First let me say that i am still a Tuesday Night Turtle and will always be one. I was there at the beginning of the Turtles, 21 years ago in 1989 and would not think of leaving this great group of runners.
That being said, yesterday after the Mt Ascutney Mountain Race in Windsor, Vt, I was inducted into the Goon Squad Runners. I consider it an honor to be a Goon. I love the name of the club, much like the Turtle's, it is unconventional which gets noticed. I like the way you race in numbers, your turnout at Grand Prix races is admiral. The race shirt is great too, the lone "G" in a collegiate style that shows up for miles, trust me on that as a photographer. I have met some of the Goons at various races and know some of you through cyberspace and know most of you through a lens. I hope to meet more of you in the near future. Thanks to Doctor Death (Chris C.) for presenting the coveted "G" shirt at the river after Mt Ascutney with assist from Thunder God (Thor K.) and Taz (JJ). It was a great setting to find out you are a Goon. Doc...Good thing you did this after the race because it might have been incentive for me to grab back that 9 second lead you had on me at the finish and beat you!
Oh Yeah, My official Goon Name -"Flash". Here with Thunder God, Doctor Death and Taz.
As for the race.........
This was my fourth race of the year, the first one not on snowshoes. I ran here last year as my first mountain race ever. It was brutal, half pavement, half muddy trails probably not the best choice to get into mountain running. This year it was back to the road for the whole run. I was liking it already. I arrived at the race real early, making much better time from RI than planned. Drive time was 2:40 for the 185 miles to Windsor, VT, slightly over the speed limit. The drive went by fast, some Motown and Bob Marley helped. One thing i notice with mountain/trail runners is that they like to show up early to races and when you are in nice settings like this, why not! I had no sooner parked when Dave Dunham pulled in next to me with Little Dave. After that it was just a steady stream of cars and still a hour and a half to race time. I started my warmup with some of the CMS and INOV8 crew but cut back early as i wanted to keep some energy for the run up.
The race started a minute or two after 10am, just as the sun seemed to blast out from behind the overcast sky. I started out slow, real slow, knowing i have only been running steady for two weeks. The hill slams you right away and it is a good steady climb. I probably started too far back as i passed a number of runners in the first quarter and then settled in with a lot of runners i would be with all the way to the top. I pulled up with Doctor Death, No not the grim reaper but Chris Chetsas of the Goon Squad and we chatted for a second or two and i pulled away. Shortly after, he came back by me and we went back and forth to the top. I slowed to a walk at about 3/4 miles and then alternated run/power walk to the top. Everyone around me was doing the same. My first mile was about 12.05, second was 13 change and not sure of the rest. In the end, i ran 13.04 pace for 48.18 and 98th place, about mid pack. Not bad for where i am right now, I do hope to improve by the time of the Race for the Top at Mt Mansfield at the end of August. After the race, i ran back down the mountain with Doc D, it was a slow but enjoyable run. He had mentioned walking down the mountain earlier, but he beat me so i figured the hell with that, we are running down.
Post race, a huge group headed over to the river a few miles from the race. The water was cool but not cold, it felt great anyway. The beers flowed and the conversation was great. When does a group this big meet in a setting like this after a race....uh...never, well, almost never. What a fun time.
It is always kind of sad to see the USATF-NE Mountain Series come to an end. I went to 5 races this year, 4 as photographer and one to run. Now i look at next weekend and say to myself, what am i going to do? Yard needs some work...ugh!
Time to get me into shape too. Snowshoe season will be here before you know it and i would really like to be competitive this year.
Congratulations to Eric Blake and Gina Lucrezi on their 1st place finish in the series.
Congratulations to everyone else out there who competed in this great mountain series. I look forward to next year already.