Monday, October 13, 2014

Hills & Hops 5K Trail Run - Bartlett, NH

pre-race at the base
Krissy and I headed up to the White Mountains for a few days to celebrate my 40th as well as our 24 year anniversary. While having dinner at the Red Fox, Krissy and I peeked over the events in the Bartlett NH area for the near peak foliage Columbus Day weekend. I saw an advertisement for the Hills and Hops 5KTrail Run at Attitash Mountain Resort. The race was kicking off their 17th Annual Oktoberfest. Last years results showed 40 year old Ken Lubin took the win with a time of 19:47. I shrugged it off and was more intent to run long with the likes of Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson in their back yard. I got a few miles in with Jim Johnson the night before the race. He did not have any details on the race when I brought it up. Our schedules did not line up for a long run so I had 12 hours to gear up for my first race after turning a master (40+).

Krissy and I arrived at the Attitash Mountain Resort early so I could check out the course. It was well marked with arrows where you had to make a turn which was literally to go up or down. I imagined that I was in for an eastern Mass style trail race but I was so wrong with my assumptions. Despite the course not hitting any peaks, this course was an ass kicker. I gave Krissy the 411 and she signed up after I compared it to Lynn Woods with some climbs that were the equivalent of Stone Tower grade and length. I stripped down to single layers (orange Adidas tech short sleeve, gloves, and my Volkswagen GTI winter hat) only to hear about a 10 minute delay 10 minutes before our race. Argh! My scientific calculations of the warmup time ratio went right out the window. I kept moving right until the race was called to the line. A gent jumped into the lead (turned out to be Ken Lubin – last year’s winner) on the first climb. My breathing was heavier than his as I took over 300 meters into the race. I boogied along, up and down the course. My pace slowed a lot on the climbing after one mile. 

Gifts from the race
 My lead grew a little longer each time I looked back at the top of the hills. The last hill was the long one. Once at the top, a generous decline in elevation awaited to grades lucky to be seen at Dunham’s Northfield Mountain races of the past. Each step was careful on the descent for various reasons. Alas, the finish came into view and a not so shocking 20 minute something on the clock (crossed the line in 21:05). The Garmin nailed this as 3.14 miles. One has to throw times out the window on any race that is off road. Ken was about a minute behind me and felt the race was a little different as in longer than last year. He too measured 3.14 miles. The race director asked for our feedback and all I could say was not to make it any tougher in the future. I would like to see this course as a snowshoe race. I put a long sleeve on and headed out for a very slow cool down, however, running against the race, doing the loop clockwise. I cheered on every runner – giving the good news to those who only had one hill left and a long down hill finish. Krissy was one of them, hiking up the last beast. Later she would share that she finished strong and passed a few doing so. I was in hustle mood after I wrapped that up as the condo exit was to take place at 11:00 so I left Krissy at the race to score a bottle opener in the raffle. I picked up a race Mug and Nike gift card which magically turned into three pairs of socks three hours later.

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