Sunday, December 21, 2014
The world-famous 4th season trail race series has commenced! First up in the series is Old Mountain Field ("OMF"), a twisty, curvy, root-gnarled, rock-scramble, and at least for today, a muddy escapade through OMF trails. Tough, but really fun run! I feel bad for the folks that missed out on this one, and hope their lives are otherwise going OK. This includes Matthew; understandable absence for him as he raced two of the past three days already.
Arrived not as early as I would have liked (9:20?). Temps in the low 30s and drizzly, but somehow not feeling cold at all. Checked in, and went for a warm-up on about half the course with Muddy and Mark Fuller and some random 1st timer that joined us midway. Finished warm-up at 9:51am, giving just enough time to lose the long sleeve shirt (real RI'ers run in shorts and singlets - we'll get Chris and Crutch to drink the Kool-Aid someday), drain the lizard, and get to the starting line.
Way out: The siren went off, and let the sprint chaos to the woods begin. Normally of course, prudence dictates a conservative pace at the start to save some endurance for later in the race. In this race, knowing tight single track (translate: difficult to pass) awaits you in 1/4 mile means I throw prudence out the window and hoof it as fast as my legs can carry me in order to get a good position going into the woods. At a pace of about 5 minute/mile, I run just behind Jonny and Muddy, and next to Seth most of the way on the field. Just before entering the woods, I sprint ahead of a kid about age 12; no doubt he'd be faster than me in an 800 and maybe a track mile, but my instincts serve me right that we won't be able to keep up with me on this race.
I enter the woods just behind my nemesis Dave Principe, and not much changes in position over the next two miles. Naturally, the pace slows in the woods and over the bog bridges, but I'm in oxygen debt for about 1/4 mile until we cross the wide bridge over Indian Run Reservoir. We pass probably only one runner through here, and then Dave gets stuck behind a gray shirt runner for a long time, which reinforces how important it is to get a good position going into the woods. Just as I'm breathing like a dinosaur behind Dave, I can hear someone is hot on my heels (it's Seth). Dave almost wipes out on a craggy rock-crossing, otherwise we just keep following Mr. Gray Shirt.
|Cool running bibs this year!|
Way back: Seth has dropped off now, and it's just Dave and I following Gray Shirt. Dave tries and fails a few times to pass him through the boggy sections. Finally, just before the first of two short uphill sections, Dave yells "on your right" and bushwhacks past him. Headed for the first of two short uphills means this is not my forte, but I feel I have no choice but to do the same and go past Gray Shirt. Coming up to the "cliff", Dave comes right up behind a 20-something guy in URI garb. Down the stairs and up the tiring climb, then past the big rock with an engraving the three of us follow in close succession. After the rock, we start a slight downhill section with lots of sharp curves that will bring us down right along the parking lot.
The gutsy "move": About 1/2 mile to go, and running out of downhill, I know it's now or never for me to make a move. Knowing my very worthy opponent, if I wait for an easier pass until we get out onto the grass, I won't have much chance of holding him off by then. This is going to have to be swift and deliberate, no pussy-footing around, no calling out my intentions to pass in advance. Exiting a sharp trail turn with a slight straight-away before the next turn, I sprint in overgrowth past Mr. Principe and past the guy ahead of him, emerging back on the trail. I can't rest on my laurels and need to put some gap here. After we pass the "old" race finish, and start the final uphill climb, I glance at a switchback and am thrilled to see I've put some gap on the 20-something and Dave is jammed up behind him. Unfortunately, by the end of the hill climb and 180-degree turn, I see Dave has now passed him and is coming after me. Damn! Full speed ahead downhill onto the grass, across the road, behind the baseball diamond, I think I can't run any faster until the final turn towards the finish when I hear commotion behind me, glance back and see both of them sprinting after me. The young guy re-passes Dave Principe, but I finish just ahead of both of them, by 2 and 4 seconds, respectively. Yes! My move paid off handsomely.
Final results: 20:05, 10th of 171 finishers, 1st in age group. Full results here.
Wow, what a race! I was nervous going into it, but the time really went by quickly. After I caught my breath, I went back out to run the course with much of the WTAC team, picking up flags along the way. The rest of the WTAC fared well, with Chris setting a course record, Justin and Jonny coming in a second apart for 6th and 7th, and an overall mens team win. Did the womens team win as well? We had a huge team turnout with 21 WTAC runners!!! A large representation on the WTAC womens team as well. Dave Principe later told me he'd have the image seared into his mind all day of my sprinting move passing him, but he'd be back to battle at Resolution. Last time there he beat me by 5 seconds, but I'll be back to give it my all, knowing I'll have fun whatever the result.
Thanks Mike Galoob and family for putting on another great race. Did I mention how much fun I had?