Second race in two weeks. This is becoming a bad habit.
I didn't have much of a race strategy for running the 15 mile version of Ghost Train. Based on my results at the Groton Town Forest Race last weekend I knew I could break three hours at GT. That is if I didn't crash and burn in the final miles. A likely possibility given my 4-6 mile training runs once or twice a week. I considered some sort of run/walk scheme but ruled it out given the lack of any significant change in elevation along the race route. The course was basically flat with one hill a mile from the start/finish line so running the entire distance was the best option.
And my legs hated me for it.
My legs didn't listen.
Just like last weekend's race I didn't start until all the other runners began. I took my rightful place at the back of the pack but within a short time I was passing people. Not a lot, but still passing. I was running faster than my planned three hour pace but I decided to just go with it and see how long I could sustain it. I reached the turnaround point at Camp Tevya in 1:22, well ahead of my 1:30 pace goal. I stopped to fill my water bottle and eat a couple of cookies, said hello to my friend Karen who was working the aid station and off I went.
Even I couldn't get lost on this course.
After the turnaround my legs started to feel tired and heavy. I was still maintaining pace but it was getting harder to do so with every step. Somewhere between mile 11 and 12 I stopped at the last aid station maned by my friend and Race Director Steve. We chatted for a minute or two (thanks Steve, that was my slowest mile of the race) while I downed two small chocolate bars. The sugar seemed to give me an instant boost and I felt much stronger over the final thee miles.
I felt dead-like between miles 10 - 12 but made a miraculous comeback with the help of some Halloween treats.
After the final aid station I caught up with Andrew from Rhode Island, He and I had been running close to one another for 2 - 3 miles but this was the first time we came side by side. The company seemed to give both of us a boost as we picked up the pace over the final three miles. Passing more runners made me forget how tired I was. Well, not really but I'd rather be doing the passing than being passed in the latter stages of a race. I was relieved to cross the finish line in Milford and surprised with my 2:43 finishing time. You can't get splits more even than that and I crushed my time goal by 17 minutes.
I think I need to set the bar higher next time.
Note: photos are not mine. They were taken from the Ghost Train Rail Trail Facebook page.