One one hand I was both anxious and excited for what would be the most physical challenge of my life. On the other hand, I was skeptical about my training, both on hills and overall mileage. I convinced myself that a strong effort and respectable finish would be all I could ask for out of myself. Just don't embarrass myself out there. Besides, I was running with the big dogs this time. From what I had read in the days leading up to the race, this could be considered the strongest field ever assembled for an ultra marathon in both the men's and women's class.
Fortunately the race allowed for gear bags on the course. Four of the eleven stations would serve as gear bag drops. Each drop site woould actually be hit twice over the course of the race and therefore only two bags actually dropped. I loaded them up with my preference of hydration (purple G2) and nutrition (Honey Stinger gels, Lenny & Larry's Muscle Brownie's and PowerBar Energy Blasts) as well as changes of shorts, shirts, shoes and socks and an assortment of other items I thought could come in handy. I later realizedI failed to packe the extra clothes, but it was never an issue. I also had a huge gear bag at the start/finish area that allowed for warm clothes pre and post run.
|Pre-race goofball picture. WTH with the visor?|
|A little cold singletrack action on the hillside|
Somewhere along the way the rain came back. It wasn't a downpour, but enough to concern me that it might get muddy. In addition, it kept it cool. For some reason I had shed the gloves at the first bag drop and was now wishing I had them back. I always have a problem with my fingers getting cold.
|The mud and the shoes I switched to, the Brooks Cascadia 6.|
In the week prior to the race, I had studied the guide, the aid station locations and distances between each, but somehow things started getting a bit fuzzy for me and for much of the race back towards the start I just took what the course gave. I had totally got lost on where things were such as the hills, aid stations and significant landmarks.
As it turns out, it was 4.7 miles to the next station and then 3.4 more miles before the course circled back to Bootjack, 31.7 miles in and just under 20 left. I filled my water bottle, grabbed another muscle brownie and was out of there. This was in the Muir Woods so many of the upcoming miles would be run under tree cover, up and down several steps, over and under trees, through at least one Redwood, a few bridges and a ladder.
By chance I happened to leave Bootjack with a group of 3 runners. It consisted of both a male and female 50 mile participant and a male pacer for the female. I didn't intend to, but ended up following them for several miles through the woods and a couple of aid stations. We may have even leap frogged each other a few of times, I'm not sure, but it seemed that I would be ahead of the female racer as I approached aid stations and she would be ahead of me by the time we left them. I didn't feel like I spent more than a couple minutes tops at the stations, but she spent even less. A very efficient runner. The male racer that was a friend of the other two eventually left us behind and ended up beating me by about 16 minutes.
There were other racers along this section that seemed to either pull ahead or fall back, not really sure as I lost track of them in the woods. I just wasn't too concerned about beating anyone, but instead just trying to finish with a decent time. When the day started, the goal was under 9 hrs. As it progressed, Mr. Mathematician had some work to do figuring out time left to get 9.5, 10, and then eventually 10.5. At some point in the race, just trying to determine the pace I needed to get 5 miles in one hour was a challenge. It may as well have been titled The North Face Endurance and Math Challenge.
|Green jacket guy from early in the race, maybe before Muir Beach station at 13.9???|
|Men's podium - Dave Mackey (3rd), Geoff Roes(2nd) and Miguel Heras(1st)|