I take off with a lead group of runners. We lean into the first climb of the day. Man, who are these guys in front of me? They are wearing basketball shorts and tee shirts! There is no way they should be in front of me, with my little shorts and high tech, fast wicking racing singlet with some fancy label like "better than naked". They are probably just 5 mile runners, or they don't know what they are doing. I look to my left, there is Will G. I know I will be racing him for the 30k win. I just want to keep him in my sights. If I can stay with him up the first climb, then I got him.
Oh man, this climb just keeps going... I'm breathing way too hard this soon into the race. Keep pumping the arms, keep pumping the arms... The legs will follow.
We hit a slight reprieve from the climb and I stretch out my legs a little and make up a few steps on Will. At this point I am right on him and then we hit a fork in the trail. He tells me that the sign is wrong, that we have to keep going straight and then takes off. I stand there and stare at the intersection for a moment. The sign says go up the hill to the right! Will stops and tells me the sign is wrong, he knows the course. Another runner catches up to me and waits for the verdict. I decide to go with Will and the other runner follows.
The three of us are cruising down this wide open fire road when my toe catches a rock. Seriously? Am I really falling? I just kicked that rock. Uh oh, here comes the ground... Thunk, slide... Will is out of sight, the other runner stops and asks if I am ok. I pop up and exclaim that I am fine, and we continue on. But then I look down and realize I am bleeding pretty good. I tell the other runner to keep going, I was just going to do a damage check. OK, just scratches, everything seems to be in working order, keep going! I keep the other runner in sight and realize that he is a really good downhiller. I am trying to keep up with him, but the only time I make up any ground on him are on the climbs! Well, this is new... At some point I loose contact with him and I am on my own on the fire-roads that seem to be rolling on forever. The same view repeating itself over and over again.
Well, this is boring. I wonder when I will catch those guys. When are we going to hit the next aid station? Man, it's getting warm. Wow, what's this? The landscape totally changes on me. I am now running amidst ferns and redwoods, down a technical single track trail. Fun again! I hit the next aid station. Do you need anything? Nah, just need to drink. Slam a few cups of gatorade and a cup of water and I am out. I run some nice hills in the shade of the redwoods and am having a pretty good time when I come down to the intersection with the stream trail, which should take me around to finish the first loop. But then I see the other runner running back to me. "I don't think we go that way" He tells me he didn't see any flags. But the sign points that way. I look to the left and there is another sign hanging form a tree, sort of just dangling, pointing up. Not much good that does us. I tell him the only way to go is to the right. So we run together and finally see some more flags. He is obviously not happy about the course marking, but we find out later that there was some significant vandalism on the course. We hit some bike path and come around to the start again. He finishes, which means he is a half-marathon runner. I breath a sigh of relief because that means all I have to do is chase down Will on the next five mile loop.
The climb up the hill is different this time. No more pop in the legs. All by myself. No body to catch or push me. Come on legs! Move! Man that sun is pounding down. Keep an eye out for yellow flags on left. That is where I turn down off of the hill for the final descent. It never comes. Keep going, going, when will I ever be done with this! There! There is the tricky intersection, and yellow flags on the left. I shoot down the steep rocky fire road. Ok, if I can push this all the way to the finish, maybe, just maybe I will catch Will. Turn-over, keep the legs churning... Oh wow, this trail looks familiar. I remember this! This is the section of trail where I passed Victor at Firetrails last year. Keep the legs moving. Just a little bit more! I hit the road again, turn a corner and see the finish line. 2:21. Not a bad time. Definitely not what I was shooting for, but a good fast workout...
Jeremy: Will! How did you do?
Will: 2:17, new course record... but I knew it was soft
Jeremy: Awesome man! Congratulations! You ran well.
Will: Was that you that fell back there?
Jeremy: Yeah, caught a rock and went superman, you know how it is...
Will: Yeah, sorry man...
Race Notes: Drymax midweights + brooks puregrits + high sweat rate + short course = sloshfest. Should have went with thinner socks and NB 110s...
No need for gu or to carry water. That plan worked fine.