We got up early and drove down to the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary in Lewiston. Don't let the name fool you...this is essentially a section of woods chocked full of hills. It was here where we met up with dozens of other Trail Monsters for the annual "Till We Meet in Hell" trail race (thanks Val!!), followed by the awards ceremony (thanks Ian!!) for several fun categories for performances, shenanigans, and whatever else that happened in the past year. It's like "The Dundies" for trail running. If you're not sure what that is, google it and also subtract 500 cool points from your account.
The course is a 1.2 mile loop...which drops a little over 200' in .7 miles and then regains that elevation in half a mile, which is brutal. You run as much of it as you can in 90 minutes. There were markers every tenth of a mile, so even when time was up, you'd get credit for a partial loop. There's also a handicap scoring system built in, so everyone can compete on equal footing. The different format is refreshing and a lot of fun.
So, Kate and I arrived about 30 minutes before the start, and several of our friends were already there. I began to surmise how I was going to run it...earlier in the week I had planned to go all out, but I revised my plan to just push it but only race it if I felt spectacular. I at least wanted a tempo pace out of the day.
We were off and I ran with Ryan, Ian, Emma and Jeremy quite a bit throughout. That was good fun. The pace for the first handful of loops was pretty casual...perhaps an easy moderate pace. It allowed for conversation and just having fun. I really enjoyed the downhill in particular...as it wasn't very technical and you could just fly. After that, a rocky, muddy section that requires some sweet dance moves to move across and then that beast of an uphill before you have a short, flat section back to the start area.
During the second half, the pace was picking up a little. I began to pull ahead of the group some and began to push myself, especially the last two laps, which I can honestly say I raced.
Finished a loop with around 10 minutes left on the clock and Ryan, who had called it a day, was there yelling "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!", not really giving me an option to call it then and risk walking back once the 90 minutes was up. So, on I went.
I was thinking the loop was 1.6 miles for some reason, so was kind of surprised that I was so close to the starting area when time was up. In fact, it was actually in sight! Dang, I should have pushed it harder earlier, but happy to finish with 7 11/12 laps, good for 9.5 miles. That's about what I had hoped for.
Afterwards, the awards ceremony at Gritty's was great fun, giving all the chance to enjoy food and barley sodas while chatting away. For the second year in a row, I won the "Most Likely to Shit During a Run" award. I definitely have the Bruiser to thank for securing this most dubious honor.
Huge thanks to Val and Ian for a great day. I never take for granted how lucky I am to be part of such an awesome running group.
|Chasing Ian through the starting area.|
Ran 9.5 miles @ 9:29/mile pace.
Upper 30s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, long sleeved shirt.