"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
Although today is technically the last day of this first transition cycle, I decided to head over to Bow Lake and check out the course for the first annual Bow Lake Dam 15k scheduled for June 13th. The idea sprang from my new favorite website...MapMyRun.com. Seems as though I'm often the last one to the party with these cool running aps. Over a morning cup of Mt. Tam Blend from Club Caffeine Karen & I discussed our individual running plans for the morning. She planned to do her out and back up Mile Hill Road (aptly named and fiendishly climby) but wondered out loud exactly how far it was. That's when I remembered the MapMyRun.com website and in a couple of clicks I had her answer...11 right on the nose. I've got to give her a lot of credit, she's really embraced running hills. However, if you live in our neck of the woods you'd better embrace it or find another recreational pursuit. Strafford County has got to be one of the hillest in the entire state not named Carroll or Grafton. I must have spent close to two hours this morning busily mapping each of the loops we run...Donkey (6.04), 3 Town (8.34), and Pond Hill (8.56) to name a few. Really cool running ap that I'm amazed I hadn't checked out before. Anyway, while surfing around I searched the archive of existing maps in our area and low and behold there was a loop around Bow Lake. We've both openly talked about trying to loop the lake. Some industrious soul had done the work for us! I studied the map and sketched a rudimentary map just in case. I had run Donkey last week and felt pretty good. Last May I entered the Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge a little too confident and a lot too undertrained and had my arse handed to me by a course that takes no quarter. Knowing I had come up woefully short on my hard long runs last March-May I knew I needed to get my mileage up sooner than later. The Bow Lake loop would allow me to get a hard hilly 8+ in and get an advanced scouting report on the course I plan to race in June. Although not unfamiliar with the lake (we drive by it every time we head over to CBNA) I've not spent much time on the northeast side. I parked at the dam and headed out in a counterclockwise direction saving the infamous Tasker Hill Roadas a descent. There was no way that the race would loop with Tasker as a climb...just no way. Province Road rolls along on the northeast side of the lake. This is going to be a gorgeous loop this summer. I took the first two miles or so to warm-up, torn between the concepts of "long" and "fast". When my legs finally came around I cruised the next three miles capturing every opportunity to glance over my left shoulder at the lake. Did I mention this is going to be a beautiful loop this summer? Shortly after taking the turn onto Bennett Bridge Road I anticipated the start of the climbing. What I didn't anticipate was that the road would end. Lake roads can often be a maze of dead end streets terminating in quaint little clusters of 3-season camps. Up to this point I was running very strong and the prospect of a sub-7 effort was very much in play. Then it happened. I probed a road that I knew was wrong and quickly turned around when I arrived in a driveway. For a moment I thought about turning around and running back in the same direction. But I quickly did the math and estimated my conservative 8 miler would now become more like 10. Not what I had in mind and probably a recipe for problems. As I doubled back and forth at the exact location that the road seemed to dead end I noticed a guy working in his garage and against my male instinct asked for directions. Thankfully, I soon learned the road didn't in fact dead end...but instead, became a snow covered jeep road that he called a "town road". Sub-7 was now just an afterthought as I gingerly danced over 1.5 feet of packed snow trying my best not to posthole as I finished most of the climbing the loop had to offer. I'm now a trail runner forced to the road out of convention, but I must admit that asphalt never looked so inviting. Picking up the pace I raced down Tasker Hill and finished with a kick back to the dam. Not sure why, after stopping to ask directions, but I stopped my watch when I finished. 1:02:something for 8.2 miles. 7:37's is really pretty good if you figure I probably spent a total of 7 minutes getting lost and then found. The combination of not enough mileage and the backwoods "town road" that is Bennett Bridge Road made it somewhat obvious that this wasn't the official Bow Lake Dam 15k course. After lunch I e-mailed the RD and she sent me the map I've used at the top. Sure enough, the course doesn't run up BB Road. What a relief. I won't be back at Bow Lake next week, but I'll be back soon. And this time I'll know where I'm going, or at least where I've been.
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James