Monday, July 21, 2008

"If a Runner Bonks in the Woods...." - TRILOGY PART 3

Essex County Greenbelt Trail Race - 10k

First off, the nuts and bolts of the race. The course was very well marked and the volunteers were out in force to make sure runners of varying states of conciousness were able to stay on course, which was great for the 10k runners as the heat seemed to really bear down on the double loop runners the second time around. Nice goodie bags to all of the pre-registered racers, which a cool frisbee (ultimate frisbee approved!) and a nice T-shirt. Porta-John's were in short supply though (ONE!), and where I am usually fairly flexible with some pre-race excretions and the locations, there are just some moments where you need the facilities. Yes, it was a smaller field of runners, but one.... yeah. The post race offerings were nice. The usual fare (Bananas and bagels), but there was chowder also. Too bad temps were in the mid 80's and adding to my core temp was not really something I was interested in doing. Results were posted quickly on the web later in the day - not that I was all that interested.... You'll understand.

So I was standing on the start line wondering why I let the morning spin off into some weird race day black hole of worrying about my internal plumbing and factors like the heat and humidity, instead of a race strategy. It seems like much because I am lacking speed, so why would I need to strategize about how I was getting from point A to point B somewhere in the middle of the pack, and why was a worrying about the heat, last time I checked everyone has to deal with the conditions and course.

The good news was that I was wearing my "Monty's" (Montrail Hardrock trail runners). I wasn't sure if bringing out the Monty's would be necessary for this event, as the race application advised that the footing was fairly even, which was a bit misleading. Aside from the sections of athletic fields and pasture, the trails were a bit more gnarly than expected. Maybe not "rock plate" worthy, but roots, rocks and mud were all present. I was also happy because I ran blister free for the first time since buying my Monty's.

I am not sure where my anxiety stems from, but this is the second time in a week of two races, where my anxiety has made pre race a living hell. But the only difference was that I had spent hours thinking about the Skyline last weekend. How it would almost certainly be a race of survival, so from the start it was a "slow and low is the way to go" situation. This race was more of a spare of the moment thing, I heard about it because EBSCO was a sponsor and I saw an ad from HR come through my email two weeks ago. So as the whistle blew the race to start, I was thinking, about how to approach the task at hand.

Essentially what happened was starting midpack, jostling for position on the single tracks, using more energy passing slower 5k runners at good passing sections, and paying close attention to not trip on obstacles or other people. The first lap (5k) was disasterous. I realized wearing a singlet wasn't a good idea, stopped and walked to take off the singlet and re-pin my number to my shorts, generally started feeling respiratory issues 2 miles in, and just felt like trash from the first two miles of trying to navigate the course and the other runners. The second lap was actually more fun because the 5k runners were out of the way, I had a chance to get some water and dump my singlet with my support team (hehehehe) and met some genuinely nice folks along the way, and was VERY content running with people and chatting than doing my best impression of a Green Line trolley speeding up and then slowing down and walking, and then SPEED UP, slow down, SPEED UP, slow down.... next stop, Government Center, change here for the BLUE line!

Going around the field I met one of my fellow Blue Hills runners from last weekend. I guess I wasn't the only one with thrashed quads! Evidently he had more juice left because he plodded along ahead of me, disappearing over a hill never to be seen again. I also met Dan, who also has an excellent blog on all things trail running (, which was excellent because I had previous read his blog, which has a great base of knowledge on running the trails at the Middlesex Fells, Breakheart Reservation, and Lynn Woods - all places I frequented while staying with my Mother-In-Law in Saugus. Dan and I chatted for a bit, but I thought I had more and took off. I managed to catch a couple other runners, and then totally bonked. Imitating the Green Line once again for the next mile. Though I was stop and go I starting to catch another runner, Marty, who as it turns out, had been someone I had been email to in my quest for trail knowledge of the Rowley-Ipswich-Topsfield area. Marty runs with Gil's Athletic Club, the club one joins when they have a passion for fun and running (not to mention those who are interested in finding fellow endurace junkies!). Marty and I chatted and plodded to the finish line, I felt like I had more at the end, and did pick it up the last quarter of a mile, but it was nice to finally meet some folks from Gil's.

Trail running is such an interesting take because it is almost welcome to talk with people as you go. Road running and races tend to be a bit more prissy in this right, and often times people get irritated when you try to chat as you run. I guess I can see why it would be annoying, but, my experience on the trails is that there is a bit of a genuine respect with REAL trail runners, i.e. guys like Dan and Marty. The two girls I passed on the second loop of the course were both young and first time trail racers, so when I asked to pass, and got that speechless "As If!" look, I didn't linger too much on it.

I am not sure what will be next. On the trails I will be looking at either the Wrentham Forest 20k Challenge in September, and perhaps, the Diamond Hill race in October. Ravenswood, Lynn Woods, and the last Woodland Race in Uxbridge are also options. I guess now I am looking at accomplishing the next goal, which is to run a marathon. I am under 200 pounds now, and have been handling 25-30 miles per week without injury, and I am at the point where I can go out and run for 60-70 minutes on any given day. The Bay State is 13 weeks away, and Cape Cod is 14 weeks, Stone Cat is also an option, and is a trail marathon.

Time to dream, decide, deliver, and dance!

Until next time, happy trails everyone!

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