May 2nd, 2012
…but not on the same day.
The win was at the Delta Dental 5 km, a race I also won last year. Last year was on a modified course, and I ran about 15:15, pushed to a fast time by Jim Johnson. This year it was the standard course, and I ran about 15:55 with no one really pushing me (I won by about 20 seconds and had no one within 5 seconds after the first quarter mile). So it is hard to compare efforts, but 15:55 is hardly a time I am going to feel good about.
The good race was the Muddy Moose 14 miler in Wolfeboro. I have run this race a couple times, but not last year. And when I saw last year that Kevin Tilton had run under 1:30, I didn’t really believe it. I thought the course must have been shortened or something; I have run around 1:38 and while that was in very wet conditions I had a hard time believing Kevin could run 10 minutes faster on a totally dry course.
I got my chance to find out, as Kevin and Jim were there at the start line. After a high school kid running the four miler took it out hard for half a mile, Kevin surged into the lead on the first mud puddle. It pretty quickly became apparent that it was going to be a hard race for me. I like to think that I am a decent trail runner, but Kevin ran every technical section: up, down, or mud, faster and with less effort that I did. I ran the roads better than he did, and on the stretch from 2 miles to 3 miles I pushed hard to try to tire and demoralize him, but it was no use; as soon as we left the road he took the lead for good. Over the next six miles he steadily put about 20 seconds into me. I could see him almost continuously but I just could not make up the gap. Somewhere between 9 and 11 miles I lost visual contact and almost certainly a lot of time.
I know I lost a lot of time because I absolutely hammered the road section from 11 miles to 12 miles, and I never saw Kevin. For the last two miles of trails I was demoralized and hemorrhaging time.
Despite my last two miles, I ended up running under Kevin’s course record from last year (but almost three minutes behind the new course record). Jim also made up a bunch of time over the last two miles, finishing only 30 seconds behind me.
So I have a new level of respect of Kevin Tilton in particular and trail runners in general, but I also am fairly happy to have run a time that I had previously considered impossible.