The race, as always, was super. Big ups to our fearless leader Ian for once again directing a totally kick ass event. Aside from a few very unethical a-hole bandits causing some confusion for the timers at the finish line, everything seemed to go smoothly and a great time was had by all. But c'mon guys, banditing a small trail race is NOT okay. Don't do it.
Kate and I arrived about an hour and ten minutes before the race and I jumped in helping with registration. That's one of my favorite volunteer jobs, and I guess I was having so much fun with it and plus it was wicked busy that I lost track of time. I looked at my watch and realized there was less than 20 minutes until the race start and I still had to use the bathroom and get in my warm-up. Fortunately, by then it had slowed down and there were enough folks helping so I was able to do what I had to do to get ready.
The warm-up was a short one but that was probably a good thing given how humid it was. However, the legs felt spry. Barring doing something stupid, I knew I was probably going to have a good day.
The race started and we were off. The first section is downhill and given the race start adrenaline everyone is usually going pretty fast. It's pretty rocky here as well, so I was concentrating extra hard on the footing here while trying to keep up with the pack.
Course then started a gradual uphill and we settled into our paces. I linked up with Scott H. here, which was awesome. He's a great guy and we are always within a few placings of each other. It's pretty much a given lately that we end up running together for a good chunk of every race we're both in.
Heat and humidity are making themselves known. Very rollercoaster-like here with some pretty sharp ups and downs. Lots of sharp twists and turns to boot. Part of my strategy was to run these middle two miles somewhat conservatively.
I was leading a pack of three other runners at this point (Scott, First Woman, and Shirtless Dude...kind of a dumb nickname as I was also shirtless), and on one sharp uphill I let them all by. Peter K. was also catching up to me. Truth be told, kind of demoralizing and I began to question my strategy. I really wanted to go with them, but I figured if they stayed in sight I had a chance at getting them in the final two miles, which has a big downhill that you can really fly on and I tend to run that stretch really well since it's not as technical.
Towards the end of mile four, I had caught up to Scott and passed him and was now running with First Woman. Now I was glad.
Shirtless Dude had pulled ahead pretty far but was within sight and now the course was beginning that fast, mile long descent. I told First Woman "Let's get that shirtless guy", which may have been a mistake (more on that later). She muttered something that I think was an agreement and we picked up the pace. I ended up pulling ahead of First Woman here and had my eyes locked on Shirtless Dude.
That descent was fast. Because I was a little conservative in those middle two miles, I had a little extra energy that I was able to pour into this stretch. I cranked it and was gaining a little ground on Shirtless Dude but not much. I still kept pushing, hoping he would run out of gas.
The trail turned right, which I knew meant we had roughly a half a mile to go. I stole a glance behind me here and First Woman was farther back than I thought and I relaxed a little. Shirtless Dude had pulled ahead even further here and I really had no chance of catching him. It's difficult to run that last stretch hard, as there's a pretty sharp uphill and it's pretty technical. Hat's off to the guy, he killed it.
Final few turns and there was the finish line. Crossed it and was glad to no longer be running in that soup.
Exchanged congrats and thanks with other runners, especially Scott, First Woman and Shirtless Dude. I told Shirtless Dude I did my best to catch him but had no chance. I also told him that I mentioned to First Woman let's try to chase that guy down. He smiled and said "Yeah, I heard you" and that it made him pick up the pace. I laughed, but not before my face probably turned a little red with embarrassment, but it was really funny. Glad he didn't appear to take it wrong, but memo to self: when strategizing with other runners during a race, make sure that no one else can hear you.
Glanced at the placing board and saw I came in 8th place and, more importantly to me, won my age group! Sweet!!! Really stoked about that.
Ran a cool down with Zak and Jeremy. They, along with Ian, ran it pretty conservatively to save their legs for the Vermont 100 next week, which was smart. I'm familiar with what they've been doing in their training cycles and they're going to crush it.
Waited for Kate to come in and was happy to see her running with our friend Bob and both were smiling and having fun. Interesting to note, the wind must have switched from the ocean by this point as it started to feel a few degrees cooler.
Awards came up, and for winning my AG I won a $25 gift certificate to Frontier, a very awesome pub/art gallery/theater in Brunswick that I love. My time also contributed to the Trail Monster team win, which meant a six pack of beer! Always nice to come away from a race with awesome swag.
Very happy all around today. Pacing and race strategy were all very sound and I don't think I would have changed anything, aside from vocalizing plans too loudly (which was moot, the guy was a beast and I wouldn't have caught him anyway). Very happy with taking those middle miles conservatively, and keeping my cool when I let three people pass. It would have been very easy to become frazzled then, but I stuck to the plan and it worked.
Really hard to race in soupy weather and quite frankly I hate it. But, at least there was plenty of shade on this course and it went well. Can't complain. Hopefully we'll have cooler weather next weekend for the Old Port Half Marathon. Looking forward to seeing what I can do there.
Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:26/mile pace.
Official time: 44:35
Overall place: 8th out of 171
Age Group (40-49): 1st
Mid to upper 70s, very humid.
New Balance MT110, shorts.