The course was a little over four and a half miles and a lot of it was single track. With the new snow, the trenches were deep, however, Mindy and Val had stomped down several passing lanes in key spots and there were also a couple of wider snowmobile paths. It was perfect. One of the best courses (and conditions) I've ever raced on.
The First Half
|Courtesy: Maine Running Photos|
I started out very conservatively, not worrying about jockeying for opening position. I knew that was a risk with the wide starting path turning a sharp left on to single track about a tenth of a mile later, but it worked out fine. On the single track, a few other runners graciously stepped aside and when we reached the Old Tuttle Road path, I utilized the passing lanes and passed a few more folks.
I now had breathing room from here on out, not part of any congo lines and while others were in sight both in front and behind, I was essentially alone. On the Fox East trail, I passed my friend Scott H. who wasn't feeling well at all and didn't have a good day, unfortunately.
Reddish Hair Fellow was in front of me now and I worked on trying to reel him in. I had been running a fast but relatively comfortable pace throughout, hardly going all out since I felt doing so was not wise. To put it quite simply, my legs were tired from the past week. Capable of working, but just tired. So, I just chose to remain patient.
With Scott not feeling well, it then occurred to me that I had a chance at an AG award, if one other fellow ahead of me would get top three, which was a real possibility. This gave me a little incentive.
The Second Half
A long descent on a snowmobile trail with Reddish Hair Fellow holding me off about fifty feet ahead, and by the time I reached the bottom, I noticed Jen was gaining ground. Good. I figured she would beat me on this race anyway and she is so nice so I only wanted her to do well.
We turned on to twisty trail that was a precursor to the even twistier O-Trail. I sensed I was gaining on Reddish Hair Fellow, but it was hard to gauge distance on these trails.
We crossed over a snowmobile trail, and Reddish Hair Fellow, who had been out of sight because of the trees, was now seen heading down said snowmobile trail. I looked across the trail and noticed the course continued on single track, not down the way he was going. "THIS WAY! THIS WAY!" I shouted. He turned around.
I had hoped Reddish Hair Fellow would catch back up. In most circumstances, there really isn't much honor in passing somebody simply because they made a wrong turn. He didn't make up the ground though. Really nice guy as well, I remembered him from previous races and also chatted with him afterwards.
The O-Trail's notorious sharp and relentless turns made it a bit challenging to stay in the trenches. Jen had caught up and was now close, and we laughed at one section that was a ridiculous series of connecting Z's. Good, challenging fun.
I moved over to let Jen get ahead and not too much later we were finally on the Knight Wood's Trail. While straight and wide, it was an uphill, so definitely no cakewalk ending to the finish. I kept Jen in sight while also stealing glances over my shoulder. I had apparently put on some distance on Reddish Hair Fellow. This was good, as I realized afterwards that he was in my age group. Whew.
Crossed the finish line. Was surprised to learn I came in seventh overall. I thought there were a few more folks ahead of me. Turns out there was at least one, the leader Andy K. went off course so he was out. Felt horrible for him, as he was a lock to win the series. I also confirmed that Chris D. was in the top three so that I meant I did get my AG. Sweet! I chose a bag of Wicked Joe's coffee. I'm sipping a cup now, it's awesome.
|Courtesy: Maine Running Photos|
|Winning coffee is always winning.|
Post Race Analysis
Awesome course. It was like the baby brother of last week's State Championship course with similar terrain and snow conditions, only shorter and not as much elevation. So with that, I was familiar and comfortable with the single track and knew to be patient for opportunities to pass on wider sections and lanes.
I couldn't have done much better on tired legs. Of course, part of me wonders what I could have done if I hadn't of had a high mileage week, but no regrets. Looking at the forest and not the trees, this race combined with the mileage is excellent hay in the barn for Boston.
Tactically, I think I played it out perfect. I was a bit lucky not to get "stuck" early into the race with my conservative start, thanks to the passing lanes and also runners graciously stepping aside in the beginning.
Pretty proud of today. It also works out well that the week leading up to the Snowshoe National Championship will be a step down week so I should have fresh and peppy legs for that event. I hear the course is brutal, so I'm going to need it.
Snowshoe Ran 4.5 miles @ 11:00/mile pace.
Official time: 49:51.
Overall place: 7th out of 61
Trails, loosely packed single track with a few loosely packed snowmobile trail sections.
Mid to upper 20s, sunny.