Recovery from the 50 miler has been difficult - I haven't exactly sprung back to life like I did last year. A few nagging aches and pains have limited my training. Last year I was able to jam in road miles, a couple hikes, and a track workout before this race. Plus I ran the course before and after the actual race. This year I went in feeling good (no injuries) but not very fast. This was a good motivator to put in a hard effort and kick off my fall training.
I dragged Hilary out with me this year (much to her resistance, it was her birthday). She previewed the course last month so she knew what to expect. We did a short mile warm up before the start and took a very low-key approach, zero expectations. My garmin was dead (like last year) so I was running off a stopwatch and some mile markers I looked up, more out of curiosity. I didn't notice any ringers at the start, Ken Lubin already said he was too hungover to "race" so I was surprised when we started that a guy took it out fast. I made sure not to get caught up with all the kids who sprinted out of the start and made my way to the front before the first turn. The guy who had the lead was listening to music on his iphone so i kind of dismissed him but he looked fit which had me worried. I felt especially vulnerable since I wasn't very fit but reminded myself to relax and prepare for the climbs on the back half. I passed the guy on the first downhill and thought that was going to be that. I made sure to push the downhills in an effort to improve my time from last year.
As I turned back up under the lift and approached the 1 mile mark, the second place guy was right on my heels. Dammit. On the flat approach to Bear Peak he was breathing down my neck and I tried to push the pace again (it's slightly downhill and you should be running a low 5 minute pace on this section). He hung on and eventually passed me on the turn up to the Grand Summit. But he had already blown his cover by asking me how far we were - clearly he didn't know the course and had no clue about the upcoming climbs. I passed him again on the next downhill and he passed me back on the next climb. I worked hard to stay with him and was able to pass him again on the next descent. Now we were on the last climb and I maintained a good pace given the terrain we had already covered. He wasn't far behind, maybe 5-10s at the end of the last climb but he clearly wasn't running fast on the downhills and we had a big one to finish the race. I sent it and gave a slight look back and knew I had the win. Hilary also took the win for the ladies. She was psyched on the result given that it's such a hard course (add a 2-3 minutes to your 5k road time for a predicted finish)
Overall I'm happy with the race - I knew I wasn't going to be fast by my standards and that really didn't matter, just who showed up. The second place guy made a race out of it which made for a great experience. A sub 20 or even sub 19 minute time on this course is doable for me and I'll keep chasing that goal.
The prizes were the same as last year with the addition of free entry next year. We made use of our steins over at Oktoberfest and can't wait to do this race again next year.
Last year's race report.