I registered for the NJ Trail Series Febapple race sometime in January, with the hope of running the 21-mile race. This race would also be a good opportunity to support my MPF Campmor teammates, and promote my upcoming race, Lost Brook Trail Race, which benefits the Tenafly Nature Center. However, about a week before the event, I decided to switch to the 10-mile race, because I had not gotten in enough long training runs and felt my legs would not be able to handle the 21-mile distance. Since October of 2010, I have been managing a tendinitis injury in my lower right leg. There have been multiple times when I felt my training progressing smoothly since then, only to have my tendinitis flare up again after a hard effort out on the trails. In order to prevent this from happening again this year, I have been particularly cautious with my training plan, and have been successful thus far with this ‘slow build’ approach.
The 10-mile event at Febapple has become more of a training run/assessment of my current fitness, rather than a true race for me. Nevertheless, when I hear go, my competitive spirit ignites, the adrenaline pumps, and my legs follow suit. So undoubtedly, I found myself running with the lead pack for the first two miles at a blazing 7:30 mile pace, before my brain finally turned on, and told me to slow down. Around mile two, I backed off from the leaders and settled into a more comfortable pace in the 9:00 mile range until the end of the first loop. During these first four miles, I was thankful I chose to wear my Montrail Mountain Masochist Outdry running shoes. The course had a lot of wet and muddy spots from heavy rains the day before, but I was able to run through it and keep my feet dry with these beastly shoes on. I also quickly realized in these first miles that I had overdressed. I was overheating, and very uncomfortable. Luckily, at mile four when I came back through the start area, Julian, my teammate, was there and I was able to pass my unwanted layers to him. Thanks buddy!
Now I felt much more comfortable heading out on the next section of the course, that I was able to pick my pace back up a little. At about mile 6, I spotted a runner from the 10-mile race not too far ahead of me, and began reeling him in. At about mile 7 or so I came through the aid station that my friends, Randy and Mara, were volunteering at. Since, I was in hot pursuit, I was only able to mumble a quick hello, while blowing past them. Sorry guys, you know I love you. At this point, I had the runner in front of me in my sights. However, I was only able to close the gap to about 25 yards, when he surged away never to be seen again. Oh well, it was fun and worth the try. I continued on the final miles alone with my thoughts as company. I was just happy to be outside running through the woods. There is really nothing like it...
P.S. I ended up finishing in third place, just 27 seconds behind the guy I was hunting in a time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. Maybe I didn’t take it too easy out there after all.