Monday, February 18, 2013

Flatwoods Ramble 10-Mile Trail Race Report

We're down in Florida to visit my folks. We flew into Tampa the other day and yesterday morning we headed to Flatwoods Park just outside of the city for the Flatwoods Ramble trail race before we drove up to Gainesville. Very pleased with how it went.

The morning was very cold by central Florida standards (37F/3C), but obviously not as much of a concern for Kate and I. Naturally, many of the Florida folks were bundled up and listening in on others conversations, the cold snap was a pretty big topic.

However, we weren't the only northerners there. A fellow wearing a Maine Marathon shirt was spotted doing warm-ups. While I was out warming up myself, Kate said hello to him and found out he was from just outside of Augusta.

I ran about two miles to warm-up, then the usual series of high knees, butt kicks and strides. During which, I was eyeballing the other runners, trying to guess who would be fast and what not. I didn't know anyone here, so I found myself paying more attention to that than usual.

I noticed one particular guy who looked fast, but when we were a few minutes away from the start and began lining up, he put on a pair of headphones and then I knew he wouldn't be any competition. I introduced myself to the Augusta guy and we chatted a bit. Really nice guy. Then, we were off.

Miles 1-2

Paved path at the start.
Most of the first mile was on a paved path. Read fast. Split was 6:07. A half a dozen of us formed the lead pack but it soon began to split up into two groups of three. The front three consisted of a tall, young fellow and two guys who were definitely of Masters age. In my pack was the Augusta Guy in front of me and a young fellow with blonde hair wearing tights in front of him.

About three quarters of a mile in, we went on to single track trails. Very windy ones at that. For those familiar with Bradbury Mt., it was probably slightly more windy than the Island trail but probably not as twisty as the O-trail. The single track would stay like this for most of the race, with some straight sections of double-track and short sections of paved paths thrown in. No hills though. Flat as a pancake.

Miles 3-8 
The lead pack continued to pull ahead and were in sight less and less. I stayed behind Augusta Guy and Blonde Guy but at one point they pulled ahead a little. Not much, but a little. I could have stayed with them but it was early and I told myself to be patient.

Somewhere in Mile 3, the trail turned sharp right on to single track and Blonde Guy put on a really big surge. It looked like Augusta Guy tried to go with him. We were only a third of the way into the race and I thought it was a too early to put on a big move like that. Just kept telling myself "patience". I was still running hard.. averaging 6:40-ish splits on trails with plenty of twists that were also sometimes pretty sandy... so making a surge that big at this stage seemed premature. Patience.

Augusta Guy and Blonde Guy were always in sight and I eventually reeled them back in. Another runner behind me was gaining some ground; I stole glances behind me on the sharper turns, but eventually he dropped back.

Miles 9-10
Just after the eighth mile, I heard footsteps quickly approaching and a runner appeared out of nowhere. "Where did you come from?" I asked. He replied "I was in the top three but had to stop to take a shit!" Yep, I remembered him. He was one of the Masters aged runners. I told him to go get it back and he pulled ahead of our pack.

This is where things changed. Just prior to this, Augusta Guy and Blonde Guy were starting to slow down a little. I passed Augusta Guy and he began to drop back. I was now on the heels of Blonde Guy and Pitstop Guy was just about 50 or so feet ahead. We then hit the paved path for about 100 or so feet and I pulled up on Blonde Guy's shoulder. Listening to his breathing, I could tell I had more and passed him shortly thereafter.

Pitstop Guy got off trail a few times, but quickly recovered. Still, this let me catch up to him a bit. I rode his pace and stayed about 10-20 feet behind him for the duration. I would have loved to make a move to pass him, but I was redlining it now. I was just grateful for the pull and wanted to make sure Blonde Guy and Augusta stayed behind me. I was well aware I was in fourth place and was pretty stoked.

The music from the finish line was soon audible and then I crossed, nailing down fourth place. Sweet! I had hoped for top five, so glad I got it. They work the awards differently for this race... No age group awards, but there were special awards for the overall male and female winners and Masters division runners. Top 25 males and females get special, heavy duty ceramic coffee mugs. I was stoked to get one and Kate also have earned one as well! She ran the 5K race and was very happy to get one too.

Chute after the finish. 

Kate and I with our mugs. 
Very good time and it's always fun to run a race in a different area. The race director put on a really great event.. very fun and had a festive and friendly vibe. They also served waffles after the race which was nice. Hope to run it again someday.

Race Results

Ran 10.0 miles @ 6:39/mile pace.
Official Time: 1:06:28
Overall Placing: 4th out of 123
Trails, single track, double track, a few paved sections.
Pancake flat.
Lower 40s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, sleeveless shirt.

w/u - Ran 1.8 miles @ 7:59/mile pace.
c/d - Ran 1.0 mile @ 10:23/mile pace.

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