“Almost what I wanted to do” just about sums up the race. Almost happy with it is better than angry at it, or some other unpleasant adjectives though. As most of the field was heard complaining this after, I know I’m not the first to say it, the first 5k went fairly smooth and then my pace and my mojo dropped significantly. It wasn’t just the hill(s) on mile four, I usually crush hills, it was the hills and suffocating humidity that did me in, a powerful tandem killer for running hard.
Smooth sailing in mile 1, except it felt like slightly more work than it should have to run the pace I was. I counted it up to race nerves and over thinking and settled in to the groove. Mile 2 brought no real reprieve, as it was billed as fast and did not really feel that way, I shifted up and started to work a bit. Mile three actually felt good, I knew some hills were coming up and I focused on running smooth and breathing even and controlled. Had a guy pull beside on a bike and yell some encouraging words, too. “Good job Lowell, great great form!” Really helped out, knowing that there was a guy right on my tail drafting off me and biker guy had no complements on his form! haha
Mile 4 as alluded to above, was a total groove buster. Took the second turn on the course and looked up at a hill on the horizon. The hill felt like it never really ended over the mile as it only leveled out for a bit to regroup and rise up again. I normally take a some forced deep belly breaths near the top of a climb to reset my pace clock and continue the charge if the hill was big enough to slow me down, but in this case It took me nearly all of miles 5 and 6 to recover. Upon review of the course, it’s no wonder it took so long to recover, mile 5 ended on a slight uphill and 6 ended on a big uphill.
I rediscovered the beauty of longer races near the end, you can bounce back from some bad miles! Over 7, 8 and 9 I negative split and ran my fastest mile on 9. 7 Was a smooth easy mile, that still felt like ouch due to the humidity and garbage legs. 8 had a significant bump near the end of it, but I was grinding again at that point and stayed right on pace. Over the last full mile there was some significant downhill and I used it to my advantage when chasing down some Central Mass Striders who passed me. I took 6 seconds off the preceding mile split and nearly drew level with one of the guys ahead of me as we charged up the final 3 tenths of a mile. Unfortunately he threw down a legit final sprint and I could only maintain my grind, being out of gears to shift up to at that point and running low on NOS.
All in all, I’m happy with a crappy race; part of which should be a reflection on the excellent job the GMAA did in hosting the Gran Prix race at their second annual Labor Day 15k. The race swag was great, as was the post race food spread. The competition was steep at the front of the pack and adequate the rest of the way back. The course was also well staffed, marked and organized. It was certainly a long day with 7 hours+ of driving, but I could see myself racing it again, with a hotel room the night before!
Bonus run thoughts! (Hanover, NH)
I did a second cool down on the way home with my buddy Alex who rode with me. We stopped in Hanover, NH to grab a coffee and stretch the legs, but the Dirt Cowboy Cafe had closed early, we then decided to venture back into the full on swamp of humidity and get the second cool down over with. We ran through Dartmouth from downtown and cut through a golf course to discover some absolutely gorgeous trails in some very old forest near the river. It was a perfect place to break down the race in my head while exploring. Ended the day with almost 20 miles and felt happy and accomplished afterwards.