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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

RI 6-HR Relay

Going "Pre" With the Retro 70's
'Stache at the RI 6-HR Relay
[Scott Mason Photography]
"I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone's expectations."  -Bill Watterson

Warwick,  RHODE ISLAND --  One of the best things about the evolution of acidotic RACING is the plethora of opportunities to race "team"-type events like the Rhode Island 6-Hour Relay hosted by the Tuesday Night Turtles.  When I put the call out a couple of months ago, the six team spots filled immediately and with the response that I got it appeared this collection would be pretty competitive.  The only one of the 'original 6' who did not make it to Warwick City Park last Sunday was Geoff Cunningham who remained sidelined with a sore toe.  As it turned out his replacement, TNT's own Alan Bernier, more than made up for Geoff's absence.  Rich, Wolfe, Danny, Charlie, and I met Alan in Warwick on a chilly RI Sunday morning.  While we had discussed several race strategies, the final decision wasn't made until less than an hour before race time.  We would run the first rotation 1 lap at a time and then make a decision about doubling up or sticking with 1 each.  When everyone else had arrived it became apparent that our competition would come from two teams...Pat Moulton and his girlfriend and at least one of the teams from FuelBelt.  Charlie led us off and scotched the 2.7 road course finishing in the lead with FuelBelt and Pat in hot pursuit.  Alan, an equally accomplished runner, padded the lead with a blistering turn of his own.  Now almost 2 minutes up on the next two teams Danny took his turn.  In what was perhaps one of the most fitting karma moments of 2010, Danny missed the first critical left hand turn less than 50 meters from the start.  Danny had been dogging me during the car ride down about my failure to correctly navigate the Busa Bushwhack several weeks earlier resulting in my first loss to teammate Rich Lavers.  Danny not only missed the turn, but ran sub 5:45's for another 2-3 minutes before realizing his mistake.  By the time he doubled back and hit the 1 mile split (at 11:00 and change) he had not only given up the lead, but he put us 2+ minutes behind the 2nd place Pat (running the first 3 hours by himself).  Clearly upset with himself  he retreated into his fortress of self-reflection and geared up to help us get back to the top of the podium.  Wolfe took his turn and ran a very brisk sub 16:00 getting back almost 2 minutes to the leaders.  By the time Rich handed off to me (running #6) we were within :45 of Pat (in 2nd place) and :90 to FuelBelt (still in 1st).  Aside from Reach The Beach, I hadn't run a "road race" all year.  A few weeks back when Wolfe asked me to estimate my pace I told him I'd be happy to run 6:10's but wouldn't be surprised if I ran 6:20's.  I also hadn't raced this short of a distance (2.7 miles) all year.  When Rich handed me the bracelet I took off after Pat whom I could see just ahead.  I tried to get out hard in the first few hundred meters, settle into a groove, and at least maintain the gap that the 2nd place team had on us.  I figured with our top two coming up again after me, if I didn't give anything else away I'd be doing okay.  I was stunned when I hit the 1 mile marker in 5:44.  Taking stock I felt like I was running in control and certainly not redlining.  Pat was just ahead but I felt like I was closing the gap between us.  By the 1/2 way mark I had run up behind his left shoulder.  A much smaller and infinitely more talented runner that I, the objective became to use his incredibly consistent pace to pull me along.  We ran together past the 2 mile mark (11:48 split) and finally caught our first glimpse of the 1st place FuelBelt team.  The course rolled through the final .7 and it was here that I moved around Pat and attempted to track down the guy from FuelBelt.  Within 200 meters I had caught and passed the 1st place team erasing the final :90 gap and putting us back on top of the podium...where we'd stay for the rest of the event.  I finished my first lap in 16:00 (5:56's) and then went on to run a 16:06 (5:58's) and 16:08 (5:59's).  We ran the rest of the event 1 lap at a time slowly building our lead behind the strength of our runners.  When the overall team win was secured, the next question was whether we'd be able to surpass the 60 mile mark.  In the end we set a RI 6-HR Relay record by running 59.4 miles (22 laps) in 5:53:58 averaging 5:58's.  FuelBelt finished 1 lap behind.  For our efforts we won 3 cases of LongHammer IPA from Redhook.  Oh the hoppy taste of success!

