Sunday, March 11
Trail race results. Completed 8 miles @ 54:40. 7th overall, 2nd in my age group (the deepest age group), and tied for 1st in my age group for the series.
In the "How not to prepare for a race" category, I skiied the prior two days hard with lots of mogul runs and thigh burns, gorged myself with good food and drink both days, then drove straight from Vermont to RI, arriving at the race about 10 minutes before the start.
It was a beautiful day with temps around 50, yet this was the smallest field size by far, with 41 solo runners and a handful of relay runners. I'm guessing many runners aren't into this kind of challenge. I wasn't sure what to make of it myself, but being part of the trail series made it an easy decision for me to run it.
I lined up at the start (left) with the usual suspects, and the first mile was a mix of passing and getting passed. About a quarter mile in is a sharp left and a steep narrow downhill section to a field and pond below. I descended in my full gazelle downhill speed (too bad I don't have an uphill gazelle gear to match, but that's a different story), when halfway down the middle of the hill, a runner in a Running Heritage singlet was damn near stopping. There's not much room here so I did what I could to move past him on the right. As I did, he swore and yelled at me that this was a really bad place to pass someone. I guess it's all a matter of perspective, as I thought to myself that this was a really bad place to be braking hard in a pack of runners heading downhill on a steep section. (We caught up after the race, I offered an apology, then he did as well, and it was fine between us. Amazing what a few humble words can do to diffuse a potential situation.)
Came through mile 1 back to the start/finish section on loop 1 of a 2-loop figure eight course. I was still in a pack of runners at this point. As we entered the woods for a long freshly cut singletrack section, I was stuck behind two runners for the entire length. I tried to pass a couple of times but to no avail. I'm curious if Mike has the splits, as I'm guessing Mile 2 was my slowest mile of the day. Finally exiting the woods behind the baseball diamond, I passed both of them and when I reached the start/finish again and looked over the length of the field, I saw no one ahead of me.
The rest of the race I ran completely by myself, except for several runners that I lapped beginning at mile 5 or so. Fortunately, the runners I lapped were all very gracious about moving aside and letting me pass, including the RD's 7-year old daughter! (What an amazing feat for her!)
From mile 2 until just before the very end of the race (mile 8 for me), I didn't see a single runner in front of me (again, other than those I lapped) or behind me (I checked at the few switchbacks on the trails). Accordingly, I didn't really feel pressed to run any harder and my goal became maintaining my position.
On mile 8, coming out of the woods behind the baseball diamond, I spied Jonny ahead of me. Doing what I could to close the gap, I finished 20 seconds behind him. Neither of us attempted a 9th mile, with less than 6 minutes to go before the hour cut-off, and that was just fine with me that the time remaining was too short to force a "race as fast as you can for a mile" strategy. As Jonny remarked afterwards, I think we both preferred the comarderie and challenge of running in closer proximity as we had done in Brrr-lingame, but that wasn't to be today.
Another great win for WTAC, for this race and the series! Justin had a phenomenal run, being just one of 3 runners to complete 9 miles, and coming in 2nd! Despite never seeing anyone on the course, Tom, Jonny, and I finished our 8-mile trek within a minute of each other and took 5th, 6th, and 7th respectively. The next guy after me was more than 3 minutes behind me. Paul and John rounded out the WTAC team. Very happy with my personal finish and I guess my skiing had much less impact than I imagined, so glad I made the most of my skiing as well.
Thus endeth a fun trail series spanning 3 months. Between the trail races, weekend long runs, and the occasional midweek trail run, I've run more trails the past 3 months than I have the rest of my life. I still envision myself logging plenty of road miles, but now have a better appreciation and zeal for running trails as well. Thanks Mike for all your selfless hours in putting together a great series!