors twice (2011 and 2013).

Did you jump into this race or is track your focus right now?

Minty Nash NBB Twilight Derderian

Nash leads Minty as they fly around the track in the dark. Courtesy of Tom Derderian.

Track is my current focus and I did have this race be my main focus for the season so I am extremely happy my training came together. Now, I will switch gears and try to run a PR in the 5k in a few weeks.

What is your 10,000m PR?

Previously, my 10k PR was 35:19, which I ran last year at the NBB Twilight meet. Now it is 34:36.9.

It looks like you and teammate Jess Minty worked together. Was that part of a plan going in?

Jess and I were very fortunate to have a pacer through the first 5k, Viviana Hanley from Harvard, then after that we worked through the field until I pulled away with 1.5 miles or so to go.

What did you think of racing in the dark? Do you think it negatively impacted your time?

The dark actually wasn’t an issue for me. I am not sure if I was just really focused on the laps, but I didn’t really notice the darkness until after finishing. I could never see the first place woman, but I was running for time and knew she was too fast for me. With a 43 second PR, I think I would be greedy in saying that it impacted my time.

What does it mean to you to be NE champ?

Being NE Champ is a great feeling and having these championship races recognizes that track in New England is still relevant.

What’s your preferred race: road, track or XC?

XC is my favorite season as the courses and conditions challenge you in a different way.

Congrats to Melissa! The inquiry about racing in the dark wasn’t just a goofy question. One quick look at the results shows that 5 of the 9 women didn’t finish the race (including the pacer). That’s a very high percentage. Did the dark have something to do with that? Did some of them not even start? Did they take a wrong turn in the dark? Hopefully no one got hurt and it was just a fluke thing.

Club New England Championships Kickoff with a Bang

Club New England Championships Kick Off With a Bang

by Mike Giberti

Minty Nash NBB Twilight Derderian

Jess Minty & Melissa Nash, courtesy of Tom Derderian.

Yesterday evening, the second New Balance Boston Twilight Meet held at the University of Massachusetts Lowell featured the 10,000 meter event, which was also run as part of the USATF-NE Open and Masters Championships. Despite a delayed start due to a power failure and having to hand time and lap count every athlete individually, the 10k was the race to watch. The overall men’s winner was Iona’s Jake Byrne, who executed an astounding even-split clinic to cross the line in 29:42.9h, good for 43rd in the NCAA D1 East Region. Dan Vassallo (CMS) was the USATF-NE Champion in 30:16.3h. On the women’s side, former North Carolina State distance standout Andie Cozzarelli took the win in 34:15.2h with the top Club New Englander being New Balance Boston’s Melissa Nash in 34:36.9h. The rest of the USATF-NE Open and Masters Championships will be contested at Regis College on June 29th, 2014.

Dan Vassallo is all smiles after setting a PR and being crowned USATF-NE 10,000m champ (the crown will be forthcoming). Photo by Jim Pawlicki.

Check out the full meet results here.


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