It's been a couple of years since I last ran Big Lake (due to injuries) and it's still one of the best run races in NH. They do a fabulous job with organization and it keeps me coming back. We also had a decent break on the weather as well. It seems this race has quite a history of lousy weather. Not so this year, no rain to speak of, partly sunny (or is it partly cloudy?) skies, temps in the high 40's, low 50's at the start. The only weather negative was the pretty strong headwinds for most of the first 6-7 miles heading up Rt11. It definitely slowed you down and took more energy than it should have but overall it was a fine day for racing. I parked my car across from the finish area and then walked the 1.5 miles back to the start. Welcome to my warm up.
There were a number of GCS runners at the start, pretty much the same crew I run with at track on Wednesdays. Joe, Kevin, Brian , Raelyn , Trent . Joe and Kevin are in a different league but Brian, Rae and Trent are all about my speed so I was hoping for a nice race (on my part).
I also ran into Michelle from my Steamed Muscles team and Scott Graham from the snowshoeing series. Good to see everyone out racing again!
Most of us ran together through the 1st mile or so but then Brian, Rae and Trent started opening up a lead and by mile 3 were probably 20-30 seconds ahead of me. Unfortunately I couldn't find anyone to run with (or draft) for the entire time on Rt11. I was running alone the whole way, not what I had hoped. Although I recorded my splits on my watch, I never really checked them or paid attention the overall time. I wanted to run based on how I felt and not be pressured into running a particular pace or time.
Miles 4 and 5 saw the GCS pack open up an even bigger lead and they were still all running together. Hmm, maybe they are faster then me...
Finally, as we neared the top of the long climb up Rt11 around mile 6, I felt like the gap was closing on the GCS pack. This gave me a boost and I started to pick up the pace (thanks to the downhill for the next couple of miles). By miles 7 and 8 I was probably 10 seconds back. I felt good but I wanted to pass at the right time. I did not want anyone hanging on my heals when I went by. After a couple of tough little hills we hit a relatively flat section near mile 9. I picked up my pace and went by Brian, then Raelyn and finally Trent and kept the pace going, never looking back.
For the final 3-4 miles to the finish I pushed as hard as I could, catching a couple additional runners along the way. I had no idea where Brian, Raelyn and Trent were but I could hear the spectators cheering and had a rough idea 'someone' was back there but it didn't seem that close. I continued to record my splits and still had no idea what kind of pace I was running and never looked at the clocks at the mile markers. As I came across the finish line I finally saw the clock, 10 seconds off my 1/2 marathon PR! Not bad on a 'not really a PR course'.... It was my best Big Lake time to date as well.
Finished in 1:24:33, 20th overall out of about 1200.
Raelyn was next, maybe a minute back, followed by Trent around a 1 1/2 minutes back with Brian right behind him. Nice racing by everyone. I was very pleased with the results and it's good to be back racing again.