Alton, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Sometimes expectations can be a burden. The Big Lake 1/2 Marathon this morning along beautiful Lake Winni was not only a last minute addition to the racing calendar, but it was one of a very few distances I've never raced. As I tune for the Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge in two weeks today's objectives were simple if not but a little vague...1.) run relaxed and 2.) try to maintain sub 7:00's. Truth be told, I had no intentions of racing today. Karen had circled this on her calendar months ago and I was simply going to go along, take pictures, and cheer wildly for her when she finished. Unfortunately, Scott Graham seemed to have other ideas for me. His cajoling resulted in my laying out $45 and actually racing this morning, not just spectating. Scotty, Karen, and I weren't the only teammates in attendance today. As happens at most of the "big" events we had a very impressive turnout. Austin, Liz, Gary, and Joe all raced and all raced very well (more on that in a moment). Coming off his nearly sub 3:00 Boston Marathon performance, Scotty G. is running very well. Despite his urging, I had no plans to run with him today in his pursuit of a sub 1:25 finish. When the go command was given a sizable pack (including Scotty) took it out very hard and very fast. I was content to settle into a rhythm and get to the first mile split. As I approached the 1 mile clock I was a little surprised to see a 6:20 first mile. A quick assessment of my faculties and I decided that I felt pretty comfortable and decided to stay in the groove I had found. Big Lake travels up Route 11 along Lake Winni for approximately 6.5 miles before turning back toward the finish on a rollercoaster lake road. Due to the terrain and highway I could see most of the runners ahead of me including Scotty who had approximately 200 meters on me for most of the first 4 miles. As we climbed near the 4 mile maker I finally came up to his shoulder. I'm not sure if he was pleased to see me or not but as a very supportive teammate he utter a few words of encouragement as we plodded up the hill. I was hoping we'd run together and feed off of each other's energy, but once over the hill I felt the gap between us widen just a bit. Before the race started I had decided to break the distance down into three 4 mile races plus a 1.1 mile "overtime" leg. The approached worked perfectly as it forced me to stay in the moment and focus on the challenge immediately in front of me. No question that the third 4 mile rollercoaster was the most challenging but I still felt relaxed and strong. By the last mile I could feel my distance-specific fitness become exposed as I reached down for another gear that didn't exist. A quick peek over my shoulder and I was assured that my place finish was secure. I crossed the finish in 1:27:01 (officially 6:39's) good enough for 20th overall, 2nd in my age category (male 40-44), and the third overall masters finisher (40+). Needless to say I was quite pleased. Pineland Farms is one of the toughest challenges on my racing calendar but I really feel like I've put the work in over the past 5 months to put forth a good performance in two weeks. A number of other teammates took home podium age group finishes including Liz (1st), Scotty (3rd), and Gary (2nd).
[Photo credit: finish photo courtesy of Kristin, The "Big Lake", NH Maple Syrup prize & finisher medal]
2016: Year in Review
3 months ago