Friday, June 1, 2012

Double Trouble

I ran two races in consecutive weekends (one almost exactly twice as long as the other) but both with nearly the same result - The Bedford Rotary 12k & The Pineland Farms 25k.  Two races, so different in character yet so similar in feel that it was almost like they were the same event.  This blurred together race - let’s call it “Bedland” (or better yet “Pineford”) - was the start of what I hoped would be a late spring/early summer string of success, building upon the quality training that I’ve been doing recently.  Unfortunately (I seem to use that word a lot these days) this was not the case.

The Pineland House Band
Bedford is a 12k road race which is part of the New England Grand Prix.  This series of races always attracts the regions speediest runners and usually results with me finishing way down in the overall (and age-group) standings – even if I’m fortunate enough to run a PR!  Pineland is a 25k trail race which is part of a much larger 2-day, trail running festival.  The weekend long event includes trail races as short as 5k and as long as 50 miles.  It has a barefoot race and even a race for your dog.  It has a barbeque, bluegrass music and free beer!  Basically everything a die-hard, nut-job, trail runner (like me) could ask for!

The Team at Bedford
Both races have a strong team component to them.  At Bedford (which is the only NH race in the NEGP this year) my running club The Gate City Striders typically has a very good showing. And that was the case again this year – with nearly 60 Striders toeing the line and multiple individual and team champions as a result!  At Pineland we’ve also done very well (but with a much smaller crowd) winning the 25k team title in 2010 and setting a course record in the process!  A feat that was repeated again this year as we lowered our own course record by over 17 minutes!  Thankfully, the team success at these two races helped ease the pain of my own personal failures.

As far as my race reports themselves are concerned, I’ll try to keep them as brief as possible.  I suppose, since they are pretty much the same report, that task should be fairly easy.  In both races I tried to go out conservatively, stay in control and save my energy for later in the race.  In both races I felt good early on, was placed right where I wanted to be mid-race and started to pick it up in “crunch” time.  In both races I was running with my good friend (and frequent racing foe) Steve Wolfe for a good chunk of the distance.  In both races I was ready to make my move with about 3 miles to go.  And, in both races, my “move” failed me.  Inexplicably & Miserably.  Leaving me to run the last few miles as a mere tourist!

Looks fast but he' s snot.
At Bedford I planned on hitting the gas just after the big hill (up to the farm) at mile 4.5 and that plan worked pretty well - until mile 5, of a 7.5 mile race.  At Pineland I planned on picking it up just after the long hill (up to the grove) at mile 10.  And, again, that plan worked pretty well - until mile 12, of a 15.5 mile race!  At Bedford I was within 10 yards of Steve when the power went out.  After being as many as 100 yards back at the crest of the hill.  At Pineland, he had 200 yards on me before I caught him on a nice downhill section near the 18k mark before foolishly surging past him – only to crash and burn less than a mile later.

The Team Prize at Pineland
At Bedford I struggled home with “closing” miles of 6:53 & 7:05 after averaging 6:26’s for the first 5 miles.  At Pineland it was much, much worse.  The last 5k took me almost 27 minutes (8:42 pace) after averaging 7:42 pace for the previous 12.5 miles.  In that 3.1 mile distance, where my legs simply refused to work, Steve put almost 6 minutes on me.  I was passed by everyone and their grandmother in those final miles.  When my own grandmother blew by me, even she said I looked like crap.  And, she’s been dead for 18 years! Very humbling & embarrassing.

Part of the Pineland Team
The Bedford Results and Pineland Results were both bitter-sweet for me. In each, my team did extremely well - while I did not.  In each, we walked away with many individual and team trophies – while I walked away with egg on my face.  In each, I was proud of my team’s performance and perseverance in the face of adversity – while I wilted under the pressure of “go” time.  Thankfully, in times like these, I have my teammates to pick me up.  After each competition, we reveled in the typical post-race banter.  Sharing stories (both good and bad) about how our day’s had gone.  Leaving both venues I felt much better (although no more enlightened) about what had transpired.  And, I have my teammates to thank for that.  I only hope that someday (soon?) I can return the favor.


  1. Michael,
    Sounds somewhat similar to where I have been since the end of last summer. When you ran out of gas, was it an energy issue or where your legs shot?
    My issue was simply running out of gas. My legs were not tired, I just ran out of fuel (ie New Bedford where I ran about the first half the race at 6:30-6:40 pace, yet finished with an average of 7:26). It slowly got worse until all of a sudden I became tired 24/7. No energy at all and tired no matter how much sleep I got. I stopped running completely because of this. At that point, I assumed it had to be something nutritional. The obvious culprit to me was an iron deficiency. I went to the doctor and he ran a bunch of tests (but not for iron levels, despite voicing my opinion) which all came back negative. I immediately started taking iron pills. The next day I already felt better and 2 weeks later I am back to my old self. That is except I haven't started running again, yet. This coming week I plan on trying to get my base back.
    Wow, that was a long-winded way to say it might be something like an iron deficiency...

    1. It could be that Jim. Or, I suspect it could just be over training. Who knows? At Bedford I just felt flat. At Pineland my heart, lungs and energry level felt fine. My legs just stopped working. It was warm, so maybe it was a question of electrolytes. Either way, I might try some iron pills just to see. Good luck with your comeback!