Tuesday, June 5, 2018

2018 Soapstone Mountain Trail Race

I intend to do as at least 6 races in the WMAC Grand TreeSeries this year and the next on my schedule was the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race.  This race has been on my list for a bunch of years, it just has never worked into the schedule.  Before the race, I looked up some old blog reports and looked at Strava data from last year’s event.  The course ended up being changed again this year, which made it over a mile longer than the previous year which was longer than past years.  So, I was looking for around 13.5 miles on the watch and I got just a bit more, which extended the time on the trail just a bit.

The race itself…it started out with Tim Van Orden, Kurt Hackler, myself and some younger dude.  We ran briskly on the downhill dirt road in the first half mile or so and then got on the single track, before even the mile the young dude was making moves for position, it was clear he was probably going to have a long day on the trails.

The pace on the single rack felt a bit too brisk for me and I stopped paying attention to the 3 ahead of me and from there on ran my own race.
By 4 miles, I had gone up the “Wall of Sand” that you had to traverse on all fours and then “Killer Hill” at just after 3 miles which I slogged up at 21 min mile pace, just to get to the top and drop down on a slick technical downhill.  Young dude took a tumble thee and I passed him on the next small up.  The kid that ended up finishing second passed me shortly after that and I ran the last 10 or so miles alone.

The rest of the race had its ups and downs, terrain and energy levels.  I felt like I was running as slow as one could possibly run in spots and I still never got passed.

The turning point in the race was coming out to a road crossing where two people were standing.  They told me I was in 3rd (a surprised because I WAS in 4th, but Kurt went off course) they told me I had a downhill coming up…YAY! And they told me there was about a mile and a half to go!  How much?!  Oh boy….  After the downhill you popped out into a parking lot that we were previously in, so now things looked familiar.  I knew we would get onto a dirt road and then there would be one last road climb to the finish.  There was no quickness in my finishing speed.  I simply just got through the last 5 mins of this race.  I finished in 2:06:48  FULL RESULTS

Photo: Scott Livingston

After finished, I traded war stories and watched Ralph finish, I apologized for inviting him to the race.  I drank 1 too many sodas, which really made my stomach unhappy and off to Willimantic Brewing Company for some food and beer.

I am happy I finally got to run this long standing race and it definitely kicked my ass.  I was very sore for days. 

I have a pretty busy June, from when I started this post like a week ago and now, I have decided to skip the next two races in the Grand Tree which I was going to do.  So, next up will be Gaspee Days 5k on June 9th, Ribfest 5 Mile on June 17th, my birthday!  Ribfest is the 3rd race in the USATF-NE Grand Prix Series.  After that I will be running the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge in Boston for the first time.  That is on June 21st. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Doyle's Emerald Merrimack River

Two races have happened in the last two weeks, so lets recap them.

The first race was the Doyle’s Emerald Necklace 5 Mile Road Race on April 8th.  This was my 8th year in a row running this race.  I was hoping to crack 28 mins and came close with a 28:10.  I ran the 2nd half of the race faster, which is pretty much the norm at Doyle’s with the topography of the course being as it is.  I still felt like I was on edge with the lack of work outs, but was able to keep it together and not crash and burn.  I was lucky that I was caught around 3 miles and had someone to battle with all the way until 400 meters to go.  I lost that battle, but it definitely made my time faster.

Photo by Scott Mason

As usual the after race party was a lot of fun.  It was a chilly day, but the sun popped out occasionally and we had a big group to have some fun with.

The week between Doyle’s and my next race, the Merrimack River 10 Mile Trail race, I took pretty easy.  Just got in some miles and did a light work out on Thursday.  I wasn’t going to do a work out, but Dave wanted to get something in, so I said I would join him for some of it.  It was a bit too close to the race, but I doubt it hurt me much if any.

Race day was a beautiful morning, a little chill in the air, but perfect for racing.  I have only race at Merrimack once and that was back in 2010.  I remember struggling a bit at the end of that race and not being overly happy with how I did.  I ran 1:05:16 that day, so I wanted to run faster than that this year.  I thought I might be able to crack 64.

The race played out a bit funny for me.  I felt like the start was not as frantic as in 2010 and after going under the over pass I settled in in 4th place behind Tim VanOrden, Kurt Hackler and to my surprise I was right on the shoulder of Brandon Newbould.  We stayed like this quite a while.  My legs felt great, on the little ups my stomach was for some reason unhappy with me, but overall I felt like I was running within myself.  There were a couple spots where I let a little gap grow but without trouble I bridged it.  I could feel that Pat Rich and another runner were on my tail, but had not caught me yet….But then, the damn hill happened.   The hill going up to the powerlines just wrecked me.  I was crawling up that thing.  I made a segment on Strava and I ran 14:32 pace for the approx. 0.10 section.  People I beat by 10 mins in the race went up that section faster than I did.  Pat and the other runner went by me going up the hill and got a pretty good gap by the time we went through the powerlines into the new trail section.  It took me a while to get my legs back.  On the way back I felt like I had some good sections and not so good sections.  I was alone pretty much from the powerlines home, but kept catching a glimpse of the runners ahead.  After the hill at 7.5 I caught up to the runner that was with Pat and passed him, he was not running too well at that point.  Definitely in a world of hurt.  With less than a mile to go, Colin Carroll came up and passed me.  I didn’t know at the time, but I guess himself and Jim Pawlicki and some others “missed a turn” near the new hill section and cut off around 0.1 miles and 50’ of climb from the course.  He ended up ahead of me by 4 seconds in the end.  I finished in 1:04:44. So technically I was 5th place and not 6th ;)  But it does not affect the Grand Tree % results, so I am not overly concerned with it.

Photo by Denise Underwood

My take a ways from Merrimack are pretty much the same as my other recent races.  I need to get in more work outs and more specifically for any of these races with steep climbs, I need to start doing some work outs with some steep trail climbs.  They are so different than the big rollers on the road that I am generally good at.  Either way, work needs to be done.

I was happy to get in a decent mileage day with a 2 mile warm up and cool down.  Stuck around for the ridiculous (fun) raffle and then made a bloody mess in my car.  Which reminds me I forgot to mention I almost hung myself on the race course.  I mile in there were some hanging vines and as they got knocked around as we went thru them, somehow it got caught around my neck and actually yanked me back.  I still have some pretty red marked that go half way around my neck!  Good times!!