May-June Race Recap

The last nine weeks have been intense! All my energy has been going toward training, recovery and my day-to-day life, so it’s been hard to even think about doing blog posts!

Nevertheless, here is a brief recap of all the races I’ve done in the past few weeks. The WCM traverse weekend will have it’s own blog post.

Wachusett Mountain 10k:

This was a tough race to think about, in terms of pacing. The race for points in the USATF-NE Mountain Series was only to the top (3 miles), while the race itself was up and down, or 10k. Since my injury is still aggravated by downhills, I figured I would race hard to the top, and then cool down on the downhill.

I went out pretty strong but comfortable on the first mile, around 4th-5th place with a 7:02 mile (5:09 GAP). I was still feeling aerobically comfortable, but my quads were starting to tire in mile two, and the chase pack started to pull away. I was able to keep them in sight throughout mile two (6:57, 5:43 GAP), but in mile three I lost them as my quads started to really give out. I felt like I wasn’t working hard, but the left quad in particular just wouldn’t give me any more. I finished the climb in 13th place, 21:11, about two minutes faster than last year. For the climb only, I had a 7:04 avg pace, about a 5:27 GAP.

I should have stopped at the top. I really regret that now. I knew it would aggravate my injury, and yet still I did it. I took it pretty easy on the downhills, was passed by a few people, but also passed a few of my own. I finished the entire 10k up and down in 12th place, 41:03, about the same time as last year.

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Strava stats for the climb. About 1200 ft of climbing in the three miles.

Photo courtesy Gianina Lindsey
Photo courtesy Gianina Lindsey

 

Margaritas 5k: 

I was under the impression that this was a flat and fast 5k, and the weather looked like it was supposed to be in the 60’s and not too humid. Perfect! I was hoping for a solid PR at the distance, despite the fact that my existing PR was at a track race.

It turned out that it was not flat. Flat compared to races around my hometown, perhaps, but not as flat as I expected. I went out with a good first mile, right about where I wanted to be, in 5:21. Unfortunately it was also pretty warm, and they wouldn’t let us run the tangents of a big S-curve, so my time was not quite what I was hoping for. Regardless, I felt fairly strong, considering, and did not have too large a positive split, with a second mile of 5:35 (bigger hill) and a third mile of 5:27. I finished in 3rd place out of 800 or so runners, with a time of 17:15, a new PR by 21 seconds. Strava decided that it was a 16:53 effort based on the extra distance, and that’s right where I was hoping to come in, so I’m happy.

Link to Strava Activity

I followed it up a bit later that day with 8 moderate miles on the trails in Bear Brook State Park at a 6:59 average pace (my best ever on those trails). Bear Brook Strava

 

Pack Monadnock 10 Mile:

I was really psyched for this race. I think it falls right in my wheelhouse, if I have one of those yet. It was a highly runnable, but hilly 8 miles, with a solid 2 miles of climbing at the end. I was very happy with what my effort got me that day, but I wasn’t happy with my lack of mental focus. I just couldn’t stay focused on running or racing, and let my effort level drop quite a bit. It didn’t help that I was running alone for much of the race. When someone started to pass me, I was thankful that I could run with someone for awhile. Unfortunately that meant I fell into his pace instead of my own. Oh well, live and learn!

I ran the first 8 miles at a 6:34 pace, with about 1275ft of elevation gain. The final two miles have another 975ft climb, most in the last mile. I was able to pass the guy who I had been running just behind at the beginning of the main climb, and ended up switching to a walk for part of it. Not because I was tired but… I guess because I didn’t need to go any faster. Like I said, my mind was not in the game.

I finished in 8th overall, 2nd in my age group, with a time of 1:10:59.8. That’s 6.5 minutes faster than last year, which I had put more effort into, so I am happy with the time and fitness!

