As the craziness of life increases, the frequency of my blogging decreases. But, that doesn't mean I haven't been out on the trails. In fact, part of the craziness has been me squeezing in some great runs...in between working way too much this week. And, these runs were all leading up to the Bradbury Scuffle on Sunday.
The tale of this race really begins on Thursday with a great run through the Cathance River Preserve. Fully mojofied. More of the same on Friday, but this time I was on the trails at Great Glen...sort of. I started on the trails, followed some sweet singletrack that we don't really maintain anymore, and out onto the Auto Road. Then I had the brilliant idea to run up the Auto Road about 1/2 a mile to a trail that I knew used to exist, but I had never been on. Long story short, I ended up losing the trail and bushwhacking for about 30 minutes until I came back out on a trail I recognized, but no where near where I thought I was. I was bruised and cut up, but it was kind of fun. "Hmmm...which way should I go? Oh, look more bear scat. This must be the right way." Much harder than it should have been, but it was all about more mojo.
Perhaps, I'll get to the actual race report now...
D and I arrived early, and I helped Ian set up the start/finish banner. I lost about a pint and a half of blood to the mosquitoes—anti-blood doping at its finest. I did about a 15 minute warmup, and, frankly, felt tired. I was excited for the race, so I was hoping adrenaline would carry me through. I think just about everyone had the same plan at the start: get out fast to avoid getting boxed in. I executed this part of the plan to perfection, but I think it was a bit too fast. In fact, I was running pretty close to the 5k pace I'd running the last couple weeks. Not ideal, but not catastrophic. Once I turned onto the first section of single track I was alone. Every now and then, I could see and/or hear a group just ahead of me. I really wanted/knew I should put in a move to bridge the gap to them, but I already felt like I was going on the edge of too hard. I felt pretty solid when I was running alone, but eventually, the pace got to me. Near the end of Ginn, one guy passed me, but I hung with him for a while. He was pulling two guys along, and they stayed behind me...until they passed me just before the aid station. Last year, I made my race on the Snowmobile Trail. This year, it was just the opposite. I kept it together pretty well in the "second half," but it wasn't pretty. When it was uphill or sloppy, I was holding my own, but on the flat and downhill sections, I was getting crushed. I can wade through knee deep water with anyone, but just don't ask me to run fast. The three guys who passed me in Ginn steadily pulled away. I took a look over my shoulder shortly before I reached the Knight's Woods Trail, and I could tell I was getting reeled in. I just couldn't turn the legs over. Nothing. Right at the corner of the Knight's Woods Trail, a runner caught me, and there was this exchange:
"Hey, you're Ryan, right?"
"I read your blog."
"Uh oh, well, then take it easy on me."
Then, he was gone. It was nice to meet Nate, but he didn't really have to smoke me. Even if Nate had been walking, he would have smoked me at this point. I was pretty much all done. I tripped on a something, nearly went down, let out an expletive, and got passed by another guy. He offered the oh so telling, "Finish up strong." In other words, "Dude, you look like shit." The gradual, but lengthy, uphill on the Knight's Woods Trail was not treating me kindly, but I just tried to keep it together. I actually closed the suddenly shockingly wide gap that the latest passer had opened up, but not enough to even think about catching him. But, I kept pushing and was happy to cross the finish line. I finished in 18th place in 50:42, more than 4 minutes slower than last year. The course was probably a minute or two slower due to the greasy mud and knee deep puddles.
Overall, I'd give the race a B. The effort was good. Not the smartest strategy, but I pushed pretty hard. So, A- for effort. As for how I felt, C-...maybe D+. Tired legs. They just felt heavy. That being said, the race went exactly how I expected. I wasn't really set up to run fast, but I put in a good effort. And, that's really the most important. Would I like to have run faster? Absolutely, but I haven't done any training that would have lead to that type of result. But, again, I'm pleased with the effort, and I had a great time. Ian puts on one helluva race, and best of all there were twice as many finishers this year as there were last year. Hopefully, all the trail newbies will be back for more.
Time to start thinking about the Bradbury Breaker!