Part 2 by Jim Johnson
At the end of April I was back on the trails for the Muddy Moose trail race in central NH. I battled with former Inov-8 teammate (and current BAA teammate) and US mountain team member Josh Ferenc, along with Olympic XC skier Justin Freeman. I was able to outdual Freeman, but Josh ended up killing it, just narrowly missing the CR (owned by Inov-8 stud Kevin Tilton). The race was a 14 mile mud fest which really beat me up. I wore the new fancy orange 190 x-talons (which I love), but the off-camber, muddy terrain aggravated my foot injury again and I was set back once more with a nagging injury. I ended up 2nd overall but a few minutes behind the time I ran last year on the same course.
Needless to say, after the Muddy Moose fiasco I entered into the USATF-New England Mountain Series completely unprepared, undertrained, and injured. I struggled mightily at the first race in VT (Sleepy Hollow) which was a 10K up and down mountain race. I was actually in 2nd place at the 5 mile mark (behind Josh Ferenc) but lost 2 more spots over the last mile, to two very good mountain/trail/road runners, and finished a respectable but somewhat disappointing 4th. After winning the entire series 2 years in a row, I was feeling like I missed an opportunity to squeak out either a win or a 2nd place at this race. Now I was sitting way behind already, after just the first race in the series.
At the second race in the 2013 Mountain Series in central Massachusetts (Mt. Wachusett), I once again let one slip away and finished in the 4th spot, behind 2 of the same runners from the VT race + 1 more very good road runner who showed up for the first mountain race of his career. I ran competitively on the 2nd part of the course and actually caught and passed a couple of runners on the long descent, but again felt like I let one slip away and just wasn’t 100%. I once again wore the 233s for the up and down (mostly road) effort.
At the third race in the Mountain Series (this time back in northern NH in my neck of the woods), I found myself at the Bretton Woods Fell race, which was a last minute replacement for another race in the series that had to cancel at the last minute. This race was a true fell race in the spirit of having checkpoints along the way and a ‘pick your own route’ sort of course layout. I wasn’t particularly a fan of that idea but showed up with my trusty 190s again to test my climbing ability and navigational skills on a mountain I had never run on before. I was particularly having a hard time with steep climbs due to my nagging foot injury and this race would prove to be a difficult one for me as not only would I struggle on the climb (with limited ability to push off on my forefoot), but I would then get completely lost on one of the descents and I ended up at a river that wasn’t anywhere near where I was supposed to be and I ended up having to drop out of the first time ever in a mountain series race. It was a real shame indeed.
To be continued…