We had a great weekend in New Hampshire running the 24th Annual Fred Brown Lake Winnipesaukee Relay Race. The Melrose Running Club had four teams this year and we all ran pretty strong.
Our fastest team came in 2nd out of 29 teams in their category (MIXED OPEN) and 17th out of 71 total teams. Their time was 8:45:02 or a pace of 8:05. Considering the hills that had to be scaled to complete this race their pace is very impressive. At times the temp was in the mid 80’s and often there was no shade.
We were very creative with our team names ;), they were MRC-4. My team was MRC-1 and we came in 3rd out of 4 teams in our category (MIXED 40+) and 50th out of 71 teams. Our time was 10:04:58, or a pace of 9:18.
My leg of the race
I ran leg 5 which is 10.8 miles. I have never been on this course and had very little idea of what to expect. It is New Hampshire, so I expected hills. I also expected temps in the 80’s and that my lack of preparation to hold me back.
As I ran out the driveway of the school where our baton exchange took place, my legs did not feel particularly great. I often feel this way during the first half-mile of a race, but this time I was also recovering from an injury. As I turned left and headed up my first hill I dug deep and charged. At the top of the hill I felt better. Sweat was dripping off of the baton and I had not even gone a mile yet. I knew I had to be careful.
I had a 500ml bottle of water with me and it was still partially frozen. My black shirt was soaking up the heat and I knew I would have to take it off soon or risk overheating. As I approached the next hill I started to gain on a female runner who looked to be much younger than me. I felt that if I could catch up to her and stay with her for the rest of the race I would do okay.
I was probably within 50 yards of this young lady and I began to hear shoes coming up behind me. They were moving fast and I was wondering who the F is this hot shot? The pace sounded very fast and it was blazing hot. As he shot past me I saw it was a guy who was possibly in his thirties.
I often watch people run and he had great form. Very efficient leg and arm movement, smooth stride and he looked athletic. I remember thinking that he must have been coached at one time or another. He made it look easy and effortless. I later learned that the women in the club had great admiration for this gent’s ass-ets.
I admired his smooth stride as he kept moving further away. On the next hill I caught up to the young lady and tucked in behind her. I prefer to run behind someone and push them up the hills rather than have them push me. I feel it gives me more control over my pace and puts less pressure on me.
As we came down the other side of the hill I was just off of her right shoulder and she asked if I wanted to pass. I could see my crew on the right side of the road and thought about stopping, so I told her no. I ended up not stopping as my water bottle was still unopened and I did not want to break my momentum.
At mile four I knew I was going to run this thing: no walking today. I was getting into a good groove and felt in control. I was managing my hydration well and had taken off my shirt. At mile six I grabbed a pretzel rod and another half-frozen water bottle from my crew. Exhaling pretzel crumbs, I managed to get the whole thing in my mouth and wash it down with a few swigs of water. As the simple carbs turned into sugars and hit my blood stream I could feel the turbo kicking in.
On the next downhill I stretched my legs and took off; passing my young lady friend. Over the next few hills I kept pushing and passed two more runners. All systems were GO and I was under 9 minute miles. After a mile or two my running mate passed me and we passed a few more runners over the next mile or so. We were passing people and I was in one of my favorite positions.
As we came around the last corner, up the hill I saw two or three runners in front of us and within striking distance. All systems go I thought. The race is on. We over took two people but one guy was harder to catch. We took a left onto our last road and finally caught up with this guy. He was older than us but was in fantastic shape. He later told me that he was 62. Wow.
The three of us took turns in the lead and kept pushing or pulling each other along. We came around a corner and there was a hill. We all laughed; like you’ve got to be kidding me! On the other side of the hill it was all downhill to the exchange. I stretched my legs as much as I felt safe to do but could not keep up with my running mates.
We all finished within a few seconds of each other and hung out for a few minutes talking. We were all happy with our race and enjoyed the pushing and pulling up the hills and the camaraderie. I think the young lady said she was 34 and the guy we caught up to was 62! I was right in the middle at 48.It was a fun way to end my leg of the relay.
We ran in the last 0.60 miles at a 7:55 pace. It was all downhill and we ran it hard. My overall pace was 8:53. I sat on the grass to stretch and ended up walking about a mile to get a ride with another friend. Everyone else had taken off. My friend’s car was loaded so someone else offered me a ride and we were off.
Eventually I had the best ham sandwich of my life and drank some ice cold beers. As we drove to the finish line the heavens opened up. In the parking lot we stood under the hatch of someone’s car to get out of the rain and had some more beers. Under umbrellas we clung together and walked to the event tent to watch the finish.
When we got back to the camp ground it was still raining and everything was wet. We hastily packed and headed south. I rolled my tent around my arm and stuffed it in the back seat of my car. What a mess.
Thus ended my Lake Winnie Weekend.