This race came be summed up in four words: Nine miles of hell. Rugged, technical trails and insanely hilly terrain. Throw in fantastic race management by Ian, Ryan and kick ass volunteers and you have all the ingredients needed. Mix them all together, bake at 65 degrees for an hour and change and you have something good comin' out of da kitchen.
So, I went into this race knowing I wasn't 100% from a pretty brutal 50k two weeks ago, but I still hoped to beat my time from last year. That would be a fun test/experiment, as last year I was getting in progressively better shape but wasn't at my prime yet, and I came in 1:17:05. Before the race, I mused that while being in better shape but with the tired legs I would probably come in around the same time as last year as a result.
Worth noting that there were quite a few others who also had big races or running events recently (notably Jeremy and Ian) who were no doubt more beat up than I was, and they still had huge PRs and very impressive performances. Glad to see so many of us had good races even if not in top form.
First Half of Loop One
Race was off, and after a few hundred yards I was maybe 15 or so people back. I actually felt I was going out too fast so I dialed it back a touch after the first mile. At this junction, we were running on the Boundary Trail which circumnavigates the peak for a good while. The trail is full of ups and downs and there are some tough climbs. A few folks passed me and I passed a few folks, so going along pretty nicely.
Second Half of Loop One
Made our way towards the front of the park which meant a gnarly climb to the summit was about to begin. During the ascent, my buddy Ryan passed me, looking strong. So strong that he tried to pull down my shorts while telling me to pick up the pace. I think I called him a name here and tried to just get up the hill. I was feeling really sapped here. Legs were aching and not much pep at all. I felt like dog crap.
Made it to the top and then meandered back down. I started to feel some energy returning on the long downhill and was gaining some ground on some folks in front of me, and I could also see Ryan. Then the course goes back up to right near the summit again.
I playfully yelled "I'm coming for you, Ryan!" as we climbed. For this race, it was totally in jest. Here's why: Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction when Butch is being chased by Marsellus Wallace after they got in a car wreck, and they're all beat up from it and Marsellus can hardly hit the side of a barn with a gunshot? Well, that would be a gross exaggeration of Ryan and I, but he is coming off a stint with injuries and I'm not healed up from my race, so that's what it kind of reminded me of. Neither of us in a state of decent race conditioning. With that in mind, I wasn't racing Ryan or anyone else for that matter, I was just concerned about getting a decent finishing time and not worrying much about what place I would finish. A long meandering downhill and the first loop was done.
First Half of Second Loop
Passed three guys and caught up to Ryan. We chatted a bit as we ran and I continued to feel better. Still tired, quads were sore, but energy was feeling better. Then, as Ryan started to move ahead again, I rolled my ankle. Yeeowch! I limped for a few hundred feet until my gait was more or less back to normal.
Pain dissipated a few minutes later, but I felt it after the race (and still feel it, though not too badly) . Ryan continued to move ahead and not too much later, those three guys I passed to get to Ryan passed me back. But as the ankle got better and my energy continued to stabilize a bit, I started to gain ground again.
Second Half of Second Loop
Moving along and I passed the three guys back. Then I caught up to Ryan again. I think this all occurred on the downhill after summiting the peak for the third of the four total times. I commented to Ryan that I was running the downhills better than the uphills, which was weird. He immediately said back "that's not your style", which summed it up nicely.
Climb up to the summit again, and was feeling more or less pretty good here and tried to block out the sore quads. Energy felt at a pretty normal level for this stage in the race. Given how I felt like total dog crap on that climb to the summit for the first time, I was glad I was able to bounce back. Caught glimpses of Ryan who wasn't too far behind. Very impressive that he was running so well given he was still getting back into the swing of things.
Major downhill done, made a right turn, and now just a rolling stretch to the finish. Ran it pretty hard and in my state of delirium, I nearly went wide right of the finishing chute, despite it being clearly marked and everyone yelling at me to correct my course. Duh. That probably cost me a second or two. But I finished in 1:15:55, beating last year's time by a minute and ten seconds. Also came in 16th place overall, which was up seven places from last year. Not bad, I'll take it.
Very fun time on a brutal course. Afterwards, a bunch of went to Gritty's in Freeport to refuel and recap the morning, which was a lot of fun and was glad to drive home with a full belly.
Ran 8.7 miles @ 8:44/mile pace.
Official time: 1:15:55.
Placing: 16th out of 131 finishers.
Lower to upper 60s, overcast, very humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, sleeveless shirt.