Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tuckerman Inferno 2015

The day started way too early since my run leg of the Tuckerman Inferno started at 7am. I got up there before 6am and waited for John's "babysitter" to arrive so I could head out on my warm up. Right after I pulled in, another car parked right in front of me and out came two Greater Boston Track Club runners, a man and a woman. I recognized her as the woman who finished a place behind me at Eastern States, and the guy was familiar, but I didn't know his name. He looked legit, though, so I started to get nervous. I figured out he was running the race, and she was just warming up with him, so I knew this was going to give his team a huge lead. I couldn't compete with that. I guess I would have to rely on my teammates to catch back up.
The girl hanging with John showed up, so I went out solo for a 2-mile warm up. I felt good except for really sore calves. I couldn't figure out why they were so sore since I hadn't run anything out of the ordinary, but then it dawned on me. I had gotten really antsy Friday afternoon and decided to speed walk 2 miles at an incline on the treadmill. I never do that, but I didn't think it would make me sore. I wasn't too worried about, though. I've been sore during races and just pushed through it.
I got back with ten minutes to spare, saw my teammates who were cheering me on, said goodbye to John and then lined up next to Kelsey Allen at the start. Kelsey had beaten me here before in 2012, and she always tends to beat me in races that involve huge uphills, so I wasn't really expecting to beat her here. I wanted to stay as close to her as possible and finish 2nd woman, but I also had to remember that gender didn't matter here. It was team vs team. And there were a lot of serious looking runners lined up there.
The race started, and as I figured, the Greater Boston guy (who turned out to be Ryan Place) shot out ahead and had a HUGE lead by mile one. Kelsey ended up flying up way ahead of me along with about 12 other guys. I didn't know who the solo racers were from behind so I just had to do my best to gain on as many of them as I could. As we started the steep climb up Glen Ledge, Kelsey just got farther and farther away, and I could hear breathing right behind me that belonged to the shadow with the ponytail I could see on the ground in front of me. I held her off for awhile, but she caught and passed me close to the top. I was also passed by a guy and then passed a guy. After we reached the top of Glen Ledge (8:54/mi pace. Ouch!), it was a huge downhill for almost 2 miles. I thought I would catch people, but I only caught one guy. Kelsey seemed to be getting farther away, as well as the woman who had passed me. I hauled ass hitting those two miles in 5:40 and 5:45. It finally leveled off, and everyone slowed. This is where I started passing people two years ago, and sure enough, I picked off 4 people, including the woman who had passed me on Glen Ledge. We turned right onto 302, and from this point on, it was pretty much all uphill. A gentle grade, but still all uphill. I had remembered this being tough, but I had forgotten why since it seems flat when you drive it. Ha ha. I still ran hard at a decent clip, but I could tell by my splits that it wasn't easy running. I caught up to a guy and ran with him for the last 3 miles, and I kept reeling in Kelsey. I never would catch her, but we ended up only 28 seconds apart at the finish, so my effort was a good one. With two miles to go a headwind all of a sudden hit us. It ended up not being too bad, but it would get a lot worse later in Pinkham Notch for the bikers. At 8.1 miles, the course cuts into Thorn Pond and right onto wet, slushy snow for the last .2. The guy I had been running with looked like he had never run on snow before, and got excruciatingly slow, so I had to pass him. I came through the transition and tagged off my teammate Mike Malkin who would kayak the Saco. I finished the 8.3 mile run in 55:37 and 9th overall. I immediately learned that Ryan Place had come in at 43:something. That was a HUGE lead for his team. I felt bad that now my teammates had to play catch up if we were going to win. I just had to cross my fingers.
Mike would do the kayak and pass 2 people. He tagged off to Erik Nelson for the road bike from Glen Ellis Campground to Pinkham Notch. Erik passed 5 people (and ended up finishing first overall for the bike leg). He tagged off to Tristan Williams who would run up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to HoJo's in 28 minutes, passing the last guy who had been in the lead (and finishing first overall for the hike), which meant we were first team when he tagged off Matty Burkett for the ski down the Sherbie. Matty snowboarded down, giving us the team win by about 1.5 minutes!!! I was so excited when I got the news. All Stoved Up had won! A bunch of crazy locals won it again. I was so stoked.
Erik, me, Mike and Matty (Tristan couldn't make the awards) at the awards party.
John and I took a walk with the dogs at the Albany Town Forest later on and then headed up to Wildcat Ski Area for the Inferno awards party. It was a good time. My old team, Wildthings, won top female team again, so I was psyched about that. I was really happy to hear that Andrew Drummond, another local, won the solo competition. That's all five legs by yourself. Super impressive. And he only finished 20 minutes behind my TEAM. Wow. Very cool. He also took home $1000 and new skis. It was a fun time. Dinner, drinks and catching up with people. I was beat by the time we got home.
I opted out of my original plan to do Red's Race on Sunday in Dover because I didn't want to drag John along to another race. I've been racing almost every weekend since January, and I just couldn't do it this time. It was a day to not be selfish, and I was happy for it when I woke up at 8am. I needed the rest, so it was good I didn't drag us out early again. He got to sleep in, and I enjoyed sitting on the deck in the sun with my coffee. I still got some easy running in. One run up Heavenly Hill with the dogs that turned out to still be covered in too much soft snow. I had planned just to do Heavenly Hill repeats, but bagged that and hit my neighborhood for 5 easy loops to make 5.8 miles for the day. That worked for me. I needed an easy day.
Later in the afternoon, John and I took a hike up White Ledge right down the road from our house. The trail was mostly snow covered still, but easily hikeable. It was so beautiful out. It was an easy hike with some great views, and John really enjoyed himself. We laughed A LOT today. I'm so glad I chose it to be a day about us and not about me and my racing. It was worth it. 

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