"Play not only keeps us young but also maintains our perspective about the relative seriousness of things. Running is play, for even if we try hard to do well at it, it is a relief from everyday cares." - Jim Fixx
NORTHWOOD, NH -- With less than a week to go before Reach The Beach I once again headed 25 minutes north to Coe-Brown Northwood Academy for the 11th Annual Run to Fall 5k XC race. This is easily one of my favorite races of the year. It's not just that it's close to home, but it has a really low-key friendly trail running vibe although it's probably technically a XC race. Hosted by two CBNA XC seniors as their "senior project" it's always very well run. This year would feature a new course on a recently finished section of double-wide track in a classic figure 8 loop. Purposely arriving early I was eager to pre-run the course and see the new section of double-track. I ran into teammate, CBNA XC coach, and course designer Tim Cox before the race and got the course description. With about 75 minutes before race start I set out to run the course as both a warm-up and preview. The course begins clockwise on the "old loop" before entering the new section of trail. This new section rolls and turns for about a kilometer. The footing is excellent and features smooth crushed gravel. The figure 8 set-up would have us racing this new section in both directions. Finishing the warm-up preview I changed into race attire and attempted to stay loose while catching up with numerous familiar faces. The entire 180+ field lined up on the starting line in the baseball outfield and after a momentary starting gun misfire we were off. Within minutes I was directly behind the lead pack. I was warned that the first mile was fast and my 5:48 was proof enough. A quick checkpoint assessment revealed that although I was pushing pretty hard I didn't feel like I was in too deep. Around the same time I began to close hard on CBNA alum Derrick Hamel. A legit 28 year old "skinny legger" the thought crossed my mind that 1.) he must be having an off day or 2.) I'M WAY OVER MY HEAD to even be within 2 minutes of him. Last year at this race he beat me by almost 90 seconds finishing a very strong 9th overall. I latched on to his left shoulder and was immediately struck by how effortless he seemed to move. I, on the other hand, felt a little like an ox at a state fair pulling competition. But amazingly I held on and actually moved around him on a slight incline. Before I could get comfortable he blasted by me on the next slight descent and I figured that it would be the last time I saw him. It wasn't. Moments later I was again on his hip and matching him stride for stride. As we entered the final new section of trail with less than a mile to go I gaped him on a climb and remarkably was able to hold on to the very slim :05 margin finishing in 19:12 (6:11's) good enough for 9th overall and 3rd 40+ master. I am incredibly excited with the performance considering this is the only 5k event I race and my training has been pretty mixed (mtb & trail running) for the last few months. Now time to recover and begin to plan for Reach The Beach at the end of the week. Looking to carry some of this mojo with me to Cannon.
NEXT UP: Reach The Beach
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