Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11 (Sunday) - Pack Monadnock 10 Miler

It was once again time for the Pack Monadnock 10 Mile mountain race (results) which serves as the second race in the 2014 USATF-NE Mountain Series.  I ran decent here in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (the year I won with a 1:02:47).  In 2012 I wasn't feeling well and had a horrible race.  In 2013 the race was cancelled.  This year, I was skeptical I would be able to run any faster than I did in 2012 due to my lackluster training, but I was giving it a go anyways.  The weather was a little on the warm side, with some strong headwinds in spots, but other than that, there wouldn't have been any reason why the race would have been on the slower side.  But for some reason, it was just that...for just about everyone I talked to.

After a 3+ mile warmup w/ Eric MacKnight, Michael 'Mountain Man' Quintal, and Kevin Tilton, I changed into my adidas road flats (because my feet have been bothering me and with a 10 mile 'road' race ahead of me, I didn't want to make my problems any worse with the thinner racers I had brought) and headed to the line.  The field was looking pretty good with the likes of Brandon Newbould (2012 winner), the three men I already mentioned, and a slew of others.  I figured that a top 5 would be good for me given the factors, and an outside shot at 4th would be feasible.

As the gun went off (or should I say as the horn sounded), the race went out pretty slow up the first mile to the tune of 6:15 or so.  Very slow by this race's standards.  The year I won, my first mile was 6 flat.  We were already behind schedule.  As we cruised past the first mile mark, there was a good pack of guys all together.  MacKnight was itching to pull ahead with Newbould in tow.  Just behind was myself and Kevin.  Right behind us was a pack that included Ryan Aschbrenner (GBTC), Alex Hall (BAA), and Matt Viega.  Alex had actually pushed early on in the first mile to mile and a half but then retreated back on the downhill.

It started to open up a little bit down the first descent on dirt roads.  Eric took off like it was DH Jones (which finishes downhill and could not be any more different than this race ;) )... and Brandon seemed to pull away to settle halfway between Eric and the pack of Kevin and I.  It stayed like this for a couple of miles.  Kevin pulled away from me around 2.5-3 miles and had about a 30-40 second gap on me for the rest of the race basically.  I felt flat and wasn't wanting to push any harder, knowing that the last 2 miles (the auto road climb + the Rt 101 section) are rough on me.

For the next 4 or so miles of rolling dirt and pavement, it was Eric way up front (but mostly within view), Brandon behind and all alone, Kevin behind him and all alone, and me about 30-40 seconds behind Kevin, whom I could see the entire way.  Behind me, I'd peek every once in a while and see a pack of seemingly the same 3.  Alex, Ryan, and Matt.  They may have been spread out a bit, but I could see them all.  From 5-7.5 or so, it seemed like one or two of them were catching me.   I felt slow and completely out of it, but Kevin wasn't pulling away at all and neither was Brandon seemingly.  Eric was a bit too far ahead at this point to make him out.  As I passed 7 miles on a hilly dirt road section, I looked back to see Ryan (I think) looming. I was confident I'd be passed and was starting to think that if those 3 behind me eventually passed by, I'd have to try to settle for 7th.  It did kind of light a fire under me though and instead of giving in, I pushed onward.  I just tried to keep the same amount behind Kevin at that point, figuring he was running alright.

When the road eventually dumped out onto rt. 101 and passed the 8 mile mark, it felt like the brakes were slammed to the floor.  The wind hit me in the face and so did the long climb up to Miller State Park.  This is where the race gets tough...about a half mile out from the start of the actual 'mountain' section of the race.  I peeked back again to see all 3 of those guys in tow behind me and closer to me than I was to Kevin.  This was a bit deflating but I continued to push on. I felt like I was running so slow that I was very surprised no one caught me on this section.  I looked way up to see that Brandon was rolling passed Eric.  I figured it would be quite a battle on the last climb for those two and did think that as strong as Kevin is on the climb, he was too far back to catch those guys... but I would be mistaken.  During this section, Matt Viega got a side stitch (I found this out afterwards) and dropped back.

