Add in the fact I have a 2 week old baby at home...and I was expecting something over 4:30 for the day. I would have been happy with anything UNDER 4:30. Well..I ended up running 4:10. I have no idea how I did that.
The race started with a nice downhill section for the first 4-5 miles, taking us to the Lake. I was bouncing around a bit in the top ten at this point, reaching the first aid station in about 7th. Out of that first aid is the first big climb, and I did my best to keep an honest hike of it. I ran a bit, but not much.
It was at this point that Jon Noll caught and passed me. This would be a recurring theme all race. It was an interesting test. Jon would run every climb. I would hike them. So, every climb, he passed me and gapped me. Once we returned to downhill or flat running, however, I'd reel him in and pass him right back. He would hear me coming on the downhills, step off the trail...and let me fly by. We joked about it all day.
On the 2nd-last big climb, at Mile 21, Jon passed me, and I told him I think the "Uphill Legs" would beat the "Downhill Legs" today.
At the Mile 25 aid station, I was in rough shape. Earlier on I had lost all my SCaps and was in desperate need of some. Enter...Jennifer and Sam, who were volunteering at Mile 25. All I wanted was ICE and SCAPS. Luckily, Sam had brought his personal ultra aid station box to the race and provided me with a handful of Endurolytes, a Ginger Gummy Chew, and Jennifer filled me up on Ice. As I hiked out of the aid station, Jon passed me. (I had passed him...you guessed it...on the flats and downhill in to the Aid Station)
I walked about a 1/4 mile out of the aid station. The course would take us directly to the Lake, and we would then make one final climb up the Lake Hill, then have about 3 miles to the finish. After letting the Endurolytes work their magic, and expelling a couple excellent burps, I was back in business. On the downhill to the Lake I once again caught Jon. We entered Lake Aid with me abotu 15 seconds up. I stopped for Coke and more ice, and was told I was in 4th place.
As I left Lake Aid and approached the big climb, Jon once again passed me. As he did, we bumped knuckles. I figured that was it for me. I stuck with him for a decent amount of the climb, but by the time I was nearing the top, and for about 5 minutes after flattening out at the top, I couldn't see him.
Once through the BEAUTIFUL South Bluff Aid Station at Mile 28.5, we begin our return to the Finish. There's a hard left that we make on to a new trail...and lo and behold...there's Jon. Immediately...blood is in the water and I'm in RACE MODE.
I catch Jon on a gradual downhill and we share a laugh. He tells me to finish strong, but beware...there's a big hill right before the end. I'm determined to keep up this pace. My 29th mile was a 6:52 mile.
About a mile from the finish, there right ahead of me, is third place. While still running, he isn't moving well. RACE MODE. I catch and pass him. As I do, he asks, "50k?" I grunt a, "Yep" in reply and now I'm full-on pain cave RUN.
There IS a big hill at the end and I run every step of it. the last 100 yards is downhill in to the finish and it's a full sprint. I finish in 4:10, 3rd overall. I'm still trying to figure out how I ran FOUR - TEN?!
Next up is Marquette. I want this one badly. I have 36 days to improve on my speed and IMPROVE GREATLY on my climbing. Let's do this.
36 Days To Marquette
|Leaving Mile 25|
|Quite a sense of Accomplishment|
|Uphill Jon on the Left, Downhill Nic on the Right|