Write up by Alex Jospe
I’d never done this race, but the race flyer intrigued me by claiming that the first and last 400m were the easiest part of the race. I like rocks and hills, so I headed out to western Connecticut to see what the race had to offer. It turns out the race was also the USATF Connecticut Trail championships, or something like that, but being from Massachusetts, I was ineligible. Oh well, there was still some good running to be had!
The race started with about a mile of runnable uphill, on nice pine-needle-and-dirt trail, winding through the mountain laurel. It was very pretty, but my attempt to be training for xc skiing was catching up to me, and my legs felt heavy. Feel the burn! A speedy-looking girl took off early, but I knew on a day where I didn’t have the good feeling, I would suffer if I pushed too early, so I let her go, and searched for the happy place in my head as we kept climbing. I found that happy place when the trail tilted downward and added some more rocks, and the predominant thought became “I love this!”. Speedy girl (Lauren Ross) came back into view, with a bunch of guys, and as we started the next long climb, I was fully immersed in one of those bubbles of joy, corny as it sounds. The trail was awesomely fun, ascending over some slickrock where my X-Talons stuck like glue, and I was a total mountain goat, scampering along over the rocks and just loving it. I always run best when I can hit the right emotional state, though it also helps to be leading the race and knowing you’ve got better descending skills and you just climbed for two miles…
Unfortunately, just after the awesome view down into the Farmington River, I got this heart arrhythmia thing that happens about once a year. It’s not life-threatening, according to the doctors, but it’s not a good thing for when you’re running a race, and the only option is to sit down until it passes. So, I sat down on a rock, and discovered that I had had a minute cushion on Lauren. About a minute later, the arrhythmia passed, so I stood up and kept running, cautiously at first, and then picking up speed as the trail tilted downhill again! I put that break out of my mind, and set to chasing down Lauren, which happened somewhere around 4mi. We ran together for a bit, and then it was time for 2 miles of downhill, and I tumbled along quite merrily and picked off quite a few men along the way, my X-Talons sticking to the rocks and hugging my feet, effortless grip. I’d been hoping to be within 5min of the course record, but with a 2min break in the middle, that wasn’t going to happen today.
Regardless, the effort was good enough for the win, and the prizes were bags of candy! A good day for a good trail run.