After 28 races, my 2015 competitive season is complete. I may race one or two more local races for fun, but for the most part, it’s back to training. This year was a wild year, filled with lots of the unplanned and unexpected. Yet, it was far better and more rewarding than I’d imagined. Since I didn’t keep up with the blog very well after May, I decided to write a brief wrap-up/synopsis with some highlights and thoughts from my year.
The Injury: On January 1st, I opened up the year with the Millennium Mile, running far faster than I planned, and injuring myself. From then until the end of February, I ran only sporadically, unable to train normally.
After seeing a physical therapist, I started to become more confident that I could at least manage the issue, and I began running more frequently for shorter durations. I was able to race fairly well at three snowshoe races in February and early March, and begin training somewhat normally, though still limiting the durations of each workout.
I started what turned out to be a 90-day run streak in late March, and that consistency helped me a great deal. From March 16th to June 28th, I was able to average 40 miles per week (strong, for me).
Throughout the year, I was able to have a solid string of races with only three that I felt I raced well beneath my fitness level due to the injury or some other factor.
At the end of the year, I feel that the injury is all but gone. I only occasionally have small twangs of pain or soreness, and it hasn’t interfered with training in months.
The Races: I raced 28 times this year, with a total distance of 186.9 miles, and an average distance per race of 6.7 miles.
I raced in four championship races: the Northeast Snowshoe Championship (10th place), the New England Trail Championship (15th place), the New England Mountain Championship (30th place) and the New England Track 5000m Championship (9th place).
I made it onto the podium in nine races, winning six and setting one official course record.
I set new PR’s at all the distances I raced: 1 mile, 5k, 10k, 10mi and half marathon, as well as beating my 2014 times at all the races I’ve done twice.
1mi: 4:35 (downhill) 5k: 17:15 (road) (last year 17:36 track) 10k: 34:39 (unofficial, but last year was 36:30) 10mi: 1:06:12 (trail) 13.1mi: 1:20:12 (last year 1:23:13)
Winter Season: 1/1 – Millennium Mile – 4:35 2/28 – Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race – 5th in 38:17 3/1 – Snowshoe to the Clouds – 6th in 1:05:30 3/7 – Northeast Snowshoe Championship – 10th in 54:38
Summer Season: 5/2 – R.W.Emerson Trail Race 10 mile – 3rd in 1:13:34 5/9 – Merrimack River 10 mile (New England Trail Champs – 15th in 1:06:12 5/17 – Sleepy Hollow Mt. Race 10k – 13th in 45:07 5/23 – Wachusett Mountain 10k – 13th in 21:11 (Climb) 5/30- Margaritas 5k – 3rd in 17:15 (New PR) 6/7 – Pack Monadnock 10mile – 8th in 1:10:59 6/14 – Ascutney Mt. Challenge 3.7mile – 5th in 33:46 6/21 – Mt Washington Road Race – 84th in 1:24:56 7/5 – Loon Mountain Race (New England Mountain Champs) – 30th in 1:07:10 7/12 – Bear Brook Trail Half Marathon – 1st in 1:43 7/18 – Race for the Cure 10k – 1st in 38:10 7/24 – USATF-NE Track Championship 5000 – 9th in 17:16 8/1 – Kingman Farm Trail Race – 1st in 24:09 8/22 – Tristin’s Run – 1st in 18:13 (course record) 8/22 – NH XC Festival 5k – 27th in 17:37
Fall Season: 9/6 – Mt. Greylock Hill Climb – 4th in 59:40 9/12 – Windmill 5k – 3rd in 18:43 9/19 – Brewfest 5k – 1st in 17:07 9/27 – VT50 Relay Leg 1 (12.3mi) – 1st place to that point in 1:26:30 10/4 – New England Half Marathon – 7th in 1:20:10 (PR) 10/11 – Harpoon Octoberfest Road Race – 4th in 20:15 10/17 – Vulcan’s Fury Trail Race – 4th in 1:34:44 10/18 – CHAD Hero Half Marathon – 8th in 1:21:31 10/24 – Runaway Pumpkin 10k – 1st in 34:39 (unofficial CR and PR)
Race Highlights: (you can click the links for full reports of each race)
First up is the Northeast Snowshoe Championship. This was my first “all-out” race back from injury, and the first one I felt like the injury didn’t hold me back much. I went out much too hard, but only lost a few places, ending up in 10th place. I’m really looking forward to the 2016 snowshoe season now that I’m much healthier and stronger!
Next, the Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race. This mountain 10k was my first “trail” race (hah!) last year, and I was excited to start being able to see progress year-to-year by doing the same races again. I expected to finish in the 46-47minute range, but ended up doing 20 miles of pacing at an ultra the day before. It took me awhile to warm up, but I was able to dig very deep and finish in just over 45 minutes, for a 5.5-minute improvement over 2014.
