Kaynor’s Sap 10k Race Report
This was the 34th running of the Kaynor Sap 10k, a customary start to the GMAA racing season. 113 runners showed up, with the winner bettering the 40s age group record by 6 seconds. All-in-all it was a fun start to the racing season, though I wish I had won some free maple syrup in the raffle afterwards.
Course The race starts .2 of a mile from the finishing, allow the race to be a 3 mile out and 3.2 miles back (6.2m/10k total). The roads are mostly hard dirt that, this time of year can turn to a sloppy mess. Luckily the conditions were good (at least better than last year): there were a few snowy/ice spots, but basically it was a normal, dirt road race. The elevation was primarily flat, though there were two major climbs (mile 1.4 and mile 2.8) and one that felt major as it was at the very end of race.
Weather In the mid-30s; slightly overcast; a stiff Northern wind made for a tough headwind on the return.
Race Katie is still coming back to running, so I was the only one to run it this year. Starting out I fell in with a few other runners, hoping to mirror their stride and effort. I had a plan to pace myself on the flats (at least for the first half of the race) and then attack the hills (both up and down). The first hill was a downhill right after the start and I let myself fly down it, readjusting my pace after the road flattened out. I kept a similar pace until the next big uphill at roughly mile 1.4. I pulled ahead of the runners I was with, but I didn’t exert myself too much—I wanted see how the climbing felt, but not give so much that I burned out.
Things continued like this, me hovering in front/then behind the two or three other runners I was following. I pushed up the ascent to the 3 mile turn around, and then flew back down the hill. My hope was that pushing the hills might make the others push their pace as well, and perhaps tire them out. At least, that was the idea. I (and my little group) began to pick off a few runners here, and a few runners there…slowly moving ahead.
Then, returning to the hill at mile 1.4ish (now 4.6ish), I really crashing down it and opened up a sizable gap on the now two runners that were tailing me. This let me keep a strong pace on the flats before the final climb. I have done absolutetly zilch speed work; but every run that I do involves hills (sometimes lots of them) so I knew that if I could hold them off until the last big hill I could stretch the lead out a bit more. I saw another runner ahead of me and thought, “Maybe…”
All along the flat before the final climb I could hear the other (now) two runners gaining on me ever so slightly. I knew they would. But as I hit the hill I tried to keep the same pace. My quads ached; my calves tightened; my arms pumped. I caught the runner ahead of me and heard him say, “Nice work.” (Turns out it was this guy, Jack Pila. More on him in a second.) It pulled ahead by the top of the hill, passed the starting line and knew that I would have to push hard the last .2 of a mile. The course ends directly in front of the Westford Elementary School, so as I rounded the turn into the school driveway I heard the other runners pounding behind me, but I knew that I had them—I had enough…
Turns out I had the first runner by 3 seconds, the second by 7 seconds.
Thoughts I finished in 42:20, 30 seconds slower than last years time but I placed higher (9th, and 3rd in my age group). Strange that I felt more confident this year than last. Why? By this time last year I had already run 3 races, and 2/3 of them involved speed. This year’s race was my first of the year, and I have focused exclusively on climbing. I certainly felt the difference. Not really a bad thing—my focus goal for this year is to better my hill running, and not necessarily to incorporate speed work. If I can go fast then I will, but I want to be a hill runner. I want to gut out the climbs, and then crash down the other side. Of course, it will be much more fun when the races are on trails:-)
So it was pretty cool to chat with Jack Pila for a few moments. Read his running exploits on his blog is pretty amazing, and then getting to run and talk to him was even more amazing. I hope that I can see and talk to him again, maybe for a little bit longer. I would love to hear more about ultramarathoning and about the different races he has done.
I cannot wait to get back on the trails, especially with Katie. We have been doing a few runs together and I feels so nice to be running with her again.