|About 4,400+ feet of gain. Not for the faint of heart.|
|The "hipster house" crew walking to the start.|
The start of the race takes you up a gradual grade up a paved road for about a mile plus. I saw my friend Colin up about 50 yards ahead and Dave, who I started with, slowly gain on him. I was content to start off at a conservative pace. The road then takes you up switchback fire road where the longest climb of the day would begin rising 1,500+ feet. I mixed in several power hiking breaks along with running still intent on keeping as minimal as possible. The more we rose, the more I started to feel the wind however. So much for that.
|The 1st big climb. (Photo: Mark Wilkinson)|
|Stunning views. (Photo: Michelle Barton)|
|Mother Nature from up above. (Photo: Mark Wilkinson)|
"..when you feel like speeding up, don't."
The only issue of the day was my anticipation that were would be gels available at the aid stations along the course. Not the case I found out. After downing the 2 gels I had on my person within the first two hours, my questions of "do you have any gels?" was only met with a disappointed head shake.
Crap. Time to improvise.
What they did carry were bowls filled with gummy bears and M&M's. While I couldn't stomach the thought of the former, I decided at each aid station to scoop up a handful of the delicious chocolate shells and stuff it into my pocket while downing it with the water in my handheld. As I ran, I methodically popped anywhere from 4-8 pieces every 10 minutes or so hoping the steady supply of "fuel" would prevent a bonk down the line. Couldn't even begin to do a calorie math based on what I was consuming but hoped it would be enough.
|Running adjacent to another body of water. (Photo: Mark Wilkinson)|
|Can't say you weren't warned. (Photo: Mark Wilkinson)|
The next section was on a paved concrete road that ran along a ridge with the Pacific to our left and the occasional jeep giving a tour to tourists who would occasionally cheer. Runners were really spread apart here and while I occasionally started feeling the dreaded cramp twinges in my right calf and hamstrings, thankfully it never seized up. Once we hit the next aid as we diverted right onto singletracks again (thank god), I passed another guy here and just focused on finishing strong.
|Never gets old. (Photo: Mark Wilkinson)|
Around mile 21, there was one more relatively short but equally steep hill that I'd forgotten about which rose about 200 feet. Again I just focused on cresting it without too much wear and tear and I managed to pull up to a trio of runners near the top. Back on the main rolling fire road, I was now running with guarded optimism that I could finally run a decent race without major issues (bonking, cramping, etc). I again passed a couple more runners here before coming up on our last aid station of the day around mile 23 that just preceded the final long descent before the finish.
Right as I came up on it, I surprisingly saw Dave begin his descent as he waved back at me. I knew this run down involved plenty of rocks and switched back several times before hitting the bottom. I think I wore the MT110s just for this section as they are a little grippier than my usual Pure Grits. Anyway, I ran down with controlled abandon focusing on just a few yards ahead of me given my recent track record of eating dirt and shit. I caught up to and passed Dave who had slowed down and was having late race issues. After exchanging greetings and wishing each other luck, I continued to tear down the hill. At an oddly unmarked fork in the road, I came up on the next runner and led the way down the correct path.
|Full on mouth breathing at the bottom of the descent. (Photo: Marj Daley)|
Once I hit the bottom of the trail, I was surprised to see friends Kristin and Marj hanging out to cheer their men in. They were also giving our other friends at the finish a heads up to expect us. I quickly acknowledged them before busting out in an all-out sprint once I hit the pavement. While it was still a gradual downhill to the finish, I was still anaerobic trying to fend off the guy behind me knowing my lack of "natural speed" might cause me to lose my place. Fear is a great motivator.
When I crossed over to the street with the finish now in sight at the end of it, I knew I would not get overtaken and ran in the finish with my little buddy Rider who was waiting with his dad Brian, our friend Laura and my girl who were all cheering me in. I officially crossed the line in 4:09:16 which was good for 18th overall out of 272 finishers. Apparently I later found out that I got a 2nd age group award too which was kinda B.S. because they didn't count the guys who podiumed. I'll live without getting whatever that award was.
|Rider running me in the finish. (Photo: Laura Rohnert)|
|Smiles heading down the finish!|
|Post-race dip. (Photo: Colin Cooley)|
As for what's next, I'm not sure. I had envisioned taking some time off after this one and just run the trails of So Cal whenever and however far I wanted to. Now I'm thinking about getting one more in to finish off 2012 (Ridgecrest?). Also been thinking about Avalon 50, Ray Miller 50, Bandit 50K, LA Marathon, etc for the early part of next year so I wouldn't be able to slack too much. But for now, I'll enjoy this one for a bit.
Thanks as always for reading and thank you folks at Spectrum for hooking me up with the entry. Enjoyed this one immensely!