Hancock – Shaker Village Trail Marathon – Sept 20th 2014

I’ve come to realize just how aptly named this blog really is. The following entry is a great illustration of both my desire to maintain an active blog, and my inability/unwillingness to see it through.

I decided last minute to run the Shaker -Hancock Village trail marathon a couple of weeks back. The following are my quick notes when the race was fresh in my mind. My intention was to turn them into a somewhat well written and engaging post about the race. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, so here are my notes in raw form.

Click here to see my Garmin Connect file for this race. 

-Late start time (10am for the Marathon) which is just fine by me!

-Met up with Caro at Starbucks and headed out for the 2 hour drive to the Berkshires. (Pittsfield)

-Knew just how small the race was when we pulled into the only parking lot and there were only about 25 cars!

-Thigh fear held me off from registering, but it was feeling good the couple of days before the race, so I went for it.

-RD Michael Menard was super nice

-Marathon in it’s second year. Was an out-and-back the first year, but storm damage in some parts of the state forest forced Michael to either re-route or cancel the race.

-10 Mile loop. Start with as one mile loop around the HSV walking trail. (stone dust/gravel) through a very pretty forest, then past a cattle field. (Bulls)

-Michael’s funny warnings about the first mile. “right at the chickens..” , “Some Bulls may charge you, but don’t worry, they can’t get past the fence!”

– Started with Caro for first 2 miles. Kept an easy, but solid pace going up the first major climb, which dropped Caro and a few others. Quickly settled in with the group that I would be with most of the day. As usual, most of the day was spent alone, but I did spend time running with others in bits and pieces. Mostly bouncing back and forth between the first and second place females, which was cool because I was able to see the front of the women’s race unfold as the day went on. After first climb was primarily downhill to the first aid station. (3.9 miles on the Garmin).  Rolling, technical ups and downs to the next aid station (Mile 8), spent most of it running/chatting with eventual 2nd place female. Pants came loose/untied for the last 1.5 miles leading into the Aid station at 8 miles, which was super annoying (constantly pulling up pants!), and forced me to stop longer than I would have liked at the aid station to fix. (Watched the 4 runners I was running with run away while I was tightening my pants and shoes.) Decided to take my time, make sure everything was right before heading out. Thigh was starting to get achy so I popped 3 Ibuprofens. Most technical section of the course was the last 3 miles heading back to the start finish area. (downhills particularly technical.) On my way back out onto the course, I saw Caro coming the WRONG WAY down the big hill. Was scared that something was wrong and she was dropping, but she had just made a wrong turn. She was mad, but fine.  Re-caught 2nd female just after the first big climb of the second loop and passed the first female and her husband/pacer at the first aid station. Pretty much felt awesome  from this point on and started thinking competitively. Wanted to AT LEAST hold my place (which would be tough with a race for the overall women’s race going on right behind me), and maybe see what there was to gain in front of me to gain. Moved very well through to the next aid station moving up 2 or 3 spots. Reloaded with Tailwind, put on my music, and headed out.  Finished the 2nd loop strong. Marathoners did an out and back (no walking trail loop this time) to the first aid station which is basically one big climb (maybe 800 feet of gain), and then drop maybe 600 feet back down to the aid station, and then turn around and head backwards on the course back to the finish. Very cool because on the way out you can see who’s in front of you and how far ahead they are. At this point, I estimated myself in around 10th place. (with nothing to really base that on but gut-feel). I was kind of shocked when, just before cresting the big climb up, the guy who I assumed was in first place was coming down the hill! If he was in first, then I was only about 2.5 miles behind the leader in a marathon! Ok, lets count and see what place I’m in! Surprised not to see anyone for like 10-15 mins, but then the 2nd place guy went by, with 3rd 5 minutes behind and 4th another 5 mins behind him. I was only waiting to see two guys who I knew were way in front of me, which would put me in 7th. Got to the aid station and didn’t see them. Thinking they must have already finished and been the winners, I turned around and headed back. Now lets see who’s right behind me. .3 miles up the hill, the women’s leader and her pacer went by. (which meant a .6 mile lead for me to hold). quickly behind them was another runner I had seen a few time during the day. Behind him came the 2 guys I thought were in front of me. (“how did that happen??, I’m in 5th!”) I’ve never finished in the top 5 of ANY race. I started hammering. Passed Caro just after finishing the descent to the fire road with about .75 miles to go. My garmin says I was running at a sub-8 pace for the last stretch out to the finish! (high-fived the volunteer helping runners cross the road and finished strong, for 5th place overall in 5:28 and change.


Last thoughts – This was a great low-key trail race that I would definitely do again. The people and trails were fantastic! For schwag, there were a few goodies in a race bag and a pretty cool tech shirt. Price is mid-range ($60 day of, cheaper for early birds online). Not a race for PR’s!! I had my best overall showing, (5th out of 26 starters), but my personal worst trail marathon time by 20 minutes!

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