The start (Start to Mile 1):
|Lined up in about 6th row at start|
(3 runners to right of "Start" flag, in light blue singlet)
Pics courtesy of Jana
|Crazy jockeying at start.|
Matthew in lower left.
|As the RD had advised, less than 1/2 mile in, |
runners had to choose from running uphill in washed-out gravel section
(as Matthew in green WTAC singlet did) ...
|... or run uphill through wet, muddy, tall grass|
(as I did above, in light blue singlet rightmost in first row of runners above).
The mud (Miles 2 & 3):
After climbing 280' in the first mile mostly up gravel roads, you make a sharp turn off the gravel road onto dirt trails. Was so surprised that I could still see Matthew up to this point, as well as Brightman. That bode well for me in my quest to run faster than last year.
This 2-mile section of dirt trails is by far my favorite section on the course. It was fun last year with just the few puddles and sections of mud that existed. This year it was even more to my liking with streams, puddles, and mud pretty much the entire section. I hadn't gotten far into the trail when I saw the 2nd woman ahead of me stopped and retrieving something out of the mud. What the heck is going on?
It's her shoe! Her shoe must have gotten sucked up in the mud quicksand. Glad I tied my shoes tight and double-knotted them; hope that will do the trick. In this section, I am passing many more people than the few passing me. Especially when we hit streams or mud sections, I would plow past runners that slowed for any reason. Fun!
The breather (Mile 4):
This will be the final mile of continuous running for this flatlander. There are indeed some climbs in this mile, and by now, some have resorted to hiking, but nothing is terribly steep here and I saunter on with a run.
The suffering (Final 2.5 miles):
Right around 4 miles in, we start the steepest climb thus far in the run. A sign proclaiming "this is only 20%" does not help! Looking up the ski slope, a good 90% of my competitors ahead of me are now power-hiking, and I take my cues from them and join them. The rest of the run will be a combination of hiking the steep sections and running the rest.
|About 5 miles in. At a snail's pace, |
I'm ascending Loon Peak the first of two approaches.
|Actually running, but almost at a crawl|
Passing through the top of the gondola station, Jana is there with Gatorade, which I gulp down before the 1/2 mile 400' descent down the Haulback trail. I feel like I'm hauling a$$ here, and now looking at Strava, I can see I dropped below a 6-minute pace for most of this section. I pick off about 4 runners going downhill, and the last one I pass looks like Dave Dunham, but I'm thinking that can't be. (It is him, and to be fair, he's not only coming off injuries, but just ran a 50K the previous weekend.) He gives me a shout-out as I pass him, and I reply back that it will be short-lived and he'll be repassing me very soon on the uphill. He replies that everyone runs their strengths. Indeed, downhills are my strength and uphills my Achilles' heel.
Upper Walking Boss. I run uphill a few meters, and them am done. It's a struggle for me to get up Upper Walking Boss, even hiking. This is not power hiking; it's finding the effort and technique to just get up the insane slope. Dave Dunham passes me easily as expected, but so do many more that are just hiking. It seems throngs of runners are hiking right past me. I fret that the entire rest of the field is about to pass me. As I go past Scott Mason near the top, I actually fall right next to him. What a clod! By some miracle I make it to the top of North Peak. Hallelujah! This was the finish point of last year's race, so I quickly check my watch and find a time of 1:08. Four minutes faster than last year. Yes! Goal accomplished.
The rest is relatively easy: a 350' descent, followed by a final 50' steep climb back to Loon Peak for the finish. I pass about another 3 runners in this section, but the final runner I pass retakes me on the uphill.
|Runner in white singlet is descending about 5.3 miles into race.|
I'm finishing up.
Taking four minutes off my time from last year (again, adjusting for course extension), I am real happy. Meanwhile, Matthew finished 11th overall! He is the fastest under-20 finisher on the day, but unfortunately he is in a "0-39" age group. Really?
A guy who forgot to pack his WTAC colors,
a "frenemy" with an anti-WTAC shirt,
and the only guy who got the shirt right.
|Cooling off and washing off the mud|
in the swollen and frigid waters of the Pemigewasset River.
|No matter how I slice it, I am spending far too much time getting up UWB (as a percentage)|
than any benchmark for peer groups that I have chosen.
Not sure what the magic answer is, but I clearly have much room for improvement here.
Looking a little deeper at the data, am I at a competitive disadvantage in coming from a "flat" state, where runners from other states likely run more hills in training? I first compiled the data for all states, but then to get rid of outliers, eliminated all states with less than 10 participants, which coincidentally left only the six New England states.
|Finally, a correlation! Hardly shocking, but participants from the mountain states of VT and NH significantly|
outperform the other states both in raw time and percentage of time spent on UWB