Classic Sprint Semi-Final in Canmore October 24th
I spent the last two weeks of October training in Canmore Alberta on the Frozen Thunder ski track. The early season training was great and I raced twice in the pre-season competitions there. I placed 4th in the sprint and 2nd in the distance freestyle race. I was happy with my pre-season form but with nearly a month between the last race and the first SuperTour event in West Yellowstone, I needed to make another race effort to stay sharp.
When I am home, the most reliable way to get pushed hard in intensity is to run head to head with my brother. I missed the annual Dartmouth Moosilaukee time trial this year so I decided to race it with my brother on our own.
Justin was a two time all american xc runner in college, Has won the last 3 Coosman Cups (fastest NH finisher) at the MT Washington Road Race, and won the overall New England Grand Prix running series two years ago. He also just set a new 10k PR of 31:18 less than a month ago. He has trounced me in every running intensity workout I have done with him this year and I have not managed to beat hime in a running race since I won the Coosman Cup in 2010.
On Sunday November 16th at 9:15 AM we started head to head at the famous crab apple tree starting line. I had never done this time trial this late in the year and for good reason. Winter starts earlier at higher elevation and there was an inch of snow on the ground. The inch grew to about 4 inch by the top and snow drifts near the summit were over a foot deep. There were icy patches near streams and bridges that required more caution then I prefer to use when racing but Justin and I have been running on slippery terrain like this since we could walk so the conditions did not worry us.
I took the lead from the start and only 4 minutes into the race I felt a little space forming between my brother and I. I was clearly stronger on the steep uneven terrain. However, after seven minutes of steep climbing the terrain flattened out and Justin closed the gap I had created. Eight minutes later we came to another steep section and I surged to see if I could break Justin. I pulled away quickly and had a 20 second lead at the half way point. But then then terrain leveled out again and Justin halved my lead. There was going to be no easy victory.
The snow got deeper the higher we went but it was never substantial enough to even out the rocky terrain, it just made it more slippery. I focused on my footing and finding a sustainable pace. I had loaded my legs with lactate more than I wanted to the second time I pulled away from Justin. He was only 10 seconds behind now but I allowed myself to slow a little bit because I would not have been able to sustain the current effort for another 15 minutes.
The relentless trail became steep again and despite having to re-adjust my pace my 10 second lead grew to 20 and then thanks to the switchbacks I broke the line of sight between Justin and I. There was about eight minutes left and my legs were getting unstable. I slipped on a rock staircase and fell. A few minutes later the trail flattens for about a quarter mile before a short steep rise to the summit. I tripped and face planted again on the fast section before post holing through snowdrifts to the summit. I leaned against a rock at the summit gasping for air in a foggy cloud. 32 seconds later Justin arrived.
My time was 37:57 which is far from my best, but given the conditions and the fact that it was the first time I had beaten Justin on foot in 4 years I was happy with the effort. The time was also 21 seconds faster than the winner from this year’s Dartmouth time trial.
The worst part of the moosilaukee race is always getting back down. I had over heated on the way up and threw my headband off and my tights and shirt were soaked with sweat. Needless to say Justin and I had a brisk jog back to our cars. I took the opportunity to gloat which is a time honored Freeman brothers tradition. Justin did not like losing and figured the best defense would be to belittle himself in order to make my win look less impressive. He pointed out that he was a nearly 38 year old full-time teacher with two kids and that he had been retired from pro skiing for eight years. I pointed out that he was also a loser.
Before driving home in separate cars, Justin admitted that he had run well and was still in good shape. Justin may consider himself washed up, but he is still the fastest runner in NH and hopefully being able to beat hime on foot will transfer to the ski trails later this month.