|My ladies made it out to the finish, but it got downright cold standing around!|
No such luck. Yes, we were met with a 28 degrees at the start under foggy and misting skies. It had rained the night before, so the trails had just enough moisture in them to create sticky mud which promptly gathered on the bottom of your shoes with 5 lb. clods.
From the start I tried to stay with the lead pack, but one guy went out fast and created a small gap. I started chatting with Andy Palmer, but we were cranking out a 7 min pace, so that didn't last long. He pulled ahead and began the chase of another guy that had recently passed us.
After about two miles, the realization set in that I wouldn't be catching up to the top three guys. They were now flying at a sub-7 pace and I was in no shape to attempt that for 20 miles. I locked into a pace that was by no means comfortable, but possibly sustainable. I had 5th place about a minute or two back, so I had plenty of motivation to keep moving. All these paces were total guesses because once again, my watch battery was dead on the start line and I was left to run 100% by effort. I'm becoming more and more convinced that this is the way to go. I love the freedom of running by effort and having one less distraction.
Around mile 10, our tour of The Bluffs ended and we joined all the 5 & 10 milers...and the passing began. It definitely ain't the easiest or most graceful thing to accomplish. The trail is singletrack, so passing means venturing into the tall grasses. Even though I felt like I had slowed considerably, by the number of people I was passing, I must have still been cruising at a pretty good clip.
The four out & backs on this course confirmed the decent lead the top three had, but they also let me know I was putting distance between myself and 5th place. Although on the final one, I noticed Andy was closing in on #1 and I was gaining rapidly on 3rd place. The last two miles are almost all downhill and I gave it my all in a final kick.
If I had another mile, I might have caught him, but as it stands I crossed the finish line one minute after for 4th place. 2:24:51. Good for a 12 minute improvement over last years snowy scramble. Somehow I also got first in my age group...gotta love chasing the fast 40 year olds! Okay, it also helps that there were only 24 finishers of the 20 mile race.
I'm going to try the HR Backcountry Half Marathon next month and if I learned anything from this race, I really need to get in some training runs in the low 7's on those trails before I attempt any speedy shenanigans again.