Stratham Hill Trail Race Series #1

Ski season is just about over. There might be another day left in me this upcoming weekend but the season is basically done as far as I’m concerned. So, my focus is turning ever so slowly towards running.

Because the ski season was so good it’s been a slow transition. By this point last year I had gotten in some longer trail runs and was feeling pretty good by the time I did my first SHP race at the end of May. This year is totally different. The first time I ran 10k was only on Tuesday, two days before Thursday’s race day. And I was pushing a stroller. What could go wrong?

Yesterday started out wet and it didn’t dry very much. The trails had a decent amount of mud on them but it was still manageable. It was just enough to slow down some of the road runners that were wearing race flats and give me a small advantage. The really fast runners had blasted ahead and were quickly out of sight.

The start was flat for the first half-ish mile and I started a little too fast. But I was able to ease off the pace just a little bit before getting into the more technical single track. Here I was better able to keep pace with some of the faster runners and I found myself even going a little faster on the shorter hills. A 5k runner was in front of me and was a good pacer through the first lap into the final hill. After cresting the top of Stratham Hill into the final downhill I was able to really open things up and pass a 10k runner. I felt confident running down the techy, muddy singletrack. It was a new thing for me because I never run fast down hill.

The 5k runner peeled off to the finish and I had the 10k guy trailing me for the entire second lap. I felt my legs starting to complain on the short hills but I knew I needed to keep it together to have any chance of not losing another place. One last time up the final hill and my pace dropped off drastically. The 10k guy that was trailing me caught me by the time we reached the top but he didn’t pass me. I opened it up in a big way on the last downhill throwing caution to the wind and blasted back ahead. I managed to keep the pace up on the final stretch to the finish and crossed the line at about 54 minutes. Maybe 10-15 seconds ahead of the next guy.

I don’t think the timer screen was working correctly and after conferring with the runners that crossed the finish first it looks like I came in 4th place. It’s a finish I’m totally happy with considering I don’t usually race and I hadn’t been running much yet this year. Per usual, the 5k runners had drank all the beer at the finish and nothing was left for me. Bummer. I guess I’ll have to run faster next time.