We headed up to Cranmore on Saturday morn. I had picked up a crappy head-cold and felt miserable. I debated even running in the morning, but felt good enough after being dizzy for the first mile. Once we arrived at Cranmore Rich hung out chatting with Andy Schachat who was checking out the start area where he’d do the announcing on race day. I headed out to run the first kilometer and check out the 100m of tricky descent through the “glade”. This was really the only part of the course that I was worried about. There wasn’t much of an indication of a trail in this part; there also wasn’t much rock so it wasn’t too bad. I figured I’d give up a little in that section to guys who have no fear, but I’d make up a lot on the upper slopes when most everyone walks.
Rich and I both took a soak in the river before meeting up with Paul Kirsch and his family along with Trish Steidl and Nancy Hobbs. I ate a ton of pizza at Flatbreads, and was a bit bummed that I couldn’t find anything non-organic J. After dinner it was back to Paul’s where we helped out with some final preparations for the race.
My head cold didn’t feel much better but I had a decent nights sleep. We were up at 6 and on the way to Dunkin’s by 6:30. We were not the first to arrive despite getting into the parking lot 30 minutes prior to registration beginning. Paul had pretty much everything under control so I finished my large regular and got ready for the race.
Double-J, DQ, Ed Horse, Justin Fyffe, Tim & Abby, Trish, Jim P, and maybe a couple of others joined up and we did a nice out/back run on the trails that kept us from doing any big climbs prior to the race. I was still a bit dizzy doing the run and despite the slow pace felt a bit winded. I was finally starting to get nervous about the race after a week of being in a post-Mt Washington blah.
I switched into the Unitard ™ and put on the blister causing Inov-8’s that have great tread. The course was wet and muddy and traction would be a concern. I did a light jog, but no strides as my energy was very low. Over 225 of us lined up, with cloudy skies and temps in the 70’s with super-high humidity. Then off we went in a blur of arms and legs. Some people went out VERY fast for the first 100m of flat running. I was not in the top 50 as the climb began.
It was still easy to pass as everyone was moving pretty slowly. We slowed to almost a walk at the first brief single-track. In the second single-track I called out “trail” which got a couple of laughs. I did a little bushwhacking and slowly passed some early speedsters. We exited the single-track and Ben Nephew went flying by with Eric Morse right behind him. Then things began to settle down. I was just a step behind Brandy Erholtz who seemed to be working very hard. I was working hard as well and did a quick count of my place (about 35). I think that helps me focus on who is ahead of me. I definitely was looking to reel in a lot of people. Heck, we weren’t even 1KM into the race and people were beginning to realize they may have gone out too hard.
I hit the KM in 5:48 and heard Tim Van Orden call out something about poison ivy (perhaps warning some of the Raw Foods people to not eat it?). I was glad to hear him behind me, not so glad that he was RIGHT behind me. I knew I’d need to have some distance on him at the top as he can fly on the down. I had to work hard to get around Brandy, every time I pulled even with her she sped up. I thought that was pretty aggressive this early in the race. I pulled clear of her just after the 2 KM mark as we got onto the steep narrow washed out section.
I kept my head up and could see a line of guys in front of me. I caught Tim Mahoney on the first grassy steep climb and reeled in one of the Mexican runners. I caught a Canadian runner soon after when we hit the steep glade and most everyone was walking. I don’t like to power-walk, maybe I’m afraid I won’t be able to start running again. I hit the top in 17:02 and grabbed a cup of water as we started the long downhill. My goal for the downhill was to not get hurt and to run as fast as possible on the “good” sections.
It seemed to take a long time to get to 4KM and even longer to get to the glade. I couldn’t believe that someone was running the down slower than me, but I caught some poor sap. Just as I entered the glade I heard someone coming in behind me. It turned out to be two someone’s as TiVo and Tim M both blew by me during the 100m of nastiness. I turned the power back on as we hit the better footing and ran even with Tim M right behind TiVo to the bottom. This was a bit of a replay of last year when TiVo got me in the glade and put 30 seconds on me on the bottom. I was surprised that neither of the Tim’s could pull away on the flat. That could bode well, as we hit the second loop stride for stride.
I tried to push as much as possible on the climb and hoped to gap them early and maybe discourage them from following. I was a bit concerned about how bad I felt but knew I needed every second I could muster on the climb if I wanted to hold them off on the drop. The three of us are very close in the point totals in the USATF NE mountain series of which Cranmore was the fourth race (of six). Every second would count. It took forever to get to the 1KM marker but I kept focus ahead and had Todd Callaghan in site along with a Mexican runner.
On the steep climbs I could even see Morse not too far ahead. Of course not too far ahead on a 20% slope is actually pretty far back on flat running. I walked a couple of wobbly steps on the really steep stuff, my only walking of the day. Then I was on top of the mountain again and heading down the dirt road. I was a bit wobbly and felt like I wasn’t moving well. My first downhill split turned out to be within a second of what I ran on the first loop so I guess I wasn’t doing badly. I focused on getting to the glade and once I did that I just worked my way through it. The glade was better this time around as there was a much more distinct path with all of the people blasting through. Once back on the better footing I gave all I had. I was relieved to hear “no one is behind you” when I hit the bottom. My gas tank was close to empty. I hit the finish line in 25th place in 56:20. That was about 1:30 faster than I ran last year and was good enough to get me a gold medal in the 45-49 age group. Dave Quintal took second which was pretty cool, sort of like to old days for us getting All-American back at U-Lowell.
The warm-down was slow and painful. I had some bad blisters and sore hips, along with some sore muscles that I didn’t even know I had. The award ceremony was pretty cool; Kevin Tilton was in the top 10 and got a medal. Ben Nephew had a great race as well. All in all the entire CMS team had good runs. Tim Mahoney came through with a coke for me which really helped as I couldn’t seem to kick the post-race bonk.
Next up will be the Loon Mountain race which is probably my favorite. It starts out easy and gets progressively more difficult. It is a little to easy in the early going for me but the 30-40% slope on Upper Walking Boss helps bring back some of the speedsters. I’ve had good luck at the race in the past and hope to kick this cold and feel “normal”. I’m also registered for the Carson 2 mile on the fourth but may pass on that if I’m not feeling good. I’m very sore and tired, but that is how you should feel if you ran Cranmore right.
548 - 548
1018 - 430
1706 - 648
2044 - 338
2721 - 637 est
3341 - 620 est
3837 - 456
4601 - 724
4942 - 339
5619 - 637
down (est) 1015
Up (est) 1840