Stages 3 and 4 take place at Shades Mills, again in Cambridge. It consists of back to back runs. The first one 5km (one loop), and after a short rest, depending on how soon you finish, the second one (10km, 2 loops). It’s the only multi race day in the series. From a running strategy point of view, it’s an interesting set of races. Do you go easy on the first run, and conserve for the second, or do you run the first a bit harder so you can have more rest time between races?
Original map located here
My training for this whole event has been lacking. Not enough runs, not enough trails, not enough hills. My coach scheduled these into my training calendar, but due to many factors, I was just not able to get them done. My long runs barely cracked 10km. I am also dealing with a hamstring issue that flares up here and there. So far it’s been manageable, but I fear that these hilly runs that are coming are going to put it to the test.
I got to the location about an hour early, to get myself calm and prepared for the task at hand. I was warned by many people that the bugs will be bad on the trails. So, I sprayed myself with Off, including my shirt and hat. The smell of bug spray always reminds me of scout camp as a boy. This time I would be bringing water and Gatorade with me on the course.
After some last minute instructions, we were off. The trails were mostly wood chipped, with some dirt. Overall, they were pretty dry, with only very few muddy sports. The first part was slightly downhill, which was very nice. As I said, my legs were sore, but manageable. I forced myself to just go at a nice slow pace, 6:30 or slower. Pretty soon I was alone on the trail, with the leaders way ahead, and a few people I passed behind me. The trail started to have a lot more ups and downs, and on the hills, I really felt like I had no strength in my legs. My hamstring also started acting up, to the point that it was actually sore. I began walking all the hills, and running down all the downs, and running most of the flats, with a few walk breaks here and there. The last km is a very large climb followed by a nice gradual downhill, so I walked up then spend up running on the downhill. My legs were trashed, but the first part was done.
- Official time: 0:34:58
After a break which was way shorter than I would have liked, we lined up to start the 10km. Same course, just two loops. Based on how my legs felt, I was really worried that I would not make the cut off time. They were so sore, and my hamstring was numb. Again, I started off very slowly, passing a couple of people, but then again, ending up by myself. The walking started much sooner, and pretty soon, I was walking pretty much everything except the big downhills. I felt like I had no energy. I had to push my legs walking the uphills. It was grueling. The bugs started to bother me on the walks, which also spurred me to run a bit faster. As long as I was running, however slowly, they weren’t so bad. It took every ounce of energy I had to get to the finish line. I ran across, and almost collapsed from the effort. Today, I earned that post-run beer for sure.
Official time: 1:19:59
Cumulative time: 3:46:32 after 4 stages, and 32.5km