Going into race day I was a bit nervous, as my last long run which was suppose to be 26 miles ended up only being 19 miles as I had fallen and was pretty bruised and bloody. That meant my longest run going into Cool was 22 miles. I had a few goals going into this run, my first goal was to run a 5:45 as I figured my fitness was around this time goal. Second goal was to get Trailmomma a PR as we would be running most if not all of this race together.
Now let's fast forward to the race day. It was going to be a beautiful day. Trailmomma and I lined up in the middle of wave 1. I was excited as you could feel the energy coming from the crowd. I was also nervous because I knew with the amount of runners in the race that there were sure to be some conga lines along the single track trail and I told myself to use it my advantage. The one thing I really didn't think about and probably should have was all the mud as it had rained the week prior and it would be pretty muddy out there.
The first 8 miles take us down the haul road before we reached the fire road and our first stream crossing at Knickerbocker creek. I knew from past experiences to go wide left as there is congestion with a lot of runners using the rocks so as not to get their feet wet. I went left and quickly passed runners. I hit the single track and sure enough the conga line had us stopped in our tracks. I was a bit upset as this section of trail was very runnable, but with all the runners I wasn't going anywhere fast. I settled down and just went with the flow. I knew that I didn't want to spend a lot of energy trying to pass as there was a lot of miles left so I relaxed and got comfortable and soon enough the congo line would run for a bit and then come to a screeching halt. Bust soon we hit the fire road which gave plenty of room for others to pass and or be passed. Eventually we arrived back at the Start/Finish and it was here that I exchanged my hand held for a fresh handheld as my wife Rachel was waiting for me. At the aid station I enjoyed 2 bananas and was on my way as the next aid station at Lower Quarry was only 3 miles away.
As Trailmomma and I started the descent my stomach started to knot up. I had to use the bathroom. I love this downhill section, I like to open it up and let the trail take me only I wasn't able to as my stomach was really bothering me. I managed to peel off and as I did I yelled to Trailmomma that I would catch up, she kept going and I made a necessary pit stop in the bushes. After my much needed pit stop I felt so much better. I quickly hit the trail and let it open up. I was probably doing sub 8 on this section. I made it to the HWY 49 crossing and spot Trailmomma at the port-o-potty. I shouted to her that she can catch me on the fire road as it isn't my favorite section. I hit the aid station and filled my hydration pack, grabbed some bananas and some granola bars and was back on the fire road where to my surprise Trailmomma was right by my side. We set a nice and steady pace for ourselves and hiked the large hills and ran everything else.
Our next aid station was Maine Bar which was 5.6 miles away and at mile 16.7. I was fueling with prepetuem in my handheld and relying on the solid food as I really wanted to see how my body would react with solid food as I haven't been enjoying gels. Trailmomma and I plugged away and soon enough the aid station appeared, only it was at mile 15 which now meant we had 6 miles to Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) instead of 5 miles. At this express station I again grabbed some granola bars as those were tasting really good.
I knew that this next section had some climbing and that I needed to stay focused. Trailmomma and I had a nice rhythm going, and my legs during the climbs felt very strong and I could keep a nice strong cadence. We would run and hike run and hike. I was feeling pretty good but slowly I could feel my energy level slowly dropping. I didn't take a gel in and in hindsight I should have. I was trying to wait until the Aid Station. I hit the climb to third gate and plugged away at it, again keeping a nice strong cadence and pushing myself a bit on this climb. It was after this climb that I really wanted that aid station to appear. Only it didn't and I started to get a bit angry. I should have taken in a gel, or something as I knew I needed some fuel. I kept plugging away and eventually we arrived at the aid station.
At ALT aid station, I took in some food as well as refilled my handheld with perpetuem and took in some more food. Trailmomma and I took off and walked a bit so that we could finish what we were eating. I knew that this next section was very runnable and I had been looking forward to to it all day. This section would just take you if you let it and you could really pick off some runners. Only that wasn't the case for me. I tried to increase my pace, but it wouldn't happen. I would like to think I managed a nice steady clip. I just kept plugging away. We were nearing goat hill and that was all that I was focused on. Get to goat hill and from there only 5 more miles. But I was really low on energy and I knew I needed to do something about it. At the initial climb to goat hill I took in a gel. Then I took in another gel. And my energy came back to me.
Trailmomma and I hit goat hill and I was feeling really good. My legs felt strong and I just put my head down and power hiked up the hill. We climbed goat hill in 9 minutes with the conga line. At the top of goat hill I was pumped. I quickly filled up my hand held with what Trailmomma calls "crack"...which is actually coke and looked at her and we took off. I was on top of the world. I hit the descent and shouted to her that this was very runnable. We took off.
We were now on our way to HWY 49 crossing. We were slowly passing runners and picking off runners who had passed us on the section to goat hill. At one point though I started to dry heave, it didn't slow me down I kept right on running. I was probably a bit dehydrated when that happened. Trailmomma was really funny and wanted nothing to do with it. (Note to self for when she paces me at TRT.)
I saw the grandpa tree sign and knew we had 4 miles to the finish. I also looked at my watch and knew that a 5:45 was out of the question but that Trailmomma could still PR. So I did what any good friend would do, I pushed the pace. I encouraged us to run a bit more of the hills and to power hike quicker. I'm not sure if Trailmomma was cursing at me, but if she was she didn't tell me.
We hit the 49 crossing and I filled my hand held with more coke and took off. I had us running the hill longer then I normally would have. I was focused on Trailmomma's PR. Then I transitioned us to a power hike and kept shouting encouragement to Trailmomma. I think other runners thought it was obnoxious, but who cares. I was energizing myself and had my eye on the goal. My legs were feeling great and really strong on the hikes. We had 1 mile to go and I pushed the pace even more, telling Trailmomma to run up and over this hill and you look good, nice and strong. Now only .5 to go. We hit the home stretch and I told Trailmomma "Let's open up." Trailmomma did. I knew we had more to give so I said "Push a bit more, pass those 2 girls." and she did, then Trailmomma said "This is good enough", but when I heard that I said "Push some more." and she did. One final hill, and I told her "Up and over, keep going, push it." And we did. Then Trailmomma turned on her fuel jets and sprinted. Luckily I saw the acceleration and matched her foot step for foot step. I pumped the crowed up and the crowd yelled louder.
We crossed the finish together and I threw my arms in the air. We crossed in 6:14:09. A new PR for Trailmomma. I was proud of her, proud of how she pushed. I was pretty happy with my time, considering that my last long run was 19 miles. I ran within my ability. I pushed myself on the climbs and I pushed myself those last 5 miles to see what was left in the tank. Honestly when I finished I felt really good physically. This wasn't my target race, and I kept my eye on the ultimate goal TRT100.
As for how I thought my fueling was, I could have used a few more calories. Obviously that was a given. I did enjoy not having as many gels, but I needed a bit more solid food. That I can work on. I never got sick of the solid food. I took in a lot of salt, about 2 an hour as it was warm. I should have had more water as I was a bit dehydrated at the end. The perpetuem I got sick of. I think it was having the same flavor and consistency. Overall I learned a lot and that was what I was looking for. I ran a smart race. I ran within my fitness which was great and I was able to run a solid recovery run on Sunday.
Now to focus on AR50 as again this will be a training run for me.
Thank you to the volunteers who were out there all day and to my wife who has supported me from the beginning. You believe in me which makes me believe in myself. Thank you to Trailmomma for all the training runs and for being my running partner. We have laughed, we have cried, but most off all we have fun each time we hit the trail.
Believe and You will Achieve