|Rocking my new Buff on the summit |
of Bradbury Mountain
Bradbury State Park, Pownal, MAINE -- A golfer will tell you that as they stand on the tee box of a short par three with water in the front, they never want the thought "don't hit it in the water" to cross their minds. Two weekends ago (before I took a week of vacation hence the tardy race report) at the Bradbury Mountain Breaker trail race I spoke openly to some teammates before the race about "not falling". The hosts from Trail Monster Running go on and on and on about how gnarly the course is and who broke this or that while racing it. Although I had previewed the trails several weeks before I guess they got in my head. For months now I've specifically focused on one of the weaker aspects of my game...downhill running. As good as I am uphill, I'm equally as weak running downhill. I guess as I get older the risk:reward analysis of bombing a steep rooty boulder field just don't come out on the side of running fast. A two loop course, the Breaker has two different descents from the highest point on the course. It was the second of the two that led to my demise. The race was not on my radar in December when I planned my 2010 schedule but as the New England Dirt Cup evolved and our rivalry with TMR grew, this was a race that 1.) became part of the NEDC and 2.) would be a chance for us at aR to see our buddies from Maine (and hand them another beatdown). Familiar with the course, the plan was to run hard but consistently. I had zero intention of walking either of the ascents up the Summit Trail so I tried to save a little in the tank without letting TM's that I should be beating run away from me. A very talented field including my teammates Charlie Therriault, Geoff Cunningham, and Steve Wolfe went out hard with TM's Blaine Moore, Andy Kiburis, Jeff Walker, and company. Fellow aR 'mate Rich Lavers and I settled in with the next group and just tried to stay up on our feet as the well graded Northern Loop Trail connected to the root and rock filled Boundary Trail. [NOTE: by the time I reached the Boundary Trail I had passed TM Ryan Triffitt]. I managed to pick up a couple of spots by the time we reached the Summit Trail and had not been and stayed passed. Surprisingly, runners were already walking the first big climb. I put it in a very low climbing gear and ran the whole damn thing. I finished the first loop in 35:57 and was feeling very much in control of my race. Running by myself for much of the 2nd lap it was difficult to resist the temptation to back off. I did manage to pass a couple more racers walking the big climb (again) as I was determined not to walk the climb. I may have been running slowly...but I was running. Then it happened. As I raced down the Terrace Trail (the 2nd descent) I must have caught my foot on a root or rock and in an instant I was falling face first down the hill. Amazingly, I hit the ground pretty softly, slid for a couple of feet, and immediately sprung back up on my feet almost completely unscathed (less a small bruise on my hip and a little trail rash). It's almost as if I knew I was going to fall and anticipated it. Strange. I quickly peeked back uphill to make sure the guys I passed on the climb weren't going to get the spots back. Without anyone in sight I quickly (but cautiously) made my way back down to the Northern Loop Trail and ran hard to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:13:12 (13th overall, 4th master). In one final pleasant surprise I beat TM Jeff Walker for the 2nd straight trail race after he took a wrong turn (on his own course). Not that I'm keeping track or anything. Overall, I was very pleased with the effort. My weekly 1200' of hill repeat training clearly paid off as I hammered the climbs and actually picked up places. I still have some work to do on the descents, but I've also added that to my training as well. aR had a great day as well picking up 2 of the top 3 overall spots (Charlie & Geoff) and we once again beat TMR in the team category (taking home two cases of Smuttynose beer) thanks to a very strong showing and a huge turnout (13 aR athletes) made the trip. Trail Monster Running put on another incredible event and it was really, really great to see and catch up with all of them. It really is a pleasure to race against them.
NEXT UP: Reach The Beach