By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
BOSTON (26-Oct) -- In her professional racing debut, New Balance's Abbey D'Agostino placed fourth here today at the 24th Mayor's Cup presented by the Boston Athletic Association. Lacing up her spikes and toeing the line for the first time since June 14, when she ran her last race in a Dartmouth College uniform, D'Agostino was ready to knock the rust off and give it her best.
That she did, placing fourth behind winner Rachel Hannah of Canada and the Boston Athletic Association's Juliet Bottorff and Jen Rhines.
It's been 134 days since D'Agostino last competed, taking third place in the 5000m at the NCAA National Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Since then, the 22-year-old has joined New Balance, re-located back to the Boston area, and signed with Total Sports Management, an athlete representation firm. She remains coached by 1996 Olympic marathoner Mark Coogan, who also guided her career at Dartmouth.
D'Agostino trailed Hannah by two steps at two miles (10:40). Ultimately she would be passed by Bottorff and Rhines, clocking 16:48 for 5-K. It was her first cross country competition since winning the 2013 NCAA Cross Country National Championships just over 11 months ago.
"Today was the debut! It's hard, it's a hard feeling [effort wise]. The point of today was just to kind of feel the burn again and compete, you know, and not expect anything," D'Agostino told a small group of reporters following her race. "That was a really positive way of going into it 'cause now I can just be satisfied with starting up again and knowing that there is still a lot of work to be done."
D'Agostino spoke briefly about the transition from college to being a professional athlete, saying it's been a bit of an adjustment. While she has more time on her hands not juggling classes and athletics, she's had to spend more time listening to what her body needs to improve and reach the next level.
"It's good," said D'Agostino, a smile growing on her face. "I've been kind of surprised a little bit at how it's gone. I think the biggest thing is respecting the amount of rest and recovery I need because it's so dramatically different than what I experienced in college. I sort of, as I transitioned I kept being adamant at not taking naps everyday but now I have an opportunity to do that and really listen to my body, so I've kind of embraced it more than I thought I would."
D'Agostino isn't the only newly-minted professional to be training and competing in the Boston area. Bottorff, as well as fellow B.A.A. members Sarah Pagano, Elaina Balouris, and Emily Lipari, all graduated last spring and are now training in Boston.
"It's so great, familiar faces and good competitors. It's really nice," she said. "We live like two miles away from a lot of the B.A.A. girls... Of course we compete when we're out on the playing surface, or running surface, whatever you want to call it, but we have similar lifestyles and we can hang out."
Next up for D'Agostino will be the Richmond 8-K on November 15, part of the Anthem Richmond Marathon race weekend.
"I'm going to be a newbie to that too," she said with a laugh, acknowledging that that race will serve as her professional road racing debut. "Everything is brand spanking new right now."
Although she may not have finished in the top three today, D'Agostino is looking ahead with a positive attitude.
"It'll be a different distance!" she concluded with excitement, her eyes already on the next race.
PHOTO: Abbey D'Agostino after making her professional running debut at the 2014 Boston Mayor's Cup Cross Country (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)