Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Mike Lowe email@example.com
CAPE ELIZABETH -- Understand this about Sheri Piers: Running, to her, isn't just about winning.
Sometimes she seems upset, even though she has won a race. You have to remember her mindset. Piers, the 41-year-old from Falmouth, won the Maine women's race in the 15th TD Beach to Beacon 10K on Saturday, earning the title as Maine's fastest female road racer for the second consecutive year and third time overall.
She ran the race in 34 minutes, 21.9 seconds, well ahead of second-place finisher Erica Jesseman of Scarborough (35:43.1) and third-place Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunkport (36:26.8).
Yet ... when approached after, it was obvious she wasn't pleased, even though the hot and humid conditions weren't ideal for great times.
"Boy oh boy that heat just absolutely zaps you," said Piers. "It takes a lot for me to (consider) that when I look at my time because all I focus on is the darn time."
And Piers had hoped for more, or less as it is. "My reach goal was to break 34 minutes," she said. "I felt I was in that kind of shape."
But as the temperature and humidity rose, she adjusted her goal: Set a personal best, which would have meant the course record of 34:17 she ran in 2009. But as the race began, that soon evaporated as well.
"I didn't run smart," she said. "I usually go out smarter than that. But that 5:19 (first mile) ... I knew it was going to bite me. I just knew that last mile was going to be a grind. And let me tell you it was."
Piers wrote, on her palm, the time splits she wanted to run. "Under, under, over, over, over, a little under," said Piers, looking at the blurred numbers on her hand. "I knew it was going to be like that."
Piers never trailed and was never challenged. Running without her training and race partner Kristin Barry (recovering from an illness and just getting back into running), she set her own pace and quickly pulled ahead of the other challengers.
Jesseman, recovering from a series of injuries of her own (Achilles' tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and bone spurs, all hindering her training), wasn't about to chase after Piers, especially in these conditions.
"It was unbearable," said Jesseman, who hung around the finish line after she finished to greet Leonardi with a hug. "But I'm not in the medical tent this year so I guess I can't complain. I am ecstatic with the time I got."
Leonardi, meanwhile, still looked fresh after running the longest race of her career. She said she felt pretty good until the last mile and the dreaded hill leading into Fort Williams. "I was happy with that," said Leonardi, who will head to the University of Oregon on Aug. 30 to begin training for college competition. She will likely run the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
Leonardi's strategy was simple: "Sheri and Erica are just awesome. I knew if I could stay behind them I would be in good shape. After the first mile I could still see Erica but I couldn't see Sheri."
Leonardi trained with them before, so she knew what everyone was capable of doing.
"It's just awesome to have some good role models here in Maine," she said.
Mike Lowe -- 791-6422