Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shad Bloom 2017

Block Island, RI
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Had run this trail 10K four years ago in a time of 41:50.  I remember it being hard and that I opted to power hike the hill at Rodman's Hollow, described as "The Wall".

In last year's inaugural version of the "Clamshell Series", we had featured the North Stonington Education Foundation 5K as the May race, but will only 2 WTAC participants, we switched to the Shad Bloom 10K.  We were skeptical how many would actually show for a race which you had to take a 1-hour ferry each way (the fast ferry only runs during summer), but it worked out quite well and I was pleasantly surprised to see 15 WTAC runners had made the trek to Block Island!
Team WTAC (missing a few)
just before the start of the race

Start to Mile 2:  After a warm-up with Jonathan Short and newest WTAC member Cliff Dimon, we were lined up in the driveway of the Block Island School and ready to go!  The gun went off, and when the dust settled, I was in 6th place.  There was an old guy (translation:  my age) just in front of me that as I passed him mumbled something to me that I should get up to 3rd place.  Then a tall thin teenager in front of me abruptly stopped and moved to the side of the road.  Very odd. 

The first two miles are on dirt roads with slight net downhill to the ocean.  About one mile in, I passed a young guy to put me in 3rd, with the 2nd place guy a good 100 meters ahead of me and Brightman completely out of sight.  Mile 1 split 6-flat, Mile 2 5:53.

Miles 3 and 4:  We leave the dirt roads behind, and start climbing away from the ocean through open grass fields.  I can see Brightman (for the last time) climbing up the hillside, and see the 2nd place guy a little ways ahead of me.  The pace naturally slows, but I'm feeling pretty good.  After a decent climb and a field crossing, we exit onto dirt single-track.  I'm gradually getting closer to the 2nd place guy, and I notice he keeps looking back at me.  After a few more turns, I come up right behind him, biding my time.  At a steep downhill on dirt and rocks, it's time for me to go.  I shout "ON YOUR LEFT!", and bomb down the hill past him.

Final two miles:  As we enter Rodman Hollow and start to climb "The Wall", I can hear him breathing right behind me.  Midway up the climb, his breathing drops off a bit, but I don't want to let up now.  How cool would it be to finish in 2nd place?  As we finish the climb and exit onto a road, I'm feeling really good and wondering to myself if that was Rodman Hollow or just another hill climb.  We run on a road for about 1/4 mile and I ask the guys manning a water stop how far back the next guy is.  Their reply of "a good ways" isn't the quantitative answer I'm looking for, but I soldier on, coming up on 5 miles and confident now that we did indeed climb through Rodman Hollow's "The Wall".

After a couple more climbs, I recognize the final field and it's a short distance now to the dirt road, which will bring us back to the start/finish.  I remembered that from the trail end back to the finish is just 1/4 mile, so I drop it back down sub-6 to the finish.  I see the clock showing 39:xx and am surprised and ecstatic!

Final results:  39:29.  2nd overall of 177 finishers!  Full results.

I hung around to get a drink and watch Jonathan come in (6th place!) and then head out with Brightman for a cooldown, and catch up on his latest and upcoming trail races.  Back at the ranch (or school), we hang around for awards.  The other "old" guy (who's actually two years younger than me at age 50) that I passed early in the race came up to me and asked if I finished in 3rd place.  No.  When I told him I got second, he enthusiastically thanked me and explained that this was his 9th attempt at trying to win his age group here (awards only go 1 deep in age group, but 3 overall), and with me out of contention as you can't double dip, he won the 50-59 age group.  I was really happy for him.

Great day for a race, and so much fun.  Taking 2 1/2 minutes off my previous time here and coming in 2nd overall was just a bonus.  By the time Jonathan and I got to the ferry, every single inside seat was taken and we ended up sitting on the floor for the ride home, but I was happy and it was all good!

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