I noticed that I've done a recap of the previous Grand Prix races, so I figure I can keep that rolling with a little summary of the Stowe 8 Miler up in Stowe, VT this past Sunday.
We decided a couple of weeks ago to make a little family trip out of the race and booked a room at Ye Old England Inn, which was the host site for the race as well. The room was nice, albeit a little small considering the gear that a family of 4 with 2 small kids travels with. Camden brought his trusty cot which he set up next to our bed with his new LL Bean sleeping bag, and we set up the pack-n-play for Carter. That left just about enough room for us to make a small path to the bathroom. We got settled and then did some shopping before picking up my packet and heading across the street for pizza and pasta. After dinner we caught up with some of the CMS crew for a few minutes and Camden and I took a swim in the hotel pool before settling in for the night.
In the morning the CMS crew started rolling in around 7:30 and most of us ended up meeting down by the starting area before heading out to warm up. The sun was out and it was getting warm, so warming up wasn't too difficult. We compared moustaches, some attempts more feeble than others. I basically like anything that fosters team unity and operation Magnum seemed to accomplish that, which was good. However, I know that at least a few of us irked SWMBO with this operation (She Who Must Be Obeyed).
Leading up to the race I've been lacking confidence a little bit because I'm not getting in the mileage I want to and can just feel that I've lost a little bit lately. The last few races I've done weren't really that helpful for getting a good feel either, as I had a couple of races where I wasn't really pushed so I didn't get a good gauge. I had thought that I should be around 42 minutes, but from looking at historical times it didn't seem like a course for really good times. I told Camie before the race to be looking for me somewhere between 42 and 43 minutes, hopefully closer to 42. Luckily, Camden brought his binoculars so he could look for me.
The XC style start was cool, and it was nice to have a little section for each of the teams. I got in the second row for the start to make sure there was no temptation to get out too hard. I've been trying to start more controlled lately and I think it will serve me well in the future. Luckily, the whole lead pack went out pretty conservatively so there wasn't much issue there. I tagged onto the back of a big pack of 15-20 guys and strolled out of the field and through the first mile in about 5:12. This was perfect for me and it felt really good.
Shortly after the mile the front group started to bring the pace down a little bit and things started to string out for me and the rest of the guys on the back of the lead pack. I've cleared my watch but I think I hit 2 miles at about 10:35, still feeling pretty good as the course started to roll a little bit and we were out in the sun quite a bit. I tried to make a point of grabbing water at each stop and at least cooling off a little bit and wetting my mouth. I was rolling along with a few guys going back and forth and came up on Brandon Newbould who came back off the lead pack a little bit. I gave him some encouragement and he hopped on for a while as Dan Princic and another Whilrer were with me. Ryan Carerra was also right with us and we would all jostle back and forth through the next couple of miles. The third mile was about 5:23 I think.
The fourth mile had a nice steep downhill, but it was actually too steep to really rip. I felt myself actually braking a little bit but the fourth mile was the fastest of the day in a little under 5 minutes. On a long straight section I could see everyone in front of me for a couple of minutes. I counted and realized I was in 14th place. There were a bunch of yellow BAA shirts, a few shirtless guys, Justin Freeman and lastly a small pack of 3-4 guys about 25 yards in front of me. I could also see up ahead a left turn with a water stop on the right side of the road. After the leaders came though, a few of the volunteers came over to the inside of the turn with cups, allowing the rest of us to take the short line which was nice. However, there were only a couple of them and I took the last cup from them when I realized that Ryan Carerra was right on my tail. I took about half of the cup and handed it back to him, feeling bad that I took the last one. I spent the next mile wondering how on earth he said "Thank you" so politely and clearly in the middle of a race. I figured he must be pretty comfortable and would be passing me soon.
The second half of the course rolls uphill for the most part with some flat sections. A BAA guy passed me somewhere in mile 5 and I think I had pulled in front of a couple of the other guys I was near. Somewhere after mile 5 (5:27 I think) I think the road took a left turn up a hill and then down onto a hard dirt road. I started to notice Justin Freeman coming back as well as the BAA guy who had passed me a little earlier. I also noticed Pat Moulton up ahead and he wasn't getting any smaller either. A spectator with a camera told me I was #10. I hit mile 6 in about 31:30-40 I think, because I recall thinking that a couple of 5:15's would get me home in around 42 minutes. I took a peek back just as I was coming up alongside Justin and noticed I had a 25-30 meter gap behind me. I relayed this info to Justin as I went by and tried to make a clean pass because I didn't want him to tag on with me. I had been feeling rough for a few miles and the legs just didn't really want to turn over but I felt like I did pretty good on the dirt section. I really think flat is the best for me.
As we came off the dirt and up a hill back to the main road I was working on reeling in the BAA guy and Pat was starting to seem like a realistic target if I could get something good going for the last mile+. I passed the BAA guy right at 7 miles and around that time started to sense that I had some company behind me. I didn't look back but later realized it was Ryan Carerra and Dan Princic who closed the gap on me and had put themselves in the top 10 as well. I was about 20 meters back of Pat and had thoughts of catching him briefly, but figured if I came close he'd just kick it in to hold his position. This is actually what I ended up doing as Ryan got on my heels with about 400 to do. I managed to hold him off and about this time Pat took a quick look back and picked it up a little just to make sure we didn't get too close. I took the last left turn in to the finish line for 8th place in 42:29. I had hoped to be a bit quicker but from looking at where I finished relative to the other guys, I think I was right about where I should have been considering the last 6 weeks of training hasn't been perfect.
I got a high five from Fyffe who had finished second overall and the rest of the shirtless and moustached CMS crew started rolling in pretty quickly. BAA sent a deep team up to Vermont and took the team title by about 4 minutes, with us in second, also about 4 minutes ahead of Whirlaway. After some drinks and snacks we got in an easy cool down and I took a swim in the hotel pool after some ice cream to relax and wait for the awards ceremony which took place out behind out hotel.
On the way home we stopped at the Ben & Jerry's factory for a tour and some ice cream!