That was a learning experience. I might be in decent road running shape, but I am definitely not in trail running shape and that includes a well groomed trail racing course. This morning’s groomed trail race at the University of Maine Augusta proved that without any question.
Let’s get to the race.
A couple of Striders finishing up…I didn’t get too many photos of the race today, so this one is perfect.
This is a small local trail race over at the University where I used to work. So I got to see a few familiar faces. To be honest I prefer the low-key local races much more than bigger running events, things just seem friendlier and while we run hard there are not crowds of people all around.
I know the UMA trails pretty well and even did the loop before the race as a warm-up. After running that warm-up lap, I changed my prediction to being happy if I broke 9:00 pace for the 5K. It seems I had forgotten how the “little” bumps on the UMA trail upper loop take it out of me.
Brendan did a fantastic job on getting the trails ready for the race, they were in great shape, better than I have ever seen them and the course was well marked. This was going to be two laps of the upper section of the trails and as much as I usually like running the UMA trails, one lap up on top, is more than enough.
Your body remembers what you did that first lap and you know know that you gotta do it again.
At the start I thought about going out with the front pack, because they were not going all that fast, but I also knew that if I did that I would suffer more than necessary on the second lap, so I stayed conservative. However, going down the first downhill, I could hear a couple of runners getting ready to pass me, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pair of sneakers that looked pretty familiar, so I sped up going back up the that next bump.
I think those two runners stayed right (they pushed me to do better than I would have otherwise) with me right until the big hill coming back out of the woods – I don’t know for sure. I don’t look behind me during a race most of the time, especially when I can hear someone back there. It was something that my old Cross Country coach hammered into our heads – don’t ever look back on trails to see what is going on behind you or you will eat dirt and give blood. Of course I learned the hard way and since then, I don’t look back on trails.
Somewhere between the hill and the before the first downhill on the second lap, I got a bit ahead of them, because I saw the shoes again coming the other way around the corner.
However, I did see another runner up ahead who seemed to be struggling a bit, so I focused on his back and while I got close a couple of times, he always seemed to have just enough to hold me off. When we got to the tar, we both picked up the pace a bit and while I closed the gap, the old legs didn’t have enough to pass him in the home stretch and he beat me by a couple of steps.
I somehow managed to get under a 9:00 minute pace for the race and while my GPS watch claimed it was only 3.0 not 3.1, I tend to trust Brendan’s measurements than the GPS.
It was pretty happy with my effort level and knew beforehand that my time wouldn’t be great, there is just something about running on trails that I don’t run nearly as fast and tend to just run. Sometimes I think it has something to do with the idea that I am more focused on running safely, that running not to fall, than I am on running hard. I do not have that old daring-do that good trail runners have, especially when bombing down hills.
I have become too concerned with the idea that I don’t bounce nearly as well as I used to…yeah I am getting old.
The other thing was that I decided to use my Zealot 3’s versus my Green Silence racing shoes or Boco Sol trail shoes, since the course was either all groomed trail or tar. I didn’t need the extra grip of the trail shoes, but I needed a little more grip than the Green Silence have. The Zealots fell right into that sweet spot lighter than the Boco Sols and better grip than the Green Silence. Saucony’s outsole is a nice multi-purpose outsole and the cushioning was such that in the one sort of rocky downhill area it didn’t slow me down any. They worked well for what I wanted from my running shoes today.
A really good day and Brendan and the volunteers all did a great job today.
Although I did learn that I need to do more trail running to get myself in better shape, maybe getting to the trails on Thursdays should be a regular part of my routine now that most of them are open. The Quarry Road and Bond Brook trail running series will be happening in a month, so I do need to get ready for them too.