Monday, June 7, 2010

Pack Monadnock 10m

A Sloppy Mess

My 2010 Pack Race was many things. But, a Good Clean Run it was not. The day started well enough. The newborn & toddler both decided to give Mom & Dad a break by nearly sleeping through the night (5:30 am) - a very rare occurrence in the Wade household. That enabled me to get up mostly rested and out the door early. On my way up to the parking area at Temple Mountain, I swung by the course to drop a Hammer Gel right where I thought I’d need it (just before the hills really took hold) at about the 7 mile mark. Then I proceeded up to park and hang the GCS-Triad banner on the food tent, and hopped into Mary Minami’s car for the quick ride down to the start just as the early drops of rain began to fall.

However, once I got in and got settled at the school I realized I had only one racing flat. Doh! Meaning I could either: run in my trainers, run with one racer, or quickly find a ride back up to Temple to find my missing shoe which I figured was in the back of my car. I chose option 3 and thankfully Rich Mello & Stacey Ascone we’re heading back up there for one last shuttle run so I hitched a ride with them. The only problem was when I got to the car there was no shoe. So, back down to the school with Rich and Stacey I went with 20 minutes to the start, no potty break, no racing flat and more importantly, no warm up.

Of course, upon entering the school, I saw my cheeky sneaker sitting quietly by the race apps table where it must have fallen out of my bag when I put out the Summer Trail Series applications earlier. So, I quickly threw it on, jumped into the bathroom line and then out the door for the ½ mile jog down to the start. At this point the rain was coming down hard and my shoes and I were completely soaked.

The start went off without a hitch and we made our way up the first of many hills. This race has probably the toughest first mile of any “road race” I’ve ever done. But, since I’d run this 3 times previously (and did multiple training runs on the course) I knew exactly what to expect. I hit the first mile in a conservative 7:28. With little to no warm-up I didn’t want to go out too hard and this was right where I expected to be. Miles 2 & 3 are fairly easy and I passed through them in 6:46 & 6:30 respectively. At the Mile 3 water stop I threw off my cap as I was heating up pretty rapidly. Justin Soucy & his wife Emily were working the stop and offered some encouraging words as I went by.

Mile 4 is a bit tougher and my time (7:35) showed it. It was at this point that I was sort of yo-yoing with Curt Fischer. Curt runs for GCS at the NEGP races, but since this was an NHGP affair he was racing for his home club - Athletic Alliance. He ran a strong time at Boston and was showing no ill effects here as he smoked me on all of the ups. I would scoot by him on the downs and flats but with this being a Mountain Race those opportunities were few and far between. Mile 5 went by in a more reasonable 6:52. My halfway split was 35:13 which was a little more than a minute slower than I ran here last year, with the toughest part of the course still to come.

At the mile 5 water stop I cast off my singlet and alerted Ron Gagnon (who was working the stop) and he scooped it up for me later. I lost a bit of time during Mile 6 (7:51) with that maneuver and the big hill that immediately followed and was unceremoniously passed by a large pack including Len Hall. Mile 7 is the last section with any real flat or downhill in it and I vainly tried to take advantage running a 7:09. Unfortunately, any time that I gained was lost trying to find my Hammer Gel that I had “conveniently” placed earlier that morning. I choked (literally) down the gel which had a nice coating of sand on it as we headed up the first of many hills on Revolutionary Road. My hands we’re sticky, my teeth we’re gritty and I was losing ground rapidly. In short, I was a mess.

Miles 8 & 9 at Pack are like the stomach punches in the fight that soften you up before the right cross (Mile 10) that knocks you out. My upwardly creeping average pace got a turbo boost with those two splits – 8:11 & 8:50 respectively. But, to my surprise, I was not getting passed by anyone. In fact, I was picking runners off as I “slowly” churned my way up Route 101. Once I got to the parking area at Miller State Park I felt confident that I could finish strong. I had done a number of repeats on this section of the course and knew every inch from here on in - where is got tough, where it got impossible and where I could make some moves.

During the last mile I knocked off a few more runners and was only passed once by Dave Audet who admittedly started off more slowly than usual today. Dave got me just before the half way hair-pin and I just couldn’t close the gap even on the flatter sections that followed. He was just too strong and too fresh for that as he slipped a few more runners ahead. On the last pitch I put my head down and ran my heart out trying to close the gap on the next closest runner who happened to be someone I was trading places with earlier in the day. He had me at the last turn but I sneaked past him just before the line a crossed in an underwhelming 1:19:13 (7:56).

My time this year was more than 3 minutes slower than last years superb effort of 1:15:53 (7:36). But, given where I was injury-wise at the end of last year, I guess I’ll take it. What I’ll also take from this race is my Mile 10 split of 11:58 which was the best of any of my 4 attempts at this race including 2006 when I was training for Washington. I also got the better of Curt Fischer (barely) as he crossed the line in 1:19:59 (8:00). Thankfully my team fared better than I as the Final Results showed that GCS took back the 2010 NHGP team lead from Greater Derry with a 179 point performance to Derry’s 130.

Finally, I have to give big props to Steve Delahunty. As the returning Race Director for this logistically challenged race he did a superb job not only of taking care of all the difficult pre-race coordination (including personally re-vamping the race website) but he put it all together on race day as well (in less than ideal conditions) and made it look easy. A small blip with the race results was more than made up for with the awesome & abundant post race spread. Nice work Steve! The great turnout & multitude of happy runners are a sign you’re doing it right!

Next up for me is the 50th running of the Mount Washington Road Race. I hope I remember both my shoes for that one!

(Photos for this blog posting were by Mike Stanwyck, Dave Delay & Steve Wolfe)

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