Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snowy Belleville 2017

Belleville Pond 10K
North Kingstown, RI
Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wasn't even sure if I was going to run this race until two days before.  This was supposed to be a long run weekend, so my thinking was either I would incorporate this race into a 20-miler (as I did last year by running 15 miles roads prior to the start of the race), or skip the race entirely and run 20 miles on local roads with Tom.  And then my decision became an easy one, when I learned it was going to SNOW the day before the race.  Long run was out the window, and I was psyched for a SNOW RUN!
Dug out the YakTrax Run to find one missing
carbide spike, and one bent (both circled).  Should have
checked it the night before, as I have a replacement
set, but was short on time, so opted for pliers instead.

I have run every edition of this race except the inaugural one in 2012, and now 4 out of 5 of my Bellevilles have been in snow:


2014 with some of the WTAC gang

2015:  spent at the finish line, but happy!
Yes, as you can see, the common tradition for me here is shorts and snow.  2016 was the only year I ran it WITHOUT snow, and I was thrilled with the return to snow this year.

Warm-up:  Ran into Jonny before registration and asked him about trail conditions, and whether Yak-Trak were warranted.  He advised it with icy conditions in the parking lots we cross, plus a few slick spots.  Sounds good to me; Yaks it is.  After a short solo run, I was ready to go.  The temp had warmed up to 21 degrees, so it made shorts an easy choice.  Stripped down and headed to the start line.
Sampling the race course on the warm-up:
I'm excited already!

The first two miles:  We all lined up behind Leslie despite her efforts to convince us to go in front of her.  At the last second before the start, Brightman advanced forward and a few of us followed suit.  RD Mike G signaled the start, and off we went around the snow-covered baseball diamond.  Brightman and Jonny were up front from the get-go, and I followed Seth behind them.  It was a tad chilly crossing the dam into the wind and as we settled into a short double-track section, I felt several challengers behind me and I pushed past Seth so as not to get passed myself.  The next mile was on fun single-track along the pond.  As I exited the single-track onto the long trestle trail path, I could sense my challengers still on my tail, but Brightman and Jonny were now a good 100 meters ahead of me.  I was surprised to see Brightman turn left off the trestle trail and thought we had a new course this year, until I saw Jonny waving him back on course.
And check out this guy!
It kind of looks like a Critchlery in shorts in the snow,
but we all know he really bundles up in the cold.

The middle three (miles 3 - 5):   The end of the trestle trail was the last time I would see Brightman and Jonny (well, for the rest of the race anyway).  The turn into a parking lot gave me an opportunity to glance back, and while I hoped I would see my teammate Seth, it was two orange guys that were giving me chase.  Beware the orange guys.  Through the parking lot and across the power lines clearing I led them before entering the single-track along Route 4.  As usual, the snow is softer here, with no tracks save a single-set of XC skis, Brightman, and Jonny.  The softer snow in this single-track section usually benefits me relative to others.  Sure enough, at a switchback I glanced back and saw no one.

I felt myself zoning out in "no man's land" as we exited the single-track and headed south through a field.  This was pretty much virgin snow (albeit only a few inches deep), and I alternated trying to figure out whether it was more efficient to follow in the XC ski tracks or just forge my own.  My zoning out cost me, as when I exited the long field section back into single-track, I glanced back and saw Orange Guy #1.  Damn!  OK, I've got to push hard now, because if we get to the more packed down straight trestle trail with any of these young guys close to me, they'll be apt to go right past me.  I climbed multiple small hills and navigated many curves with nary a slip, and was hoping that my Yak-Trax selection was also favoring me.  Just before the trestle trail, I came upon the source of the XC ski tracks:  Carol Ann out skiing the course! 

Final two miles:  The trestle trail was long, straight, and boring.  I was still in third place, and knew if I wanted to retain that, I would have to push.  This was my fastest mile on the day, faster than on the way out on the same trail.  When is this going to end?  And am I about to get passed?  Finally (it's only actually ~0.7 miles) we're off the trail and back onto single-track.  I'm guessing a mile to go, and I figure push hard and it should be mine.  Still felt good as I passed Scott Mason snapping pics at the bridge, and I knew I was close now.  It wasn't until I exited onto the road and started the trip around the baseball field that I knew I had 3rd locked in.  Yes!  Finished strong.
Teammate Elise crossing the finish line.  2nd woman overall behind Leslie.

Carol Ann bringing it home in XC skis.

Final results:  50:49, 3rd place out of 63, 1st in age group.  Results link

It turns out I finished a good 90 seconds of the next guy, Orange Guy #1, a/k/a El Pollo Rojo.  Never took Spanish, but from Mexican restaurant menus, I'm guessing The Red Chicken?  El Pollo Rojo was running for Rhode Runner, an additional reason to be happy about beating him.  He was followed shortly thereafter by unaffiliated Orange Guy #2 (who for some strange reason does NOT have a Spanish language moniker), then WTAC'ers Seth and Jonathan Short.  It's looking good for Team WTAC!

I told El Pollo Rojo I was afraid he'd close the gap, but he said he was really fading the last mile or two.  Pushing hard paid off well for me, and I truly never felt I was fading or getting tired.  The course ended up being long by 1/2 mile or so, and I would have loved to have had an even longer course.

I caught up with friends and frenemies and waited just long enough to get my 3rd place overall award - a box of Girl Scout mint cookies that I brought home and is half gone now.  Mike G said I can double-dip and take something as I'll be called up for winning my age group as well, but no need to be piggy, and I had to leave right away.  I don't come here with any plans to get an award; I come to run a good race, catch up with friends, and above all have fun.  Success on all three counts!  Definitely my best and most fun race of the year thus far!

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