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

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pineland Farms 25k

RACING acidotic for my team and my
sponsor GoLite Footwear
[Photo courtesy Gianina Lindsey]
"The best things in life are unexpected-because there were no expectations."  -Eli Kharmarov

New Gloucester,  MAINE -- Just run.  That was the race plan for this weekend's Pineland Farms 25k.  If I've learned anything over the last five years at this race it's that planning doesn't necessarily equal success.  Last year I had meticulously calculated PR splits only to run my slowest time at this race.  And because 25k is a little bit of a reach for me, I decided to try something new this time around...no plan, just run to feel.  Which might be easier said than done with so many friends and teammates whom I have raced with and against for years.  A particularly stacked front end lined up at the starting line under bright blue skies, light winds, and temps in the 70's.  I purposely lined up a little closer to the front so as not to get caught up in traffic even though I did not intend on hammering the first downhill 5k.  I patiently held back a little through this first section as teammates and friends worked their way by me.  At some point early on I hooked up with GCS foe Mike Wade who seemed to be using the same tactic.  We hit the 5k mark at 22:03 (7:05's).  The 2nd 5k makes up half of the elevation lost in the first 5k with some open field rollers.  I felt very under control and strong on the short climbs although I knew my pace had slowed considerably.  I had moved around Mike but I could see that he was within 25-50 meters.  My 10k split was 46:30 (7:51's) for this net gain 5k.  The 3rd 5k is a net zero with the first half a descent and the second half a roughly equal ascent.  Again, I felt very strong on the climbs and actually started to pick up spots.  Although the open mowed fields were hot and slow, the woods were shaded with a beautiful breeze making the conditions quite tolerable.  I hit the 15k mark at 1:10 (7:47's).  With roughly 1.5k to go before the START/FINISH area I finished my handheld bottle with Hammer Nutrition FIZZ (a first at this race).  Coming through the START/FINISH Karen handed me my second cold bottle of FIZZ and focused on the 4th 5k.  Sometimes the little things can make all the difference in the world.  The combination of my lovely wife's support and the cold FIZZ immediately perked me up and I felt as ready as ever to attack the last two segments of the race.  The 4th 5k climbs for the first mile to the high point of the course and then descends an equal amount (common theme).  With my attention squarely focused on the 20k split I ran very well on the climbs and continued to pick up spots on the ups.  At this point of the race I typically begin to experience leg weariness and twinges of cramping but none of that emerged this time around.  I marked at 20k at 1:35 (8:00's).  Slower for sure but still motoring on the climbs and with the toughest (in my opinion) section of course remaining.  The final 5k is a net gain and includes several hundred meters of open field before crossing back over the road to the finish area.  Just past 21k my teammate Steve Wolfe finally caught up and ran by me like it was his first 5k.  He implored me to tag along and I did for a little while but as soon as hit the fields and I asked my legs for more they had nothing left to give.  Not wanting to risk paralyzing cramps I held steady and let him go.  I finished the last bit of FIZZ, put my head down, and raced to the finish.  My 1:58:05 was good enough for 33rd overall (13th 40+) and my 3rd fastest time in six tries.  I guess I proved to myself that it's definitely possible to over think this race.  Very pleased with the performance and very grateful for a large aR turnout. 

Special thank you to my sponsors GoLite Footwear, Philbrick's Sports, Redhook, Young's Restaurant, and Poco's Bow Street Cantina.

NEXT UP: Exeter Trail Races presented by GoLite Footwear

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hoppin' Mad Mud Run

(L-R) Bon Swarthout, Jason Massa, Chris J. Dunn,
Jeremiah Fitzgibbon, Rich Lavers
[Photo courtesy Craig Poirier]
 "Even absurdity has a champion to defend it." - Oliver Goldsmith

Amesbury,  MA -- Getting to the top is hard, but staying on top is even more difficult.  Particularly when you lose two teammates within 72 hours of a two-time title defense.  aR had made two previous trips to the Hoppin' Mad Mud Run and walked away with two 5-person team titles in this challenging 10k obstacle course race...well, more like a 5k road race followed by a 5k obstacle course race.  And without a doubt that first roughly 5k on the road has played to our advantage.  Obstacle course competitors, for the most part, aren't necessarily all that keen on fast 5k road races.  But to take home the cash prize you've got to do what you've got to do.  Title defenses are indeed impressive particularly when you bring a different team each year.  This year was no exception.  Bob and Jeremiah would join our 5-person team for the first time (Bob's 2nd HMMR and Jeremiah's 1st).  Rich, Jason, and myself had all returned from 2011.  Actually, both Bob and Jeremiah were very lat minute additions with the late scratches of both Phil Erwin and Ryan Welts who were both injured less than a week before the event.  As in 2011, we were seeded in the "elite" first heat assuring we'd have a clean run at the course.  Again, the first 2.5+ miles were on the road as we worked our way to the back of the event property.  Predictably the field went out fast at the start command.  Almost immediately our group of 5 was mixing it up toward the middle and back of the top 10.  As the first mile progressed however, many of those eager obstacle course racers began to fall back.  I led our team of 5 through the first mile in 5:44ish.  The second mile rolled a little and was a bit slower as we approached the last uphill segment of road before heading onto the farm.  By this time Bob and I were running side by side with Jason, Rich, and Jeremiah in tow.  The first few obstacles were basically the same as before including a handful of high/low hurdles and 5' walls.  When we approached the steep 200 meter uphill/downhill lollipop (covered in a tarp with dish liquid in 2011) we found a pile of tires.  Selecting one we carried it up, around, and down the lollipop.  Jason had effortlessly moved around Bob and I on the walls and we both watched him run up the steep grassy hill with the tire over his shoulder.  I opted for the powerhike also putting a little distance on Bob in what he would later note as my "old man strength".  An important change to the event was how the teams were timed and scored.  This year we would all be independently chip timed with our 5-person average time as our overall team "score".  Without the shackles of dragging us through the course, aR's expert obstacle course warrior Jason Massa ripped through each challenge and actually appeared to get stronger as the race progressed finishing 2nd overall!  Bob and I continued to race side-by-side through mud pits, low crawls, high crawls, agility tires, 45 degree rope assisted ramp climbs, and cargo netting.  Despite a couple of navigation foibles were managed to stay in the Top 10 overall with Bob finishing 5th and me finishing 7th overall in 47:00.  Rich was close behind in 8th and Jeremiah in 13th.  With 4 of our 5 in the Top 10 we easily took the 5-person team title again.  It's very likely we'll be back to defend again...I'm just not sure who it'll be?!

NEXT UP: Pineland Farms 25k Trail Race