Monday, July 6, 2009

Loon Mountain

Loon Mountain - pictured above the pack heading up Upper Walking Boss photo's by Scott Mason.

I headed up to Lincoln, NH on Saturday after getting in a brisk 6-mile run at Winni. The 100 mile drive went smoothly with little traffic and I met up with Paul K and Paul B at Lincoln Woods. We got in a nice run out/back on the rail trail which has become something of a tradition. Then we were off to Loon Mountain to get the final preparations done for the fourth running of one of my favorite races. Tim V (TiVO) showed up and helped us getting things organized. Unfortunately just as we were getting ready to mark the course it started to rain. We holed up in my car for a ½ hour waiting for the worst to pass then went out and put about 500 flags out to mark the 5.6 mile course. I was feeling pretty beat from the 3 hour hike and glad that all the mileage for the day was done early.

Paul B headed for his campsite and Paul K headed for pizza. TiVO and I refueled the car and headed to Paul’s house for a relaxing dinner. Race day was quickly upon us and I taped up my ankles and gathered up my gear and we were off for the ride over the Kanc. A quick stop at Dunkin’s certainly helped pass the 30 mile ride. The hardcore mountain runners were already in the parking lot at 7:15 when we arrived. Paul had things running smoothly so I just concentrated on pre-race final preparations.

A big group of us headed out for a 3 mile warm-up. Patrick Ard joined up with JJ, Jim P, Andy Mc, Tim M, Paul b, TiVO and me for a nice easy run. Maybe it wasn’t that easy as I was sweating profusely by the time I was back to the car. It seemed like great conditions to race in, especially for an early July mountain race. There was a mix of sun and clouds and temps were in the low 60’s with low humidity. I switched into my Inov-8 racing flats and headed over to the line (with a brief detour to put out some cones on the first ¼ mile of the course).

Paul gave a few brief instructions, including the fact that the course gets progressively more difficulty and that there was no shame in dropping out at 4 miles when you reach the top of the lift (and still have the hardest 1.6 miles of running left). Then the record field of over 200 of us were off. Boy, did it seem to go out fast! I was not in the top 20 at the end of the dirt parking lot. We hit the first climb at ¼ mile in and I was in 15th place. I was feeling a bit rough around the edges and wasn’t sure if it was going to be “one of those days”.

The first climb brought a couple of guys back and started sorting things out. Abdeltif Faker was WAY out in front, I had no idea who he was and figured he’d flame-out. Jim Johnson, Patrick Ard, Ed Breen, and Andy MCarron trailed Faker. On the first big downhill TiVO went flying by me, I also moved ahead of another couple of guys. I hit the mile in 6:14 and could see that Faker was still well out in front and the Jim had now moved into second. Ard followed with Breen and MCarron strung out behind. Adam Pacheck, a high school runner from NY, was between McCarron and the next group which was the group I was most interested in. Jim Pawlicki, TiVO, Tim Mahoney, and Todd Callaghan were all running together about 10 seconds ahead of me. I was running alone in 11th place but starting to feel better as we got into the first steady climb of the day. The four guys ahead of me were the guys I was closely competing with in the series and I wanted to keep them close. My hope was to be near them until the Upper Walking Boss section of the course where I felt I would be able to out-climb them (hopefully).

At about 1.5 miles in I had reeled in the group of four and right before the first water-stop I pulled slightly ahead. I kept looking ahead and was definitely closing on Pacheck as I hit 2 miles in 14:17 (8:03). There is a nice drop after 2 miles and a bit of a grassy traverse, I pushed hard on this section figuring the chase group would close on me. I quickly caught Pacheck and he tucked in behind me on the grassy side-hill. As we started the steep grassy climb he through in some surges. I thought about telling him to settle in and relax, there was a long way to go, but thought the better of it and next thing I knew he was off the back. I was tempted to look back and see how TiVO, Tim, Jim, and Todd were doing but didn’t want them knowing I was worried. I also knew that just after three miles there would be a spot to check out the competition.

I passed three miles in 23:40 (9:23) and then plunged for 200 meters before hitting the 170 degree turn. I was surprised to see TiVO not far behind but couldn’t make out who was trailing him. I figured I had about 15 seconds on TiVO and at least 15 more on the next guy. I also calculated that I was about 30-40 seconds behind Breen. He had been looking back quite a bit since Andy had passed him before the 3 mile mark. I thought he’d falter but he stayed steady on the tough climb from the 170 to the West Summit. Every once in a while I could see Andy in fourth place but I couldn’t see what was going on any further ahead. I was thinking that if I had a good finish I might even have a shot at winning (which is a funny thing to be thinking in 6th place about 3 minutes behind the leader).

Not much happened heading to the four mile, it is a difficult mile but aren’t they all. I reached four in 34:20 (10:40) and was told I was 20 seconds behind Breen. The short steep section right after the summit was a bit tricky and I took it very slowly. I tried to “air it out” on the downhill but also kept thinking “don’t wipe out and ruin your race, plenty of running left”. I saw Breen turn onto the Upper Walking Boss (a .6 mile section of double black diamond grass ski slope with an average grade over 30%) and timed him. He was 28 seconds up as I turned the corner and shifted into low gear.

This is not a faked shot, it really is this steep and steeper.

For the first time in a long time I could see all five guys who were in front of me. Jim was still leading (but walking….he walked the entire UWB section) but Faker and Ard seemed to be closing on him. Andy was mixing running with power walking and Breen was walking and looking back a lot. I caught him a little over 4 minutes into the climb and noted we only had another 4 minutes (to the top). He went with me for a bit then yelled out “watch out Andy…he’s coming”. I was definitely making up ground on everyone but was also running out of real estate. I felt better than I’d felt all day and ended up running my fastest split ever for the UWB (8:55 for .6 miles). This was the first time I’d run the entire hill, in the past I’d walked at least on the 45% section. I yelled out for Jim as he was caught by Ard and Faker just before the top.

I hit the five mile mark in 46:33 (12:13) and knew that I wasn’t going to be catching anyone else. My goal for the last crazy downhill (300’ of drop in less than 1/3 of a mile) was to just not get hurt. I hit the finish line as the clock rolled over 50 minutes and was quite pleased to take 5th. Jim had hammered the final downhill and rolled to a 24 second win. TiVO had a solid run taking 7th just over a minute behind me.

1 Jim Johnson 0:48:25 CMS 510 M 32
2 Abdeltif Faker 0:48:49 416 M 24
3 Patrick Ard 0:48:57 Whirlaway 502 M 25
4 Andy McCarron 0:49:34 CMS 499 M 26
5 Dave Dunham 0:50:01 CMS 487 M 45
6 Ed Breen 0:50:16 GBTC 533 M 27
7 Tim VanOrden 0:51:12 CMS 486 M 41
8 Todd Callaghan 0:51:21 GCS-triad 411 M 39
9 Mats Lemberger 0:51:25 501 M 25
10 Adam Pacheck 0:52:30 451 M 17
11 Jim Pawlicki 0:52:52 CMS 454 M 34

14 Tim Mahoney 0:54:03 CMS 436 M 29
45 Robert Thomas 1:03:40 CMS 478 M 49
65 David Lapierre 1:06:20 CMS 432 M 45
79 Dane LeBlanc 1:09:16 CMS 523 M 51
109 Heather Arsenault 1:16:03 CMS 256 F 31
126 Walter Kuklinski 1:18:35 CMS 431 M 60

No comments: