Official time: 4:12:09. Place: 13/118.
I was really looking forward to this race and testing my mettle in a trail marathon. They said to add an hour to your road marathon time so I planned on running a five hour race but I was hopeful I could finish in 4:45.
The race is two out-and-backs which is cool because you see the lead runners coming back and then as you head back you see those still heading out. Everyone's very supportive and it makes for great motivation. The first leg is 6.2 miles to the south and then 7 miles to the north. Aid stations at each turn around as well as the start where you can also leave yourself a dropbag.
Once the race started I settled into about 9 minute miles. Faster than I had planned but I felt good and decided to just go with it. Early on I decided to walk most of the steeper hills. I didn't seem to lose much ground with those in front of me so I think it was a wise decision. After I headed back on the southern leg I passed a runner who said I was in 23rd place which made me feel good. The runners had spread out at this point so I felt confident that if I could maintain my pace I'd be able to finish in the top 30.
The northern leg started well. I hung with another runner for a bit and we chitchatted on the only road section of the race. Eventually I moved on from him and passed a few more runners as the terrain became much more hilly. Even walking up these hills was work and I was started to feel the fatigue.
The northern legs ends with a descent down a steep staircase to the northern aid station. I walked back up the stairs and then walked up more steep hills which started to wear me down. I was really getting tired now but seeing all the people still heading out towards the stairs and hills helped push me to keep moving. That same friendly runner told me that now I was in 13th place. I knew I had the chance to finish well under my goal of 4:45.
But the last few miles were rough. I was walking more and more hills and I had begun to get cramps in my calves and thighs. I also begun seeing spots occasionally. I had been drinking pretty steadily from my handheld and I took gels every 45 minutes but I guess I needed more water.
The last mile was a grind. Any slight incline caused me to walk. At the top of each I had to throw myself forward to start jogging again. I thought the show would never end and I was sure I was going to be passed. But no runner ever appeared behind me and finally the uphills ended and I was able to run down to the finish.
I won a winter beanie as a random prize based on place which was cool. Ate a few bowls of veggie chili and talked with Jeff "Gazelle" Walker (who finished 5th) while we waited for fellow RI runner Mike C to finish.
Even though the last few miles were not fun I was really happy with my time, place and performance. I ran a 3:56 in Providence back in May and now I know can probably destroy that time with proper training. I think all the trail miles I've put in the past few months really paid off for NipMuck. A great race!