"Teamwork is the quintessential contradiction of a society grounded in individual achievement." - Marvin Weisbord.
New Gloucester, MAINE -- Regular readers of this site will understand the importance of today's event at the Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge. I had circled this race on my calendar back in November. The '08 version was a disappointing performance highlighted by a humbling walk up several of the last hills in the final 5k. From that race I took away a valuable lesson...never again arrive at Pineland under prepared. This course is too demanding to simply show-up and put up a fast number. My preparation prior to today had been right on schedule with a great confidence booster two weeks ago at Big Lake. The plan today was to continue to ride that confident vibe to a PR and perhaps a Top 10 overall finish. In true Scotty G-style I arrived 2+ hours prior, registered, and began my pre-race prep. My teammates (Steve S., Nick L., Brent & Amy) arrived within an hour of the start. When Brent finally made it to the starting area he and I quickly formulated a gameplan. Knowing he was racing and that our fitness levels are pretty compatible I was hoping he would be willing to work together. During my pre-race prep I calculated several pace splits to keep me (us) on PR pace target (22:30-5k, 45:00-10k, 90:00-20k). The thinking was simple...stay patient and on pace for the first 20k and then hang on during the final (and arguably toughest) 5k on the course. This being Brent's first time at Pineland he was more than willing to work with my plan. Today's weather was really ideal for this race on this course...overcast in the 70's with scattered showers and the cooler temps played a very meaningful role in today's performance. Brent and I attempted to find a groove in the first 5k which is always a challenge considering the excitement of any race start. At the 5k mark our split was perfect...22:15ish. The next 5k is a rolling combination of nordic trails and cow pastures. No hill too long or too steep to significantly affect our pacing. We hit the 10k split again, right on target just shy of 45:00. At this point the chatting back and forth became less and less as we knuckled down and began the purposeful move forward. Although I hadn't determined a 15k split I quickly figured it during the third 5k and we again hit the mark almost dead square. At this point we were consistently pulling 22:30 5k's and picking up places. Brent and I took turns pulling and were never more than a meter apart. His energy was palpable and I fed off of it the entire race. Repeating the mantra's, "patience" and "rhythm" the first 15k was a blur. We passed by the START/FINISH area just shy of 17k and began the assault of the final, and most challenging, 9k of the race. Staying focused on 5k at a time was incredibly helpful as it forced us to stay in the moment. We hit the 20k right at 90:00 and it was then that I began to feel very confident that our teamwork and pace may result in something special. Last year I walked several of the killer hills in the final 5k. This time around was a very different story as my legs felt strong as we hammered the final climbs. It was here that the true definition of teamwork was illustrated. I felt Brent pick up the pace slightly during these final km's as he ferociously attacked the climbs. And truth be told, he probably could have run away from me at any point. But like a true warrior he stuck with his brother and we finished together (14th & 15th overall) in an unofficial time of 1:54:19. Assuming the "official" results are close, this would set a PR for me on this course by 22 seconds. And if that weren't sweet enough the guy we passed at 23k was in our age group...and I finished on the podium (2nd) in the 35-44 division (behind Brent). No doubt my physical preparation, race plan, and weather were key factors in today's performance, but if not for Brent and his willingness to work together there's no way I PR two years after setting the mark. Thank you Brent, you are an incredible athlete and teammate.
Next up: Bow Lake Dam 15k
Dare Mighty Things
"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