Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ghost Train Rail Trail Race Report

Who doesn't like Halloween with it's ghosts, goblins, pumpkins and treats? Perhaps this explains the explosive grown of this unique race that travels between the towns of Brookline and Milford New Hampshire. More likely it's because Race Director Steve Latour and his band of cheerful and supportive volunteers will do just about anything to help runners reach their race goal, whether it's completing their first 15 mile trail race, or 100 mile ultra marathon. I woke up this morning looking for an excuse NOT to run this race because of the rain and 40 degree temperature. I'm glad I decided not to wimp out. It's a super cool race!

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.

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