I don't think I could have executed this race any better. Paced it well and just plain ole ran smart and hard. Ended up with a 1:37:33 finishing time on the 12-mile course, good enough for 23rd place out of 126 finishers. Field was very stacked, as last year that time would have been good enough for 5th place (drat)! Helping to stack the field was Kevin, a really good guy who blew away the course record and won it in 1:22:XX.
I had a few goals in this race. The big one was to beat my buddy Ryan. Now, Ryan is a good friend and this was of course nothing personal. In the other two races in the Bradbury series, I had gotten a little closer on the second one. He was merely a carrot, as I thought it'd at least be possible to get him on this one. Whether I beat him or not, I knew it'd be close. And whether I beat him or not, if of course didn't really matter... I just wanted to push myself.
Second goal was to break 1:45:00. This was based on looking at last year's times and just merely figuring that it would be a good number to roughly go for.
The race starts on a wide trail, but 1/10th of a mile down it turns sharp to the left and on to single-track. I wanted to avoid a bottle-neck so figured it'd be good to run out a little faster and get in front a bit. Fortunately, this was apparently also Ryan's plan. I wanted to stay him, as the general plan was to run with him for most of the race and try to turn it on in the end.
The Lanzo Island Trail is a baby brother of the O-Trail, full of twists and turns that really challenge your lateral agility and ability to accelerate out of turns. A large pack congo-lined here for a bit, and I was running behind my good friend Ian for a little while.
I pulled ahead a bit but so did Ryan, and he was never far behind.
Never.. far.. behind.
This loomed on me throughout the race, and for good reason. It was true. Sometimes I would see him or hear him. Sometimes I wouldn't. But I always knew he was never far behind and I was aware of it.
I pushed the pace, but fortunately I never overdid it. Starting around mile four, I was beginning to think I might have put just a little more distance on him but not much. I then puked after drinking Gatorade from the aid station.. not stomach related, just mucus caught in my throat, triggering the gag reflex. My eyes teared up after the one big ralph and I struggled to maintain my vision on a tricky, rocky downhill section but fared fine.
Then a bit later my shoe became untied. Crap!!! I forgot to double knot my laces! Quickly tied and double knotted, looking nervously over my shoulder as I did so.
Around mile six, the trail turns on to a snowmobile trail that goes uphill for quite a bit. I looked over my shoulder again and saw Ryan, who was quickly gaining ground. Crap!
He caught up to me and we ran together for a bit as we turned on to the Fox West trail and ran downhill, chatting with each other for a bit. I love this section. Just fun to run on. I thought he caught me for good here, but I managed to pull ahead a little but not by much. I offered more than a few spectactors $10 if they'd trip him, but no takers.
Never.. far.. behind.
We eventually reached the O-Trail, the final 2.4 miles of trail that is dreaded by most. It's very technical, and twists and turns sharply and constantly to a nauseating degree. Because of these turns, we could constantly see each other. I tried to remain focused and just keep the speed up, but the uphill sections were now tough to climb and I feared I would lose ground.
I just pushed and pushed and then reached a rocky island that I knew was very close to the end of the O-Trail. Time to kick, as it was now less than half a mile to the finish. I kept the turbo on and as I approached the finish line I looked at my watch. Holy crap! I was going to finish way faster than I thought I would.
I finished in 1:37:33, well under my goal time. As I mentioned before, very stacked field, so stoked to have gotten 23rd place. Shortly after I finished, so did Ryan. We congratulated each other, and agreed that we both ran much faster due to our little competition. It was a lot of fun, just glad I got the better end of the stick on this one, but Ryan still beat me in the series standings for all three races and deservingly so.
Huge thanks to Ryan for pushing me to a time I wouldn't have gotten otherwise and also for helping co-organize the race. And huge thanks also to Ian for putting on yet another stellar event and really putting trail running in Maine on the map. So many of us are benefiting from his hard work, and it does not go unnoticed.
Ran 11.5 miles (Garmin) @ 8:30/mile pace.
Technical, twisty trails.
Lower to upper 50s, mostly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, singlet.