Feb 11, 2011

NJ Winter Trail Series #3 10-miler (2:55)

I registered for this race because I found out that two friends from my church were going to be running the 5-mile option of this race. Thinking that it would be fun to hang with them, even if only for a moment, I jumped at the opportunity. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I know the pleasure it is to run in the McNulty family races.

Unfortunately, bad weather kept my friends from going but I was glad I went anyway. The 45-minute drive down to Morristown, NJ was uneventful despite the rather scary weather forecast of snow and ice. I got to run in a place I've never been, and that was fun too.

The course was two 5-mile loops of the park. From race HQ I could see that the race started on a plowed woods road and ended on singletrack, so I knew there would be a mix. As it turns out, that would be the only relatively snow-free section of the race. There was an 0.5 mile section of unplowed road and the rest of the race was all single-track.

When the race started, I settled into my normal back-of-the-pack position and ran very easily. I didn't have much choice as there was no obvious place to pass anyone. I think there was a single runner behind me, and that's the order we stayed in for most of the first mile. Finally, one runner about 5 positions in front of me was slow enough that someone went by her, and that made it ok for the rest of us to start passing each other. The pack finally started spreading out and we were able to run our own pace.

My spirits were low in the first half of the first loop, and I considered throwing in the towel. But it got easier towards the second half. Looking at the GPS data, I could see why - the first half was largely uphill.

Anyway, I probably passed about ten people during the race and, interestingly, nobody passed me (notwithstanding a couple of 10-milers who lapped me.) I finished the first lap in about 90 minutes and stopped to drink some water and eat a cereal bar. There were a lot of people hanging out at race headquarters, the vast majority of them 5-milers who were done for the day.

The second lap was like a totally different race. I think I did it in about the same amount of time as the first lap, but I literally saw nobody once I was away from the aid station. Unlike the first lap I was able to go at my own pace, which might actually have been too fast had I done it in lap 1. There was nobody to pass, and no pressure of having anybody behind who might pass me. I thoroughly enjoyed this loop, although, like the first lap, the first two miles were hard on me. By the time I finished the race (Dead Last in the ten-miler) there were less than 10 people left. After talking to Rick and his family for five or ten minutes I got in my car and drove home.

One thing I should mention is that I had some trouble acquiring some sort of shoe-attachment for traction before the race. I had ordered a pair of Microspikes from Amazon on Tuesday. I have an Amazon Prime account and thought I could count on two-day delivery; they're used to be very reliable in that regard. I learned my lesson, however, and I didn't have the spikes even three days after placing the order. Panicked, I sent my wife to EMS to pick up a pair, one size too small because that's all they had.

However, even one size too small, they worked great, and I don't know how I could have done this race without them. Unlike Yaktrak pros, which I have used in the past they didn't even try to fall off. And they didn't slip once in the entire 10 miles. Much superior to Yaktraks, and probably worth the extra money for most people.

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