Friday, August 28, 2015

3+1=hurts: Cross Country and Road Mile (8/22-8/23/15)

Very early in the race
The weekend was spent with not one race but two.  First the New Hampshire Cross Country Championships in Manchester.  Then on Sunday, the Inaugural Fast Mile at Race to the Row.

Cross Country 5K (8/22/15)
Race #1: New Hampshire Cross Country Championships
Distance: 5K
Goal: 20:00
Actual: 20:26

The New Hampshire meet both kicked off the USATF-NE Cross Country Grand Prix and was race #6 of the ATR series, so there was a lot of interest in the Fast Heat.

You'll notice my official goal time was 20 minutes.  That was calculated based on last year's Mayor's Cup.  I had heard Derryfield Park was harder than Franklin; but with what I thought would be better fitness, I could make up that time and run about the same.  After Scot, Bradley and I did our warm-up on the course, I knew I wouldn't run 20 minutes.

So "cross country" is a strange discipline.  The only uniting force of cross country races is that they are not all on roads.  Some, like Franklin Park or Lehigh run around mostly open areas of parks or athletic fields and may have one or two challenging spots.  Others, like the 4K on the Fourth are laps of athletic facilities on a lot of roads and slight jaunts into trees.

Derryfield Park's 5K is one half the classic cross country course.  It starts with a lap of the baseball diamond and tennis courts and finishes with a zig zag across a big open field.  But the middle half.... The middle half is a double track trail race.  There are two steep hills (the first is steeper; the second is longer), a couple of steep downhills, several large granite blocks and a fallen fence you have to duck under ("Low Bridge!" Amanda Wright yelled back to me as she went under.)

The first mile was a lap around the ball fields of the park. I managed to stay pretty even keeled.

The second mile entered the woods. I have not figured out trail/cross country yet. I always take the hills too fast. After the Antenna hill I was able to catch my breath. This was great as I then was able to run hard up the Ski Lift Hill. I caught up with Bradley and got ready to go down hill and catch my breath again. Bradley went just pulled away from me.  I never caught that breath.

As the third mile zig zagged across the fields near the start, I never regained. Once again, I fell apart at the end.

One day, I'll get Cross Country Races.

Start of the Fast Mile
photo by Tom Cole
Road Mile (8/23/15)
Race #2: Fast Mile at Race to the Row
Distance: 1 Mile
Goal Time: 5:30
Official Time: 5:20
Actual Time: 5:26 (2nd Place, Adult PR)

This was the third running of the Race to the Row 5K but it was the first year of the Fast Mile.  I figured I wouldn't be too tired from the NH XC 5K to run a mile the next day.

There were about 15 of us in the mile.  As Kate sent us off on the start, it was an easy beginning. Nobody initially took off.  But by about 50 yards, one person ran out ahead of us.  Mark said: "There goes our winner."  I was actually less sure because of his running.  He looked more like the end of the race than the beginning.

I spent the first quarter mile closing down his lead with a third guy following me close behind.  I had closed enough ground that I figured I could ease into the next half mile.  We caught up with the leader right around a half mile.  We were still running, what for me was, an untenable pace.

The next quarter was a little slower.  I was in the lead with second now right behind me.  But I felt I could lose him.  Once I put a little move and he felt like a soft pace.  So right before the rotary, I decided when we got to 2/10ths of a mile I would start a sprint and try to win the race.

Unfortunately, with 1/4 mile left the guy on me just took off.  I immediately saw his speed and thought: "That guy is going to win."

While I tried to bring him back, I never could.  He had taken a 30 yard lead and I really only brought about 10 of that back in the last stretch.

My official time was 5:20, but the course was a bit short.  At a mile it would have been 5:26, still an adult PR.

Afterwards I was the bike marshal for the 5K and led as Joe Lamer and Kath respectively won the men and women.

Lead marshalling the race at about half way.  Joe with the second place and Kath.
Photo by Tom Cole  

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