Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bogging Around in Carver - Edaville Rail Race Report

Edaville was an interesting race from the standpoint that I grew up in the next town over from where Edaville is located, and I have always had this thing about running a race in an amusement park. I think I am one of the few people that goes to Six Flags (NJ or MA) or Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire and thinks about how it would be just great to run a race past the rides, attractions, and food stands. Edaville was a microcosm of that dream, as I have often been riding the train that takes passengers around the property, mostly during the winter months, for the famed Christmas Train Ride. During the ride we'd cross dirt roads and I'd dream about running these roads, mostly around the surrounding cranberry bogs, in a race one day.

My dream was almost delayed because we had trouble dealing with the roads and weather to get down to Carver, and I hoped out of the car at 9:30 for a 10:00 start... yikes. Having felt weak from a week of fighting some sort of respiratory cold, I didn't have too many expectations, so getting there late wasn't as bad, since a warm up wasn't really in the card due to the pseudo-bronchitis and the terrible weather.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida made the race a windy and soggy mess, which, of course, made me much more of a happy camper, because this is the South Shore of MA in November, which should only have two settings: Blue sky and brilliant foliage, and Nor'Easter Nastiness. Hmm... sounds like some sort of seasonal flavor or scent - Yankee Candle can contact me if they so desire.

So after the RD figured out how to set off the bull horn siren (it took a moment or two) we were sent off:

The course itself was 5 miles of dirt roads with a couple really, REALLY short hills. The mud and puddles seemed to neutralize the absolute flatness of the course, and it is scary to think what kind of times this course could produce when the real hard core roadies show up for a little off road fun!

I basically settled in with no real goals in mind. Based on my training and sickness I was thinking Mid to low 40's for a finish time, with a realistic goal of 42:30. I wanted to challenge breaking 8:00/mile pace, but wasn't sure if my body would cooperated, plus my training hasn't been all that consistent to warrant that, or so I thought.

The first mile was a typical shakeout and shuffle of runners, I tried to find a seam where I could think about my form and just running easy. We reached the mile split in 7:46, which piqued my interest, but I knew any gains would most certainly be consumed in the latter miles. The pace felt good, though, and I moved up comfortably passing runners. At about 1 1/2 miles I met another trail runner from Greater Framingham RC, who happened to be Jeff Hattem, a name I knew from various ENETRS events, and we chatted about Rich Busa and couple other things, and we hit the two mile split at 16 minutes flat. Having felt like I slowed down to chat I was a little inspired that I was still on 8 pace. I told Jeff I was going to pick up the pace and see if I could gain a little time, and off I went!

The third mile was more laborious and less friendly, as I seemed to be doing an Indian Run with the same group of runners, but something must have been clicking, as I arrived at 3 miles in 23:32. The fourth mile I was waiting for that lactic acid death knell in my quads, but stayed mentally tough, getting to mile 4 as the volunteer was calling out "31!". Befuddled that all I had to do was run a 9 for the last mile, I just tried to hold on as best I could and not wimp out for any short walking breaks. This was tough when we were sent into the teeth of the gusting Northeasterly wind, but an old tip from my college XC coach years ago resounded in my head. It is interesting how when I encounter different 'tough' elements in training or a race, those old, seemingly insignificant lessons we gain in some random workout years earlier seem to stick.

My form was sufficiently in the toilet, see photographic evidence below, and I could hear the RD at the finish cheering us in. That's the crappy part about having low vision, knowing where the finish line is can be essentially to gauging what you can and cannot expend on a finishing kick, and I had hoped the flatness of the course would result in a clear sight line to the finish.

It was hillarious, though, as I came to the finish, a woman I passed yelled at me, and in my finishing delirium I slowed to acknowledge her. She wanted to know all about my Vibram FiveFinger KSOs, and how they handled the course, and I politely answered and excused myself to cover the last 250 yards of the race:

My official finishing time: 39:11! I was pumped. Yes, it was a flat course, and amid to other personal PRs I have from my younger days, 39:11 for 5 miles would be considered a horrendous training run where I had projectile vomit for half the run and had to stop 4 or 5 miles. In fact, back in college, my 'easy' training pace was 6:30 a mile for run 5 to 10 miles... oh how fortunes change!

Nevertheless, in my new world of midpacking and trying to lose weight and increase fitness to gain an iota of those old feats, this was unexpected and very sweet. In fact, my Garmin had the course being over 5 miles, and my 5 mile split per the Garmin was 38:38.

The post race festivities were great with lots of opportunity to mingle and chat with other runners. Lots of food and drink, and some live music.

Overall Nate Cristofori was the winner in 28:20, with NETT's Dave Hannon grabbing the second spot, and Jon Chesto of South Boston coming in third. Jill Strathdee of South Weymouth was the Women's winner in a time of 34:16, outpacing Eleanor Brennan-Hall, the women's runner up by nearly two minutes.

The race was not without some of the regulars on the trail circuit. As mentioned above, Dave Hannon and Jeff Hattem were in attendance, as well as Paul Young, Art Magni, and Linda Solomon. Marshall Randolph and John Burke were also there, adding to their overall dominance in the Eastern New England Trail Race Series.

I just continue to chug along on the journey:

One note on the Vibrams. I really believe that they helped me run faster. The lightweight, as well as the light foot placement really helped me stay vigilant about good form and staying on my toes. It really is the same effect that one gets from wearing track spikes or Cross Country flats. The only downside was that the seam between the fabric upper and rubber sole really does not forgive the rawness of one's foot when they get wet. Sure, the traction remains great on the feet, but the insides of my feet that contacted the seams got cut up pretty bad. Even with a pair of Injinji toe socks, I am afraid that this would have been the case, and I just would have had bloody socks.

Ultimately, I think I will still experiment with the Vibrams, but I might go back to an idea of finding a lighter responsive trail shoe to get a little more protection, but also have the benefits of a lighter, simpler ride. Any suggestions?

Until the next adventure, Happy Trails!


pathfinder said...

Great job Rob....but what was the old coaching advice??? I am interested.

RunninRob said...

Nothing real fancy actually. We were running one day on the track and the wind was bad. Basically, we were taught to not put out heads down all the way to compromise form when going into the wind, but to slightly tilt your head down and breath in through the nose and out the mouth. Sounds silly and really simple, but it helps. If anything you aren't thinking about the wind in your face! :-)