Tuesday, November 20, 2007

8K Cross Country Championship, West Hartford

It was a pretty tight assignment. Get in the car at 8:50 am, drive to West Hartford, run a cross country 8K at 10 am, hop back in the car and be home at noon.

A drive like that will get you ready for a race, that's for sure. I had half an hour to sign up, warm up, and get on the line- literally.

The race is not an easy one. It's a chicklet-busting uphill start to the race, followed by plenty of trail running, but it's also overall a fast first two miles. Given that the last three miles are hard miles, it's best not to go out too hard early. I was right behind Oscar Barretto starting up the hill and I was thinking, this isn't right (I hardly belong on the same course with Oscar), but we settled in pretty quickly and I soon found myself running in 13th place, right behind two teammates- Rob Barksdale and Brian Talon. We moved up two spots and then started up the hill at two miles and that was when the fun began.

It's more trail running at that point, and some real uphill. I let Brian and Rob separate because I know from having run the course 5 times that if you push early, you die late, and they are faster than I am. They quickly took out the two runners closest to me. I passed one but then settled in and began reeling them in more slowly . At three miles, they were well ahead of me and I was just passing another runner. We rocketed down one hill, took a set of turns and started heading up in the other direction. The guys in front of me were taller, younger- guys that could no doubt take me out on the road, but as I'd been gaining on them on the downhill, I was really looking forward to the uphill.

I had two guys in front of me I thought I had a chance against. I passed one at about 3.7 and he fought to hold me off and take his position back, so I really fought the urge to open it up and just keep moving forward. I was hoping to catch the last guy between me and my teammates before four miles, where there is a steep, dangerous downhill.

It didn't happen. We wound through the back of the course and I wasn't getting any closer to him. I wanted to get that last place but he wasn't coming back. We broke out of the woods, onto the trail by the road, and still I was two seconds back. then we got on the road, and in the final two hundred meters, I did pass him and put three seconds on him. I coughed a bit in the chute and Will asked me to let him know if I was going to puke so he could get the shot.

Oscar won the race, Brian, Rob and I came 5-6-7, and Charlie Hornak broke into the top 14 to give Hitek the win.

Another great race, a great course, and just a blast to run what's really a super-fast trail race...

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