Friday, April 25, 2014

Merrimac River Trail Race Recap

A few weeks ago I got out for my first trail race of the year: A scenic 10 miler along the Merrimack River in Andover. 

Merrimack River Trail Trace - 10 Miler
Location: Andover, MA
Date: 4/12/2014

Distance: 10 Miles
Goal Time:  Who Cares? I ran 115 Miles in the previous 12 days
Actual Time: 1:10:43 (7:04 / mile)
Place: 22 / 306 OA
Jen, Keith, and I made our way up to Andover on a sunny, but cool Saturday morning for the race.  It was kind of a funny start as the setup and trail head were both in the back corner of a hotel parking lot.  After talking to a couple of folks, we got the jist of the course (flat, then hilly, turn around, and repeat).  The race director would later go on to tell us to be very careful as we went under route 93 as their was ice, rocks, and a raging (ok maybe not too raging) river.  

The race started promptly at 9am with 306 runners in the group.  There isn't too much in racing like mass race start where a group of about 15 runners wide converge on a single track trail (with mud).  All you can do is run hard and hope for the best.  
Keith and I went out quickly, made it through the first mud pit fairly unscathed, and then took the high route under interstate 93.  After that the trail flattened out and we spread out, but we continued to push the pace to separate ourselves from the crowds.  We completed the first mile around 6:30 and slowly backed off some.  

The intent of this race was to get a good trail run in, but not kill myself.  I was in my second 70+ mile week in a row and Keith had a little marathon named "Boston" that he would be running roughly a week later.  

The 2nd and 3rd miles were pretty flat also and hugged the river so we were able to continue with a sub 7 minute pace without killing ourselves.  

Just as we started the 4th mile is when the terrain started to get interesting.  We veered away from the river, up a steep, but short climb, back down, across a stream, up another climb, down and across another stream, and then finally up a really steep climb, and under some power lines, all in the course of a mile. 

I had successfully spiked my heart rate and jellified my legs. With over 200' of climbing and some of it quite technical, our pace slowed to 8:30ish.  Luckily the next mile was on the flatter side and allowed us to get our heart rate back in check.  
As we got within a half mile of the turnaround the leaders were coming back at us.  Out and back single track courses are always fun.  Luckily we were in the top 10% of the runners which meant that more people were getting out of our way then us getting out of theirs.  Either way, trail runners are generally pretty good with these things.  

At the turn around I sent Keith off on his way, but warned him not to kill himself.  I was a little fried from the last few weeks of high mileage.  

The steep hills over the next couple of miles nearly killed me and I even stopped and walked up 2 of them.  As I went down the steep hill by the power lines I nearly lost control and am thankful the runners going the other way quickly got out of the way.  It was almost like when you are skiing a little too fast and think you know what is below you but are dead wrong. 
After a 9:20 mile, I was able to find another gear and knock the pace back down to sub 7s for the final few flat miles. 

All and all had a good time and glad to be back in the woods.  

Next Up
TARC Spring Classic 50k tomorrow (probably in the rain)

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