Monday, May 14, 2012

Sleepy Hollow Mountain race

Earlier this year I was having a lot of trouble deciding if I wanted to do ANY mountain running in 2012.  After hurting my calf at Mt Washington last year (and re-injuring it multiple times) I wasn’t sure if I wanted to chance getting injured again.  Somewhere along the line I changed my mind and did a 540 (a 360 then a 180) and decided that not only did I want to mountain race this year, but I want to attempt to do the entire USATF New England Mountain Series along with the National Championships (Mt Washington).  This weekend was the kick-off to the season here in New England.

I headed up on Saturday and Eric (Morse) and I grabbed Murdoch (his dog) and headed over to Huntington Vermont for another look at the course. 
Guess who is on the dog run!
The course was very well marked and we had no trouble navigating it.  We took it nice and easy and I just tried to picture how the race might play out.  The first climb looked fast (too fast for me) and the first descent looked to be the only one that was “tricky” with some of the steepest and roughest downhill.  The second climb was the longest and steadiest and the downhill looked to be smokin’ fast.  The final climb was tough!  My goal would be to move up and hopefully run that final up/down fast enough to pass some people.

We headed back on race morning and it was already hopping!  Great crowd!  Always fun to see all the familiar faces from the series.  I was mildly surprised to see teammates Jim Johnson and Kevin Tilton (I thought both would not be at the race).  Then I saw Michael Quintal, Tim Mahoney, Ross Krause, and Martin Tighe.  Wow, the CMS Mountain running team was out in full-force.

We headed out onto the last 1.5 miles of the course and everyone got a chance to see that last 1.5 during our 3 mile warm-up.  I switched into my Inov-8 shoes and headed out for another mile and some strides.  I felt pretty good, but a bit nervous.  The good field and worries about my calf had me on edge.  Of course that all disappeared as we took off up the hill.  I moved into the top 15 and felt like I was moving pretty quickly.  It takes me a few minutes to find a rhythm and as the field strung out in front of me I found my pace and settled in.  I only passed one guy on the climb (the very early leader) and hit the top of the 300 foot climb in 14th place.

Chasing down the 6 guys in front of me at 2 miles
There was a group just a few seconds ahead of me that included Eli Enman and teammates Michael Quintal and Tim Mahoney.  I wanted to keep them in sight on the tricky descent and worked my way down the 500 foot drop (as they slowly pulled away).  The group of 6 guys was 10 seconds ahead when I passed the 2 mile mark.  I felt really good when we started to climb again and kept looking ahead.  I reeled in the group early in the climb but Mike had pulled ahead and for the first time I saw teammate Tim Van Orden up ahead.  I knew both of them had much better leg speed than me, so I’d need to really work the climb.

By the top of the 500 foot climb I’d caught Mike and TiVO and gapped them a little.  The short little single-track section had TiVO catching back up and then he really opened it up when we got on the wide trail.  I knew this would be a spot where I could air it out as the grade wasn’t too steep and the footing was quite good.  I worked as hard as I could and surprised TiVO (and myself) by staying with him on the 300 foot drop.  We came through four miles in the meadow where the finish was stride-for-stride.

My goal now was to get in front of Tim before the single-track climb and hopefully pull away during the next 300 feet of climbing.  I went by him just before the single-track and tried to work the uphill.  I gapped him but was surprised when I heard Mike catching up.  He had a strong final climb and I moved out of his way as we crested the final big climb.  We had a little single-track left and then we were back on the wide trail for the final mile to the finish.  On a little uphill I threw caution to the wind and put all I had into gapping him.  Then it was some very fast downhill running with 300 feet of drop until just before the finish.  I hoped to break away, but could still hear MQ back there (the wet ground splashing was a great give-away to how close he was).  I chugged up the final hill and then “went to the arms” to hold him off as we charged into the finish in 7th and 8th with TiVO a little bit back.

I was very happy with the race, I’m not very good at up/down courses and I felt I gave a good effort over this course.  It doesn’t help my lack of confidence for Wachusett (there will be some VERY lousy footing on that course), but I’ll keep my #1 goal in mind: Don’t get hurt!

Mile      Split      Climb/Drop
1          7:16      +340
2          6:05      -500
3          9:06      +500
4          6:17      -330
5          8:13      -100 & +300
6          5:32      -300 & +100

139:19 Joshua FerencSaxons RiverVTM30
240:24 Kevin TiltonNORTH CONWAYNHM30
341:08  Jim JohnsonMadisonNHM35
441:33 Ross KrauseEasthamptonMAM32
541:44  Todd CallaghanBeverlyMAM42
642:10 Patrick JohnsonAnchroageAKM23
742:33  Dave DunhamBradfordMAM48
842:38  Mike QuintalNorth AndoverMAM34
942:46 Tim Van OrdenBenningtonVTM43
1042:52 Eli EnmanHuntingtonVTM35

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