10 July 2012


The weather never changes quietly around here. The long lasting drought was ended today with a line of thunderstorms that nearly cancelled tonight's XC races....nearly. Instead of shying away from the races due to the inclement weather, folks actually welcomed the rain, not so much the slippery terrain. I had heard about some blow downs on the course and decided to show up early to run the entire course as a warm up to check out the damage and to get some extra miles in.

I arrived about 15 minutes before 6, catching RD Carter and his crew of volunteers during set up. I set off at an easy pace, getting my legs loosened up without exerting to much energy. After all, Jason, David and Mike would most likely all be there for the races and I knew using the warm up miles as an excuse for any of them beating me in the race would not fly. I completed the loop with about 5 minutes to spare before the start of the 1 mile warm up race. I took it very easy, chatting away with Cary before pushing the pace a little on the final quarter mile, just to stretch the legs. When I arrived near the finish, all the usual suspects had already assembled. This would be fun. It is just so much easier to push yourself when there is a few guys there that are faster than you on most days...not so fast that there isn't a chance that you'll beat them, just fast enough to hopefully make you get faster week after week of running with (against) them. Of course, it's all in good fun and I do believe we all benefit from these "little" competitive strains that we all have within ourselves.

The 3 mile race was next and I knew no one would take it easy on this one. The 3 miler is always the most competitive event. You've got the "young bucks", the highschoolers that are in the process of joining their cross country teams, eager to impress their coaches and each other with their running prowess. They come out of the gates like it's a 100m dash on the track.

Then there's the "seasoned veterans", both in age and skill, leading the field of runners along the course, unfazed by the horde of teenagers running by, some recognizing youthful versions of themselves among the young runners, others knowing that they will pass them in just a mile when that first burst of energy and adrenaline is wearing off and the slightest grade in the trail feels like a massive hill.

Then there are the "in-betweeners", not quite elites or veterans in regards to their speed, but just a little too fast to be called midpackers. This is the category I fall in...and by default all of those guys that I usually run with. Most of us are quite capable of placing in our age groups (as we often do), but we're not quite good enough to take any overall accolades, (yet). We're only veterans by age not skill, but we have not given up hope that we can and will get faster, if we just keep working at it. And if that doesn't work, there's always age grading;-)

Today was no different. We pushed each other from the start. Promises of "taking it easy today" made to each other just seconds before at the starting line were quickly brushed off and replaced with "I can't let him beat me again today". Not out loud of course, but clearly evident in each runners actions. Ahhh, when the competitive juices get flowing, everyone just works a little harder....who am I kidding, a lot harder! So it was no surprise to me that when Jason turned his head about 200 yards from the finish, he spotted me just seconds behind him with a grimace on my face doing everything I can to appear to be relaxed and smiling. I tried to reel him in, but at the end of the day, I finished behind him...but not by much. I think my training is starting to pay off. While I was worried that my legs would be tired due to the additional miles I had run already, today's time actually tied my previous course best from 2 weeks ago to the second. Very strange, since I've been running multiple races with identical finishing times a lot these past few weeks. By the way, there were two detours included on today's course as well due to the blow downs and with the slippery terrain, these conditions were much more difficult than usual. But the temps were definitely milder than usual.

After a short break and a raffle by Nike we lined up for the last XC race of the day. This would usually be a 2 miler, but the weather and much darker than usual conditions resulted in the distance to be shortened to one mile. Once again, there were promised made of running slow and taking the time to chat. These promises were broken about 5 seconds into the race. Yeah, I admit it, I was the first to do so as I saw Mike charging ahead, leaving all of us momentarily in the dust...or mud to be more accurate. I decided to stay with him so we could have ourselves a little sprint to the finish. As we approached the final 200 yards of the race, I decided to try to pass him and we ended up running shoulder to shoulder for what felt like eternity. I finally managed to pass him just before the finish. Once again, pushing each other helped both of us to a faster than usual finish. In fact, I ran my fastest recorded mile in any trail race today.

I ended up with a 12th place and 3rd place overall finish in the 3 and 1 mile races, respectively and I got to spend some time with a bunch of like minded folks who help me grow week after week. Thanks everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Great recap! It was a blast, and that rain sure felt good.



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