Run with the Beavers is a 10 mile trail race way up in Nowheresville, RI (Chepachet). Held in the middle of July, it's a two lap race on technical trails/dirt roads that's fun and challenging. A good cross section of RI trail runners always show up for it. This would be my first race since the Ryan Park 10k way back in February. After that I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my leg which derailed my running. But now I was feeling healthy and ready to return to racing. I knew I didn't have the fitness and was prepared to not PR at this race for the first time (and it turned out no one was PRing on this day).
It was a hot one and already in the 80s when I pulled in at 8 AM. I did a short warm-up and then mingled with the guys. The race was delayed briefly to allow some late arrivals to register. RD Bob Jackman had a huge turnout at this race which was good to see. After his usual talk we were off up the long dirt road. I tried not to go out too fast but there can be a bottleneck when the course enters the woods so I didn't want to fall too far behind. I probably should have pushed it more because I wound up behind a few people that I ended up passing over the next quarter mile.
I pushed it a bit to draw near the next group comprised of Leslie O'Dell, a guy in a yellow shirt and Jeff Walker. The pace wasn't too hard and I wanted to just hold on for as long as I could. At two miles in there was already no one in sight behind us. The water stop at 2.5 miles was most appreciated with Beth & Company doing a great job. I doused myself in water which was temporarily wonderful but soon I was very hot again. The next long stretch of dirt road a good break from the woods but the group began to put a little distance on me. Up ahead on the dirt road I could see that Jeff Walker had passed Yellow Shirt.
|Leslie, Jeff, Yellow Shirt and then me waaay |
back there - Photo by Scott Mason
We returned to the singletrack and the distance between myself and the others was slowly growing. Then I tripped with my left foot. My right leg went straight as it hit a rock, jamming it in place and producing intense pain in my knee. I stopped for a moment and the pain let up allowing me to run again. But the train of runners was now gone. Almost immediately the urge to pee became great and with no one around I decided there was no point in holding it for another 7 miles. After a few moments I was running again, much relieved, but there was someone else gaining on me in the distance.
By the time I reached the bridge and the tricky trail along the brook I was feeling pretty exhausted. Another full lap sounded terrible. At the last climb to the start/finish Bob Corsi flew by me looking strong. But I needn't worry as he was only doing the 5 mile option. I doused myself in several cups of water in the field and continued on. Now I was really running alone - no one ahead and no one close behind.
I'm always running scared in the second lap and this was no exception. I figured everyone else was suffering too so I felt good about my place. I was tired but tried to focus on the trail and eventually I came to the halfway water stop. Jeff was there getting ice - looks like the heat took a lot out of him. I continued on and began to pass a few people still on their first lap. At the last dirt road section I could see Yellow Shirt up ahead. Could I catch him? I slowly gained on him over the next mile but once he reached the final section of descents he was able to find a speed that I couldn't match.
|A short section of log bridges were added this year. A little difficult to|
navigate but a welcome addition - Photo by Scott Mason
I finished in just under 1:20 and it's been a while since I've been that happy to be done with a race. I was 8 minutes slower than last year but the heat/humidity is to blame as much as anything. In fact, only the winner beat my time from last year. Afterwards I went to the pond to cool off and swap war stories. I made a poor decision to attempt to swim which led to my calf seizing up for a good two minutes. It was painful to touch for days. The knee pain from jamming my leg stuck around for much of the following week but it was fine when I was running and eventually faded.
So a tough race in the humidity but still a lot of fun. And I'm back to racing which is the important thing. After several rebellious years, Jonny returned to WTAC for the team competition and helped us repeat as team winners. Another year, another Beaver race in the bag. Hopefully this race marks the beginning of a successful second half of 2016 for me running wise!