2009 Cobscook 10k Race Report
A beautiful day today for a race. I awoke to a lot of fog but it cleared out and the sun was shining brightly by the time it was race time. I got in a 3 mile run at around 6:20am to freshen the legs and then I was off to Pembroke to enjoy my first race of the season.
The race was a repeat performance place-wise of the 2007 race but I ran and felt much better this year (in 2008 I was recovering from an injury). I beat my 2007 time by 1:28 (about 14 seconds per mile).
In Pembroke I warmed up by jogging around, sipping some water and finally just standing in the shade of a building while I waited for the race to start. I get sunburned easily - especially on the first few warmer days of the summer. Then it was time to line up and get down to business.
There were some new faces in the crowd this year. A contingent of Aroostook County runners made their way to Washington County. You have to admire (and thank) them for making such a long drive to boost the attendance of this race. I think there were about 80 runners this year which is a good crowd for Washington County.
The horn blew and we were off. One runner went out to the front and I joined the chase pack of three or so. We were running steadily and even though we were gapped by the lead runner, he wasn't getting any farther away. We caught him fairly soon and then he ran with us. I was feeling really good and we hit the first mile in 5:25.
The first thing I noticed about this pack was its tendency to surge up the small hills. The course is a rolling one and there seemed to be an effort to keep the pace honest at each uphill. I was glad, however, that once we crested, the effort would ease back to a steadier rhythm. I surged at each hill with them and wondered how this would affect me in the later miles. But for now I was recovering well from the hill surges and stayed with them without mishap.
The rolling hills slowed the initial pace and we hit mile 2 around 11:25. I might be a little off on this split since I was a little slow looking at my watch. Mile 2 was a water station and I found I am not very coordinated at getting and drinking water at this pace. Something to work on.
The pace stayed steady as the 5k finish came into view in the distance. Mile 3 around 17:23 and 18:00 flat as we crossed 5k. Up to this point there were still the four of us and we had been battling a slight headwind. Nothing drastic but it was certainly noticeable. One nice thing about running in a group was that it seemed easier to run the tangents. The course is open to traffic but with four guys crossing the road at once the cars pulled over until we got by. Traffic isn't really an issue on these country roads but there were times when the road would curve and a car or two had to wait for us to complete our straight line.
After the 5k mark the course continued for .6 miles than made a hard right. This hard right would take us out of the wind and I was looking forward to it. We were on a soft climb but the right hand turn takes you up at a steeper incline and I gathered myself for the expected surge. It came and this time it broke the pack.
When we made the turn, the leader hit the accelerator. I surged with him, we dropped two, and the race was on. This time there was no recovery and the surge continued through mile 4, crossing at 23:08 - a 5:45 mile. The next mile was just as hot in 5:51 crossing mile 5 at 28:59.
Then it turned ugly.
If you're going to run hard and fast during this race it better be in the first 5 miles. After that the course is a pace killer. The road turns to dirt and there are two very steep hills in the last 1.2 miles. They are short, twisty, rocky, and vertical. And it overwhelms you with leg lactate. The pace drops precipitously and after having run 5 hard miles there is nothing left to do but put one foot in front of the other.
I wasn't alone with this problem. There was no surge from my companion on the first (and worst) of them. We baby-stepped up it the best we could and tried to recover on the subsequent downhill. He did a better job with the recovery and gapped me by a few yards as we raced down the other side. My legs felt like lead.
He got to mile 6 before I did at the start of the last hill - and he handled it better. With what looked to me like some sort of hidden freshness he pulled away in the last .2 to lengthen the gap to 20 seconds by the finish. I was just glad to be on the last hill and was very happy to cross that finish line. The last 1.2 miles was at a 6:23 pace for me.
I think it was a good race. One always wishes one could run strong right to the end but that's not how they generally play out for me. Now I have a baseline and will continue with the training program to see if I can extend my endurance at these paces.
The post-race picnic was incredible as usual. I got a 2nd place award and a prize (I chose a hat). One of the highlights was meeting Trevor and his wife. What a very nice couple. I hope Trevor comes down to run with us for the Sunday long run this summer.
Ozzie (who runs Sundays with us sometimes too) and I didn't have a ride back to the start. So we hijacked a lady and her car. She was surprised but gave us a ride anyway.