Monday, August 26, 2013

First CC Race In 33 Years

I've been to a bunch of races in the last couple of years since Surenna runs on her HS team but finally I got to participate in one:

Thanks to Jimmy S. of GLRR for the picture.
I found out that the Thomas Chamberas 6K XC was being run practically in our back yard at Great Brook Farm in Carlisle.

As for the race:  The start was along a corn field on a tractor path.  There was about 1/4 mile of this before it turned a corner with a meadow on one side and the corn on the other.  This was the first place where one could break-out of the crowd and go to full speed.  I saw Glenn (the president of the GLRR) ahead of me and figured I would just attempt to keep up with him.  He is more than ten years older than I am but I have never beaten him in a race.  There was only about 3/4 mile of wide running area before the course narrowed into a one lane path.  A good mile and a half of mostly being stuck behind other runners but I had done a lot of passing in the earlier part, including Glenn and so was running with people moving at a good clip. The last 3/4 mile was more-or-less constant double path and I found myself catching and passing for the rest of the way.  

The obstructions on the path; roots, boulders loose gravel were a treachery and a saving:  When following close behind another runner, the path ahead would only come into view when it was too late to react.  On the occasional small opening, the uneven ground kept runners slow and so if you were willing to risk a fall, some good passing could be done. I saw frequent, though did not get, turned ankles in this part of the race.

In a road race it seems like essentially a one dimensional competition:  How hard can I push myself at any given moment in the race?  On a course like this, sometimes you were just stuck behind a person and so all you have to concern yourself with is keeping up.  On a path, running at high speed, there is a constant mental effort to choose your footing--do I take a long step here to the top of this boulder, or take a short step to the base of it and then step over it with the other foot?  While racing, I noticed I was having fun in a way that I don't really have so much in road races.

I would normally be happy with my performance:  6:56/mile, except that I suspect that the course was short. I had to have lost at least 30 seconds in the start, due to crowding and I heard somebody's GPS watch chime at the first mile and a glance at my watch showed something like 7:30.  It seems a little hard to believe I made back something like 45 seconds (below a 7:00/mile pace) in the last 2.7 miles, especially when I was stuck behind people for at least half of that distance.  In addition:  I hardly would make that pace on roads and trails really are a lot slower than pavement.  I did the Medical Center 6K a couple of years ago in Nashua and got 26:01 compared to this race a 25:49.  I would like to believe that I've gotten a lot faster in the last two years but I am 50 years old and don't believe in fairy tails.

Wife's picture of the finish--partially photo bombed...