I ended up back a bit in the starting line mosh pit, so I was a few runners behind Mark when we hit the single track trail. So I darted off to the side and bush whacked past a few runners and then tucked in behind Mark. We trotted along for a few minutes at a pretty leisurely pace when I asked Mark why we were going so slow. I was all for going out under control but the pace was a little slower than our norm. He was unaware that I was right behind him and had been going easy to wait for me to maneuver around the other runners and catch up. He didn’t realize I had Rambo’d it and caught up to him quickly! So he immediately set out to pass the runners in front. Unfortunately the timing of the pass coincided with a hazardous, rocky, water drenched area. Mark slipped, whacked his shins on the rocks and took a dive into the pit. Dude wtf are you doing? It was actually pretty funny. Mark doesn’t fall that much and I usually do, so it was nice to watch him take a digger for once. Ha ha! He's tough and was ok so we pressed on.
We moved well over the first 6.2 miles and tagged the first turn at 53:23. This was about a minute a mile pace faster than last year, so we figured we were doing pretty well. Actually, we wondered if we were going to fast. Would we pay later on?
We held the pace on the return leg and made it back in 54:08. (Since that split includes the time refilling water bottles at the 1st turn and grabbing gels, our out and back splits were almost identical.). So at the 12.4 mile point, all was ok.
Now the race got a little tougher. We set out on the 7 mile leg going north, which has more elevation and a little more technical terrain. As we closed in on the station at the end of the leg, I started to hit the "20 mile wall" and faded behind Mark as we approached the turn. (Dejavu - this is where I faded from Mark last year) It was getting warmer out and I felt a need for increased fluid intake. I reached the turn in 1:13:08 (total time of 3:00:40). I refilled my bottle, grabbed a banana slice, dumped some water on my head and started on my way back up the hill and to finish the final 7 miles.
Since I was heading back in by myself and didn't have a rabbit to follow, I didn't figure I would match the 1:13 time going out, but I did feel that I could get in within 1:29 and nab a sub 4:30 race. As long as I didn't do anything stupid! So I kept a steady pace and kept moving. I did stop at every point where there were water jugs, drank and poured some over my head. It was definitely getting hot and I felt overheated. (As I made my way over the final miles of the course I remembered back to last year when I was absolutely miserable and hurting at that point and basically wandering deliriously through the woods. I remembered questioning at that point in the race last year why I was doing a trail marathon and being really pissed at Mark for talking me into doing that race!)
With about 3/4 of a mile to go I had to hop over a tree which crossed the trail. When I lifted my right leg over, it triggered a severe cramp in my hamstring. Ouch! I scared a few squirrels when I yelped! I walked a short bit to work it out and then cruised in to the finish. It took me 1:24:14 to complete the final leg and I finished with a time of 4:24:54 (29th place (complete results)) Mark kept a strong pace back in and finished in a blazing time of 4:10 (22nd place.) Bruce finished in an impressive 5:05 to write his first trail marathon into the books.
I was pumped to take 30 minutes off my time of 4:54 last year and was able to do so without falling or rolling an ankle. A great trail run indeed! I do need to solve the cramping issues I've had the last two marathons. I felt like I was consistent with water, electrolyte drinks, bananas, and endurolytes both pre-race and the entire race. Yet, I still cramped. I don't want to be cramping 25 miles into the VT100!
pic before the race
pic of me out on the course
another one out on the course
pic of Mark out on the course