When a chance arose to grab someone else's pre-paid number in a race (I know...a hole move) at a local hilly 5k (which is a distance I'm really not suited for), I had to jump at the chance. With my training finally coming out of a "slump", I figured a good showing would boost my confidence and hopefully carry some positive energy into my weekend duties of crewing and pacing at the Ghost Train Ultra.
With Jesse, my running bud and 100 miler virgin (for about 6 more days), his wife and little guy to cheer me on (my little people had a rough night and needed to sleep in with mumma), I had all the support I needed. Jesse even mentioned to me that I could possibly take the race. I figured there was some Kenyan hiding in the crowd, ready to unleash a beating come gun time. Jesse further shot my chances down telling me that there was a dude, shirtless (45 degrees?), doing wind sprints in the parking lot prior to the start. Oh well, I thought. Just run hard and see what happens.
I knew the course well. It was virtually the same as the Wachusett Mountain Race back in May of 2011. The only thing it didn't include was "one mile hill" and the Donbrowo trail. At the gun, I took off quick and held the lead out of the lot. We turned right up "one mile hill" and onto the ski trails, soon I found myself in third as two gents took a bit of short cut. I figured I'd reel them in quickly towards the trail section as I know the trail well and can move a bit more easily on the steeper slopes. Coming up Balance Rock Road, two more dudes past me, with one being John Kinee and the other wearing a blue shirt. With shirtless dude and Rob Hult, the two dudes just mentioned, that placed me fifth upon entering the Old Indian Trail. This is where I would make my assault. I quickly passed the older gent in the blue and had a visual of about 25 yards on shirtless dude. I quickly caught up. I felt him out a bit and passed on the right. I could tell he picked up the pace a bit here but I held him off through the climbing.
Once the trail hit the auto road, we took a right onto North Road and then another right onto Balance Rock Road again. I knew this was mostly dirt and downhill. I kicked it into high gear and could see John Kinnee about 100-150 yards ahead. I figured if I got close I may be able to take him in the trail section. Balance Rock Trail is pretty rooty and rocky, and with the wet leaves, sane people may slow down here. Thats what I was hoping for, but to no avail. He seemed to keep pace to the finish, with me arriving about 1:30 back of the front runners. 3rd place overall (21:57), some good hills and a lung busting effort.