Just when you think you have it figured out...
There's not a whole lot to say about the race, but my weeks leading into Saturday's performance pointed towards a tougher than normal MWRR. I knew going into Saturday that my run fitness was good but my body wasn't recovered. I expected to be in the 1:14 - 1:16 range this race which would have been a disappointment since I was hoping to keep improving on my time. My recent 5k / 10k race times indicated that I was likely going to be in the 1:16 range this year.
Little did we know, it was going to be legitimately hot and humid for the race. A few degrees can make a big difference in performance, especially for the big guys who typically don't shed the heat well. After my warm up it was clear that a singlet would be a bad idea as sweat was already starting to pour off my body. I took my spot a couple rows back in the starting line and picked a few targets for the race.
Nothing unusual in the first mile. I was breathing hard but it's a hill and there's an adjustment period where you back off and settle into your pace. The problem was that as I backed off, my breathing and effort still felt too high. That second mile I felt really bad and even had thoughts of dropping out. Gaps were forming and were hard to swallow. Not to mention that I was drowning in the heat and we hadn't even clicked off the second mile yet.
There would be no walking though and I did what I could to relax but still try to be competitive. I stopped looking at my splits and focused on finishing. After the halfway point we popped out above treeline and I was waiting for that cool revitalizing high alpine breeze. Nope, not today. Now I was legitimately overheating. I took off my hat to see if that helped but it only made things worse. The dirt section is punishing as is but was compounded by the stagnant hot air.
At the last water station I finally walked and took in a few cups of water. Kevin Tilton, who I had been running with for most of the race, continued to run and gapped me. I was impressed that he kept grinding and ran right up the next turn, one of the steepest in the race. This year I walked it and didn't care. I was trying to minimize the suffering. But this race is unrelenting, no matter what your pace is. When I resumed a running shuffle my legs had already stiffened up. A good reminder to never walk in this race.
The last half mile was grueling. I finally got back in a rhythm and attacked the wall only to see that I didn't break 1:20. Across the finish line I heaved myself over the corral railing and caught my breath - lightheaded and dizzy, I was elated to be finished.
Even with a poor performance evident by the fade in the splits, I was really happy to battle through some demons and finish the race. I went and got some food, water, and shoes to run down in. Hilary finished not too far behind and we ran down together. We took home the Clydesdale / Filly wins which just secures us spots for next year's race where we've already promised to train specifically for. Looking forward to those hill repeats next spring.