With all the snow we got here in
Nine o’clock race start, so the temperature was starting to climb a little. I knew it would be around 30 degree Fahrenheit at race start so in my book that is shorts weather when it comes to running races. I debated over just a tank top, decided to wear a short sleeve dry release shirt under my racing top. I was definitely in the minority, but in my opinion 80% of the field was over dressed, you have to start a hard effort out cold unless you plan on taking a layer off later...
The snow at the start was quite loose and when the horn sounded and we took off, I was afraid I was in for an extra long run. I had positioned myself at the front since the race director the night before had told me that after the first quarter mile or so it would be tough to pass people. One of the few other guys in shorts and a tank top took the early lead with another guy tucking in right behind him. I settled into third place. After the first section was passed and we were onto the actual trail, the snow was no longer quite as loose, for most of the rest of the way it was actually quite hard packed and not so hard to run on.
Start of the race
Once on the trail, the three of us in the lead started to separate from the rest of the field. The guy just in front of me I thought I might pass soon as the up hills seemed to be causing him to struggle a bit early on. Sure enough, around 2.5 miles in on an up hill section he pulled over to the side to let me pass him. So now I was in second place but it was still really early on! As we ran past an aid station, I figured out the guy in the lead was Rick and he must be local since they were cheering him on by name. It must have been around mile 3 that we ran through a really neat stretch of twisting trails. As we rounded corner after corner we ended up doubling back and at certain points you could see the people behind us in the race making some of the same corners only a ways back.
I had kept Rick pretty close, but the constant turns combined with the fast down hills had made a small gap open up. I would guesstimate he had a 20 or 30 yard gap at around 4.5 miles in. We came down a hill with some sharp turns and just around that time began overtaking some of the 20 milers who had started an hour before us. After already passing two, I rounded a corner and saw another runner ahead of me up a hill. It wasn't Rick, so I figured I was catching another 20 miler. It was a definite trail and it looked well used like other runners had gone that way, but as I ran up the hill to him, he was just standing to the side. I figured he was resting; turns out he had gone the wrong way! I dashed back down the hill to discover I had missed a turn, had that one runner not been standing up ahead on the hill, I probably wouldn't have missed it... Once back on route, the course opened up almost immediately into a field and way off in the distance was Rick, the 20 or 30 yard gap was now more like 400 yards!
A bit discouraged and frustrated, I tried to pick up my pace to close the gap a little. I think for me that open field was the toughest part of the race as I could still see Rick, but the snow was really loose in this stretch so putting more effort into my running didn't result in much increase in speed. Once finally past the loose snow, my efforts were rewarded with a nice stretch of uphill running, I knew I risked popping if I tried too hard at this point so I reined things in a little. I never did see Rick again until the end, but fortunately I didn't see anyone behind me as well! With only a week until my half marathon in
The second half of the race was pretty uneventful. I had no idea how far back I was from Rick or how far back third was from me. At one point on the trail, I had just passed some boats in a parking lot or storage area of some sort when I got worried since I didn't see any pink course markings in front of me a ways. Concerned I had gone the wrong way again, that maybe I had missed a turn by the boats, I began backtracking until I came around a corner and saw a runner I had previously passed along with a pink flag, I was going the right way! Just another minute lost; no biggie...
Finally, after dealing with I think the two toughest climbs coming in the last mile, I was at the finish line, total time of 1:27:16. Rick had finished in 1:23:38 so he had beaten me by 3:38. There’s no way to know exactly how much time I lost with my two course errors, I would guess maybe two minutes but certainly not more than three. I wouldn't have beaten Rick; I only would have hurt my time next weekend...
Definitely an awesome race, I think I could be happy running trail races every weekend! Looking forward to this event next year, the big question will be what distance should I do?