Pre race I slept better than most times before a race - probably due to low expectations. I had ran 50 miles the week before, 80 in the past 8 days - these numbers are way, way high for me. I was a wee bit tired going into the race, so I had no clue as to how I would do. I chatted and jogged a bit with George pre race and by the time the race was ready to start I had decided to just run by feel, trying to stay mentally in it and remember throughout that it would be good training for PPM coming up in 5 weeks.
I surprised myself and did really well, setting new PR's up the W's, through No-name creek, the 7.8 miles sign and got to Barr Camp just under 1 hr 30 minutes - first time beating 90 minutes to get there from the Cog Railway start line. My only rough patch going up was at the 1/2 mile to go to Barr Camp sign when I got the wobblies in my legs for not having eaten anything the whole run. So I walked for about 3 or 4 minutes while eating some food.
That helped quickly and I ran the last couple of minutes to Barr Camp and turned around to get to work on the descent. At this stage I was capable of getting close to a 2:15 finish. I ran strong for the next 2 1/2 miles and thankfully my ankles, knees, hips, gut and noggin were all behaving responsibly - it was fun to cruise and push with a tough, but makeable time target ahead.
Then just before no-name creek aid station my race ended. I caught up to another runner who had just fallen hard and she needed help. So, we jogged the rest of the race together to the finish. She showed great courage and determination to finish despite falling a couple of other times in those last 4 miles. I was trying hard the whole way to point out to her all the rocks, roots and bumps in the trail, where to slow down, when to start singing, when to cry a little louder, I learnt one of her favorite songs was "all I do is win, win, win" or something - I'm not familiar with the song (or winning) but it got us through a few miles and we eventually crossed the finish line.
After the race I enjoyed some good pizza and watermelon at the awards ceremony, watching GZ take 10th overall and 1st Master, hanging out with him and Brad who took 12th overall (2nd Master)
In slowing down I saved a good trashing of my legs and as I type this I feel better than I ever have after running up to Barr Camp and back. So much so that I did an easy 3 miles this morning - something I have never done after a tough race like that one.
Looking forward to Pikes Peak Marathon coming up. 890 other runners and I are counting down the days. I am encouraged by my improving fitness, I'm not where I want to be yet, and the journey there has many miles, many hours and a few tubs of sweat to go. But today I feel good.