This is the second 25k I've ever done. Last one was a year ago at Pumpkin Holler. I nearly blew up then. I went out too fast trying to keep up with the lead females and as I struggled and fell further and further behind I fought harder and slowed more. I struggle with pacing, with trusting my ability, and running my own race early on.
Today was different. I held back early on, letting the lead female go. I watched only my heart rate and not red lining it. I worried that I felt too good at times early on. It was pouring rain at the start. The gun fired and we took off down the paved road for about 1/2 mile. I knew this would be the only flat fast section. I hit the trail in about 7th or 8th position with the lead female not far ahead. I felt great but could tell I was racing a little too hard at first. By mile 2 after telling myself to slow down a thousand times I finally relented and eased up on the reigns. Could I learn from last year? Could I meet my goal..to pace myself with the parameters coach set for me or would I ignore them and be selfish and pay later?
I started to really enjoy the race. It was raining hard, the course very technical with wet slickery craggly rocks, roots, and boulders. Beautiful vistas and lake views. Short ups that were steep and kept you honest, and fun downs that required good attention, relaxed form and good balance...and a lot of luck!
I caught the lead female pretty quick and opted just to hang behind. Then she stopped to tie her shoe. I didnt really want to be in first this soon, but had finally settled into a rythm, confident I would no longer be tempted to go too fast. I ran through the first aid station. I had a handheld full of sport drink I had yet to start drinking from.
The first 3-4 miles were the most technical. I was pleased to hit a smoother flatter section. It was still raining hard. I chuckled as my feet sank and splashed through 6+ inches of thick muddy soup. My B2R trail prototypes ROCKED!!! They fit snug like a glove, super light..so even through the shoe sucking mud my feet never felt heavy nor did I feel like I might lose a shoe. My feet were sure and I was able to feel the trail without feeling the sharp rocks. The soles of my B2Rs gripped the wet slick rocks and roots beautifully! They were absolutely perfect! And today's trail was definitely an extreme test for them! These shoes ARE going to Giants Eric!!
I passed a few more runners and ran solo for a long stretch. About a half mile to mile before the turn around the first male whizzed by. I started to count. I wanted to know where I was. 1, 2, 3, 4....I was in 5th place. Cool, I thought...I wonder if I can move up I thought.
I was feeling great, took a swig of water at the aid station and turned back for the second half. I sipped my sport drink on the way back trying to stay well fueled now about an hour and 25 min into the race. Pre race I drank a 350calorie ensure and my usual, very robust, 20oz coffee. I had plenty of energy, but wanted to maintain it. I still had to watch my heart rate and back off a little from time to time, although it wasn't as difficult now to keep from charging to hard. The pouring rain continued and I was getting a wee bit chilly. I thought maybe I was just moving slower and that was why I was getting cold, but no, the temp did actually drop significantly as all the runners experienced the same sense.
At the aid station at around 11 miles I think I passed runner #4, but not sure. I continued on. Hit another smooth flat deep muddy section and totally bit it! Mud in my face, hand held bottle flung, me on all fours. I laughed. I could not have picked a softer, rock/root free section to bite it. I thought, "I'll take it". Beats falling on sharp rocks!
I spoke too soon...about another half mile down 5he way I slipped on a rock and slid on my ass about 5 feet down a fairly rocky section. No major damage. Just a muddy/sore hind end and a few scrapes on the hands. I told myself, "ok Lori, pay attention! No time to get sloppy!". It was about that time I saw a glimpse of a white shirt about 20 meters ahead. It was runner #3. I got excited. He was tall and thin and looked to be moving well. I worked to catch him. He climbed better than me and I descended better than him. I caught him at a point where we had to climb up between 2 boulders. We chatted as he let he up ahead of him. I quickly offered him the lead as I knew we were getting ready to hit the road and there would be plenty of room for both of us. About a half mile to go we hit the road. His long lean legs took off! I chased him in and finished 4th less than a minute behind him. We were greeted at the finish with chilli and drinks. It was a great race, a challenging and wonderfully fun course!. I was fortunate my pacing made for a very enjoyable race and I earned 1st female and 4th place overall.