As I mentioned yesterday, based on last year I expected to finish in the top 30. Last year, the race series started to become very stacked, and with the race registration full this year, I expected the same and even more so.
I ran a mile for a warm up and shortly after, I made my way to the start line and Ian gave the pre-race instructions. I lined up two or three rows back on a narrow double track trail and with a ready, set and the ringing of a cowbell we were off.
We went out of the gate fast and after a few tenths of a mile I was roughly about 20 people back. I flip flopped with a few people in the early section, but for the most part we were settling into our paces. This first mile is relatively fast and about a half a mile in I noted I was still keeping up with the top 20 or so in front of me. I was starting to wonder if I was going out too fast but I kept at it and passed a few folks.
Now we're doing a little bit of climbing here. Passed a few more folks. My friend, Peter Keeney, who I passed earlier in mile one had now caught up and he ran behind me for a bit. Was running hard and hoping I would hold.
Technical downhill and then a technical, tough climb in this mile. By far the hardest mile of the course, in my opinion. Peter passed me on an uphill and we exchanged well wishes. I knew I wouldn't catch him, but I did my best to keep close and keep him in my sights as a carrot.
I remember passing three more runners here. I had recovered from the gnarly uphill in mile three and was feeling pretty good.
Now the major climbing is over and the paths are flat and about to go downhill. Passed another couple of runners. The downhill mile here is awesome. It's a perfect grade, not as technical, and you can REALLY fly on it. I let loose and put the hammer down.
The downhill continues and one last uphill. By now my legs were rubber, and I eased up a bit, not thinking anyone was close behind me. Still, I was gaining some ground on another run in front of me. Catching him would be tough, but I was trying to reel him in.
Then, just a bit before the final right hand turn that marked the final stretch to the finish line, I heard footsteps coming up from behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw it was one of my Trail Monster Running teammates because of the shirt, but didn't quite see who. I then kicked it up a notch, not wanting to be passed.
The final stretch was coming up and I could still hear the footsteps behind me so I initiated a kick and fortunately it was enough. I nearly caught the runner in front of me, but was just glad I wasn't passed by this mystery runner behind me.
I crossed the finish line and saw the mystery runner was none other than my homeboy Jeremy! He's a way faster runner than I am and I had assumed he was ahead of me, but it turns out he wasn't feeling so great and started towards the back of the race. Fortunately, he felt better as the race went on and finished strong (just glad he didn't catch me, it's probably one of the only times I'll ever finish ahead of him).
My time was 43:46, and I soon afterwards saw it was good enough for 10th place. Awesome, I was really surprised and stoked about that, especially with a pretty stacked filed of runners. Peter and I then went for a mile cool down run, and came back to watch the others finish and hang out for the award ceremony.
Another pleasant surprise as my time contributed to a Trail Monster Running team win! That's the first time I've ever run fast enough where my time counted towards a team win, so I was REALLY stoked about that. That was seriously the highlight of the day for me. I've always wanted a fast enough time to count and now I've done it. And our reward? Beer! My share of the loot yielded a six pack of Long Trail Ale. Also, I won a gift certificate to Edna and Lucy's (a killer breakfast/lunch place just down the road from Bradbury) in the raffle. Kate and I cashed it in for lunch afterwards. Darn good day!
I think what helped contribute to doing so well was the good luck brought on by planking the start line before the start of the race. A new tradition is now born:
|Start Line Plank|
Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:18/mile pace.
Official time: 43:46
Placing: 10th out of 148
Lower 70s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, sleeveless shirt.