Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jack London trail race

Jack London trail 10k – My goal race this season is the USATF New England cross-country championships so I’ve been trying to find XC races leading up to the big race.  There were no XC races this weekend so I chose the Jack London trail race.  I’ve run many times in Mine Falls and know every trail in the park.  I’d won at the Jack London race in the first year it was held back in 2006.  The trails are pretty tame and you could just as easily call it a cross-country race rather than a trail race.  My aim was to run around 38 minutes based on my 36:20 I’d run eight years ago (8 very long years ago).
I got to Mine Falls a bit early and took a few pictures before heading out for a warm-up.  I was a little worried about course markings and wanted to check out a few key trail junctions where I wasn’t exactly sure where the race went.  I saw fellow U-Lowell alumni BJ out with a group of kids and also saw that there were people setting up for a big XC meet at Nashua HS.  This would become a bigger part of the story later.

  After my 3 mile warm-up I switched into racing flats (after hemming and hawing about wearing road flats or Inov-8s) and went out for another mile to make sure I knew that last section of the course.  After doing that I felt pretty much ready to go and joined the rest of the crowd at the start.  None of the kids from Timberlane were at the race this year as they had qualified for the NH state XC meet (congrats to them and Coach Mark Behan), which meant the field was a bit “soft”.  As such I found myself in the lead in the first 100 meters.
My goal was to get out strong and survive the second mile which is the most “technical” (roots, rocks, twists, and little up/downs).  Soon after I settled in to what I hope was about 6-flat to 6:10 pace two guys went by.  I’d met William Jackson before the race and didn’t know Aharon Wright (SRR) but the pace seemed good so I tucked in.  We hit the mile in 6:15 and then turned onto the single-track.  My goal was to survive this mile without breaking an ankle.  We rolled along with Wright in the lead and hit 2 miles in 12:54 (6:39). I knew that was the toughest mile but I was now 1:13 behind my time from 2006 and needed to get going.
Just after two miles we hit a short downhill and I pushed the pace.  The gentlemen fell back a bit and I pushed a bit more to break away.  Soon after this I came up on a woman walking her dog (off leash), I gave a warning yell and she did nothing.  Of course the dog pounced on me and nearly knocked me down.  I cannot stand people who just don’t understand the leash law!  Anyway, I didn’t lose it although I dropped a couple of loud F-bombs and rolled on.  At about 2.5 miles I came to the point in the course where you continue straight under route 3 and do a two-mile loop before returning to that point.  Unfortunately the OTHER XC race had put a big chalk arrow on the ground directing runners to turn here.  I knew this was not correct and hoped others would do the same.  That would not be the case.  The guys behind me were close enough to see where I went and followed but from 5th place on it was pretty much anyone’s guess where people went.  Some took the turn and cut 2 miles off the race, others turned and then turned again and ended up at the finish for the OTHER race, others turned and then repeated the first mile (and finished coming through the finish chute from the wrong direction).
I was only worried about my race at the time and kept the pace as hot as I could.  I hit 3 miles in 18:59 (6:05 split) and focused on getting through the loop with another fast mile and without looking back to see how close the guys were.  Four miles was reached in 24:58 (5:59) my fastest mile of the day and I passed 5 in 30:58 (6:00).  During that mile I caught a lot of people who missed the turn and directed them back (so some ran an extra mile or so to get the correct course).  My final mile-plus was 6:30 for a total time of 37:28.  So I met my goal and even ran within 1:08 of my time from 2006.  That was pretty surprising considering the slower first 2 miles; I ended up running the last 4-plus five seconds FASTER than I ran in 2006.  Hopefully that bodes well for the New England XC race this weekend.
1 DAVE DUNHAM             M50      BRADFORD, MA   37:29
2 WILLIAM JACKSON        M33      SALEM, MA         38:14
3 AHARON WRIGHT         M29      MEDFORD, MA     38:20
5 MATTHEW DUGAN         M50      BOLTON, VT       43:55

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