1st race back from injury, overall: not bad. Conditions similar to this past week, chilly not cold, some wind, sometimes muddy trails.
Rebel and I identified the guy we needed to beat, and he took off right away like this was a road half-marathon or something. After a minute of sub-6 pace, I backed off his pace as only Rebel went with him. Another guy passed me and another got close by the time we hit the trails.
Going up Mystery Mountain was alright, but I wasn't feeling great. I spent parts of it wanting to get away from the guy behind me, and parts wanting him to catch me so we could chill and chat. I tried to take it easy after summiting as descending wasn't feeling great. Different parts of my core were not happy, stomach felt empty, started to get a side-ache, back was testy...
Now up Moose Mountain; I was starting to find my rhythm on the hills and left 5th place behind for good. The downhill also felt much better as I flew down the technical section, not as worried about my core this time, though still worried my quads weren't ready for this.
The final uphill before the turnaround was easier but I was hesitant being not yet at halfway. Still, I was optimistic about not seeing the top 3 yet as I summited. However, the map did not convey that there was still several minutes to halfway after the summit, so when I saw the top 3 (all close, but not together), I ended up being maybe 6minutes behind instead of a couple. And after I turned around, I would find that Emma was already in 5th and closer to me than I was to the lead!
The next mile or 2 was a blur of downhill and jumping off-trail to get around people running the opposite way. But this was fun for me, I tried to motivate them and they were happy to cheer for me. I knew I wasn't in "the race" and I think I was the 1st person to cheer back. I did take 1 stumble as I jumped off the trail onto a slope, but it just got my calf dirty.
Maybe prematurely, by the time I reached Moose Mountain, I had already decided that I was fine walking up the steep part. Which led to me deciding I was already at the steep part before I actually was and walking without likely needing to. Maybe it was good for me.
The downhill went well as very few were in my way now. Now I just had 1 more mountain to climb... and though not a difficult climb, I was pretty well spent on uphills. This went slowly and I started looking back, wondering if I was getting caught. I made it to the top without seeing anyone, (behind or ahead, as I still wondered if anyone ahead of me would crash and burn from the fast pace) and with 4th place secure and feeling tired&hungry, I just cruised easily down to the finish.
In review, I was happy with my time and place considering how fast the top 3 went and I ran entirely alone without much knowledge of the course. Rebel and Emma had great days and though it is odd being closer in time to Emma than Rebel, I also know they are training in these conditions. My injuries, though worrisome at halfway, were not an issue. Oddly, given my injuries and time off, I thought my fitness would still be fine for the uphills but my downhills would suffer from not doing much running, but it seemed my uphill abilities ended up being poor while my descending was great! Clearly, I could use some hill training and I'm still not sure about Dam to Dam, but the best news is the injuries seem to be fading continually.