Santa Barbara 9-trails. No warm-up, rode over to the checkin around 5:30 with Clay, then hitched a ride up to the start with some other runner. Waited anxiously around for the start (peed once). Hit the trail in 6th, passed two guys on the trail in the first couple minutes to put myself in 4th, with Guillermo, Mike, and Rocky in front of my. Mike and Guillermo were together and I passed them before the 11 minute trail. Rocky I passed just before Inspiration point. I got confused at one trail crossing so I stopped to wait a minute for him. I breezed through the 1st aid station without stopping and kept on until the next one. Here I finally filled my water bottle (which started empty) with water and had a big pretzel. I was only here for a minute before heading out. I wanted to run my own race, which meant leaving the other runners behind me. I felt great right through the 3rd station, where I stopped for a handful of pretzels and some Heed. After this I made my way to the half way point. Andy met me about a mile before this and boosted my energy. I spent about 5 minutes there talking to Stu and some other folks. I ate a piece of potato, some clif salt blocks, some M&Ms, oranges, and I think that's it. I headed out with an 11 minute lead over Mike and Guillermo. I felt great up to the 5th aid station, had another baggie of salt blocks, filled my water and headed out. It's a beast of an uphill from here, which gave me a lot of trouble and I had to walk. The downhills and flats were much easier, but I walked a bunch through the uphills. At the Gibraltar aid station I took another 5 minutes or so and ate some oranges and had electrolyte pills and more water. It was hard going up the service road, but I ran most of it. Long downhill was a much needed respite, but of course it was followed by another long uphill which wiped me out. Andy was towards the top of this one, and gave me another huge boost in morale and energy. He took me through the next aid station where I got more water, Heed, and rest. From here, there was a bit of uphill to inspiration point and the rest was all downhill. If I could make it to Inspiration in first, I knew I could win. The people at the 6th checkpoint said that Guillermo was right behind me and talking some trash, so I knew I had to hustle. I ran the entire uphill section and got really moving on the way down. I caught Andy about a mile out from the finish and we ran the end together. It was a great finish to a tough race.
I think my biggest mistake was in my calorie intake. I needed to eat more during the race. Before the race I had a big bowl of granola with a spoonful of peanut butter in it and a bagel just before the race. While I did drink enough, I struggled with energy in the 2nd third of the race, which may have been avoided had I eaten more earlier on in the race. Other than that, I ran a really smart and strong race and beat some pretty good runners along the way. Andy was a huge help, and even mentioned sponsorship to one of the volunteers at the race who has connections to North Face. So we'll see.