Sunday, September 16, 2007

NORBA Root 66
Landmine Classic Marathon
Hingham, MA

It had cooled down quite a bit since Saturday, it rained during the night, it was now a tolerable 70 or so degrees. On Saturday I’d run a 32 X 16, the biggest gear I’d ever run on the 29, today I was running a 32 X 17, I thought with the virtually flat, technical terrain it might be ideal. Wompatuck completely changes character with the slightest drop of moisture, the roots which you can rail over in the dry become slippery as buttered newts in the wet.
There were a whole lot of folks signed up for the Open Marathon, split into a couple age categories, the toughest guys looked to be Brian Hughes and John Foley, a few other fast dudes opted for the Pro/Semi-Pro race, but with The Vermont 50 looming, I thought this would be an ideal preparation ride at 44 miles, no climbing, but some good saddle time.
From the gun I followed Foley, Hughes, and a Bike Barn rider off the front, by the time we made it to the singletrack we had a decent gap, I was just sitting on Foley’s wheel, waiting to see what moves he would make. I was just happy to be there, like the dude in Breaking Away riding with the Italian riders, I was just waiting for someone to stick a pump in my spokes. The Bike Barn rider pulled away, Hughes right on him, Foley sat tight so I did the same. When we hit the open fire road Foley accelerated away, getting the gap and going clear.
After that I was in no man’s land for a while, trying not to lose motivation on this, the first of two 22 mile laps. There were still all those unknown guys behind me. I’ve been to Wompatuck about five times, all for races, and usually the same race course. People would tell me that there was so much more going on out there than what we got to see on the course. With the 22 mile lap format we were getting to see some of that stuff…and it was good. It had a bunch of whoops, twisty singletrack, super-techy bits, rock gardens, and roots, lots of roots. All that yet surprisingly fast.
I heard someone clacking up behind me, I felt the wind going out of my sails, I was getting caught by a rider from one of the groups that started a minute back. This wasn’t the case, it was Foley, he’d gone slightly off course and he was coming back up to me. This time I was able to hold his pace, even relaxing and recovering in the singletrack a little. We came through the end of the first lap together, grabbed a couple bottle from our coolers and kept on.

As we went up one of the few small “hills” John bobbled on a stone wall, I wrestled my bike past him up and over the top. Now I had the fear, I was running like hell from John, while hopefully chasing down the two ahead. Now I was racing, just riding those trails as hard and fast as I possibly could, it felt good. I’d been fading at some races earlier in the season, this was not my style, I think it had to do with my light miles during July, but after the one-two of the 101 and the 24 I was feeling great. I started hunting the other two, Danzig playing in my head, oh ya kid, you know what I’m talking about! I kept getting weird info on the gaps, three minutes, four minutes, that’s no good. Then I came up on Brian Hughes, he said he was handicapped, and sat up. Still one more ahead… with what I figured was about twenty minutes to go I was still hearing “three minutes”, insurmountable gap for certain.
When I came across the slippery wooden bridge just before the field where the start/finish was I went past my buddy Greg,
he said the leader had just gone through, urgh!
In reality I was a minute down, not sure if I could have closed that down with what little I had left in the tank. The guy who won was John Peterson, he also finished four places ahead of me at Fitchburgh, interesting.
Sorry for the oddly pragmatic report, suppose I’m rushing through it because really wan t to write about the race I did just this morning, check back later for that.

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