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Wild Rumpus Sports

A Smart Race–and a Dumb one

So I haven’t posted in a long time because not only have I not raced (okay once) in the past couple of months, it feels like I have barely trained. I have been averaging maybe 25 miles a week or running with almost no speed. Plus maybe one decent mountain bike and one rollerski each week. Nothing that has seemed worth writing about.
Not that my own escapades seem worthy of your time after reading about the U.S. women on the World Cup this weekend–wow!
But if you are still reading, I raced twice this week. On Thanksgiving Day I went down of Manchester and joined 2300 other foolish people in running a 5 km race. I went in expecting not to win, and planned to run nice and controlled to maximize my chances for a second place finish. The race went exactly according to plan. I was at or near the front for the first 1/4 mile just to stay out of trouble. Then I was sharing the lead but not at all pushing the pace through the mile, which was 5:08. At that point, I decided to push, and only one other guy came with me. He sat on my shoulder for half a mile and then made his move. I tried to hold on, but it was no good. I ran the second mile in 4:59, coming through about 5 seconds back, and lost another 20 seconds over the final mile despite running a 4:54. This pacing, though, was plenty good enough to drop second place, and I finished feeling pretty good.
Two days later I raced the 7.5 km opener at Craftsbury. With nine rollerskis under my belt this year (a post-2006 record, maybe?) and running race telling me I was somehow holding onto my fitness, I was feeling cocky. When I described my recent training to Zach Caldwell and Brayton Osgood they joked that I should go for the win. And so I did. I watched the early starters, worked out splits based on the bib numbers starting as they lapped, and went out on my first lap at a pace that would bring me to an easy victory. My second lap was at a pace that just might have let me hold on to the win. By lap number three, I was losing enough time that I began to doubt my calculations. Laps four and five were a struggle to survive (did I mention that the laps were only two and a half minutes long. So yeah, I was struggling to hold on after about 7 minutes). Lap six was pathetic.
I ended up in seventh place, just ahead of the first junior, and quite respectable for someone with 200 hours of training so far this year and only one of them on snow. But the way I raced I was broken when I crossed the line. I literally could not stay on my feet. I had to be helped up, helped with my jacket, and walked out of the finish pen. I mean, if I had worked that hard to win a meaningless race it would be one thing, but working that hard and being that messed up at the end to finish seventh is just embarrassing. Maybe next time I race I will try pacing myself.

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