So, it’s been a tough workout week. I’ve had some hard running workouts….no easy runs. Saturday was a 4 hour ride w/a 75 minute and 30 minute tempo piece built in….followed by a 20 minute run w/the first 15 minutes building to zone 4 (ie. Mid 5 minute pace). I actually felt pretty good afterwards, which was a good thing…because I was running the Pineland Farms 25K trail race up in Maine the next day. It’s a great race on very nice trails. I did this race two years ago and won….taking the lead around 3 miles and never looking back. I knew this year was going to be tougher for a few of reasons. One, Saturday’s workout was pretty damn hard. Two, I did not sleep well. And, three, there looked to be some decent runners in the field.
We drove the 2+ hours up to Maine in the morning. Sitting in a car for 2+ hours before running 15.5 miles and after a 4.5 hour workout day is not ideal. Anyway, it was an uneventful trip and I did a short warmup and started to get myself ready to race. I could tell that the previous days workout had sapped my legs quite a bit. I decided before the race to just go out and feel things out. I definitely wanted to be in the mix, but I really didn’t want to try to do what I did two years ago and be out front too early (famous last words).
Gun went off and one runner goes right off the front. The first mile is really to feel things out and see who the competition is. There was definitely a decent size pack throughout the first mile. The guy in front flies down the hills and pushes the pace. I was just doing my best not to let him get too far out front. We get to the first mile and I’m sitting right behind this guy who states, surprisingly (almost startlingly)…. “guys, that first mile was 5:25!!!”. No shit Sherlock! Maybe you shouldn’t push the pace if you have no intention of holding it!!! It is, after all, a 15.5 mile race. However, I wasn’t about to let this idiot dictate the race by slowing down because the pace was too fast for him. My reaction? I blew right by him and kept going. Hey, if you’re going to go out like a jackass, you had better be prepared to keep up the pace.
For what it’s worth, I never saw him again! But, there were a few other guys (3 to be exact) who were running with me. I led for the next mile or so…somewhat reluctantly. For a moment, I had visions of breaking away again….like 2 years ago. But, the guys with me weren’t slow. We ran as a group through the 5k at a blistering 17:20 (some of the later miles may not have been exact, but I’m pretty sure this one was…..we were moving). That 17:20 was probably worth a sub 17 on the roads.
While I was feeling pretty good and strong at the outset….the fatigue started to settle in my legs around this point. I definitely paid for the early hard pace and I lost the 3 man pack. I tried to keep them within site…but I just couldn’t get my legs moving fast enough. So, I figured I’d just try to keep the pace up and hope that they come back to me. I ran solo until just after the 10k mark which I hit at 38:45. Then, finally, one of the three guys ahead of me came back into sight….and I started to reel him in. The thing is….my HR wasn’t actually that high. It was hovering in the low 160s….but the legs just wouldn’t respond.
Once I caught him, I tried to get him to run with me (it can be lonely out there!). We ran for about a mile before he was spit out the back. I hit the 15k mark around 57 minutes and change. I could see that there was a guy behind me moving up on me….so I really tried to start pushing. The thing about this course is that it is all up and down....like a grass, dirt and rock roller coaster. There's little time to ever get into a running rhythm. During the last 5 miles of the course I started feeling better….I got my legs back a little. So, I started running a bit harder…and got the HR up to the low 170s.
The last couple miles of this race feel like they go on forever. With about a little over a half mile to go we enter an open field, which we run around before finishing up. As I entered the field, I glanced behind me….and sure enough…..I had someone on my tail about 100 meters back. I dug a bit deeper…..no way I was losing 3 place at this point. And I didn’t. I held him off and finished up at 1:39:50. It was 2:30 faster than my 2008 finish. And, in glancing at the times from last year, it looks like everyone was 2-3 minutes slower this year across the board (they modified the course this year….and I suspect it’s a tad bit longer). The good thing is that I actually felt pretty good at the end….good form. Not to mention, this was my longest run of the year….longest since Hawaii last October. So, I’m happy with it. I’d really like to see what I can do on that course w/fresh legs. Maybe next year!
On the way home, we stopped by the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport for lobster rolls and fried clams! Probably not the best recovery food….but damn good!