by Jeremy Bonnett – A few months ago I was excited to join the crew at Pineland and cheer the Trail Monsters and everyone on during race days. After the 100 miler I still felt I had a bit of “race” in me. The slow pace of Peaks left me a bit pent-up to move quick on the trails. So I figured since I was going to be at Pineland to cheer, and knowing I wanted to do a long run anyway, I might as well hop in the 25k.
The legs felt good overall. A bit of soreness in the quads from a spirited run mid-week, but otherwise OK. What I wasn’t sure about is if I had any speed left after so much LSD runs. Would I go out feeling great at a comfortable speed and totally bonk near the end? Would I go too slow and comfortable and wish have too much left in the tank? These are the questions that excited me about this distance. I’d never raced it before…
Alison and I got to the event a bit later than I wanted but it ended up being much better as I didn’t have time to get worked up at all. I lined up with a few familiar faces, Jeff Walker, Julia Kirkland, Kevin Robinson, and a few others. Moving closer to the front of the line a bit too late I found myself bottle-necked in at the start. For the first quarter mile it was basically a warm-up jog jockeying for position. Some 400 people started the race and I was surprised to feel the shoving and shoulders with a semi-intense race feel.
After chatting with a few people in the beginning including Chris Dunn, and a new to trails runner, Justin I think, I started to get serious and put a plan in place. Use the energy and run quick on the first 5k downhill. During this time I was again surprised at the pace and racing of some people. A bunch of us trading positions many times as they’d scream downhill past me and I’d chug uphill past them. I definitely found myself being pushed, and pulled along and not allowed to just cruise along. Which was absolutely fantastic. It felt so good to move the legs and run comfortably and conservatively, knowing the course to come.
We sped out of the woods and headed for the Yurt fields with gIANt and Dave cheering us on. What a great feeling that was to come around the corner and start the push through the fields. My plan was to actually run quicker in the fields getting them done sooner with less exposure time. Then enjoy the shade in the woods more. Not sure if that actually happened but they seemed to go by quick. It was around this time that a few people pulled away from me including Kate Hails, who ended up top female. I remember taking notes on a few of them knowing I’d catch them in the hills, or hopefully Oak Hill.
On to the ascents. I felt these quite a bit and really had to work to keep moving at a consistent pace up hill. My descents are not the greatest but I tried real hard to push them and gain as much time as gravity would allow me. There was some solace knowing I could handle a bit of pounding, I just didn’t know if I was killing myself too early on. Looking at my pace a few times I was slightly worried I’d gone out too fast and would suffer at Oak Hill.
During the last hill in the Campus Loop I felt strong and consistent, until I hit the flat section. Luckily coming out of the woods, in to the field, hearing and feeling the crowd always invigorates you. With a few quick high fives and smiles from Ian, Mindy and I’m sure a few others I grabbed my next Nuun bottle from Alison. I remember her saying in the morning that there really wasn’t that much for her to do in such a comparatively short race, but seeing her and exchanging glances was worth a whole lot at that point. As I ran by I heard Ryan say something, and then Alison scream “run faster.” Damn, OK!
|Thanks to Gianina Lindsey for the pic, mile 10?|
Oak Hill, OK time to try and finish strong. At this point the second place woman, Susannah Beck passed me again. We’d been leap-frogging much of the way and I could tell she was super strong and well versed in racing. I told her to “go get that first place woman!” and she exclaimed, “come with me!” To which I put my head down and churned the grass in the first field as best I could. Somewhere along this section I passed a few of the people I’d been eyeing and realized how great it was to have the home court advantage.
With a few miles to go I saw Susannah catch and pass Kate and was stoked for her. Then around the next bend Kate was gone after retaking the lead and kicking it in. Damn that was a fun match to watch. Now it was my turn to kick it in. Not so much. I glanced at my watch a few times and realized I was running over 8’s on some of the uphills and pushed all I could to maintain sub 8. The final field finally arrived and I gave er all I had. I really wanted to catch Susannah and get in a sub 7 minute final mile, but there was just no way. I did gain some ground on her but wow is she fast!
After the last little grass death-hill I put all I could in to the finish and chuckled to myself thinking about last years weeble-wobble finish. Alison had her back turned to me as I ran by and Sarah screamed “Jeremy!” totally surprising her. Excellent. Good to finish strong and not be hobbled by the longer distances. Really great hanging out with everyone after and cheering on the other racers and finishers! Thanks again to everyone who cheered me on, and all the race organizers and volunteers!
Place: 14th of 398