3:50:51. 5th place overall. Results here.
The day had arrived. No more fretting about what to wear, how many GUs to bring, mid-point drop bag strategy, etc. Met up at Mike C's house at 6AM in the dark and we're off. It helped having someone to talk strategy and running in general on the 1-hour drive up. Arrived with the better part of an hour to check-in, perform "duties", position the drop-bag on the trail at midpoint (after 12 miles on the southern leg, the mid-point was also the start and finish point), and mingle with Seth and a couple of guys Mike knew.
|Pre-race remarks from RD|
The photo isn't blurry; all the runners
were shaking with trepidation
|Muddy section at start|
turned out to be one of the
few on course
|Mike, Seth, and I all had "High Fall Risk" stickers, |
but theirs as was most were yellow and mine was orange.
I thought it was random, but the RD said orange was especially
for those trail marathon newbies with a really high risk!
I stayed in my place for a while. The two guys in front of me were talking about the ultras they had run, and making me feel like I either didn't belong here or was too far up, but by mile 3 I got my confidence and started passing people. At mile 5 when we crossed a road, a volunteered shocked me by yelling that I was in 6th place! I passed two guys in front of me to go into 4th, and then on a downhill gazelle style I overtook the 3rd place runner. I was in the 3rd place at the turn-around of the southern leg (mile 6), and scarfed down some cookies and water at the aid station.
Normally I don't like turn-arounds, but from here on in, the race was often lonely, so I really enjoyed seeing all the runners on the way back, most offering "good job", "looking good", etc. Quickly saw Seth and then a ways back high-fived with Mike. I got passed on an uphill to move into 4th, and then on a flat section a mile from the mid-point I retook the 3rd, where I remained through the mid-point and start of the northern leg. OK, still feeling good at mile 12 (that feeling wouldn't last much longer!).
I kept 3rd place for the next 5 miles until a trail junction where blue blazes went both directions and I took the wrong turn. By the time I back-tracked, I got passed again. I hadn't seen anyone in 5 miles, so we chatted for a bit as he passed me. Now the terrain got ugly! At about mile 17, I was running up this very steep rocky single-track and my legs were just burning. I made it about 2/3 up, when I figured what's the difference of running 12+ minute mile here or walking maybe 14-minute mile, so I decided to walk the steep uphills (about 3) for remainder. I made it into Boston Hollow for second turn-around, walked up the long slippery wooden staircase built into the hill, and trekked on.
|Nipmuck elevation changes, especially miles 15-20, were a force to be reckoned with|
|Boston, by comparison|
|The finish line was the most welcome sight|
Mike came through, and while he didn't hit his target time, it was a solid effort and impressive first marathon finish in good spirits. Compared notes and trail difficulties for the hour ride home. A good day.
PS - Cyberstalked later to find Muddy set a new marathon PR in NH. Also heard that Mike B won another 5K 2nd day in a row. Congrats gents.