Well, lookie here! A race report!
After running 12 miles at The Brad on Monday, I decided to enter the race. Sure, I'm not in race shape—not even close—but I knew at the very least I could enjoy a 9-mile run around Bradbury Mountain. How fast would I go? I didn't really care. I really just wanted to enter a race. I haven't raced since March, and I was missing it. If I could never train and just race, I'd be happy.
Sunday morning arrived, and I managed to get out of the house without D knowing I was racing. I didn't tell her I was running simply because I knew she'd be worried about me. I figured if she didn't find out until just before the race, the better it would be for all of us. I don't think she was surprised to see me with a number on as we headed for the start line. I had arrived at the park before 7:00 to help Ian get everything set up, and, surprisingly, we were both feeling fairly relaxed thanks to a great crew of volunteers and Ian's diligence. Perhaps, we're getting this down.
At the start, my goal was to just run easy. I chatted for much of the first mile with Peter Keeney, until he pulled ahead. I finally caught up to Ian around the back of the Boundary Trail and was glad to hear that his legs were feeling good after his jaunt through the 100 Mile Wilderness. I passed both him and Alan on the climb and headed for the South Ridge Trail. My plan for the crazy descent on the South Ridge was to take it easy so as not to blow out what little strength I have in my quads early on. Ian and Alan obviously had other ideas, as they blew right by me. As we made the transition at the bottom to the uphill that leads to the aid station and the Summit Trail, I was pleased that my legs were still feeling fairly fresh.
I bypassed the aid station passing Alan and then Ian just as we started up the Summit Trail. To this point I'd be spying Jamie up ahead from time to time and said to Ian, "I'm gonna go pants, Jamie." I pulled right up on him giving his shorts a tug as I went by. Wheeee!!! Racing is fun! Well, it became less fun halfway up the Summit Trail, and I knew that my legs were really going to be suffering later in the race.
At some point on the Tote Road, I caught up to Scott Hornney and ran most of the remainder of this lap with him until he expressed his moderate dislike for technical downhills near the end of the Switchback Trail. I went by him here, and Dave Roberts did the same. Dave took a huge digger a few steps later, but was up like nothing happened. We all came through the aid station at the Start/Finish line close together, and I was surprised to see a split of approximately 36:45. That was about 45 seconds faster than last year and a bit shocking. It certainly didn't feel that fast.
Heading out on the second lap, Jamie caught back up to me. We chatted at length about our races thus far, and neither of were feeling particularly frisky. I really didn't feel like I was racing. I just found a pace/level of effort, got into it and stayed there. Neither my legs or my head were really into it. I wasn't going through the motions, but I certainly wasn't racing.
I pulled ahead of Jamie and ran mostly alone (I think) for the remainder of this lap. (Another sign my head wasn't really in it. Usually, I remember every detail of a race.) Each hill felt a little larger this time around, and I could feel a lack of power with every uphill step. By the time I reached the aid station at the base of the Summit Trail, I knew the next stretch was going to be brutal. And, it was. As I started up the Summit Trail, my legs essentially stopped moving. I ran a little bit, but I mostly walked. Five guys passed my during my stroll, including Scott, Jamie and Randy Woods. Not much I could or really wanted to do about it. The summit couldn't come soon enough.
Last year, my strategy was to hammer the Tote Road on the second lap, so I decided this time around to see what I had. To my surprise, my turnover was fairly decent, and I started moving pretty well. Randy was long gone, but I caught Scott and two of the other runners who had passed me. Jamie was also coming back to me. I got within about 5 seconds, but as we turned onto the Northern Loop Trail for the final climb to the summit, he pulled steadily away. I never packed it in, but I knew I wasn't going to catch him. I glanced at my watch as I was approaching the field and nearly laughed out loud realizing that was going to be pretty close to last year's time. I finished as strong as I could coming up just short of my PR from last year with a time of 1:16:22; 17th place.
Honestly, I have no idea how I ran that time. I was thinking 1:30 would be fine, and 1:25 would be a good result. Keep in mind, I've only been really running for 3 weeks. I guess I'm well rested. Interestingly, I wasn't really breathing that hard or struggling for much of the race. (Sure, the Summit Trail was ugly, but it's supposed to be.) I was chatting with people, smiling for the crew we had there cheering (watching Sam), thanking the aid station volunteers. I felt fine. I had my pace/level of effort, and I stayed there. My legs, on the other hand, were worthless. No fire. No pop. No nuttin'. However...no surprise. Training matters, and I haven't been training. Stoked to come away uninjured, though. That's for sure.
Speaking of training, it was clear that since I haven't been training, I also haven't been training mentally. I haven't trained myself to really push it. I'm certain I could have run faster today, but I couldn't mentally push myself to do so. My head wasn't in the game. I didn't believe that I could run faster. I wasn't willing to take a risk. My head wasn't race ready. Now, this isn't a complaint. Just an observation, and a valuable lesson learned.
Thanks goes out to Ian for once again putting on a great race...and dropping a big PR on the day. I feel like we're in a groove with these races, and it's fun to help put them on. Big thanks to my in-laws for watching Sam, so D and I could both run. And, thanks to everyone who knew I was running for not telling D I was doing so. :) Oh, D was second overall to climb to the top of the series standings. More pumpkin bread for me!