I needed to get in some turnover as my legs were still feeling all of the Mountain racing in them and the USATF NE grand prix road racing is coming up soon.
I chose the 5k Thunder XC race in Portsmouth NH figuring a Thursday night race would give me ample time to recover before next Sunday's 5 mile. Danny V decided to join me in the fun.
Sadly the race had a pretty low turnout (63 finishers compared to 374 in 2012) probably due to the move to XC from road. It was also hard to find on any calendar (big problem with Millenium timed races, nothing on Coolrunning).
After chatting with Andy Sachat we headed out for a preview of the course. The first mile was groomed playing field and paved parking lot...which meant pretty fast running. After that we had 2 miles of true XC, twists, turns, up, down, all on woodchip trail. The going would be a bit slower in the woods. The course was well marked and there were volunteers at every turn.
After the 3 mile warm-up I switched into racing flats and did another 1/2mile with some strides. I felt okay just a bit stale, I hate night races!
Four guys took it out and I settled in behind for the first 200m around the fields. The pace seemed reasonable. Dan went by me and got on the leader and the pace increased. My half-mile split was 2:47. That was faster than I expected. I wanted to keep Dan in sight but had dropped back into 6th place with all of us in a line. Around 3/4 of a mile I saw Dan drift right as the leaders headed left, I was momentarily confused. One of the volunteers was pointing the wrong way! Dan picked up a couple of seconds as three other guys scampered across a parking lot island to get back into it. I hit the mile in 5:33 in 3rd or 4th place with Dan up front with one or 2 guys.
Just after the mile we hit the woods and it seemed like the leaders slowed as I reeled them back in. I was in 5th at the time and Dan was just a couple of seconds ahead of me. At the top of the hill we had to take a sharp right and the volunteer was sort of just standing there. Everyone in front of me went straight and just as I hit the turn the volunteer noticed they were going the wrong way. He yelled and I yelled as I turned right and found myself in the lead. The guys all bushwhacked back onto the trail, so they probably lost anything from 5-10 seconds total.
I held onto the lead until just before 2 miles. Two guys went by and another was right behind. I kept working trying to keep contact on the climb. I got passed half-way up but no one was breaking away too far. On the final downhill I really pushed and found myself in 2nd place nearly back to the leader. With 400m to go everyone started to kick, but I had been kicking since the start and had no gears left. The final 200 on the track was painful but I held onto fourth and tops in the 50+