Official time: 1:04:59. 89th place of 285.
I had been looking forward to running this race ever since I heard about it last year. It's a shame that it's the same days as the Mews 5k, a favorite race of mine. My Mews obligations prevented me from running it last year so this year I was looking forward to taking Rhody on. I've put in a lot of miles this year and run a lot of trails. I have officially joined the Westerly Track & Athletic Club and this is their signature event so I wanted to put on a good showing.
I arrived early with plenty of time to spare and chatted with some WTAC folk. There were lots of people and everyone had to wear orange due to hunting season. Did a short warm-up by myself and changed into my trail shoes and shed my hats 'n gloves. Lined up near the front of the line because one mile in the course turns to single track and if you're too far back it becomes a total logjam of people. I felt good and was ready to run it hard.
Unfortunately it turned into a complete shitshow.
For your entertainment, I shall break this race down mile by mile.
Mile 1 - Took off way too fast. We're 30 seconds into the race and I'm ahead of Jonny and Jeff. That's not right. Eased off a bit and watched the speedy folks go by. Balance restored. A minute into the race my friggin' heart monitor strap slips from my chest and drops to my hips. I try to put it back into position and tighten it - I'm sure I look like a fool messing around with it while I'm running and eventually I let it go. Now I've got a heart rate belt. People are going by me and I'm trying to ease off more but my Garmin still says I'm running at a 6:00 minute pace. Too fast but I'll be running slower in the woods and I fear the logjam. As I'm about to hit the single track I glance around at the runners moving in ahead and behind me and I roll my janky right foot. Badly.
Mile 2 - I enter the single track to stabbing pain in my right foot. Sweet christ that hurts! I'm hobbling and trying to maintain my pace because there's a train of people behind me. As I leave the single track and enter Burlingame campground the pain has subsided and my normal gait has returned. I ease off the pace a bit more because we've got a long way to go. People are passing me but I'm confident I'll see 'em again once we enter the woods.
Mile 3 - The initial pain of my foot is gone but stepping onto the foot bridges and on certain rocks is aggravating it. It doesn't feel good. I'm starting to favor my left foot and beginning to avoid landing on suspect areas with my right. My pace is still good so far and hopefully if I can avoid turning it again I'll be able to salvage this run.
Mile 4 - I turn it again. Not nearly as badly but enough to make me hobble for a few moments. My pace is dropping and I'm beginning to step gingerly around the roots. People are beginning to pass me. There goes Jeff's kid. At the water stop I actually stop for a moment and let some people go by me.
Mile 5 - The trail intermission on Buckeye Brook Rd allows me to pick up the pace a bit and settle into a more consistent rhythm. For the last time I think that I may be able to pull myself together and finish this race strong. Once I reenter the woods, the terrain begins to finish me off. I try to stay with the group in front of me but the terrain is too rocky, too rooty and I ease off to avoid turning my foot again.
Mile 6 - The uphill section before you cross the dirt road to North Camp is where the wheels finally come off the wagon. I've now got a visible limp as I run and people are passing me left and right. Well, just left as I'm stepping to the side and letting them go by. I probably should just stop at this point but how would I get back? Might as well soldier on as best I can. I walk a bit then run. Walk then run.
Mile 7 - This is just misery now. My foot hurts. People are passing me in waves. I step aside, let 'em pass and then continue with my hobble-jog until the next batch approaches. I knew from last weekend's recon that this last section of trail would be the most challenging for me. But now it seeks to undo me completely. I'm stepping over these rocks with extreme care. People appear to me to be flying over these death rocks without fear and I secretly loathe them. When I finally see the house at Cool Spring Rd I know this hell will soon be over.
Mile 8 - The last mile of this loop is on paved road and I've never been more thankful for it. The pain of my foot eases as soon as I hit the road and while I could probably push the pace I don't have it in me. Mentally, I'm toast. I run along at a 7:30 pace. A few more people pass me but whatever. I'm happy to see my wife and daughter as I cross the finish line. I limp over to them afterwards and regale them with my tale of woe.
So in the end my right foot was my undoing. I've weakened it over the past few months by continuing to run in the woods, subjecting it to pain and stress. I haven't given it a chance to heal properly and today I paid the piper. Oh, it was a large bill!
I go to the doctor on Tuesday for my yearly physical and mean to find out just what is wrong with my foot and how bad the damage is. Stay tuned!