Jim & I stopping for a photo near Pine Lane
The next morning I arrived at the Boston Store early (around 6:15) to make sure I could get a parking space in the overflow lot. It wasn't long before lots of cars began rolling in. After getting my stuff organized I walked over to the M.D. Garage where everyone gathers before the race and talked with NEO Trail member Bruce McMurray and another Youngstown runner Mark Sorrentino, who was running the half marathon today (his first trail race). Then I talked with Jim Harris and his sons Heath and Eric, who were both running the half marathon. Heath ended up winning the half marathon with a time of 1:57:30. This was his 3rd straight race victory.
I ran the first 2.5 miles out to the first aid station very slowly to let everyone ahead of me pack the trail down. The problem was that the trail never got packed down throughout the day as good as I thought it would, and it felt like I was sliding either backwards or sideways on each foot strike. The best way to describe today's trail conditions is to imagine running on the beach for 31 miles. And to top it off, it snowed pretty hard for a good part of the day. I think this helped distract me though and got my mind off of the trail conditions.
Good thing there was enough ice on this stream crossing
I picked up my speed on the way back to the Boston Store and then tried to settle down into a more consistent pace for the rest of the day. The thing I like about this race is that you get to see everyone on the course multiple times, allowing everyone to encourage each other and enjoy lots of small talk. During the middle of the run when everyone was beginning to get tired, a couple other runners and myself jokingly discussed how everyone always says "Hey! You're looking good!" or "Nice Job! Keep it up!" and thought it would be funny to tell people "Hey! You look like sh$%!" or "Boy, your pace sure slowed down from the last time I saw you!" Of course, we didn't really act on our discussion.... OK, maybe we told a few people... =)
The day became tougher for everyone the longer it went on, and a lot of runners quit earlier than they wanted to. The hardest part of this race for me is finishing Pine Lane for the last time before heading onto the last Brandywine loop. Luckily I forgot that my brother was planning on meeting me at the Boston Store for the last couple loops. I told him to meet me here at 11am and sure enough I arrived at 11:08. I thought it was pretty funny how close I was to my estimated arrival time. Having Jeff on the trail to chat with was a big help and I kept pushing on though. Once we arrived at the Boston Store for the last time I got a huge energy boost and was able to do the last 5 miles in pretty good time to finish the 50K in 20th place with a time of 6:34:04. For complete results, click here.Special thanks to Tanya Cady (race director) and all the volunteers who stood in the cold to help out in some way! Also, I was very impressed again with the race jacket - a nice royal blue Brooks windbreaker that was embroidered. Afterwards I headed over to the Winking Lizard with a bunch of runners for some well deserved food and beer. Life was definitely good today!