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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Run to Fall 5k

The beginning of the end of my
Run to Fall
[Photo courtesy of GSTS]
"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."  -Beverly Sills

Northwood, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Two races in a row right in my backyard (sort of) makes up for the 2 hour trips to race all corners of New England.  For the past several years the Dunn's have made the short 30 minute drive to Coe Brown Northwood Academy for the annual Run To Fall 5k XC race.  I enjoy the relaxed low key atmosphere, seeing local aR teammates, and racing a sport (XC) that I don't get a chance to race much.  The course is a reverse figure 8 that repeats sections but never in the same direction.  Last year was the first year of this new modified course.  But it might as well have been the first time because I really didn't remember it too well.  What I did remember was that we'd be running the backstretch of the course on the first and last lap but in opposite directions.  One hundred sixty eager runners lined up on the 100 meter wide starting line and with a starters pistol we were sent sprinting across the baseball outfield to a 15 meter wide opening to the double-track gravel trails.  I typically get off the line pretty well and by the entrance to the trail network was well within the Top 5.  The first mile is a net descent and can be deceptively fast.  My 5:49 seemed exactly where I wanted to be and my Top 10 position after the first mile was also spot on.  The lead pack separated quite quickly and I was left to race with a handful of other folks.  After the first 'trail loop' we were back on the track for the backstretch before heading back into the trail network.  As I approached the backstretch turn I noticed cones marking a cut through on the grass field to the exit of the track.  My nearest competitor was roughly 20 meters ahead and continued on the track and the backstretch turn.  For some odd reason my brain reasoned (in a millisecond) that he must have missed this cut across and was running off course.  I stepped off the track into the grass infield and cut off the backstretch turn (probably 10-15 seconds of running).  When my competitor and I reached the exit of the track he was directly in front of me.  In the time that it took for me to run that 50 meters or so I surmised that I was in fact the one who had run off course and had cut the turn.  Assuring him I knew my mistake I told him to stay in front of me because I was going to DQ myself at the end.  Knowing that I had screwed up but not wanting to waste the effort I continued to race.  My junior competitor fell back a bit in this last mile and I raced back and forth with another 40+ runner only to have him run away from me with less than a 1/4 mile to go.  I crossed the finish line in 19:08 (6:10's), 7th overall, and 3rd 40+.  But all was for not as I reported my error and DQ'd myself to my teammate and RD Tim Cox.  Despite my boneheaded mistake I did win a $20 state inspection in the raffle.  I love this race.

NEXT UP: Reach The Beach Relay

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Barnstead Firefighters Association 5k

Barnstead, NH is home to the only green fire trucks
 in the US.  [okay, I might have made that up]
"It's a pity that, as one gradually gains experience, one loses one's youth."  -Vincent van Gogh

BARNSTEAD, NH -- Feeling foolishly unprepared for next week's Reach The Beach Relay I decided to find a local 5k road race to prepare myself for the rigors of three 6+ mile races in less than 24 hours.  Actually now that I write it down it really doesn't make any sense?  Either way, that was the plan.  A very quick search for 5k's in NH last weekend revealed only one logical choice...the Barnstead Firefighters Association 5k in Barnstead, NH.  Being only thirty minutes from the house meant it was one of the shortest race commutes of the year.  And having Karen come with me to race was an added bonus.  We arrived the customary sixty minutes before race time and found aR teammates Craig Poirier and Richie Blake who had answered my call for some additional aR support.  The out-and-back course was flat as could be with one initial and final 90 degree turn 50 meters from the START/FINISH.  It looked to be a very small but youthful crowd at the start.  It's funny how fast folks look prior to a race as they warm up.  I wonder what people think about me?  Because I didn't recognize anyone that I knew that was faster than me I lined up on the front row with about a dozen runners none of which appeared older than 18.  At the siren we were off.  And it was a predictably fast start.  I had lined up inside the first hard right hand turn and managed to out sprint most of the crowd to the hole shot.  Within 200 meters I was squarely in the top 5 with the eventual winner (Andew Tuttle) already gapping the field.  Over the next several hundred meters things began to shake out a little.  By the mile split (5:47) I was in 5th place with two teenagers just 20 meters ahead.  Just before we hit the turn around I closed the gap and was right on their heels at the 1/2 way mark.  One of the two backed off a little as I ran with the other for the next 400 meters.  He too seemed to fall off the pace just past the 2 mile mark.  Now in 3rd place I called for the hammer to put him away for good but alas it wasn't in my bag of tricks.  As I hit the wall (running a 6:00 3rd mile) the youngster took back the podium spot without any challenge from me.  Lucky to hold off the rest of the field I crossed the finish line in 4th place overall (1st 40+) in 18:16 (5:54's).  Far from my PR at the distance I learned at least one thing this weekend...youth trumps experience in a 5k road road.  Every time.

NEXT UP: Run To Fall 5k