Powisset Farm Trail Race

Autumn is here

I’ve been on a bit of a tear this month when it comes to racing. I did a 5K trail race on my birthday (the 4th) and a 4-mile trail race the next weekend (on my Mom’s birthday) where I talked to the director of the previous week’s 5K afterward. We had paced each other for the whole race, me leading out the first couple of miles until we crossed over a long dam where she pulled away, pulling me along for the second half. It’s been fun and very laid back. It reminds me why I love running and trail-running in particular.

On the 18th, I ran the Powisset Farm Trail Race. The 8.3 mile race had been on my calendar since I learned about it at TriMania in March, but somehow it snuck up on me.

This was really three different races, but before I get into details, let me start by noting that the night before the race was our first killing frost of the season. It was 27° (-3°C) when I got to Dover. All of the volunteers looked really cold, and most of us athletes stayed in our cars until about 7:30 when it was time to get ready to race.

I was all bundled up when I left the house, but by the time I did my first 1/4 mile of warmup I was (indeed) warm. I stopped back at the car, took off my jacket and long-sleeve shirt, put on a short-sleeve shirt, donned the jacket, and headed out for another lap. Still too warm, I went back to the car again, took off my jacket and shirt, put on the long-sleeve shirt, and left the jacket in the car. This presented logistical challenges, as I now had to find a place to put my insulin pump, but I got that sorted out and ran another 1/4 mile or so.

The first part of the race was your typical XC-style course: mostly flat, mowed grass, and fast. The 5.6-mile and 8.3-mile races started together, and even though it felt easy (at first) everyone was flying. The super-hot, German woman who started just ahead of me was off like a shot, and I wouldn’t see her again until after the finish. I tried to take it easy and watched as about 20-30 people gradually pulled away from me.

Following that first 1.5 mile loop, we crossed the road into the woods, which is when Gillian Welch’s song “Caleb Mayer” came into my head, where it would stay as my constant companion for the next 6.8 miles. I’m not sure why an almost 20-year old folk ballad about an Appalachian moonshiner attacking a woman who ends up killing him popped into my head, but at least I knew all of the lyrics.

Once we entered the forest, the pace was still pretty aggressive, and I could hear feet behind me and see people ahead of me most of the race until we got to the very steep climb up Mount Noanet at mile 4. Coming down was an act of controlled falling. Then there were more gradual downhills where I was flying. I love trail running!

The 5.3-mile folks split off to finish while the rest of us made a second loop, fortunately this time without the wicked climb. The second loop was in some ways easier—because I knew what to expect—and harder—because there was no one on my heels or near me to try to catch. With 1.5 miles to go, I started working my way through the back of the 5.3-mile field, which gave me a bit of a boost. About a mile from the finish, my continuous glucose monitor told me my blood sugar was heading toward hypoglycemia, but I was almost done and I didn’t 100% trust it. Around that time I got a stitch in my left side, which I did my best to relax myself through.

And then I was done. 1:10:24 for 8.3 8.4 miles, an 8:24/mile average pace good enough for 19th of 88. Trail races are never consistent though. My fastest mile was 7:23. The slowest, 9:12.

I found the woman who took off with the fast guys at the start of the race. She was easy to find; I just needed to look for the Norse goddess hanging out with the handsomest looking guy on the planet and the most adorable child. I asked her if she won. “Ja,” she said. “How about you?” Well, I didn’t win, but I’m happy with my time. She was surprised by the bigass hill in the middle. We both agreed the 1.5-mile starting loop didn’t fit with the rest of the race, but that the forested course is fantastic. It turns out she won the 5.6-mile race outright, beating the fastest man by over 2:00.

Next Saturday, I’m running a local half-marathon. Fun fun fun!

Here are some pictures from the race.

First killing frost

Autumn in New England

Après race hair

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