It was cold, wet, and early. There was a mass start on a paved road, quickly leading to a gravel jeep road and then single track. I didn’t want to get sucked into starting too fast so I started off in the middle of the pack. It took me about 2 miles to get warmed up (feeling in my hands) and used to the conditions. Mile 3 – I’m running pretty conservatively still, but feeling good with 1/3 of the race done. At about mile 3.5, the pack I was running with thinned out and I found a group of 3 runners with a good pace (I left the GPS in the car because I was afraid of the forecasted downpour).
I ran with the same 3 until 4.5 where the Trail of Tears begins. I knew if I made it through the climbs here and was still feeling good I should push harder and make a move. Because I rode the trail in the days before the race I had a good feel for where to rest and when to push on the climb. Feeling good after the climbing, and keeping my heart rate in check, I let it loose on the DH portion of the trail and never looked back. It was about mile 6 when I made my move and found myself running solo. Pretty soon I would see a lone runner in the distance and push harder to catch him, pass him, and move on to the next one. I kept this up all the way until the finish line when I couldn’t catch the two guys ahead of me, both finished less than a minute in front. I can’t help but wish I had started the push earlier and finished 1st AG and 9th overall.I can’t believe how much fun it was to run the race and have the feeling of really pushing myself mentally and physically. Endurance racing and individual events are a different beast, but quickly becoming very addictive. Less than a minute….