The range was shrouded in mist and not visible before the race this morning. Temps ranged from low to upper 40's and it had been raining for days. Though the hills clung to a cloud there was no rainfall. These conditions were ideal, just like the best of my training runs. I didn't expect much sweat which would require more water, but still tried to improve my fueling. I left the house with a big jug of tea, and three bottles. Two bottles with 2 scoops Heed, one for the hour before, one for an hour into the race. I mixed a third bottle with 1.75 scoops Sustained Energy for the last 4 miles. Also, I carried the quick coin with 4 e-caps and a gel, knowing there was plenty of water on the course. at 8 AM with my bib pinned on, I would realize that I did not leave the house with my shoes! Nineteen minutes later I was back at home, setting a course record for the day and geting a warm up on my stairs. Made it back with 15 minutes to spare, stretched and soon we were off.
It was a constant battle to back off on the first hill. I don't think I really settled into a slow pace till Hitchcock. I decended agressively throughout the first half, almost recklessley. Upper body skills from the M+M were second nature and there were tons of blow downs to hurdle. Cruised for comfort in the flats, and once past the first water and some hurdles I loosened up for a great quick hill climbing gait. On the ups I kept pace running with power hikers a couple of times, but this was perfect for me. There was no problem transitioning between uphill and flat like last year. I felt pretty good about my pace as we approached the Summit House road, it came quick but my time of 50:00 even didn't seem much quicker than last year. I grabbed my first bottle from Bob Massaro at the Summit House and left the porch at 57:ish maybe.
Titans plaza was treacherous. All the flat sections of bare rock were wet and slippery with a margin of slick mud. In his british accent, the guy behind me watched me choosing turns on the trail and asked if I knew where I was going. The trail is tricky to follow in there and I told him I'd only done it once before so I only knew enough to be dangerous. Soon after I took a good ten foot slab of rock sliding on both feet and one hand, probably a 30% slope, totally nuts. Here the leaders appeared, some kid with a lot of hair in first, then Leigh and Ben. I leaped down boulders, leaned into bushes to keep upright, tons of fun but sobering. Abby was moving quick coming up, a few places ahead of Deb! The traffic constrained me somwhat, somehow I didn't fall, and reached the bottom to slap the aid table at 1:14.
I was passing people on the way up, where I was struggling last year. Somehow I made it up easily with the same run/walk strategy from the first half. Without feeling spent at all, I switched the nearly empty Heed bottle for the Sustained Energy where Bob was waiting on the porch, and had good form heading down to the road. I was amazed hitting the downhills again just how good I felt and ran right up most the other side past the road.
One new strategy employed was blowing my nose, one nostril at a time I cleared the passageways that ruined me on my last couple long runs. My nose was running copiously in the low damp temps. I kept limber hopping over everything and swinging my arms as I power hiked. Through the next section I didn't drink much, and didn't feel any inner ear trouble. There was a bout three of us that kept pace almost to the water stop. One girl and I switched positions once or twice. She was a great climber and I let her pass. Gave a loud hoot whenever we crested and stared out into the grey cloudy void. Then I passed her as she complained there was no view! I think she passed me later on but I'm not sure, I passed 4 or 5 people at least. Recognized their gait was the same shuffle those hills had reduced me to last year.
Amazing how much easier this was. I had drank about half the Sustained Energy and was feeling a little inner ear pressure. At the water stop I gave a whoop and chugged from a jug. This cleared my head and was very refreshing. Came upon a guy wearing NB 790's and he did complain they didn't do well on the wet stuff. I passed him and more going over Hitchcock, plenty in the tank. Said to the guy behind that I'd come back for that hill, positive but maybe insincere response. It really had a very good sustained steep grade, only a mile or two into the course.
Drank more SE on the way up Bear, feeling like a million bucks and passing more people whom I congradulated. Tore my way down the gnarly last decent, human tetris. The Crosslites did awesome, great on the mud and when planting my foot in sharp rocky pockets. With total confidence I sprinted down the scree and s curves to the finish in 2:34:29, faster than last year by 16:52! Bob was right there, he has my sincere thanks for crewing. Big help. Nye and Katie were across the street and I was glad she could bring him as he saw me tearing down to the finish. We hung out and chatted with a few people. I cramped a little bit walking to the car from the finish, popped a couple e-caps and was able to drink some Recoverite that wasn't too spoiled. Bagles and cream cheese, yogurt and sourdough, and only one cookie filled my empty belly before we headed for home. I was elated beyond experience, contrast of the brutal exhaustion from last year made it even sweeter. Can't wait to see the results and see how everyone else fared.