Pineland Farms 50 Miler...I have been wanting to go to this race for some time now. Everyone said it was a great time and it looked like it too. What is not to like about 2 days of racing with beer and music while hanging outside all day?
This year in preparation for the Vermont 100, Pineland fell at just the right time to work out. So on Friday, Jackie and I headed up to Maine, picked up our numbers and promptly found a brewpub. We went to Gritty McDuff's which was about 4 miles from our hotel. I have had some Gritty beers in the past and they are in the just OK range...but they had a few "special" beers on tap and everything I drank was good (a porter and a stout)...oh, the food was good too.
Saturday morning, Jackie was running the 10k, so this gave me an opportunity to check out the race course a bit and also get a feel for the event itself. I ran a warm up with Jackie and even though everything I read about the course said rolling, no flats, etc etc...I was still somewhat surprised at the amount of hills on the small section of course that I saw.
Saturday seemed to be more low-key than Sunday ended up being. There was beer and BBQ and some music, but with all the races being short, people were out of there fairly quickly. We hung out for a bit, eating and having some Shipyard before headed back to the hotel to relax until dinner time.
Dinner ended up being Gritty's again...I felt carbs are carbs, so instead of some pasta dish I had BBQ chicken tenders as an appetizer then BBQ pulled pork sandwich on a bulky roll for the main event along with 2 beers. We got back to the hotel early enough and had some peanut butter cookies and off to bed I went for the 4:30 wake up call.
Now, although Pineland was not my main goal for the summer and I have pretty much kept the race out of my mind until the week of, I still had goals and still wanted to run well.
I pretty much had two time goals, one being to PR (under 6:52...really under 6:50 though) and the 2nd more aggressive to run 8 min pace (under 6:40) but most importantly, run a smart race and try not to get carried away with the pace like I have on the canal path at JFK.
The start of this race was pretty low key, they told us to get over to the starting line, said a few things about the course and rang some cow bells and we were off!
The race starts with a 3.5 mile loop followed by three 25k loops. The 25k loop is kinda broken up into a big loop and a small loop though (10+ and 5+ miles) this became an important fact for the brain later in the race.
So, the race itself...I won't get into every blow by blow....but this is pretty much how it went.
3.5 mile loop. One guy took off within a K...and I mean TOOK OFF! Then another guy started moving at about 3k and one other guy flew down a hill at 5kish. That left a pack of myself and three other guys. The four of us stuck together though the first 3.5 miles and came through there about 2 mins faster than the fast side of my goal time. But all was well, I felt great.
Now we start into the first part of the 25k loop (which included part of the 3.5 loop) our group stayed together though the whole first part of this loop. We had some separation here and there at the aid stations, but for the most part we stayed together.
We then came though the start/finish area to head out to the 2nd part of the 25k loop. When we crossed the main road there was a drop bag area and one of our group members stopped, shortly after that we lost one other guy as the course seemed to be mostly downhill and myself and fluorescent yellow shirt guy starting going a tad quicker. During this section we caught and passed one of the early surgers and I ended up pulling away from both before heading through the end of the first 25k loop, approximately 1.5 mins faster than the fast splits I had figured out.
Second 25k loop. The fluorescent yellow shirt guy had passed me back when I grabbed some aid at the end of the first loop and him and I started catching the 2nd place guy. We both reminded each other that there was a lot of running left and we did not chase after this guy. At one of the aid stations I was quicker to get in and out and was now alone and would not see fluorescent yellow shirt guy again, but I could see 2nd place guy and I caught him shortly after that. The rest of this loop was pretty uneventful. I was passing some 50k runners, but overall I felt like I was running slower up the ups than I did when I was running in the group on the first loop. I finished the 2nd part of that loop and was back at the start/finish area, this loop was about 2 mins faster than the first! I grabbed a new supply of gels and although pretty damn tired, I hadn't had any bad lows yet and started the final loop and the count down of those kilometer marks.
Around 35 miles into a 50 is where I have previously had some issues, so although I felt good, I knew there would be some struggles ahead. About 2k into the loop I found out I was about 13 mins back from the 1st place guy. This pepped me up a bit, although a very big gap, it is a gap that can be lost by having 2-3 bad miles (I have been there) SO, I just plugged along, making sure to take advantage of the downs, another thing I did throughout the whole race was run the shit out of the tangents. This course was full of wide turns and over 50 miles of running, you can add a lot of extra unneeded distance.
About 5k into the final loop I was tired...I was definitely having some energy lows, I was barely moving on some of the ups, but having the 50k, 25k and lapping some 50 mile runners was very helpful, it would have been a very lonely loop without all those people out there and although my "good jobs" were a bit quieter as I tired, I still tied to say it to everyone.
|Some course muck (Photo by Richie Blake)|
The end of the first part of the 25k loop there is a bitch of a climb, it is the climb I saw on Saturday, I just wanted to get up this thing and get to the far part of the course and the downhills. At this point in the race, around 44 miles, I was in a negative mind frame, thinking, if I can run 10 min pace from here on in, I can still break 6:50, that will be good. I made it through the start/finish area, crossed the road and hit the aid station before entering the woods and at that moment had my lowest low of the race, it was unexpected, I grabbed a coke, walked 3-4 hard steps and got back into run mode, made it past the 17k marked of this loop and all of a sudden had some energy, I started running the downs hard, then sub 6:40 was a reality again. I think it was at 19k that I did some math and realized that if I was able to run well over the last 6k, I could possibly break 6:30! The only problem is....all those downs in the first part of this loop mean you have to eventually climb back out! This just meant that I had to work every one of those suckers the best I could. I got to the 23k mark and was still pretty unsure if it was doable....I just wanted to come around the corner and see that last aid station where that 24k mark was...soon enough I heard some noise and there it was...my clock was ticking away...I grabbed a coke quick and felt like I surged by the 24k mark. You have to run around the perimeter of a field, back to the road crossing and then around a corner to the straightaway where the finish line was. I could see the cop car at the crossing in the distance and it looked soooo far away, I glanced at my watch and it ticked over to 6:29, I didn't think there was enough time, but I had to try...I got to the road and onto nice hard dirt, I was cruising around the corner and I looked up and saw the clock...53...54...now I was in full out kick mode, I literally almost knocked down a woman finishing the 50k, but my eyes were glued to the seconds, before crossing the line I knew I had it, I didn't know the official time until about 20 mins later, but I knew I squeaked my way under 6:30!! I was a pretty happy man. In the end I finished in 6:29:57, 7:24 behind 1st place, which means I gained about 5.5 mins in the last loop and he is no slouch either, I had no idea WHO was leading until I saw the results, but he is the course record holder of the Stonecat 50 Miler and also ran 2:38 at Boston this year, (Sebastien Roulier). My time is the 8th fastest time ever at Pineland, a list that is dominated by Brian Rusiecki and Ben Nephew...pretty darn good company.
The rest of the afternoon was spent outside, listening to music, eating food, drinking beer and watching other accomplish their own goals...there were some pretty happy looking people finishing. (happy to be done)
After cleaning the muck off, we headed to Portland, had some grub at The Old Port Tavern and then headed over to Novare Res Bier Cafe for some treats. On the way home we stopped at When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery...bother Novare Res and When Pigs Fly are highly recommend for all you beer lovers.
|This is where it is at...|