As I rolled up into the park, Kevin had about a 45 second lead on me (I was counting as he'd pass by something and also I was told this as I rolled by some spectators at the bottom of the park). As I started to hit the auto road climb, I turned and saw Ryan right behind me (closer than I was to Kevin).  I knew he was strong and he's run quick here before (faster than what we were currently running) so I had little faith I could hold him off.  I started to climb and forgot all about Kevin until I'd occasionally look up and see him.  He didn't look like he was pulling away too quickly but there's quite a ways to go.  I kept peeking back on the turns and Ryan was lingering but not really gaining.  Then, suddenly I looked to see that Alex Hall had passed Ryan out of nowhere and was now pushing up to catch me.  This was the great unknown, as I knew Alex had a good initial climb at Sleepy Hollow last week but wasn't sure about his other strengths, etc.  I thought I may be able to hold Ryan off, but I had no clue about Alex.  I continued to put one foot in front of the other and didn't feel 'horrible' on the climb as I thought I would.  I actually felt OK compared to how I had felt on 101.

Probably about halfway up the mountain I started to realize I may be able to hold my place, as I looked back and now didn't see anyone else.  It looked like Alex had dropped back a bit.  I got more confident as each slow step went by.  Then, on one of the longer stretches, I looked back and saw Ryan again and this time, no Alex.  It looked like he may have run into a bad patch on the climb and Ryan was able to move ahead again.   I knew at that point, I probably had it.  I finally came to the long, straight, STEEP climb that is the last 200 meters or so.  I looked up and to my shock, saw Kevin going right passed Eric, who had slowed on the climb.   He had run the first 8 miles too quick and paid the price on the last 2 miles.  Brandon had held strong and pulled away to a convincing win in a slower 1:04+ (but dont' get me wrong, I'd have taken a 1:04 today!).  Kevin held off Eric for 2nd.  I rolled up and through about 42 seconds behind Eric (which on this course is about 75 yards).   Kevin had put about 15 more seconds on me on the climb.

In the end, I ran 1:06:35, which is not my slowest time (it's my second slowest time).  It's slower than I was obviously hoping for, but I got the 4th place I thought I would be able to get in that field.  Considering that everyone was slow (Brandon was just over 2 minutes slower than his last race here, Kevin was almost 3 minutes slower than his last race here, etc) I was pretty pleased that I not only ran faster than 2012 (by 2 minutes) but that if I took another 2 min off (like everyone else I talked to), I'd be looking around a 1:04 which isn't horrible.  I'm not quite sure why a lot of people (including others I talked to) were a lot slower on the day than previous years.  It's usually warm out and the wind only seemed bad on one section.  It was just one of those races I guess.  It could also be that Justin Freeman wasn't in the field this year (as he was in 2012). I would imagine he would have pulled everyone out by at least another minute or so)...

My last mile split was 9:31 (on my Garmin, which I've never had for this race).  In 2009 I ran 9:28, in 2010 I ran 9:22, and in 2011 (when I won) I ran 9:12.  So I wasn't WAY off my previous times (other than maybe 2011).  I don't know my splits for 2012.  I ran so badly there I think I erased them from my watch (and my memory). I surely was faster than 2012 on that last mile.

The cooldown was down the mountain w/ a slew of guys as we talked about how horrible the experience was (typical).  I ran all the way back to the car before realizing I forgot my drop bag and had to shuffle back over to the park to get it (and then back) about 2.5 miles or so cooldown total.  16-ish miles on the day.  I survived to climb another day and no real issues other than not being fit enough to race a hilly 10 mile mountain race.  I will consider this a success as I was faster than my last time here (although I was at rock bottom then). That was an entire 2 years back.  When you get to be in your 'late' thirties, 2 years is a lot.  I also consider it a success to come in 4th in this field and beat a lot of other guys who are fit.  And lastly I consider it a success that I was under a minute back of Kevin, who is fit and in great climbing shape.  I figured he'd put 2-3 minutes on me easy.

Footage below from Mikey G.


  1. 1 1/39 1 ERIC MORSE 36 M BERLIN CMS 59:07 5:55
    2 2/39 2 DAVE DUNHAM 37 M BRADFORD CMS 59:40 5:58
    3 1/60 174 CRAIG FRAM 42 M PLAISTOW W 1:00:53 6:05
    4 3/39 177 MIKE CASNER 38 M KENE CMS 1:05:12 6:31

    There is still hope for late 30's!
    These guys crushed it!

  2. Thanks for the attempt at the pick-me-up Tim! ;)