Although I almost never race, as nearly everyone I know needles me about, it is long past time to write a (few) race recaps. In July I had the opportunity to partake in two sweaty, sufferfest races: on Saturday, July 23rd was Run With The Beavers 10 Mile Trail Race and then on Friday, July 29 was the Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race. Since I'm starving in the race report department I've decided I guess I need to write up one or both at some point.
NOTE: the photo below is courtesy of Scott Mason Photography. The guy does incredible stuff -- despite me being the most non-photogenic person on the planet! Seriously though, please consider supporting him by purchasing some of his photos of your next race. Pure magic!!
The mixed course of open dirt roads, technical single track, and hybrid in between stuff is great fun. However, I always hate the double loop aspect. It's akin to say, trying liver, hating it, but knowing you have to go back and try it again no matter what. The layout was a tad bit different this year as race director, Bob Jackman added a small variation (I liked it better) that took us over a few small board bridges and around to the water stop. It lengthened the course a bit although I'm not sure by how much. Other than this small change, the race was just as it always has been: humid, hot, buggy, sweaty, and a bitch!
I drove up with Jonny and J. Short to a land far, far away called Chepachet. I'm pretty sure this native American word means, loosely translated, "friggin' far from everything". We arrived, immediately took care of bathroom obligations, and then ran a warm up on part of the wooded course with the Walkers and swarms of deer flies.
At the start line, I plopped myself in the front near the usual suspects (Jonny, Steve Brightman, etc.). A glance around revealed a few unknowns and some runners I was surprised to see (i.e. Mike Narcissi) who looked fast and fit. I quickly guessed/estimated three things: 1.) if these guys were entered in the 10 miler versus the 5 miler, they were probably going to beat me. 2.) I was going to have to push it in the beginning to be in a good position once we entered the single track. 3.) I was possibly going to finish anywhere from fifth to tenth, based upon how the first two things went.
After detailed pre-race instructions, we were off up the short incline gravel road towards the single track. I kept the pace honest but yet tried not to overdue it. Perhaps I should've gone out a little bit harder as I was in about tenth place entering the woods. Immediately, I became annoyed (like always) as it is so difficult to see the upcoming terrain and footing on the narrow single track. All I could see was the back and soles of the runner(s) ahead of me. As a result I backed off just a tiny bit to give myself some breathing room.
I kept up a hard effort and passed a few people and within a mile or two could no longer hear the runners' breathing or footsteps behind me. At the water stop (around the 2.5 mile mark) I was again annoyed when I didn't see anyone take water! Damn it, I needed to drink and pour some over my head! I did so and didn't really lose time or my stride somehow. Luckily people hadn't pulled away too far ahead of me. I was probably in about seventh position at this point and could see Jonny and a bright singlet guy ahead of me but still too far up to reel them in.
The second half of the loop is more "fun" but there is a rough and tricky section along a rocky hill side (you run on an angled slope) and a short steep climb that really takes a lot out of you. At this point I noticed that bright shirt guy had moved around Jonny and I was closer to him. With about a half mile left in the loop I pulled along next to Jonny, grunted something negative about racing, and moved around him. I was surprised that he didn't come with me but knew he was definitely right there--the only question was how far back was he?
My split at the half way mark, according to the clock was (I think) 35:50. It took me a moment to realize that 1.) yes, that time was correct and not an illusion and 2.) the new alteration of the course added probably close to 2:00 per loop (?). I was feeling absolutely terrible here and entertained the notion of slowing down and "jogging" (hate that word) the second lap or, possibly even stopping and taking a DNF. However, I made the turn across the original start line, looping back out onto the original gravel road and pushed onward. I could now see Matthew Walker far up ahead but it was encouraging to at least be able to make visual contact. Although I had no expectations of catching and passing him it did at least help to give me something to focus on -- keeping him in sight.
|All alone at the bridge...already dying.|
On the final double track/wagon road section, which is covered in pine needles and soft wood chips, I noticed was up to within maybe 2-4 seconds of Matthew. I tried several times to push past him but realized my legs were trashed. I had nothing left. To make matters worse, as we approached the final grass field and associated finish line, Matthew found another gear and pulled away from me.
I crossed the finish line and felt slightly better than I thought I would - 5th OA in 1:12:50. Race results here. Perhaps this is due just being glad the race was over vs knowing I had another full loop to complete? It is also interesting to note that my PR for the course (last year) was 1:08:03 so that new Jackman course alteration did indeed add time on to each loop.
WTAC won the team division and some sweet Foolproof beers . No need for a cool down after the race. I chugged copious amounts of water and then walked down to the pond for a super refreshing dip with Jonny, Seth, John Short, and Timothy McGuire (3rd OA).
Overall it was a good day but holy cow it sucked at that same time.
Little did I know, the following Friday night (at the Blessing of the Fleet) was going to be worse for me....much worse.