Thursday, February 7, 2013

Divergence: Derry 16 (1/27/13)

Race: Boston Prep 16
Location: Derry, NH
Goal Time: 1:51:59
Actual Time: 1:53:13

Nearly 3000 years ago the great Greek philosopher Hesiod commented on the challenges of man.  In his "Works and Days" he states: "Failure you can get easily, in quantity: the road is smooth, and it lies close by.  But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat, and long and steep is the way to it..."

I don't know if the original designers of the Derry Boston Prep 16 had ever read Hesiod, but it certainly seems that way.

Derry is the first monumental race of the New England Calendar.  A monument the Olympians would sure to have smiled upon.  It's "moderately challenging" course is long and steep and one must put sweat that will freeze in the New Hampshire winter temps upon the brow.

This was my second time running the race.  Last year was an eye opener.  It was my first step toward my great 2012 season.  In what would be a year of accomplishments and winning the SRR Most Improved Runner, I was still learning myself and my abilities.   Fortunately, through much of it I was helped by running with, fellow SRR Most Improved Runner, Megan Hyland.

This year, I was left to my own devices and wiles.  My goal was simply to beat 7:00/mi on the course.  At the same time, I was not too worried if I didn't. Last year, I was happy to take every race and to taper for the fastest time possible. 

At the start I was able to temper my speed (after I had put significant distance between myself and hacking Colombian guy).  The first five miles saw me run one second faster than last year.  Yep, one second. 

It was the second five miles where I lost time.  This is probably because I wasn't able to push myself up the smaller hills the same way I was able to follow Megan last year.  My own will power is lacking still on small hills.  (I'm STILL learning the balance.)

But the BIG hill (from 10.5 mile to 12.25 mile) is the long and steep way to excellence.  Last year, I wasn't prepared.  I was passed by at least half a dozen people.  This year I was passed by ONE and passed one, so it was a net zero.

But, it was in the final three miles that I really noticed a difference in quality this year.  I was able to charge the entire last three miles.  I passed one person this year (passed by 12 or so last year). 

I came in 18 seconds slower than last year, but I felt I had a better race.  Between the colder weather and the fact that I didn't taper for it, I think it was a net win if not a PR or absolute improvement.

On one side there is the easy road: smooth and close.  On the other is the long and steep way that fewer people travel upon.

In the words of Derry, NH resident Robert Frost:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Congrats to Liz Cooney who is on her monster tear - 2nd place in her age group.

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