Wow. Forget my whining the past few posts about being tired from chain racing and blah blah blah. For me, I had a really great race today. I shaved off over a minute from my time last year, which was when I was in peak form and feeling great. Using that as a barometer, I guess I'm not as worn down as I thought I was and I'm pretty darn proud of how I did today. Really, really, ridiculously pumped and it was a great confidence booster that I think I really needed.
The Start and Island Trail
Ian gave us the "ready, set, go" and we were off. I lined up at the front and sprinted, wanting to avoid any congestion when the trail turned on to single track just a few tenths of a mile up ahead. When I reached said turn, I was in the top 10 and feeling pretty strong.
I then linked up with fellow Trail Monster Bob and ran right behind him for the next 3-4 miles. He was setting a great pace... a manageable kind of fast. Shortly after we hit the twisty Island Trails he began frantically swatting his head. I asked what was up and he said a bee had stung him. Ouch. I was grateful that my racing partner didn't go into anaphylactic shock and it never slowed him down.
Ragan and Ginn Trails
We made it through the Island trails and were now on the less twisty Ragan Trail now. There's a gradual uphill on this section and Bob and I continued to cruise along. Pretty uneventful here. I was aware of three runners behind us but couldn't make out who they were. At this point, they were still quite a ways back, but I was aware that they appeared to be gaining some ground.
We then hit the Ginn Trail and Bob was pulling ahead ahead a little here and there and I was finding it harder to keep up. I remember turning around to check up on the runners behind me and heard Ryan yell "Quit turning around to see who's behind ya!" to which I promptly retorted with "your mama". I also had a case of gagging here a bit and vurped a little, but shook that off and kept moving.
Fox East Trail
Now, the three runners had caught up to Bob and I. It was Ian and two other runners. Ian was having a phenomenal day and was looking incredibly strong while also moving incredibly fast. I was really stoked for him. It was here that Bob waved us ahead, and I then let Ian and the two other runners pull me along.
The four of us then hit the snowmobile trail that leads uphill for a good ways. We stayed together and I tried to gauge how the other two runners were doing. They looked strong as well. Hanging with these three would be tough but I was going to let them pull me along for as long as possible.
Fox West Trail
Us four horsemen were now barreling down on a fast gradual descent. I was in the back, Ian in front of me, and the other two guys in front. The other two guys were getting just a few more feet ahead and I didn't want them to gain more ground so I whispered to Ian "keep them in sight". He promptly sped up (quite easily) and was back on their tails and I did my best to try to catch back up.
We then came across two mountain bikers who weren't able to get off the trail in time (grrr) and Ian and I nearly took them out. Ian shouted to them that there were 150 more runners behind us and the looks on their faces was priceless.
We kept going on the downhill and Ian and the two others were starting to pull ahead. I figured it was best to let them go. Then, I kicked a rock or root, stumbled, prepared myself to hit the ground while flying sideways through the air, landed on a buttcheek, bounced back up on my feet and kept running. I must say, it was pretty graceful and I didn't loose too much momentum and was thankfully not hurt in the slightest from it.
This section is infamous for its insane twists and turns that can literally be nauseating. It's not all that hilly, but given the constant sharp turns over very technical, rocky and rooty terrain, it's very challenging. Many hate it. I actually kind of like. It's kind of fun to accelerate out of each turn.
So several turns into this section and I could see Ian the two others ahead but gauging any distance now was impossible because of the constant sharp and often hairpin turns. I did notice one runner gaining ground on me though. Crap! But then I saw it was Jeremy. Oh. Good! He's way faster than me and I was surprised he was just now catching up (he had mistakingly lined up too far back), so it didn't bother me that it was him. Jeremy passed and we exchanged good lucks. I told him Ian and two others were ahead and he should try to catch up to them.
Not too long afterwards I was getting tired and frothing at the mouth a bit (and I think I vurped again), but still pushing along pretty well and keeping the pace up. However, I began to wonder if I was going to beat my time from last year. I could also see Bob behind me at times... but again... impossible to tell by how much and I wanted to hold my place so I kept motoring.
After two fallen logs, I now saw the "Castle in the Sky" was here. It's a small rocky mound that the trail goes up and meanders around a few times and is my landmark that the O-Trail, and the race for that matter, are just about over. As the double track trail was starting to come into view I remember hearing the crowd cheering at the finish line off in the distance. I also looked at my watch and knew I was going to beat last year's time. Sweet! Time to pick it up though.
I hit the double track and let it rip, kicking with everything I had in order to get my time down. I crossed in 1:36:24, beating last year's time of 1:37:33. I also came in 10th place! I was really stoked about that. It's the fifth time I've had a top 10 finish this race season and prior to this year I don't think I've ever placed in the top 10 once.
But most rewarding of all was that my time was also good enough to contribute to a Trail Monster Running team win. Pumped about that! And the prize? Six pack of Long Trail Ale. Oh yeah!!!
Shortly after I finished, I ducked into the woods and puked. Nice. I was surprised I had anything in my stomach to throw up, but I could clearly see and taste the coffee I had earlier in the morning (sorry, that was probably TMI). I was fine though. I often throw up after I run hard, so no big deal.
I should also note that the course was a bit muddy and slippery in spots and it showed. There were broken bones, gashes needing stitches, severely sprained ankles and countless other runners coming through the finish with big scrapes dripping with blood. Definitely no road race, that's for sure.
Big huge thanks to Ian and his sidekick Ryan for putting on yet another great event. We really are super lucky here in Maine to have such awesome race directors and the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running series is top notch on every front! Can't wait for next year.
Ran 12.0 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
10th out of 135 finishers.
Upper 40s to lower 60s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, singlet.