Monday, November 10, 2014

Race Report: New England XC Championships

Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you.

The biggest dragon in my running past, one that I was content to let lie, is the Franklin Park 10k cross country course that I raced in college.  Feeling unexpectedly fast this year--and without racing plans for the fall-- I decided I'd attempt to slay this dragon at the USATF New England XC Championships. This was to be a single and final attempt at competitive cross country and probably my last run over this course.  After a promising personal best for 5 miles XC (25:26, on gravel), my 2003 mark of 31:47 seemed feasible. (Those familiar with race times should note that the FP course is thought to be a bit short.)

An early morning burn out to Boston with local masters aces Alejandro Heuck and Chris Gould.  A few hours spent wandering around the course and watching them race. (Both ran well.) Finally, the start.

courtesy USATF New England.

Mile 1 passed in 5:01...it's a short mile, but I hit 4:50 in 2003, so I was behind already.  But I knew I'd have a better shot running steady 5:08's instead of hitting a really hot early mile, which I can't get away with any more.  Nonetheless I was alarmed at the sea of runners in front of me and passed probably 10-20 guys, moving into 35th place by mile 2.  My cards were all on the table with this second mile; I was only going to be happy with top-20 and sub-32:00 so I had little to lose by making a hard move.  The 5k clock (is it 5k? I'm not sure) read 16:10, ten seconds off my 2003 split.  I'd made up some ground on the Ghost of Drew Past but I knew I didn't have it in me to negative-split this course. I lost a bit of focus with this realization (even allowing myself to scratch some ankle itches) but I pressed hard enough to keep the suffering level high.  In spite of the hilly grass workouts I've been doing, and the summer spent in the woods, I was finding the grass and dirt surface to be frustratingly slow.  No power! Full lip numbness set in at mile 4 (this being my very reliable indicator of race effort) so despite the confidence lag I was still pushing.  With the finish in sight, I knew the dragon had won, and I gave up a few places to finish 42nd in 32:49.  Not a disastrous result, but certainly not what I expected... but I can look forward now.

Time to let the dragon be.

Results: http://www.coolrunning.com/results/14/ma/Nov9_USATFN_set2.shtml

4 comments:

  1. Way to go after the dragon, Drew! See you out on the trails soon, I hope!

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    1. Thanks! Here's hoping for some good times and good battles on the mountains next summer.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Mr. Tim. Good to hear from you!

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