My fall schedule, though shorter, was even more tightly packed than my summer, with races at least every weekend.
9/6 – Mt. Greylock Hill Climb
9/12 – Windmill 5k
9/19 – Brewfest 5k
9/27 – VT50 Relay Leg 1 (12.3mi)
10/4 – New England Half Marathon
10/11 – Harpoon Octoberfest Road Race
10/17 – Vulcan’s Fury Trail Race
10/18 – CHAD Hero Half Marathon
10/24 – Runaway Pumpkin 10k
The race reports:
The Mt. Greylock Hillclimb was a new race for me. This was part of the mountain circuit, and I really wanted another hillclimb race to avenge my failure at Mt. Washington. I didn’t know much about the race, other than it was 8 miles long, and not super-steep. I held back a little, expecting that it would get steep and tough at the end, but it never did. I was able to kick it up a notch at the end to hold off someone behind me, finishing in 59:40 for 4th place.
The Windmill 5k was a tough one. My legs just weren’t cooperating, and I was having a slight setback in terms of my injury. Josh Ferenc showed up, so I knew a win wasn’t in the cards. This is a hilly beast of a 5k, run up and around some windmills in Lempster, NH. I was definitely struggling, and the entire race hurt. I hung within striking distance of 2nd place until some of the downhills at the end when he gapped me. I finished in 18:43 for 3rd place.
The Brewfest 5k was a brand-new 5k course in my hometown. It’s a hilly one! The first mile is almost all uphill, with over 120ft of climbing. The second mile has a steep hill and one other hill, but a slight net downhill. The third mile is mostly downhill and flat until a gentle uphill to the end. All told, there was 262ft of climbing in the 3 miles (the course was slightly short. I ran hard from the gun, aiming to run hardest on the uphill mile to protect my still-tender injury. I never saw anyone behind me after about .5mi in, and won in 17:07.
I volunteered to run the first leg of the VT50 as part of a college friend’s relay team. The VT50 is a 50-mile bike race, ultramarathon or relay race over hilly Vermont dirt roads and trails.
The first leg is 12.3 miles with approximately 2000ft of elevation gain. My coach, David Roche decided I should run this as a marathon-effort run, since my fall goal race, the New England Half Marathon, was only a week away.
The bikers started early, at various times, and then the 50k and 50 mile runners started together a bit later. I went out evenly at a comfortable pace, and held that effort level throughout, with the exception of one long road downhill that started to twinge my injury a little. Unfortunately, I forgot my watch, so I don’t know any stats other than that. I started passing bikers around mile 2, and passed quite a few. I ran the hills fairly hard, and relaxed on the flats and downhills. I ran purely by perceived effort, and was ready to keep running for another 12 miles or so. I crossed the 12.3 split in about 1:27, for a pace of just over 7-minutes a mile. I was not expecting that pace with that effort and terrain!
My New England Half Marathon writeup is at that link. This was a very memorable day for all the wrong reasons unfortunately. I did end up scraping a 3+minute PR together in 1:20:10 for 7th place.
I had a great race a week later at the Harpoon Octoberfest Road Race. (3.7miles) I went out hard with a 5:45 first mile up a 118ft hill.
I was able to keep within striking distance of the third place runner, and ran with him for the middle two miles of the race. I passed him on the last downhill, easing up as I gained more ground, but unfortunately did not look back. Had I done so, I would have seen the then-5th place runner turning on a wicked kick. He passed me with 10-seconds left to run, and I had no time to up the effort enough to catch him. Brilliant move by him, dumb one by me. I finished in 20:15 for 4th place. I won a case of beer and a cool stein for 2nd in my age group.
A week later, I had scheduled myself an epic double-race weekend. First up, on Saturday the “rustic” Vulcan’s Fury Trail Race. This was 11.4 miles with approximately 2,000ft of climbing. I decided to run moderately unless there was a chance to podium. I went out in 4th place, and kept sight of the top 3 for several miles, but suddenly, they were long gone. I ran alone until approximately mile 5, when a guy came up behind me. I built a little gap heading up the road, but suddenly there was someone in front of me, and he wasn’t one of the three original leaders. Odd, I didn’t think I fell asleep… I wondered if he had gotten lost. He was looking rough at that point, but later he picked it up quite well. The three of us passed back and forth several times, but I held fast to my effort, slightly easier than marathon effort. There was a brutal climb at mile 6, but overall, the course was highly runnable, even at my reduced effort level. I picked it up on one runnable downhill section, splitting several sub-7 miles, and ran easier to the finish, crossing the line in 1:34:44 for 4th place.
The next day, I ran the CHaD Hero Half Marathon. I ran this last year, and managed to PR again four weeks after a PR at least year’s New England Half. I knew that a PR at this year’s CHaD Half was unlikely with 11+ miles already in the legs the day before. After shivering in the cold, wind and snow (yes, snow) during a measly half-mile warmup, I was ready to just accept that I’d be taking it easy. I walked up to the fence to see some other folks warming up, and nearly ran into a girl in a hat. Boy was I mentally foggy… it turned out to be Brandy, who had come up to surprise and support me! That completely changed my day around. I didn’t go warm up anymore, but I decided to race as hard as I could.
I went out comfortably fast, at around 6:00/mi effort level (but there were some up and down hills). I hit a very low spot from mile 3.5 to 6, running 6:30+ place. Coming back into Norwich, I was able to pick it up a bit to around 6:00 avg. for miles 7-9 as we headed back into Hanover. Seeing Brandy again just before mile 10 helped me pick it up even more for the last 3.5 miles. I don’t remember much about the racers around me. My mentality was try to stay close to anyone faster than me, and try to pass anyone I felt was slower today. At mile 12.5, I was passed by two guys. I focused on trying to stay with them. Ultimately, I passed one on the last uphill, but was unable to kick past the other, who finished 1.2 seconds in front of me. I finished in 1:21:28 for 8th place. I was pleasantly surprised to run within 1.5 minutes of my recent PR on a much more difficult course the day after a long trail race! Brandy being there made it so much easier to dig deep.
The Runaway Pumpkin 10k in Laconia was the perfect end to my 2015 season. You can read the entire race report at that link. I went in planning to try for a 10k PR on a certified course. I was fairly certain I could get it, considering my last non-mountain 10k was in 2014. I’d run the course before in 2013, finishing in 40:41. The day before this year’s race (moved to a different date and renamed), I found out that they had added a cash prize and a cash prize for breaking the course record. I figured there would be several fast people to pull me a long to a PR, and that I’d be close to the CR if there happened to be nobody in front of me. I ran behind Sam Wood until mile 5.9 when I finally passed him. I broke the tape in 34:39 with a new course record. Unfortunately, it turned out we were led the wrong way by the cyclist, which took off .07miles. So it was no longer certified and my time (nor the female winner’s) would not count as a course record. Since both of our paces would have broken the CR on the full course, the race director did give us both the cash prizes. I can’t count it as a PR, but extrapolating the data, it would have been by about 1.5 minutes.
Overall, a great fall season. A full-year recap is coming soon!