Despite our stated lack of ambition, we did check out the results from last year, as well as the course elevation profile, yesterday to make a race plan. I noticed that the top five in my age group last year (20-29 for this race), came in under 1:01. At over ten minutes a mile, I figured maybe I could come in in the top five, though I wasn't betting on it because I didn't know how big the difference would be between trail and road. I decided not to be disappointed if I didn't place.
John's age group is much more competitive than mine-a good portion of the top ten in every race we do is his age group. He knows that no matter how well he does, he isn't 130 pounds and on a racing team, so he probably won't finish in the top 3 or even 5. But he did want to finish in the top ten if he could.
We decided not to run together, because he would be better at the uphills than me, and I wasn't as concerned with my finish. So I saw John run off about 200 yards after the start, when I decided not to push too hard. The first half mile or so was downhill on fire roads, then straight uphill on single track trail. I was a bit winded through this section, after having tried to keep up with John at the start.
Suddenly, there was a switchback with someone posted to tell people to take small steps. It was straight downhill, windy single track, with one edge too close to the edge of the trail for comfort (a wrong step and they might need a helicopter to get you home). I tried to reel it in a bit and not coast down, since any loss of footing or difficulty stopping when needed would be dangerous. I think I held my breath, because at the bottom of the hill- at the first aid station- I had a huge cramp in my side. I walked for a minute, then started running again.
The next mile was fine, then we started a long series of long uphill stretches. The inclines were so steep that no one ran up them. I did my best to run until I was winded and my legs wanted to give out, then I would walk to catch my breath.
|Photo credit: Flickr User kittyz202|
After this section, we got another aid station, a bit of relief from the hills, then right back to uphills again.
I thought we were close to the finish, and got out of one trail and onto the fire road again. I thought I'd make it in under an hour, and possibly place. My Garmin read 5.33, but a marker on the road said 5, so I got a little disheartened. Plus, I quickly noticed that the fire road was straight uphill. So I ran, then walked, then ran.
At this point, I thought I had no chance of coming in under an hour, and I was bummed. But at least I would finish strong.
And then, I heard the announcer, and realized how close the finish was. I rounded the corner back toward the park, and ran in.
Chip Time 56.25.7
Avg Pace 9:34/Mile
Age Group Place FIRST (of 40) in F 20-29
Overall Place 36 (of 371)
Man, am I excited about this finish! The next person in my age group was a full six minutes behind me. Six minutes!
John did a great job as well, smoking me by four minutes.
Chip Time 52.29.4
Avg Pace 8:54/Mile
Age Group Place 9 of 54
Overall Place 19 of 371
After we both caught our breath, we went over and got our beer from Hoppy Brewing. Yum! It was just what we needed. The barbeque was fantastic as well. We walked around, had out two beers each, ate, and then started home...
But not before I collected my award.