At the beginning of the year when I normally sit down and plan my goals, I was still recovering from an injury sustained the day before I planned on running XC Club Nats in San Fran last December. So, rather than put together a list of goal races and some form of schedule, I was forced to learn the art of letting go and taking it easy. My coach’s recovery/training plan for me went perfectly and by the end of January I was back to running 7 days a week, feeling a little slow, but very healthy. With nothing to lose and lots of fitness to gain I decided to run a few indoor races for the first time and by mid March found a new 5000 and 3000 PR to give me some confidence going into the New Bedford Half Marathon (one of those peak races I would normally be anxiously prepping for) Despite only a couple of longer workouts, I nearly got a new best half time and beat last years time on the course by 30 seconds. Less stress + more fun = personal bests! To follow that theme I also decided that with a 3k indoor time to my name, I might as well run the rest of the races in the USATF-NE All Terrain Series, fun is found in trying new things! The next race up in the series was the Merrimack ‘Rivah’ Trail race, a fun, technical 10-mile out and back. Though I haven’t raced on the trails often, my NH hiking roots give me plenty of confidence when giving it the beans cruising through the roots, rocks and trees. After a relatively comfortable effort got me 16th at The Rivah I knew this should happen a lot more often! Luckily the next race in the ATR series is the Loon Mountain Race, a 10k up a ski resort, plenty of trail to attack there. Back to the race everything theme though, before I arrive at the base lodge of Loon in July, the focus has been on steeplechase; which I daresay has replaced the marathon as my favorite event. Early season struggles to find races left me with only a few opportunities to steeple this season, so I found myself opting to run a steeple/10k double on the track a few weeks ago. Naturally the ATR Series includes a 10000 for the outdoor track portion, and wanting to make sure I had a time to submit, the double happened. Turns out, if you’re post collegiate the two hardest races to enter/find are 10000s and steeples. However, after running my second fastest steeple I somehow managed to run my second fastest 10k on the track too. Any lingering doubts about current fitness, gone.
That brings us up to last weekend, the Pineland Trail Festival 25k. Pineland is so fun that I had to write about it; the reason for my first blog post in… well, ages. I toed the line at Pineland with an attitude that has been growing all year in my racing, confident and carefree. I consulted some previous year runners and all-around trail running aficionados (hat tip: Kyle and Maartje) and knew that the course was constantly rolling, but non-technical and had no significant climbs. With that in mind I looked up the course record and decided to try and run it at around marathon effort and see how close I could get. Found the lead early, with a couple common faces from the New England running scene. It quickly turned into a three-man race, with two of us taking turns up front and the multiple time winner cruising behind, waiting to attack. Had I known that defending-champ detail during the race, I probably would have left off the gas a bit and followed his approach, but I went for it and didn’t surrender the lead until 6 miles to go. I was quickly gaped, but closed hard and managed to stop the bleeding, eventually finishing only 53 seconds back. The hot early pace might have cost me some time, but I was pumped with 2nd place and just 12 seconds shy of my goal of hitting the old course record. Kudos to Ryan Kelly on the win and new CR, taking down a record last set in 2007!
Next up for me is another shot at running the steeple Sat, June 4th. (UPDATE: 10 sec PR!) Than it’s onto Club Track Nationals at UPenn on June 25th, where I’ll hopefully be geared up for my best steeple yet. The following week it’s back up to NH for that Loon Mountain Race which serves as the National Mountain Running Champs this year too. Nothing like back-to-back weekends running National Championships in entirely different events! BTW, if you’re wondering what kind of coach can train you to run PRs in every distance and over every terrain; Hudson Community has you covered! Coach Kara has transformed my training and my appreciation for running over the past year!
Race everything, have fun!
Assorted pictures below of the races mentioned: Special plug to Scott Mason Photos!