Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pisgah 23K Recap

Chesterfield, NH
Sunday, September 21, 2014

Had considered this race for a few years, but it conflicted annually with the Surftown Half Marathon, a race in my "backyard" that I aspire to always run.  Fast forward to 2014:  they're on different weekends!  I'll miss the OCY Tri, but that's OK, I can run that any year so let's go ahead and run Pisgah for something different.

A morning race in NH meant an overnight there, and I was treated to a weekend of Hammett hospitality.  Jonny picked Crutch and I up and drove us round-trip and everywhere in-between.  John a/k/a Pard and his wife Sue hosted us at their awesome ski chalet style home in NH for an overnight stay.  Glenn provided inspiration along the course, and Greg and his wife Jen hosted a party with food and drink post-race and offered showers at their house.  Awesome!

We got up to Keene on Saturday in time for dinner with Greg, Jen, and Boj.  Dinner at a brew pub in an old mill complex was replete with good food, laughter, and of course running talk.  By 9pm at Pard's place, I was falling asleep.  Crutch actually flipped a coin in which I bid for the basement bedroom.  I lost the bet, got the 1st floor bedroom, and was just happy to go to bed.  Woke up a couple of times during the night, but otherwise slept very well.  A stop at DD and off to the race.
Surveying the trail pre-race with Jonny and Crutch
(the latter taking this photo)

The early miles:  Warmed up for just a mile with Greg, Jonny, and their friend Clint.  After a few words from the RD, we were off.  This race could have also been called the "Misty Mountain Hop" (Led Zep) as it was a misting and foggy as we bounded from mountain to mountain.  My spacewatch recorded a balmy 64 degrees.  I kept Greg and Jonny and the lead group in sight only for about a mile.  A sharp downhill on roads was followed by two good uphills.  On the first uphill, I was running next to Clint when I noticed I was breathing much harder than folks around me and took that as a sign to back off and conserve as Clint surged ahead of me.  Towards the end of the second mile you leave the roads and enter the park trails.  It was here that I got some encouragement from spectator Glenn.  The entrance is via a screaming descent on double-track.  I passed two runners here plus Clint, and at the bottom unfortunately the two runners veered left onto the 50K course and it was now just Clint and I, as he passed me to take the lead. Fortunately, he took a sharp right onto the course turn, which I might have missed.  I re-passed him on an uphill section, and then I ran as an island for the next three plus miles.

The middle miles:  The downside to running alone is there is no one to push you, so I run less fast than I could have.  The upside to running alone is there is no one to push you, so I could lay back a bit and enjoy the run.  I ignored water at the unmanned stations, but took water at the first aid station to wash down my GU.  No one in sight or sound range ahead or behind me.  Thanked the volunteers staffing the station, and on my way.  400' of near continuous climbing ensued.  There were two or three steep sections here that I opted to power-hike.  At each intersection, not familiar with the course and generally not having directional arrows, I had to slow a bit to see which trail branch had the pink streamers.  I did fairly well at this until a fork at a summit, where I turned right (the wrong way) and went down a rocky scramble to a rock overlook.  Which way now?  Left?  Right?  Wait for runners?  Back uphill, and then I realized the error of my ways.  Only lost a minute or so, but it was enough for the next two runners (lead female and a guy) to catch up to me.  Jumped in ahead of them, and could hear them behind me the downhill stretch into aid station #2.  I must have dallied too long scarfing down fig newtons, as the lead woman came in right behind me, got a quick drink, and took off ahead of me.  Time to go ...

The final miles:  Was prepared for the hills after the 2nd aid station, as Jonny had forewarned me, but ran all of these, maybe because I already knew these were coming or maybe because I had two runners on my tail now.  I could hear the two of them all throughout the climbs (when would these end?!), but once I got into the 1.5 miles of steep descents, I had put enough distance on them that I lost them again.  Was momentarily confused coming out of the trail onto the dirt road as to which way to go, but figured it out after trying a couple of ways.  Pushed it on the roads back.  Even "Killer Hill" didn't seem bad, again probably due to Jonny's prep and actually driving this hill.  Rounded the final corner and finished 7th on the day in 1:51.
The results:
Greg 1st in 1:36:07
Jonny 3rd in 1:40:32
me 7th in 1:51:09
(I'd post a link to electronic results, but I can't find them)
Resting my spent legs while getting some lunch
with Jonny at the finishing line
(Photo by Crutch)

I'm not sure which was harder:  the race itself, or the next 5 mainly road miles that Jonny and I stubbornly ran to get 20 on the day as marathon training on tired legs.  Greg had warned us that everywhichway was downhill, and so it was.  Even the downhills hurt by now.  Finished up catching up with folks, getting some food and drink before a stop at Greg's place.  I got to meet Griffin - must confess that for the longest time I just assumed reading Greg's blog that Griffin was a human running friend of his.  Rode back to RI, as I struggled to stay awake in the back of Jonny's car.  Great weekend and running; thanks again to the whole Hammett clan for all the hospitality shown!


  1. Nice work. That course sounds pretty tough - maybe next year I'll join you (and we'll do the 50k!)

  2. Great recap! I see wasn't alone in that this felt like a pretty tough race...and I'm intrigued by the idea of the 50K. The race director mentioned that it's a lot of cool single-track...to add to an already awesome course...

  3. Great recap! Sounds like a challenging course and great company. Well done!

  4. Great race! Congrats on 1st 50+ runner. I'm glad you made the trip and got to run my favorite trails.

  5. Congrats! I'm also glad a Rhody contingent came up to enjoy the trails! The babies looked very intrigued as all the runners huffed and puffed by!