When I got up Saturday morning it was pouring rain and I told myself I wouldn't race in the rain (any excuse to give me a way out since my legs were still tired). A couple checks of the weather though indicated the rain would most likely clear up by race time so I headed on down to Andover.
The race is an out and back 10m race along the Merrimack River. The trail follows the river pretty closely for the first 2-3 miles and is relatively flat. I couple of water crossings (ankle deep stuff) and a little mud but generally decent single track trails. I hit the 3 mile mark at 20 minutes even. The next 2 miles were considerably harder with several water crossings (one which was nearly knee deep for about 20-30 ft), lots of mud and roots and some pretty steep up and down crossings of ravines where brooks and streams feed into the Merrimack. We also climbed a pretty steep section at the power lines which had you sucking for oxygen by the time you got to the top. At the 5 mile mark I snagged a cup of water and made a u-turn and returned on the same trail, trying to avoid the slower runners still coming out. On single track, this isn't always that easy (but it was fun). More than a few runners took some spills. The mud was slick, the hills were slick from the rain and the bridges felt like they were iced over at times. I was able to navigate all the hard stuff but couldn't figure out how to get through a mud puddle without hurting myself. At mile 7 I was running through one of the muddy, wet sections when I stepped on a board and rolled my right ankle all the way over (and yes, this is the same ankle I've been having problems with). I kept on running (with a slight limp) but my ankle was really sore. I managed to complete the last 3 miles in about 20:30 and finished with an overall time of 1:13:49, 28th overall out of 183. It was a good effort and I felt pleased with my results. I ran the 5 mile out and 5 mile back in nearly the same times (+/- 30 sec or so).
Video of the Start
I kept thinking if this was an easy one the other ones must really suck! You definitely have to be sure footed when it comes to trail running, taking much more mental effort than road racing. I was constantly looking where the next step would be, all while running nearly as fast you can go. Overall, it was a good time and look forward to the next trail race. Race summary reports can be found at the Xterra site and on Coolrunning. Time to ice my foot...