On Saturday, May 2nd, I started my summer season of weekly races with the Ralph Waldo Emerson Trail Race (long course), presented by acidotic RACING. I came in 3rd in 1:13:34.
The race was in Concord. Downtown Concord, as in the capital of NH, Concord. I was expecting fairly smooth “city trails.” Boy was I mistaken!
I drove down, leaving at 8am. I LOVE late-starting trail races!
I picked up my bib and chatted with some teammates until about 9:30 when I went to do an easy warmup. I kept it short and did about a mile, with some stretching and strides in between.
I saw lots of familiar faces. I knew Tristan Williams would be way in front of me. Last fall, he was 48 minutes ahead of me at the Beast of the East Half Marathon (he holds the course record). I figured that Vincent Lyon would probably be closer to me, but likely ahead, as that’s been a consistent pattern over the last year. I didn’t know many of the other racers, so I thought it’d turn out to be a fun race!
The race started at 10am, and after hearing about the course (which I can never follow enough to help me in the race) we were off.
I went out pretty fast and ended up in about 5th place for the first half-mile, which included a 250ft hill. For another half mile or so of tightly turning single-track, I was hanging too-comfortably behind a couple of guys with no room to easily pass. I did finally make the pass after a 180º turn at mile 1, and hung behind a guy in a Whirlaway singlet for the next 1.5 miles. This section was fairly technical, though still very runnable. The tight switchbacks, often with trees across the turn, did cut your momentum quite a bit. We came out around the water tower at mile 2.5 with me right on his heels.
The next part would be the only painful part of the race for me. This was a long, smooth downhill on the access road, that was at a steep enough slope you really needed to cruise. I cruised next to Mr. Whirlaway for a few minutes before passing him, running sub-5 pace for .3mi, and sub-6 for the whole access-road section from 2.5-3.5 (5:29 split).
After we made the turn-around on the access road, we headed back toward the woods. There was a water station right before a sharp turn back into technical up-hill single track. I grabbed a cup of water and promptly spilled most of it as I kept running. I downed the sip that was left, crumpled the cup and stuffed it into one of the key pockets in my shorts. I knew I could gain a few seconds because most people would stop and drink, not wanting to carry the cup or *gasp* leave it in the woods.
The last few miles of the loop were quite technical for most of it, with some good climbs followed by a great descent. There were some smoother parts, but you still had watch your feet carefully!
I finished the 1st loop in 32:30 (36:01 including the starting, non-repeated section.)
Because of the out-and-back on the access road, I knew 1st and 2nd place were at least 3 minutes ahead and that I wouldn’t catch them. I had built about a 30-40 second lead on Mr Whirlaway by the end of loop 1 (miles 1-5), so I began to slowly decrease the effort, especially on the downhills. My effort went from a bit below half-marathon effort to a bit below marathon effort. I really enjoyed the second loop of the course!
I relaxed quite a bit on the single track in the second loop, but I would push the pace occasionally on the uphills to make sure I maintained the gap. When it came to the access road section, I relaxed a LOT, running 6:00-6:30 pace instead of 5:00-5:30. I looked back at the bottom of the big hill and saw no sign of a Whirlaway singlet. I kept the pace the same on the flatter section by upping the effort a little until the turn around, when I saw he had made up a TON of ground. Dang, this guy’s got wheels. I didn’t increase the effort too much on the flat section, because that’s what aggravates my injury the most. Once we got to the aid station and the sharp turn into the technical single-track, I skipped the water and started to pick it up a bit. I was still running at a pretty easy pace for a race of this distance, but with the rocks everywhere it was probably saf–– I caught my toe on a rock, and fell down a 6-8ft hill filled with rocks, landing with my right forearm on one rock, my right knee on another, and my left quad on a third. I rocketed to my feet and kept moving. Once the course smoothed out to the start/finish area, I picked up the effort a little just in case there was anyone watching. I wouldn’t want to look like a slacker! I ran the second loop in about 36 minutes vs. 32:30 for the first loop, and crossed the finish line in 1:13:34 for 3rd place.
I was really happy with how the race went. Finishing that much closer to someone who really whooped me last year felt good, and I think it’s a good sign of fitness. I know i made a good decision not to run all-out on the last lap. I could have probably shaved another minute off my time, maybe two, but it wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere.
I ended up having a pretty painful forearm the next day, so I went to the doctors for imaging just in case. It isn’t fractured, but has a very bad bone bruise, which will probably hurt for a few weeks to a month. I can deal with pain, but the smell of running in a cast… I’m thankful to not have to deal with that!
Right now I’ve been staying very consistent, running 40-45 mile weeks for the past 7 weeks, with no complete rest days for the past 42 days. This is what helps my injury, and I am feeling much better and much fitter! I’ve also been doing some days with doubles, which helps things as well.
I’m looking forward to the next 11 weeks, because I have 11 races!
5/2 – R.W.Emerson Trail Race 9 mile – 3rd in 1:13:34
5/9 – Merrimack River 10 mile
5/17 – Sleepy Hollow Mt. Race 10k
5/23 – Wachusett Mountain 10k
5/30- Margaritas 5k
6/7 – Pack Monadnock 10mile
6/14 – Ascutney Mt. Challenge 3.7mile
6/21 – Mt Washington Road Race 7.6mile
6/28 – Whiteface Sky Marathon (possibly)
7/5- Loon Mountain Race (New England Mountain Champs)
7/12 Bear Brook Trail Half Marathon