NEXT UP:  Andover Striders 6k XC Race

Monday, November 1, 2010

Busa Bushwhack

"Lost time is never found again."  -Ben Franklin

FRAMINGHAM, MA--On Sunday teammate Rich Lavers and I headed down to Framingham for race #21 in the Grand Tree Series, the Busa Bushwhack.  I typically don't race in October, preferring instead to spend my weekends on the couch with a beer, the remote, and more football than is humanly necessary.  But I'm also very easily pursuaded by gentle peer pressure to get out and race.  Especially if I get a chance to spend the morning with a great friend and teammate.  And, after all it was my debut as a GoLite Footwear sponsored athlete.  Initially Rich had planned to race the 10 mile option, but after a couple whiney e-mails (by me) I had changed his mind.  My rationale for racing the 5.3 miler was solid...1.) I hadn't run more than 5 miles in a month and 2.) I had no desire to start this weekend.  Scouting the race results from '09 it appeared that the two of us had a pretty good chance (assuming a typical turnout) of cracking the Top 10.  We met up with Jim Johnson and Ben Nephew before the race and chatted briefly about the course and the upcoming snowshoe racing season.  As we lined up for the remote start on the street of a residential neighborhood (this is a trail race right?) Rich spotted Rich Miller and we got some recon on the course.  What I took from Rich's comments was that the course wasn't well marked and to be very careful not to miss the final right hand turn back into the col-de-sac for the final 3/4 mile road run to the finish.  Both races started together and the pace at the start was purposeful and brisk.  We ran for about a 1/4 of a mile on the street before the end of the col-de-sac filed us into Callahan State Park.  I was immediately fixated on the trail leaf litter which covered fiendish ankle turning roots (fitting on Halloween).  The course was a long stemmed lolli with both distances racing together for approximately the first 3 miles.  Rich hung onto my left shoulder for the first few flat miles before we hit the one "hill" on the course.  We ran up the gradually sloping side, down to the bottom, up the other steeper side, and then down to the split in the course where the 10 milers went right and the 5.3 milers went left.  Somewhere on the second ascent I had put a little gap on Rich but knowing him he'd rally and push me hard right to the end.  When I hit the split all of the guys I was racing around went right and continued on the 10 mile course.  Which left me to go left seemingly by myself.  As I raced back against slower traffic I received words of encouragement but no race updates (ie. you're in 2nd, you're in 4th, or whatever).  Assuming I wasn't leading but figuring I was up near the front I tried to focus on avoiding the slightly hidden rocks and roots strewn over the trail.  I literally ran alone for the next mile and a half.  The marginally reliable odometer in my head began to alert me to raise my focus up from my feet to the trail ahead guessing I would need to make that right hand turn Rich had warned me about some 30 minutes earlier.  The next few minutes were an absolute abomination.  Figuring it was my turn I took the next right hand turn.  There appeared to be arrows on the trees that may have pointed me in that direction but the information came way too fast for my neurons to process.  As I strided down this narrow trail I was almost immediately struck by how unfamiliar it looked...even for an out and back.  By the time I noticed that I hadn't noticed any pink tape on the trees I had already committed at least :90.  Panic overtook me.  Turn around?!  NO!  What if you're right and you run back AT the rest of the field!?  Fortunately (if you look at it that way) before I had a chance to stop and turn back I popped right back out onto the race course...about 25 meters from where I had taken the wrong turn!  My 1/3 of a mile side trip had cost me at least three minutes but in a stroke of luck I had taken a loop instead of a trail to "Lord Knows Where".  As I crossed the final side street before the finish I asked the volunteer how many were in front and he said "7".  I taped the finishline in 38:29.  Rich (who had an incredible race finishing 4th overall) was standing there at the finish and had a very familar "what the heck happened to you?" look on his face.  It appears that my extra .3-.4 mile cost me not only 3 minutes but it also cost me six places.  Apparently I was in 2nd place overall (1st Master) at the time of my screw up.  I finished in 8th place overall and 2nd Master when the results were finalized.  Never had a Top 10 and podium Masters finish seemed so dissapointing.  This weekend I learned the hard way that part of trail racing is staying on course.