Strava Activity Link

 

Ascutney Mt. Challenge:

This was probably the best-executed race of my life. I started out strong, but not overly fast, with a lot of people ahead of me. I started to feel the quads burn early on, but I just put my eyes down and focused on the next step. Soon, the people around me (who range from faster to MUCH faster) started dropping back. I got a little worried that I was pushing too hard, but I just kept chugging along. Next thing I know I was passing Chris Dunn, who was encouraging me heartily, and my HR peaked just a touch, and my quads died right then and there. I guess I was perfectly red-lined for the whole race. I backed it off just slightly, but was able to pick it up a little again before the finish.

I finished in 5th place, 1st a/g, in 33:36, three minutes faster than last year. 2200ft of elevation gain is a good morning!

I was most happy with my almost perfectly even effort level (the red line).

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Photo courtesy Gianina Lindsey
Photo courtesy Gianina Lindsey

 

Right after the Ascutney Mt. Race, Dave Dunham worked his magic numbers, and came up with a formula. The formula took faster people who ran both Ascutney and Mt. Washington the same year, and figured out the ratio between the times. The average time factor was 2.5. So, hypothetically, barring one good race and one bad race, terrible weather, etc., you’d just multiply your Ascutney time by 2.25, and you’d get your approximate Rockpile finishing time. Pretty neat. I did that, and got 1:16.

Unfortunately…

 

Mt. Washington Road Race:

Mt. Washington was the first race this season that I really tapered for. I was focused on it as a goal race, and was hoping to really run a strong race.

I went up a day early, and Jim Graham let a bunch of us stay at his place in Jackson the night before the race. This helped with the stress a lot! I went for a shakeout run right before bed, just a mile, but it was a mile that went 200ft down and then 200ft back up. I think this may have been part of my problem.

The next morning, my calves were sore. Not REALLY sore, but sore enough I was worried. On the warmup, I definitely could feel that they were quite sore, so I didn’t push it much, just kept things very easy.

For the first mile of the race, I felt strong. I was alongside Larisa Dannis and Michael Narcisi, and feeling pretty good. My calves were noticeably sore, but not a problem yet.

However mile one was the end of my race. I started walking in mile two, and the walk breaks only got longer and more frequent from there.

I was initially REALLY frustrated. And angry. Probably as frustrated and as angry as I’ve ever been. Here I was at my goal race, barely breathing hard, and I just couldn’t get my calves to support me.

A short time later, I kind of came to terms with how the day was playing out, and resolved to enjoy it. My walking gave me a great opportunity to enjoy the great weather and check out the scenery.

I was able to extend my running intervals a little once it ‘flattened’ out up top, and I finished with a strong sprint up “The Wall” to pass a couple people and finish in 84th place, 1:24:56. This was about 1.5 minutes faster than last year. Not quite what I was expecting, but I was happy to at least pull off the PR.

I think it’s interesting how you can see exactly where my walk breaks were. Whenever the pink line drops, that was walking. You can also see the spike, around mile 2.6, where I was so mad I started sprinting until everything gave out and I sat down to stretch. Yeah, it was that rough a day.

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Joe Viger photo from 'The Wall'
Joe Viger photo from ‘The Wall’

 

Well that sums up the last month or so of racing! A few more races, and I get a bit of recovery and training time to hopefully clear up this nerve injury once and for all! It’s been better, but I want to be able to train hard without worrying about it so much.

 

5/2 – R.W.Emerson Trail Race 9 mile – 3rd in 1:13:34
5/9 – Merrimack River 10 mile – 15th in 1:06:12
5/17 – Sleepy Hollow Mt. Race 10k – 13th in 45:07
5/23 – Wachusett Mountain 10k – 13th in 21:11 (Climb)
5/30- Margaritas 5k – 3rd in 17:15 (New PR)
6/7 – Pack Monadnock 10mile – 8th in 1:10:59
6/14 – Ascutney Mt. Challenge 3.7mile – 5th in 33:46
6/21 – Mt Washington Road Race – 84th in 1:24:56
6/28 – WCM Traverse (non-race)
7/5- Loon Mountain Race (New England Mountain Champs)
7/12 Bear Brook Trail Half Marathon