The Pack Monadnock 10 Mile was another race I did in 2014. This year, my mind wasn’t in it, and I couldn’t hold a good effort level, but my fitness improvements clearly paid off, with an 8th place finish in 1:10:59. The first 8 miles were at 6:34 pace with 1275ft of gain! This finish was 6.5 minutes faster than last year, so I was happy with the improved fitness.
The Ascutney Mountain Challenge is a race that is so close to home I could ride my bike to it. Many look at it as a good fitness test prior to Mt. Washington. This is another race I did in 2014. This year, I was able to start out strong and somehow hold it until the last minute or so of the race. It felt like I was perfectly red-lined for the whole race. I chopped three minutes off my 2014 time, finishing in 5th place in 33:36.
The Bear Brook Trail Half Marathon was my first race win! This was one of my favorite races from last year; it’s just a fun course to hammer. Last year there was some drama with people ahead of me cutting the course, likely accidentally. I was told I was in first place when I was in 7th. This year, I went out hard, and tried to put the hurt on anyone behind me. I was able to somehow hold on for the win, and it meant a lot to get my first here. I cut nearly eight minutes off my 2014 time. Brandy was with me and running as well, so it was awesome to see her finish strong (and bloody). We stayed for several hours afterward so I could volunteer and take photos of the racers.
The Mt. Greylock Hillclimb was a new race for me. This was part of the mountain circuit, and I really wanted another hillclimb race to avenge my failure at Mt. Washington. I didn’t know much about the race, other than it was 8 miles long, and not super-steep. I held back a little, expecting that it would get steep and tough at the end, but it never did. I was able to kick it up a notch at the end to hold off someone behind me, finishing in 59:40 for 4th place.
As it was the day after an 11.4mi trail race, I wasn’t expecting much at the CHaD Hero Half Marathon. After shivering in the cold, wind and snow (yes, snow) during a measly half-mile warmup, I was ready to just accept that I’d be taking it easy. I walked up to the fence to see some other folks warming up, and nearly ran into a girl in a hat. Boy was I mentally foggy… it turned out to be Brandy, who had come up to surprise and support me! That completely changed my day around. I didn’t go warm up anymore, but I decided to race as hard as I could. I went out comfortably fast, at around 6:00/mi effort level. I hit a very low spot from mile 3.5 to 6, running 6:30+ pace. I was able to pick it up a bit to around 6:00 avg. for miles 7-9 as we headed back into Hanover. Seeing Brandy again just before mile 10 helped me pick it up even more for the last 3.5 miles. At mile 12.5, I was passed by two guys. I focused on trying to stay with them. Ultimately, I passed one on the last uphill, but was unable to kick past the other, who finished 1.2 seconds in front of me. I finished in 1:21:28 for 8th place. I was pleasantly surprised to run within 1.5 minutes of my recent PR on a much more difficult course the day after a long trail race! Brandy being there made it so much easier to dig deep.
The Runaway Pumpkin 10k in Laconia was the perfect end to my 2015 season. You can read the entire race report at that link. I went in planning to try for a 10k PR on a certified course. I was fairly certain I could get it, considering my last non-mountain 10k was in 2014. I’d run the course before in 2013, finishing in 40:41. The day before this year’s race (moved to a different date and renamed), I found out that they had added a cash prize and a cash prize for breaking the course record. I figured there would be several fast people to pull me a long to a PR, and that I’d be close to the CR if there happened to be nobody in front of me. I ran behind Sam Wood until mile 5.9 when I finally passed him. I broke the tape in 34:39 with a new course record. Unfortunately, it turned out we were led the wrong way by the cyclist, which took off .07miles. So it was no longer certified and my time (nor the female winner’s) would not count as a course record. Since both of our paces would have broken the CR on the full course, the race director did give us both the cash prizes. I can’t count it as a PR, but extrapolating the data, it would have been by about 1.5 minutes.
Series Results: I participated in two Race Series’ this year, the USATF-NE Mountain Circuit and the USATF-NE All-Terrain Runner Series.
In the USATF-NE Mountain Circuit, I placed 5th overall.
In the USATF-NE All-Terrain Runner Series, I placed 8th overall.
Despite the initial setback, I’m incredibly happy with how my season has played out. Though my first few months were rough, I had a few blocks of solid training and racing throughout the summer and fall. I owe a huge thanks to my coach David Roche for getting me much stronger despite my questionable sanity in terms of my racing schedule, and a constant threat of the injury cropping up again. There’s nothing more fun to me than getting out there and running every day, but racing amongst friends in the New England running community is close second.
I feel primed for a good winter training season this year, but above all, my hopes for my 2016 are consistent, happy running, and happy, fulfilling races.
Finally thank you to everyone who gives me their kind words, encouragement and support. My parents, Brandy, friends both “real-life” and on social media, acidotic RACING, SWAP, students and parents at my school… the support I feel is at times overwhelming, and I can’t thank you all enough.