Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sleepy time

Sleepy Hollow (USATF New England Mountain/Trail championships) – I took it very easy for the week leading up to Sleepy Hollow.  Cortisone shot on Monday and started taking antibiotics for walking pneumonia meant a few days of very relaxed running.  My stomach was a mess from the antibiotics but by Saturday I wasn’t feeling too bad and if nothing else I was well rested.

Dan Verrington swung by and picked me up along with teammates Mike Quintal and Dave Lapierre.  I had planned on driving but dire warnings of undriveable dirt roads near the race site meant we’d need some high clearance vehicle.  It was nice to have a group for the nearly 7 hours (over 400 miles) of driving we’d do on race day.  The noon start really made logistics interesting; I hate late starts like this.  It ruins the entire day.  We made good time to the race and picked up our numbers a little over an hour before the start.  The temperature was ideal (about 50) and we’d get moments of almost sunny sky mixed with moments of rain/drizzle.

Dave passed on the warm-up so we grabbed Martin Tighe (fresh off his Boston Marathon win in the 55-59 age group) and headed out to check out the last 1.5 of the course.  The footing wasn’t bad, the biggest issue was not knowing if you would land on solid ground or plunge in ankle, calf, or knee deep.  This made for some tentative steps.  I tried to stay on the very edge of the trail and this seemed to be the best location to find firmer ground.

A record crowd of over 200 lined up and got some quick instruction from race director Kasie Enman (who then handed off the megaphone and jumped into the start, she’d be racing as well).  It seemed to me that everyone sprinted out at the start.  I found myself out of the top 50 200 meters into the race as we started the first steady climb.  I focused on Kasie who had home-course knowledge and watched where she went for the best footing.  It was sort of like snowshoe racing when you try to get your foot planted in the same spot as the runner in front of you.  I slowly moved by some of the fast starters.  It was cool seeing the line of people weaving through the trees on the single-track.

The first downhill was just crazy.  I was very tentative and watched Kasie put over a minute on me during the ½ mile of wild descent.  Ernie Brake went flying by me near the bottom and I latched on to him as we hit the grassy milder descent.  Then we hit the longest sustained climb of the race.  This was where I needed to make some hay (http://grammarist.com/usage/make-hay/).  I passed Ernie and then set my sights on the line of folks in front of me.  Again I slowly reeled in a bunch of people.  I could see teammate Tim Van Orden up ahead and hoped I could get a bit closer to him.  As I hit the top (about 3 miles into the race) I caught a group of three guys and we stuck together on the long descent back to the start/finish.  This was some of the fastest running on the course.  The woods road was in pretty good shape and the grade was just about perfect for running.  My goal was to stick with the three guys and keep TiVO in sight.

I lost some ground on the trio and timed Tim at 15 seconds ahead when we passed the start/finish with about 2.2 miles to go.  The final loop was the easiest with only 300’ of climb, but it was a good nasty little climb on single-track.  I caught back up to the trio and just before the top of climb went around them and around Tim.  Then the downhill started and one of the guys flew by.  I held off Tim until nearly wiping out on a wooden footbridge that was incredibly slippery.  The last mile was fast running on a wide grassy trail and Tim really hammered it.  I couldn’t go with him but tried to keep it close while holding off the guys who were running me down.  I never got back to Tim but I also didn’t get caught and crossed the line in 19th place in 47:39.

I was surprised to find out later that I’d taken the New England 50+ title (my first NE title in the new age group).  I’m hopeful that I’ll make gains in the coming weeks as the illness loses its grip.  Mountain racing season will really start picking up steam over the next few weeks!

1 40:44 Josh Ferenc        20-39    Saxton River, VT BAA
2 42:49 Jim Johnson        20-39    Madison, NH        CMS
3 42:56 Kevin Tilton        20-39    N Conway, NH    CMS
4 43:13 Nate Jenkins       20-39    N Andover, MA   CMS
5 43:14 John Stanton      20-39    Burlington, VT    GMAA

8 43:52 Michael Quintal    20-39    N Andover, MA   CMS
9 44:20 Todd Callaghan   40-49    Beverly, MA        CMS
18 47:34 Tim Van Orden   40-49    Bennington, VT  CMS
19 47:40 Dave Dunham    50-59    Ward Hill, MA      CMS
30 50:54 Ernest Brake      50-59    N.Sutton, NH      CMS
34 51:44 Martin Tighe      50-59    Providence, RI    CMS
36 52:14  Dan Verrington  50-59    Bradford,MA       CMS
112 1:05:19 Robert Thomas 50-59 Charlton, MA       CMS
140 1:10:24 David Lapierre  50-59 Chelmsford, MA   CMS
156 1:12:59 Karen Zanni     50-59  Wilton, NY         CMS
196 1:29:59 Walter Kuklinski 60-69  Princeton, MA     CMS
208 1:44:28 George Boudreau 40-49 Dudley, MA     CMS

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