Monday, January 27, 2014

Catching up with some 2014 races...

Well, 2013 is behind us and 2014 has already gotten underway!

I started the year off with a jaunt from Hopkinton to Boston and felt it was a great way to start the year off. 

The first race in the South County 4th Season Trail Race Series was only 3 days later, but I wasn't too worried about running the marathon distance that close to race day, heck, I ran 25 miles with Ben Nephew the day before the opener last year!

The Old Mountain 5k Trail Race was on 1/4/14 and was the start to a bunch of races I have been looking forward to.  This years race was a whole different ball game from last years.  Last years race was basically a fast 5k through twisty trails where you just had to hold on for dear life!  This year we saw below zero temps on race morning with 6 or so inches of snow covering the course.

I figured the race would turn into a tactical affair and that is the kind of race I like, especially when the guys I am racing against are faster.  The race went out a tad slower then last year and instead of entering the single track in an all out sprint, I settled on Chris Garvin's shoulder with Ryan Woolley on mine and we set-off to grind through the snow. 

The problem with this scenario is that there is practically no place to pass, as the course is pretty much all single track and the snow made it even more difficult, because other then the tracks put down by some park foot traffic and RD Mike Galoob it would be all fresh powder.  So the second we entered the woods I starting thinking to myself, where and when should I make a move?

Finally before 2 miles I remembered a downhill/uphill section that I had run on my warm-up and thought that would be the best place to go.  So as we hit the down (which was much shorter than I had hoped) I jumped through some snow and bushes on Chris's right and made a hard move with hopes that I would get a gap.  I hammered the uphill around the corner as well as I could and just kept pushing, hoping that I would "disappear" with all the twists and turns and that Chris and Ryan would just let me go.

In the end I held on to my gap and crossed the line about 5 mins slower than the year before, but 2 places higher and 20 seconds in front of second place.  I was pretty shocked that I pulled it off and was happy to get the win.  The WTAC guys were out in force though and TNT had no chance of winning the team title, as they took the next 6 spots behind me.

I won a Samuel Adams variety pack for my effort.  Turtles went to Fat Belly's in Wakefield for the post race beer and food.  Full Results HERE!

One week later we were at it again at the Resolution Trail and Beach 5k in Narragansett.  This is probably my least favorite race in the series...running on a beach can at times just be a pain in the ass.  But this year, the beach was firm and the trails were wet and soggy, so it made for a bit more fun.  Plus the waves were crashing nicely and it was 40 degrees out, so it was a nice day to be on the Rhode Island coast.  This race does not favor my strengths as it is a pretty fast trail race and I am, well, just not that fast at the shorter stuff!  Ryan Woolley took it out pretty hard and I was in third or fourth for a while until I started moving up.  Ryan almost went of course because of a sign that had been blown upright, I yelled at him to set him straight (this is the second WTAC runner in as many months that I had to point in the right direction :) !!)

This lessened the gap between Ryan and myself, but the legs just didn't want to go.  I held on to a respectable 2nd place and more importantly held on to the overall series lead.  Mike Galoob screwed me out of a 17:59 and gave me 18:00 for my time...haha.  I guess I should have kicked harder!  Check out the full results HERE

I won some more beer for my finish, this time some BBC bombers.

TNT headed over to the Mews Tavern with 14 people in tow to enjoy lunch and beer.

The next race in the series is on 2/9/14.  This is good, as it gives me more time to get in shape! 

Before the next trail race, I had some snowshoe racing to take care of in Center Sandwich, NH for the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race.  This was my first time back on the snowshoes since February of last year.  The week before the race the date got changed from Saturday to Sunday, so I had planned to get in 13 miles on Saturday before the race since I wouldn't be getting a long run in on Sunday.  I planned a loop that accidentally turned into just under 16.  Whoops!  All was good though, Scott Mason and I left for Center Sandwich at 6:40am and arrived in just under 3 hours to a windy, cold, white little town, in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire.  I did just under 2 miles for my warm up alone and got the snowshoes on and did a few strides out on the course.  It was a cool 6 degrees with a wind chill of around -14 at the start of the race, but once you get going in a snowshoe race you would never know.

There was a pretty fast field in attendance and I feared the race would go out wicked fast like it did last year (6:16 through the mile)  That was not to be.  The field went out slow around the first turn and up and down the first hill before it started to string out a bit while weaving though some barn like structures before hitting some more groomed trails.   Around a 1/2 mile I was in 7th place right on Ben Nephews heels.  It felt good to be right behind Ben, with Jim Pawlicki right in front of him.  We entered some softer snow that ended up being some single track and about 300 meters later I decided to go by Ben and Jim and move my way behind Steve Dowsett in the 5th position.  1st through 3rd were not too far ahead of Steve, so I stuck right on him through some deeper sugary snow though the mile and moved by shortly after that.  I was now pretty close to Kevin Tilton who was in third and this is where the race took a quick right, then a left down hill, then a U-Turn, back up the hill then a right into oncoming traffic only to then take another right down the same hill.  We would then have a short down hill then back onto some groomed trails, around a field and through the start/finish area...we then had to do it all again.

Heading into lap 2, I was within a couple seconds of Kevin.  Jim Johnson in second and Brandon Newbould in first were starting to get away from us a bit, but Jim was still in sight as we went though the barns again and then turned into a still wind.  It was cool to see Kevin and Jim in front of me running though some crazy snow that was blowing every where. The course had a slightly different look to it the second time around.  With over 100 runner in the field that very narrow tracks we went through before were wider and the snow was softer.  It was hard to make up any ground while slipping and sliding around.  Right before the 3 mile mark there was a slight downhill on firm snow and I made a small move to bridge the gap and got myself a little
closer to Kevin again, but once we got back to the soft stuff, he regained the gap he had.  At that point I became pretty complacent.  I tried to keep the legs moving down and up and back down the short little hill.  Scott was still there and got me going a little bit to give one more attempt to chase Kevin down, but the gap was just too much and Kevin and I seemed to be going at pretty much the same speed.

In the end I ran what seemed to be pretty even splits and was super happy to finish 4th in a strong field.  This is the only snow shoe race that I have done every year since I started snowshoeing back in 2009 (other than 2012 when it was cancelled)  I am pretty sure the course has been different every year, but it is always one of my favorite races.  Full Results Here

I hit the road with a big group for just under 4 miles for a cool down, which ended up pretty much being all up hill on the way out and downhill on the way back...on snow covered roads.

We all squeezed in to Mocha Rizing Coffee Shop for some chili, chips and some sort of baked good, then it was off to Milly's Tavern in Manchester for some well deserved beer and some more food with Scott and Warren Angell (whom also ran the race)

Scott and I made one last stop on the way home at The Beer Store in Nashua to pick up some "not seen in Rhode Island" beers.  We rolled into Scott's driveway around 12 hours after we left...that's a snowshoe race!

Now I turn my attention back to the 4th Season Trail Series before I start building up some base mileage for the Vermont 100 Miler in July.  Other races on the schedule will include the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race (snow allowing), Snowshoe Nationals,  New Bedford 1/2 Marathon and maybe some random long trail races to get ready for VT.