Up to Bethlehem today, above the White Mountains (and about a 90-minute drive from my home) for an up-and-down five-mile race in Town No. 107. Weather deteriorated as I went north; by the time I hit Franconia Notch, snow was flying from a low overcast and temps had sunk to the mid-30s. Snow had changed to sleet or small hail by the 11 a.m. start. Overcast the whole time, some wind, but no really tough hills. Just a long steady slog.
Something about the five-mile length seems very satisfying to me. Longer than the 5K but not a full 10K (some of which can drag on forever), the five-miler always seems to go by quickly and painlessly. My theory is that with a five-mile race, there's enough time (nearly an hour at my pace) to really settle in, and so you just run and not focused on the splits or other milestones as the race progresses. You just keep going, and the miles really do fall away, which is what happened today.
Surprised by a 51:32 finish, or about a 10:19 minute mile. (67 out of 99 men in the race.) Guess all the time on the elliptical trainer this winter (as opposed to actually road time, which has been practically non-existent) has helped get me to a level I didn't expect to be.
The race also touched on Sugar Hill, a neighboring town, but I can't in good conscience include it as a second town because we just crossed the border and maybe 100 feet later came back. So no double this time.
But in terms of the map, Bethlehem is quite a catch. It's a large town that stretches across the northern limit of the White Mountains, and so was very satisfying to color in with the orange marker. Here's the map before Bethlehem, with orange indicating town's I've run races in:
And here it is after: