Out the door by 9:30am. Roads improved throughout the drive. Eventually, I was whipping around the turns on 202 and there was no sign of snowfall. My mindset went from survival on the snow-covered hills of Amherst to let's see what I'm made of today. Arrived at the high school at 11am. Walked inside to register (oversized numbers) and pick up my merchandise (long sleeve and a bottle opener). Scoped out the competition as they filtered in. Finally, I brought all my stuff into the cafeteria after shedding my casual layers (sweatshirt, hat, and Sanuks) in the car. Chilled at a random table until I recognized a few people (Willow Street guys from NY). They warmed up early so I waited to warm up with the normal group. Out for 3 miles (22+) with Goupil and Dan Vassallo (the rest of the CMS guys warmed up a different route). I was toasty with all my layers on and it felt rather nice out. I overheard someone say it was 35 degrees out. I made the decision as I was changing back at the cafeteria. Calf sleeves (definite, did not matter the weather), half tights, singlet, gloves and skullcap. No arm warmers (they were in my bag, but decided on not wearing them).
Across the street with the crowds for a few strides, a pee behind a shed, and into the huddle of warm bodies at the starting line. Off the line well and on the tail of the lead pack. Cruised the 1st mile and pulled up next to Newbould in 5:26. Killed the downhill 2nd mile. Newbould had himself at 4:52 and I was a few steps in front of him. Newbould was thinking around 4:45. Once we hit the uphill sections, I pumped the arms and starting making small moves here and there. The dirt road was wet (partly due to the huge snowflakes that were coming down now), but was very managable. Kept it in relaxed mode for the next few miles until about 5 miles. No split because I don't wear a watch for anything less than a marathon (yeah I own three watches, but only for training).
Photo Courtesy of Krissy Kozlosky
2+ miles into the race
Once I hit halfway, I started a surge that basically lasted to the end. I just kept hunting people down. I was in 8th place just after 5 miles and ready to feed off any weakness or struggling I noticed. I used the downhills to the best of my advantage and opened up the stride. We took a left before 7 miles and someone yelled out, "It's a 3 mile tempo." So I applied that directly to myself and switched gears on the gradual uphill before some downhill. 8 miles: 41:40 (someone shouted it out). 2 miles to go and I think I was somewhere around 5th or 6th. I continued to absorb any negative energy around me and convert it to pure determination for the last couple miles. Ended up working well and I slid into 3rd place at mile 9 and never looked back (well when we took the turn into the horseshoe parking lot, I might have peeked over my shoulder). Pushed in for a 52:34 finish. My arms were frozen most of the race, but it might of sidetracked me from all the pain I enduring along the way. Sounds good to me.
Photo courtesy of Krissy Kozlosky
2.5 mile cooldown (20:33) with Josh Ferenc, Eric Blake, and Brandon Newbould after retreating back inside to change into dry clothes. Relaxed, ate some food, stayed for a first part of the awards and peaced out by 3:30pm. Back to Leominster to veg out on the couch until about 7pm. Sarah made oriental chicken salad with mandarin oranges and homemade dressing. Delicious. A couple loads of a laundry before crawling under the sheets at 11:30pm.
An overall happy day. With the last few weeks being down weeks, I turned over the leaf about a quarter this week with a couple double days, a solid workout, a gutsy race, and a 68 mile week. Let the training commense.