Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6 (Sunday) - Loon Mountain / US National Mountain Running Championship

July 6 (Sunday) - Loon Mountain / US National Mountain Running Championship (results) - Sunday I headed over the Kanc nice and early for the 2014 USATF National Mountain Running Championship at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH.  My main goals here were to help my team (CMS) win another National Championship and to try to maintain my lead in the USATF NE Mountain Series.  To achieve both, basically two things had to happen...first, we needed to make sure that Team Colorado didn't field a full team (because if they do, it's pretty much a given that we'd be running for 2nd at that point) and second, I needed to try to stay close to Kevin Tilton, who is in 2nd place in the overall standings for the mountain series.

Let's just say I'm pretty disinterested in recapping this one because I ran with zero balls.  Right from the gun, I was just running with no heart, no drive, no desire to push myself, and no confidence.  I just went through the motions and ran as hard as my body would allow without hurting.  I knew I was in deep trouble when I was 2 minutes into the race and couldn't even begin to count how many dozens of guys were in front of me already.  I was behind Drew Best for a little bit and commented to him that there would be a lot of carnage later on and we'd pick up some hurting guys later on.  Well, that never really happened to the extent I thought it would.

I meandered half-ass-idly across the additional 2 miles of nordic trails that were at the bottom when I should have been pushing it.  I was running behind one of the top masters (who took a nasty fall, got up, cleaned himself off, and continued to run, all right in front of me and I never passed him), a couple of college guys, and my teammate Pat Rich who ran like he's been there before.  I just didn't want to be there and wasn't up for the challenge at all.  It really showed over that section where I should have been really hammering the pace and staying with Pat and some of the other guys up front.

Once I started the actualy climbing back out on the old course, Todd Callaghan and some others went by me on the really steep stuff and I was a bag of crap.  I would pass more guys than I got passed by, over the course of the next few miles, so that wasn't bad...but overall I should have been 10 places higher at least...and 1:30 faster in my opinion.  I had a decent battle with Alex Hall and a few other college guys from miles 4-5+, as the course just continued to grind up loose dirt access roads and grassy slopes.

Once I went up and over the old finish area, I started the descent down towards the Upper Walking Boss.  I don't think I've ever run as easy and as slow on the way down, as I did this year.  I'm not sure why but I had no drive or desire to bomb down the descent as I had in previous years.  I just kind of went through the motions and basically held off Alex Hall on the way down the hill, but never thought about trying to actually catch anyone.

When I hit the Upper Walking Boss, it was basically looking up at a 'who's who' of who beat me.  There was pretty much the entire field (less the few top guys who were long done) walking, sidestepping, or 'running' up the boss.  I could throw a baseball over Pete Maksimow's head, yet he was 2+ minutes ahead of me.  It was very frustrating.  Todd Callaghan was pulling away as were seemingly everyone else. I'm not sure if I caught anyone on the boss. I may have caught 1 guy, but I can't remember.  I do know that I didn't walk a step. Not one step.  This was the first year ever, that I never walked one step at Loon.....including the years I won (2009, 2012).  That's probably the one good thing about the actual way I ran...the fact that I didn't need to walk...but maybe that was because I wasn't running hard enough on the rest of it?  I'm not sure.  I wasn't a complete slob up the boss, but I wasn't accomplishing anything because I had already let the race go after the first half mile.  There was one guy who was mowing me down the whole way up the boss and seemingly came out of nowhere during the last 100 yards.  He passed me right near the end and (to give you an idea of how SLOW the last part of the race is) beat me by 11 seconds in the last 5 steps.  

Some good shots of me on the boss below...mediocrity at it's slowest....

Overall I was pretty disappointed to say the least.  I wasn't expecting much, but I certainly was expecting to finish better than 4th man on the team and not be beaten by 14 minutes in a 7 mile race. But I was very pleased with the fact that we (CMS) won the US National Championship for team.  The bummer was that once again, USATF didn't bother to send team medals...or someone didn't bother to order them...or there was just yet another mix up.  I have won a bunch of USATF team medals over the years (I have been fortunate to be a part of a good club that shows up to these events and represents well) and this is at least the third time the team medals, for whatever reason, weren't at the event.  Not quite sure what to make of that and maybe it's just a matter of yet another simple mixup, etc... It's not a huge deal and supposedly they are being 'mailed' somewhere.  They said they'd 'mail them'.  Mail them where?  To my house?  Do they know where I live?  Maybe they'll mail them to someone who knows us? Either way, it just kind of stunk that I had my parents hang out for probably over an hour at the awards (where by the team awards, most people had cleared out and gone home), they called us up quickly only to have no medals to give out.  Had this been the first time this happened, it would have been fine...but unfortunately I'm getting used to it.  Also, it was (by that time) only me, Nate Jenkins, and Todd Callaghan that stayed to get up on the podium.  This is a 'rant' geared towards USATF and not in any way to the local organizing committee.  Medals are far from the most important thing, but when you have a US National Championship, and you are a legitimate money-making organization who runs it, and there is a team competition for which medals are awarded, one of the things on the checklist should be to make sure you send all the medals...or if you are in charge of ordering them, you order them.  Dave Dunham had to write email after email after email for months one time, to get us team medals from the 50K Road Championships... I'm not sure why it's such a pain the backside to get awards made and sent to championships... I guess in my situation (getting old, slow, and sour), all I have to look forward to is getting my medal ;).... 

