Friday. Yesterday. Stage 5.
I woke up ready to roll. It was the only day (so far) this week that I didn't want to stay in bed when my alarm went off.
I got up, got ready, and headed down to Chicopee Ski Hill. Once there, I caught up with some Health & Performance team mates and did a very short warmup. We lined up for the start, and were off into our first of 5 loops around the hill, each of which includes going from the bottom (or close to the bottom) to the top of the hill four times, plus one partial.
Here's my description of the course:
- short flat section to the never-ending gravel service road climb (which turns 3 times and you're still climbing after each turn)
- flat across the top
- turn right and head straight down a sandy hill
- sharp left at the bottom, then single track back to the top
- across the same top section, but opposite direction
- run straight down a ski hill
- across the bottom
- straight UP a bigger ski hill
- over the back of the hill, down some stairs, and then single track down the back
- and back up.
- pop out of the trails, turning right, across the top
- run straight down another hill
- into trails with boardwalks (very slippery boardwalks yesterday), and then flat trail with some evil little stumps that I swear jump out and grab me at least once each year at this race.. this year was no exception... I went down in lap 3.
- once out of that section, a short grave then grass bit, bringing you into what used to be called Goat Trail (and I will continue to call it that), which brings you back to the top over two sections. I think this is my least favourite part of this course.
- pop out at the top, run over the top, and straight down another ski hill
- turn left at the bottom and run mostly straight to the start/finish area
Do that x5.
On Thursday, it was looking like the course was going to be a mess, but it was actually in really good shape by the time race start time rolled around. There was just a little bit of mud and the boardwalks were slippery. It was probably close to the best conditions for this stage I have ever seen/felt. Last year was super hot and humid. The year before was thunderstorms.
My race: I went out a bit quick on the first loop, but it worked out ok. I finished first female in 2:27:10 and improved my lead going into stage 6 by 3:51. Oh! I ran up North (the big straight up the ski hill climb) without walking a single step on laps 1, 2, and 3. On lap 4, I walked briefly... just the distance between two flags and then started running again the rest of the way up. Lap 5 was a different story. I ran part way, then walked from one flag to the next, then ran the next one, then walked, then ran, etc. In previous years, I walked on each of those climbs, at least for part of each.
Every single runner finished within the time cut-off again today, which is fantastic! It's wonderful to see everyone pushing themselves and then seeing the pride beaming as they come across that line!
It has been so amazing this week, to have so many people from the club out watching, cheering, running, etc. It is such a boost, especially on days like Stage 5. Thank you H+P!