Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wachusett Mountain Road Race

I kicked off the Memorial Day weekend with one of the first Mountain races I ever attended several years ago. The Central Mass Striders hosted the 25th Annual Mount Wachusett Road Race which is also part of the Mountain Series. It is about 3 miles up and 3 miles down and comes out to just about 10K. The last 2 miles are on trail with the rest on the auto road. There are few breaks on the way up to the top which is nice.

CMS had an impressive group in the race with the likes of Tim Van Orden, Matt Veiga, Todd Callaghan, Dave Dunham, Steve Brightman, Ed Sheldon, & Erik Van Dendries. These guys are consistently in the front of the mountain series races. I took a back seat in the first mile, trying to look good with Dave Dunham but the pace was too rich for my blood.

I found a pace that I could negotiate with up to the top and this put me a few strides behind Michael McGrane from the BAA. I put in a good push from 2 to 3 miles and got ahead of him rounding the summit “King of the Mountain” optional finish in 22:33. Then it was a good stretch of descent on the auto-road. This was tough on the legs while I put the brakes on to modulate the beating. It was nice to finally reach the trail where I felt I could extend a full stride.

19th place at the top of Wachusett

Someone caught up to me on said trail. I never turned back to peek, instead forged straight ahead. The steps behind me faded on one last hill to climb with about 800m to go in the race. I rounded into the finish with a time of 41:44 and in 10th place. I turned back and Michael was just four seconds behind me. He made up some time on me on the downhill showing how good he is running downhill.

I was 19th at the top. Some runners in front of me there either backed off considerably or did not take the option of running the 10K. CMS packed in 7 out of the top 10 places in the 10K.
Upon my finish, I see that Ed Sheldon is bloodied up pretty good from head to knee. As always, in good spirits, he took it in stride and kicked my ass after tripping up on the trail on the way down. Water and paper towels got him cleaned up. He is one tough SOB! I took on some water for myself and found Dave Lapierre about 20 minutes later in the parking lot for a short but needed cool down. I hung out for the awards and bought some new CMS fleece hats for the team from Karla.

10th place at the finish

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trav's Trail Run

I headed up to Trav’s Trail Run 3 mile trail race with Krissy and the gang at Maudslay State Park. It featured a newly paved parking lot. I warmed up a bit on the course after I could not convince Junyong Pak or Greg Putnam to do the full race course. I got on the line and bolted down the hill at the start getting in behind some young folk into the single track 800m in. I went back and forth with the lead female, Elizabeth Suda, before passing my GPS mile in 6:07. I passed maybe three more runners in the 2nd mile (6:13). 

I was trying to close the gap that Chris Kealy had on me (maybe 10 seconds).  I pushed down the hill to the bridge and got on his heels as we both started the long climb up to the finish line. I was lucky to have some left in the tank and barely got ahead of Chris who is a really fast master runner. I finished 11th with a time of 17:28. The time is my slowest in 5 races (4 straight years racing this one) but only 14 seconds or so slower than last year.  CMS had a nice showing up front. Nate Jenkins and Greg Putnam, like last year, took first and 2nd overall. I ran a cool down with Steve Dowsett and Junyong on a great loop out to the Merrimack River and back for the fun awards. I picked up a coffee mug and New Balance gift card. Full results

Sunday, May 14, 2017

ECTA Spring for the Trails Half Marathon - Ipswich

ECTA represents the Essex County Trail Association. Straight from their site, they exist to protect access to the trails and open lands throughout Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Topsfield, Essex, and West Newbury. Yesterday, ECTA hosted the 2nd Annual Spring for the Trails Half Marathon. This presented an opportunity for me to see the fun trails in Willowdale State Park from the Ipswich entrance off Linebrook Rd.

I warmed up on the course, seeing the opening mile and the closing quarter mile. The fire roads would be easy but the single track gave a hint that concentration and quick feet would be required. Someone said it would be similar to Lynn Woods. The biggest difference would be the crazy constant turns and switchbacks that kill momentum that you may secure on the wider fire roads.

Early on, I was in 3rd place. Junyong Pak was the leader followed by Dave Long. I  forget his name (was introduced following the race), but a tall gent from Beverly who teaches at Landmark School, with a blue Adidas top was glued to my heels. He got bored and passed Dave and I after a few miles which were mostly single track, quick turns, and pace limiters.

ECTA Spring for the Trail Half Marathon course map

I opened up my stride on the wider fire roads and passed Dave after 3 miles. I closed the gap between Junyong and I who relinquished the lead between miles 3 and 4. I was pushing pretty well, closing in. Then we came upon a three way intersection and no course markers (pink ribbons) were in sight. Left, right, straight? I yelled a few expletives. Junyong turned around and yelled that he found the course, which was a 90 degree left hand turn we both missed about 15 seconds back. The pink ribbon was low on the ground and the red arrows indicating a turn was not there. I guess you can’t get comfortable with the expectations that a marker will be quite obvious as it was perfect up until that point on the course. I was on alert from that point on to pay extra attention.

I lost some ground to Pak while regrouping but was curious how the runners behind me, would fare upon the same error that we made (I heard some other runners missed a turn in the race but I did not know if this was the turn they missed).

Dave was no longer behind me, at least visibly, so I forced on to stay with Pak as long as possible. This took us to the water stop at 6.3 miles. I was about 5 seconds back but needed to grab some Tailwind at the table. I walked through, drinking and gulping two cups. I lost a few seconds and contact with Pak from there on. I saw him just a few more times in the next two miles but that was it. The twists and turns on the single track were brutal. Look at the course map from mile 7 to the finish. The legs and hips were taking a beating.

There was just enough elevation change to break balls too. But it was all good. The occasional Mountain Biker said I was right behind another runner (Pak) but I knew better. That could be minutes ahead. The switch backs over the last three miles allowed you to look over and see you is ahead or chasing. I saw Dave Long at one point and figured I had a minute up. Still, no time to let up, I pressed onward with tired legs, hoping for some fire road and less single track.

The race photographer I came upon said that just a mile remained which hinted that the course would be less than 13 miles. He was right. In the end, the course measured out for 12.4 for me.  I heard 12.3 mile were tracked by others.  I finished in 3rd with a time of 1:28:13 which would have placed me 4th in the 2016 results.

Results are not posted at this time. I am not sure what the times were for everyone. Pak was at least a few minutes ahead of me and Dave Long was maybe a minute behind me. I got a beer glass and a beer ticket for Ispwich Ale (good to see you TJ!) at the Ipswich Clam Festival starting at 1pm from Carol a few minutes after finishing. The race was giving New England Runner gift certificates to the every 25th runner in the race.  The race director, Carol, said she recalled Joe Shairs and I running the first ECTA race 13 years ago. She remembered the snow flurry we had. Good memories indeed.