Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ocean State XC Invitational

Goddard Park
Warwick, RI
Saturday, September 24, 2016

Had contemplated running this race for the past few years, but somehow never got around to it.  Matthew has run this race since he was in 6th grade and Mark before that, as middle schoolers run Friday afternoon and high schoolers from RI, MA, CT, NH, NY, and NJ run pretty much throughout the day Saturday.  Sandwiched between the middle school and high school races is an open division race at 8am Saturday.  Last year I was chided for not running by some of my contemporaries that did run the race last year, including, Brightman and Fox, Elise, and Tollgate coach Norm.  Fox moved to Oregon, Elise and Norm are both injured, and I don't know what happened to Brightman.

Tommy reinvigorated my interest when he contacted me to gauge interest.  Mike B joined in, and the three of us came up together early Saturday morning.  When we got there at 7am the place was a ghost-town and when I left at 1:30pm after Matthew's race and awards, there were hundreds if not thousands of cars there and Jana had to park 1/2 mile away.

Field start:  A small open field of about 50 spread out horizontally across the wide starting line.  Just before the start, it was cool that the DJ played "Start Me Up" by the Stones!  Unfortunately, the music choices went steadily downhill throughout the day.  At the gun, we funneled quickly together and 1/4 mile in I found myself in 5th, with Tommy in 2nd.  I was trailing two guys running close together, one of whom I gauged to be in his 30s and the other an old guy potentially in my age group.  We ran a small loop around a field, and then going into the woods, I passed one of the two guys (the old one), but the younger guy accelerated ahead.

The woods:  I am used to trying to get a good position going into the woods because it might be a while before you can pass again.  I knew these trails were pretty wide, but just wasn't used to running a trail race where you had plenty of room to pass the entire course.  Accordingly, there were at least four times in the woods where I came right up on the younger guy in front of me, and as I did, he would surge ahead.  I thought that was a good sign, as it usually means my competitor is tiring.

Field finish:  Coming out of the woods on the heels of my competitor, unfortunately he found another gear, which I could not match.  Crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind him, but a full minute ahead of the guy I thought was in my age group, and he ended up being age 48 anyway!

After the race, got a $25 certificate to Rhode Runner shop for my age group win, and then went on a cool-down, two miles with Tommy, Mike, and Jeff Huckle, the latter of whom was a great spectator and motivator on the course.  Tommy and Mike returned back home, while Jeff and I went out to finish up five miles before watching our respective kids run their HS race.  Matthew hit a new 5K of 16:09, even on trails!  Not really my kind of trails, but it was certainly a fun day all around.

Final results:  18:35, 5:59 pace.  4th overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.

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