No matter what the outcome of a race is I always analyze my performance, my on course decisions, what I did right and wrong, what I ate drank and how I could have gone faster. I don’t do this to pat myself on the back for what I did right, or make excuses for how I could have gone faster or why I got beat, I do it because I believe it makes me a better athlete the next time around. While I can find some small mistakes, In my analysis of my race this past weekend at The North Face Endurance Challenge in Bear Mountain NY, I can’t find any scenario in which I make up the almost 13 minute margin between my second place finish and Dylan Bowman’s Impressive winning time, that doesn’t involve traveling back in time and overhauling my training leading up to the race. He was easily the strongest runner on that day and it showed.
The race started much like last year for me. I forgot my headlamp, again, and so I placed myself at the front with Andrew Siegmund, and Jeff Gosselin who have been kind enough to light my way these past two years.
|The early miles!|
|Technical terrain wakes you up early one in Bear Mountain!|
Coming into aid station six Dylan led Mike and I by a few seconds. The course left the road about a hundred yards before the aid station, we got our bibs marked and Mike and Dylan headed down the trail. I was low on water and made a split second decision to run to the aid station and back. I figured the minute or so wouldn’t affect me in the long run. When I got back to the trail I was by myself. I hadn’t encountered either of the Canadian’s and Mike and Dylan were out of sight. At this point I made my only real mistake of the race. Instead of staying steady until the technical downhill sections later on in the course, which is what I should have done, I ran the next mile way faster than I should have to try and catch back up immediately. I managed to catch back up in sight of Mike before my stomach flipped. I have a weak stomach when I run so puking is part of my normal routine, this time around however I was taking a digestive enzyme pill and had yet to have any trouble. However my foolish sprint changed that and I threw up, losing everything I had taken at the aid station. The inevitable low that followed came at the worst possible time. I found myself barely moving up a mile long section of road that I knew Mike and Dylan were crushing in their bids for the win. By the time I left the pavement I had recovered and I figured the damage was limited, maybe 3 minutes to Mike and 5 to Dylan. When I rolled into the next aid station I found I was correct on one account. Mike was only 3 minutes up on me, Dylan however was another 6 minutes off the front of Mike. I thought only briefly about how fast he must have been running before I set my mind to the next section of course. Being mostly downhill and relatively technical I had always been strong on this section, I had my energy back, and was ready to roll! When I tried to go however my legs just were not there. I fought through the next five miles and stayed even with Mike but didn’t gain a second. Dylan earned another 3 minutes on us and barring a disaster I knew neither of us was catching him. I didn’t know how far either of the Canadian’s or Brian Rusiecki was behind me so I put my head down and ran out of Anthony Wayne to face the final ten miles. Over the next two mile climb I surprised myself with how strong I ran. My legs were still heavy and constantly spasming but my pace didn’t show it. I caught Mike coming into the next aid station and we hiked through Timp pass together. With three miles to go I got away from Mike on the last ridiculously technical downhill, he was hitting a low point and seemed to just be in finishing mode. I thought of running with him but I knew if I crashed again and he rebounded he would easily drop me again. From there to the finish my legs felt strong but heavy.
As I came through the familiar tunnel and headed toward the finish my family started cheering for me, surprised I think to see that I had caught Mike. As the Finishing banner came into sight my wife handed me my son and I carried him toward the finish as people cheered. With a few feet to go I set him down and as I held his hands for balance, he’s seven months old and can’t walk on his own yet, he kicked his little feet to run across his first finish line! I may have had greater moments in my life but I couldn’t remember one at that moment!
|Kilian's first finish line!|
Following the finish I sat with my family on the grass talking to other competitors and soaking up the atmosphere. Loud cheers announced the arrival of Rory Bosio as she crossed the line to win the women’s race, instantly surrounded by camera’s and fans. Behind her runners finished their respective races pain, pride, and accomplishment etched on their faces as the crossed the line and medals were draped around their necks. “Are you going to be back next year?” I turned my eyes away from the finish to answer in the affirmative. All the Endurance Challenges are amazing events but for more reasons than I could write in this blog this race and place are special to me, and no matter where I am in life, the trails and people here always feel like home.