Brrr-lingame is the 4th race of the 4th Season Trail Series. This was my second ever trail race back in 2012 and it lived up to it's name back then - it was a frigid 15k run. And last year a massive snowstorm turned the event into a brutal 5 mile sufferfest. This year the race was pushed back until late March and it finally promised to live up to its potential as a tough mid-distance trail race - two loops on a five mile course. Going into this race I was in the midst of a high mileage week. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. My only other 10 mile trail race had been last year's Run with the Beavers. I ran a 1:14 there and thought that a 1:10 might be possible on this slightly more forgiving course. I also really wanted to crack the top ten (I had done so on every race in the series thus far and wanted to keep the streak alive.)
I arrived and set out on a solo warm-up, running the last mile of the course as it was the only section I was unfamiliar with. I initially wore my ankle brace on my left foot as I had been rolling it with some frequency lately but it made my achilles seem really tight and I opted to go without at the last moment. It was a little cool but I went with the shorts and singlet anyway knowing that I'd be warm soon enough. We lined up, RD superman Galoob waxed poetic about the layout of the course and then we were off, sprinting across the open field towards the woods.
|Charging to the singletrack - Photo by Scott Mason|
The front runners were a mix of the seasoned trail runners and a few high schoolers. I found myself in about 15th place entering the woods. The high schoolers were cracking jokes and reminding each other that they weren't racing today - their constant chitchat was annoying and when the Gazelle flew by myself and the kids I followed suit. The kids were behind me now but I could still here their jawing and I was working harder than I wanted. Still ego pushed me to try to keep up with Jeff and put distance on the kids. I thought one of them had latched on to me as I heard his friends calling for him to pull back.
Jeff was putting distance on me and I tried to reign in the pace a bit but there was someone behind me and I didn't want that kid to pass me. At the road crossing the pursuer went by - it wasn't the kid at all but a guy in blue (the eventual Masters age group winner.) Soon after a guy in green went by me as well. I looked back and saw no one else. I didn't have to worry about anyone else following but Blue and Green were quickly putting distance on me as Jeff had done. I already felt like I was working really hard and tried to focus on just running my race.
The trail loops back on a ridge and I could see the front runners up there. This is my favorite part of the course even though the going is slow at points. Jeff was out of sight and Blue & Green were disappearing from view now and again. By the time the course hit the campground I could barely see Green off in the distance. The heavy leaves and sandy sections were a pain and the realization that I was only four miles into the race was disheartening. I was tired already and was worried that my pace would fall apart in the second loop.
Back at the field, Galoob shouted out that I was in 10th place and that my first loop was 35 minutes. On pace for a 1:10 finish. Excellent! But would I be able to maintain it? Green guy was gone baby gone now and I was completely alone for the second lap. Once I hit the woods though I felt good and was moving really well. I knew that as long I kept this pace up it would be unlikely for anyone to catch me but you always fear your pursuers no matter how far back they could be.
It wasn't until I was up on the ridge that I saw a couple guys along with the gaggle of high schoolers down below. How far back were they? A minute? Two? I really couldn't say with any confidence so I tried to keep the pace up knowing there was still 2.5 miles left and anything could happen. I was really getting tired now but the familiarity with the course helped to propel me forward.
The second pass through the campgrounds was a mixture of exhaustion and paranoia. Running through the heavy layer of leaves was akin to running through light snow and I was constantly worried about hidden sinkholes. I passed a couple intrepid folks who were finishing up their single five mile loop. When the course finally turned past the water I risked a look back - there was no one to be seen.
Finally I reached the field and the finish. I just missed a 1:10 time by 8 seconds but I can't complain about a 10th place finish. I was spent - that was a tough race! Gobbled up some food and then ran a large group cooldown on the roads and trails, swapping war stories along the way. There were some impressive performances out there today. And WTAC picked up another stellar team win and the beer to go along with it.
I'm really pleased with how I ran this race. I went out too fast (like everyone else) but once I settled down I was able to maintain what turned out to be a good pace on a tough course. I was only 1:15 slower on the second lap which is not a bad drop off at all. I'm sure the higher mileage this week didn't help but I also don't think it hurt me too much. Big thanks to Mike Galoob and his family for putting together another awesome race. Looking forward to the finale in two weeks at Big River!