Top 35 Plus CMS in Blue

1Joseph Gray          30Colorado Springs CO            45:52.3 6:34Scott Sports
2Patrick Smyth        27Salt Lake City UT              46:39.1 6:40Nike Trail Team
3Eric Blake           35West Hartford CT               52:37.5 7:32LaSportiva                                   
4Zach Miller          25Manitou Springs CO             52:44.1 7:33Nike Trail Team
5Joshua Eberly        33Gunnison CO                    53:30.0 7:39Brooks 
6David Roche          26Millington MD                  53:39.7 7:40New Balance Silicon Valley        
7Jordan Chavez        20Southlake VA                   54:23.3 7:47                                  
8Ryan Bak             32Bend OR                        54:28.8 7:47Central Oregon Running Klub       
9Andrew Benford       26Austin TX                      54:49.2 7:50Rogue Athletic Club               
10Kyle O'Brien         25Broomfield CO                  55:37.2 7:57Boulder Track Club                
11Tommy Manning        38Colorado Springs CO            55:43.2 7:58Team Colorado                     
12Nate Jenkins         33N Andover MA                   55:50.8 7:59Central Mass Striders             
13Jared Burdick        27Manlius NY                     56:00.2 8:01                                  
14David McKay          27Bend OR                        56:09.0 8:02                                  
15Josh Ferenc          32Saxtons River VT               56:30.5 8:05Boston Athletic Association       
16Ryan Woods           35Boone NC                       56:46.2 8:07LaSportiva                                   
17Brandon Newbould     32Nottingham NH                  56:56.0 8:08Whirlaway Racing Team             
18Zachary Ornelas      22Ann Arbor MI                   57:00.8 8:09                                  
19Drew Best            32Amherst MA                     57:23.5 8:12Acidotic Racing                   
20Gabriel Rodriguez    36Baltimore MD                   57:31.7 8:14Under Armour                 
21Kris Freeman         33Thornton NH                    57:34.6 8:14EliLilly                                    
22Patrick Rich         37South Hamilton MA              57:36.1 8:14Central Mass Striders             
23Peter Maksimow       35Manitou Springs CO             57:46.4 8:16Team Colorado                     
24Greg Ruckman         40Breckenridge CO                57:54.7 8:17                                  
25Ryan Lee             22Richmond VA                    58:12.2 8:19                                  
26Chris Grauch         41Boulder CO                     58:24.1 8:21                                  
27Todd Callaghan       44Beverly MA                     58:36.8 8:23Central Mass Striders             
28Timmy Parr           32Leadville CO                   59:02.1 8:26HokaOneOne                                
29Sam Robinson         29Oakland CA                     59:18.7 8:29Transports RT                       
30Matthew Lipsey       24Jersey PA                      59:24.7 8:30                                  
31Jim Johnson          37Madison NH                     59:35.5 8:31Central Mass Striders             
32Jason Bryant         41Elkin NC                       59:52.7 8:34Appalachian Mountain Goats        
33Justin Stewart       26Springfield IL       1:00:03.3 8:35                                  
34Alex Hall            27Hanover NH           1:00:13.0 8:37Boston Athletic Association       
35Ross Krause          34Easthampton MA       1:00:26.5 8:39Central Mass Striders             
38Kevin Tilton         32North Conway NH      1:01:38.2 8:49Central Mass Striders             
46Dave Dunham          50Ward Hill MA         1:02:55.5 9:00Central Mass Striders             
48Matthew Veiga        27Lynn MA              1:03:07.2 9:02Central Mass Striders             
53James Pawlicki       39Lynn MA              1:03:36.7 9:06Central Mass Striders             
62Daniel Verrington    52Bradford MA          1:06:35.2 9:31Central Mass Striders             
66Sam Wood             28Laconia NH           1:07:26.5 9:39Central Mass Striders             
91Arthur Besse         41Templeton MA         1:12:18.910:20Central Mass Striders             
114Paul Bazanchuk      59Center Conway NH     1:16:53.211:00Central Mass Striders             
118John Pajer          51Leicester MA         1:17:07.211:02Central Mass Striders             
206David Lapierre      50Chelmsford MA        1:29:47.312:50Central Mass Striders             
208Robert Thomas       54Charlton MA          1:29:56.512:51Central Mass Striders             
308Walter Kuklinski    65Princeton MA         1:57:21.916:46Central Mass Striders             
339George Boudreau Jr  45Dudley MA            2:31:42.721:41Central Mass Striders             

340 Total Finishers (Men).

My last thoughts on the race... Joe Gray and Patrick Smyth are beasts.  Joe is an amazing guy and I was thrilled to see him win Washington last month...he deserved it and it's been a long time coming.  Eric Blake is crazy good and is ridiculous uphill.  For him to have been beaten at Loon by almost 7 minutes is insane.  I think a lot of that time was over the first 2-3 miles where it was flatter and better suited to a guy like Joe to hammer.  The top 6 guys will all be a great strong team going to Worlds this year.  4,5,6 were all within a minute of Eric, which is pretty tight.  Joe Gray is in top shape right now so it will be very exciting to see how he does in Italy.  

I was able to continue to keep my lead in the USATF-NE Mountain Series although Todd Callaghan picked up some points on me.  He's still in 3rd overall (behind Kevin) but not by much.  

Overall I was thankful to my parents for going and watching the race and being there for me on a tough day.  They hiked all the way up Sunset from the gondola to see the finish.  Then they had to hike all the way down and then back up to the gondola afterwards.  I am also thankful to the local organizing team of acidoticRacing, Chris and Karen Dunn, and all the others who made the race possible...  Paul Kirsch and Richard Boltski for designing and marking the course and being awesome.... and CMS for fielding a great team and making me proud once again to be a part of a national team title.

I hit up the river afterwards and talked with Jason Bryant, Tommy Manning, Pete Maksimow, and a few others over a can of 603 (my first beer in a year).  Then I hit the road and sulked for 45 minutes across the Kanc.

Joe Viger's Photo Set

Scott Mason's Photo Set

Krissy K's Photo Set

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