Tuesday, September 8, 2015

1st Degree Fun at the Mt. Greylock Road Race

Sunday saw the 7th installment of this years USATF-New England Mountain Running series.  This would be the 4th paved mountain race on this year's circuit, but I had enough legs left to run back down on trails, which is the proper thing to do.

I'm loving running this year but I feel like the blade has been just slightly dull in hard workouts and races.  It's the difference between hanging with the leaders at Loon vs. my actual finish of 4th, or cracking top-10 at Mt. Washington vs. my near-miss 11th place result. I've tried to remedy this staleness by varying my training over this past 2 month racing hiatus--which has also led to more fun, which is really the point. But by the most recent series race (Cranmore, in July) it became clear that some strong contenders wouldn't be vying for the overall series victory.  This put me in the lead but also took the wind out of my sails a bit. I want to race the best in the region. So I'm training hard through the remainder of the series but am inspired now mostly by the desire to get out in the woods and race on some rad terrain.

Greylock is an 8-mile paved course with much of the 2400' gain coming in the first half, which I ran hard enough to get into the lead ahead of Tim Mahoney, Tim van Orden, Mark Mayall and Nick Curelop after we ran through mile 1 all together. By mile 4, the 10-15% sections are mostly over, and there are long stretches of flat or nearly flat. I had a good lead here so I used these gentler last 4 miles to open up my stride, feel good, but never hit the redline.  This was first degree fun-- fun while it's happening-- rare for a race.  So I tried to be present and enjoy the scenery and the effort, a reward for the sufferfest racing earlier in the summer on comparably more brutal courses.  I finished in 54:37 and probably could have run 1-2 min faster if challenged, which would be an honest time on this course.  (Eric Blake's record here is 51:38). I didn't get a full read on my fitness given the 90-95% effort, but it's a confidence boost nonetheless.

The run down was the best part of the day. Soon after the race there was a groundswell of enthusiasm as folks crowded around maps to plan a route down.  Ten or so of us left together from the summit, heading down the steep (largely unrunnable) Thunderbolt trail, which the spectacular Mt. Greylock trail race ascends.  The group fragmented and I ran the lower, gentler trails with van Orden, Mahoney, and Carsten Braun.  Tim van Orden is an interesting and super positive dude who makes a living as a motivational speaker advocating for a raw food diet combined with endurance sport. He's got a great running resume and quite a lot of Youtube followers (link ) and we talked the whole way down.  Anyway, it was good to properly descend this mountain on trails to atone for the run up the road. 15+ miles for the day, 2 hrs 10 min total running, and some sore quads today from the run down.

The series ends October 4th at the Bretton Woods Fell Race in New Hampshire. This is a choose your own adventure, unmarked course, which will be super fun but also introduces the risk of getting lost and losing time on those trying to catch me in the series standings. I'm torn between putting an exclamation point on this series by hammering an aggressive route, or playing it safe and choosing well-marked trails.  At any rate I'm psyched to get back into the mountains at least one more time this fall.   


  1. Congrats on the win! Bummed I couldn't join you guys on the descent.

  2. Thanks! We'll all get plenty of hairy technical descent at Bretton Woods...