Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Hate It When I'm Right - Blue Hills Race Report

Blue Hills Blues

The morning was hot
Dan's race was not
He should have been running
Instead he walked, A LOT
Too many hills for him to climb
They needed a calendar to record his time

The meteorologists forecasted a warm day and they delivered on their prediction. Why did they have to be correct this time? When Kevin and I arrived in the Parking lot at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum around 8 AM you could already feel the heat. The 4th Annual Blue Hills 10 mile Fox Trot Trail Race was going to be a hot one! I'm not a big fan of racing in the heat and this would be my first hot one of the 2009 race season. You expect 80 degree temps for summer races but this way too early in the year as far as I'm concerned.

After picking up our race numbers we headed out on the trail for a quick warmup. Kevin led us to a rocky trail that began an immediate climb. It dumped us onto a narrow, paved road and we continued upward. I'm not sure what the heck we were thinking. Warmups are supposed to be easy. When we realized we were climbing the road to Great Blue Hill, the highest in the reservation at 635 feet, we turned around and ran back to the parking lot. The warmup was enough to work up a good sweat. Gee, thanks Kev!

We saw RunninRob back in the lot and we decided we would start the race together. We made our final preparations and moved to the starting line. When we got to the line Rob was no where in sight. We got some last minute instructions from the RD but I was too far back to hear any of it. I only knew the race had started when the people in front of me began to move.

Start of race on long up hill.

The race started on a paved uphill that climbed for a quarter mile before turning left onto a dirt road. The first 2 miles were easy, running along fairly flat fire roads. Kevin and I were engaged in non-stop conversation and as we passed a woman she asked if we had stopped for coffee before the race. I guess our chatter may have been distracting to her. I couldn’t lie and told her Kevin just had a large Dunkin Donuts!

I felt very good the first two miles. I think the warmup really helped because my legs were feeling fresh with none of the stiffness usually felt at the beginning of a run. I did feel the heat though, as the temp was approaching 80 at this time. I was a little concerned that the 20 oz of water in my handheld would not be enough to get me through the full 10 miles.

Easy running, for a little while!

Around 2 miles we hit our first real climb. Most of the runners ahead began walking so Kevin and I decided to do the same. When we reached the top of the hill the trail narrowed into twisting, rocky single-track. I looked up and saw Rob a short distance ahead. He had gone out a little fast for such a warm day and decided to rein it in a bit when he hit the hill.

One of many hills.

The three of us ran the next 4 or 5 miles together. Kevin took over most of the pacing duties and tried his best to keep me and Rob motivated and moving. I’m not sure were his energy was coming from. He had just finished a grueling 50K in Blue Hills one week ago at the Don’t Run Boston 50K sponsored by the Trail Animals. That race didn’t seem to slow him down, nor the 3-4 hours of sleep he got the night before! Whenever Rob and I would stop to walk a hill, Kevin would get us moving again.

Kevin putting down the hammer.

I ran out of water and was starting to feel the effects of the heat when out of nowhere appeared an aid station stocked with ice cold water. I must have looked like I was in desperate need of water as a volunteer began handing me one cup of water after another. I gulped down two cupfuls and poured two more over my head. This gave me immediate relieve but the feeling wasn’t as long lasting as I would have liked. I thanked the volunteer and began moving again.

Around mile 7 or so the three amigos went their separate ways. Kevin surged ahead on a hill and Rob and I held back. A short time later I moved ahead of Rob. Still, we all finished within a fairly narrow time frame. The last 2 miles of the course were run over some of the same trails as the first 2 miles. The terrain was mostly flat with some gentle slopes and I was able to pick up my pace here. There were two guys running together ahead of me and we traded places back and forth over the final two miles.

A short distance from the finish the two guys I had been running with began to kick. I saw little need for that and just coasted on in. I looked at the finish clock and was pretty amazed with my time. But not in a good way. My prediction of not being able to run anywhere near the time I did 2 years ago came true. But it was even worse than I expected, about 37 minutes slower than before!

Rob bringing it home.

It wasn’t all bad though. I did have a lot of fun running with Kevin and Rob. We shared a lot of laughs and were even able to laugh at ourselves on occasion. Sure, racing to a fast time would have been great, but running with friends at any pace has its own rewards.

Dan, out….


  1. Hey Dan, so here is the new PR. Go back next year and run the course faster! Hopefully the weather will be gentler. Ana

  2. It sounds like you had fun. That's the important part!

  3. Dan, Way to hang in there. PR's are over rated anyways. When it comes right down to it, it's all about our experiences and the good (and bad) times we share with our friends and family. Keep those legs turning over!

  4. Overall I did have a good time. I’m not going into any of these races expecting much anyway. I am using them mainly as hard training, tempo like runs. I only have one goal race this year and that’s the Stone Cat 50M in November. Anything else I do is just a stepping stone, no pun intended, to get me better prepared for the 50.

  5. What good is a PR if you can't enjoy running with friends...I agree, it is the experience that counts

  6. Huh, this is MY worst nightmare - running out of water. Next year bring a Camelbak - it always saves me.

    Great job on pushing through it. That's more impressive than anything. Also love your poem!!!

  7. Hey Dan...great writeup - sending you a link with my pix from the day now. Excited for next weekend - anticipation is half the fun!


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