Got to the race check in - I had already showered and shaved by this point and had my pb&j and banana. I got my bib and shirt and then went out to the start line. It was kind of cold but the sun came up just as the race was starting and then in the first mile we were back in the cold shade again. I had my strategy to not go too fast at this point so I did my best to hold back - especially on the uphill. Across the flatter parts I was still going pretty quick and the downs I was going slightly faster. The first aid station I stopped and got some water and Gatorade then got some sugar in the form of M&M’s. It was fine and tasty. We flew down the hill to the switch backs and again, I was going fine but didn’t want to go all out. After the climb up the switchbacks was unknown territory and I didn't know what to expect. So I just stayed with go as quick as you can without going too fast. As with most trail races its more of going off how you feel and how much effort you think you should be putting in at that point in the race. After a while there was a big hill that came up that I really didn’t expect but I got up it by doing a little walk/run routine thing that I do. Cout 25 every other left foot falls walking and count 50 steps “running” it got me up the hill and I think that was a good strategy to have. Doing the walk then run strategy is a way to sort of even out the pace rather than just “guessing” and ending up walking more because you want and then not starting to run or something like that.
|About mile 9 at the top of the switchbacks. (Photo credit: Lori Burlison)
I was hot by this point because I bought a pullover from the thrift store and I was wearing it. I wanted to throw it out pretty bad but didn’t want to litter the course so I kept it on. Right before the next aid station the wind started a little and then I was cold - go figure. I ditched my pullover and gloves anyway, got some water, snacks, a pb&j portion (it was amazing) and left the aid station feeling alright but I got a little bit cold, but that problem didn’t stick around.
The down was now coming and we all sped up a little. The crowd was pretty well evened out at this point expect for this group of 3 who were even with me...until they passed me. Anyway, I knew that I wasn’t going to keep up with them, mainly because I tell myself that I have the experience and I don’t need other racers to get in my head. I finish when I finish and I don’t let others really mess with me or else I might do something very dumb and be worse off for it. That group did break up and I think I passed at least one of them plus at least one more other person that was in the top 10 for most of the race but then he hit a wall or had cramps or something.
I got to an aid station that was really great, got some more stuff in my stomach (besides the Gu that I had been having “whenever I think I should need it” (which turned out to be about 4 gels over the whole race) I knew the Frary Peak aid station was coming up and part of my plan was to “turn on the heat” from that point on. So I kind of took it easy and kept moving as well as I could. I got to this next aid station and then I decided to give it a go. I got up to this small crest and hit my watch for a lap - which is set for 5k. I intended to do this next 5k split at just faster than 8min per mile pace. I counted every other left foot fall 100 times and looked at my watch. I would speed up or slow down as necessary to maintain the right pace. This worked pretty well, however, the last part of the split was slightly uphill and I wasn’t feeling the ability to go much faster. So I didn’t. I already knew I was where I was and I was still in great shape to finish in good time. But at 8:02 for that 5k split, it was good enough in my mind. So from this point on I just decided to keep moving. I walked for about 30 seconds while I got a gel in and some orange Gatorade (yuck!) and then just managed around a 9min/mile pace (or something like that).
Next up I saw the fence that signaled a turning point for the race where there is this hill climb and then it was basically down to the finish. I walked up the hill or, excuse me, “power hiked” and then as the hill crested I did my best to keep running. The dirt road turned to asphalt. My legs noticed but didn’t have much issue. The road went down and my body and mind were done but unfortunately, the race wasn’t over. I did another batch of “slightly slow down then slightly speed up” and then kept it going to the finish. I knew there was someone behind me and did look and noticed that he probably wasn’t going to catch me. If he had, what would I have done? I’m not really sure. Hopefully I would have not allowed it and been able to do so. But no worries. He was within about a minute behind me, which is pretty close.
The finish was awesome. and I was elated to get 10th place. Exactly what I was hoping for. No big problems at any one point during the race. The only reason I didn’t do better is because I don’t have the time to train more. That’s fine with me.
The best part of the finish area for me unfortunately wasn’t the chili, it was the ice cold Coke Zero.