Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ammonoosuc Amble 5 Mile Race

For the third year in a row, I headed north to Bethelehem, NH for the Ammonoosuc Amble 5 mile race. It has become a tradition for me the first weekend of April. I had never even heard of it 2 years ago but happened upon a link to it somewhere and decided to give it a try. This was the 22nd annual running, so it has definitely been a staple on the NH running calendar for quite some time. The course isn't an easy one either. The first two miles are almost all uphill, with a half mile of it on a dirt road, followed by a decent downhill portion to the 4-mile mark, then all uphill again to the finish. Definitely not a PR course, but I love the challenge of it.
John and all 3 dogs came along to the race, and as we approached Crawford Notch, we hit snow. This snow continued to get heavier and heavier and didn't really let up until just before the start. My 2-mile warmup was like running blind due to the snow in my eyes. The great thing about this race is that they don't cancel it ever. It has snowed many times before, but they always put it on. I could tell the numbers were down, but it was still a decent showing of people. Just before the start, the snow did become pretty light, but it never actually let up the entire time we were up there, and the temp stayed right around 30 degrees. As obscure as this race is, there is always competition there for me, and it's ALWAYS only one other person, so I've never had an easy go here. I was 2nd woman in 2013 and barely won it in 2014. I saw my competition yesterday just as we lined up for the start and recognized her as the woman who finished second behind me at the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon last year. I beat her by almost 2 minutes there, but this was a 5-mile race, not my strength, and I had no idea what her training had been like. I decided to line up right on the line and go out fast. My strength IS hills, so I figured I would just crank it out up the first 2 miles and hope to have enough of a lead to bust it out on the downhill.
So as planned, I went out fast at the horn and ran with the first guy for the first mile, which I came through in 6:28, which is kind of discouraging since it felt faster. At the turn, I looked back and saw second woman maybe 15 seconds back, which was way too close, so I just continued to bust it out until we hit the dirt road. It wasn't just muddy with potholes this year; it was also soft, so my pace slowed a bit to 6:52 for the second mile. OUCH. I was happy to see pavement again a half mile later. At the turn just before the top of the climb, I looked back and could see second woman maybe only 20 seconds back. Damn. Time to pick up the pace on the downhill. So for the next 2 miles I ran a 5:57 and a 5:45 which was enough to put me far enough ahead that I couldn't even see her until I took a look back on mile 5 where I had a far view back. She was in view, but I had a pretty good lead and knew I was going to take the win. I came through in 31:33, 4th overall. The time always seems slow, but for that course, it isn't bad; plus, it was almost a 2-minute PR on the course over last year.  So having that to compare with, I know that I am still running better than I was a year ago. I was a little bummed to see I missed the course record by only 11 seconds, so maybe next year?

Photo courtesy of Racewire

Post-race is a decent lunch in the gym there at the school, followed by the awards and raffle. The top overall winners always get flowers, which I love. I gave John my trophy since it would just end up in a box otherwise; this year's trophy had flames on it, so that was right up his alley. Ha ha.
Photo by John
I had planned to take a walk with John and the dogs while we were up there, but the temperature dropped into the 20s, and it was still snowing, so I decided to head back below the notch for our walk where it was much warmer in Bartlett near Thorn Pond. The rest of the day was uneventful; I lounged in the sun a bit, but that was it since I was feeling beat. Zero day for Sunday. My legs are telling me to take a break, so I'm listening.

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