I was looking forward to running this race for the first time. It suited me well....the abundance of steep hills. I had run the course with Will, Mike and Angela in mid-March, but come race day, I had forgotten just how steep the hills were -- especially after running the relatively flat Rumble. My fitness was on par for a successful race after PR'ing at all the races this year. I had a goal of running under 4:30.
The race started out pretty fast....at least for me. I was able to hang on till the first substantial hill before falling back into more of a sustainable pace and let 3 guys go. However, just as I hit the first steep hill, my legs just weren't turning over like they normally do. Not sure what was going on. I swapped places with Joe (a ultrarunner from Portland - nice meeting you bro!) on a number of occassions -- he catching me on the downhills, I catching him on the uphills.
The miles were passing by but my legs still were not "functioning" normal...especially on the long, gradual dirt/gravel roads. In addition to my lack of leg turnover, somewhere around mile 16, I started having severe abdominal cramps and bloating. This persisted till the mile 22ish aid station. I attributed this to having too many electrolytes and salt consumption (via S-caps) on board....I was miscalculating.....I was taking these supplements at each of the aid stations and on the trail. Big mistake! This definitely won't happen again! At this point, I was contemplating dropping from the race since I felt like s#*t.
At around mile 24ish, things started to turn around. The bloating/cramps dissipated and I caught 2 runners right beginning of the last, long steep trail before hitting the road that bombs down to the last aid station. My legs felt a little better so I really pushed it -- thinking that they or some one else would catch me on the downhills to the last aid station and onto the finish line. Just outside of the last aid station, I had to stop for a quick restroom break.
I made it down to the last aid station in 4th place - 5 minutes behind 3rd. At this point, I decided to try and hang on to 4th place. I quickly refilled my handheld with water and dropping a Nuun tablet.
The 3+ mile gravel road outside of the last aid station killed me. It just never seemed to end. My legs felt heavy. I walked for about a minute thinking that a different pace would help. My legs are accustomed to varied speeds on trails -- not that same for miles on end on these long, gravel roads.
Just as I reached the last 1.5miles to the finish, Brian Morrison caught me. Ugh! He was moving fast. "Great finish. Keep it up," I said as I let him pass. I was able to match his pace up the final hill before he put the gear into overdrive and was gone, bombing down the hill to the finish.
I cruised the last mile and finished in 4:31 and 5th overall. I was pleased with the result given what all transpired over the day. A friend I went to high school with - Jason Moyer - finished right behind me. Will finished in 4:54 - great race my friend - given the limited training you've done over the past month! Mike finished in 4:42 -- great race -- for having smoked the Eugene marathon in 2:42 (only in my dreams would I be able to run that fast) just 6 days prior!
A great race put on by the race directors. The course was well-marked and the aid stations were well-stocked. Thanks to all the volunteers. They were helpful and ready to meet your needs! Amazing!!