Race conditions were ideal. For some time, I'd described in my head the perfect race day: a couple of weeks of sub-freezing temps to harden the ground (the single track Buckeye Trail tends to turn into a mud-fest during this race with above-freezing temps), not too much trail (less slipping and mess on the trail) and a race day temp not too close to 32F and cold enough to keep the ground frozen. This wish was the exact thing we got...19F at the start...25F at the finish. The streams were frozen over, too, so we didn't have to get wet this year crossing them.
This year, the split the field to head 2 different directions which REALLY helped the congestion. (Thanks, Tanya!) 1/2 marathoners headed out to Pine Lane and the 50K and marathon runners headed to Brandywine Falls.
You ever have one of those races where you swear you may be going too fast but since it feels so good, you just go with it? That was me. 3 miles into the 31.2 mile trail run, I was in the top 10. That should have been warning sign #1. By the 8th mile, I was in 2nd...warning #2! Well, I remained there all the way until less than a mile from the finish. OK, back up a few miles: At the last turn around, 2.5 miles from the finish, I saw Todd B. and Dave P. quickly gaining on me. At that point, my level ground pace had slowed but not stopped and my downhill stride and speed were still in top gear. My only chance to save my 2nd spot was to maximize those downhills and keep it moving otherwise. I did that but as I passed the Stanford Hostel, I realized it was only a matter of time. Todd B. was the first to pass and he looked strong as ever. Then comes Dave. Dave, if you're reading this...thanks for the last 1/2 mile challenge...you just had more left in the tank than I did! GREAT JOB to the both of you. Yea, I was definitely ticked at myself for losing the 2nd spot but I know I gave it all. Funny this is...my goal was to just beat my one other ultramarathon from last summer...the summer BT50K where I ran 6hrs, 37min. You might say I'm happy with the results....a 1hr, 50min PR! Only 15 seconds separated the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers. My finishing time: 4hrs, 47min, 31sec. You know, sometimes you just go with the flow and hold on...this was one of those days...one that I am truly thankful for.
A few of my favorite things:
1. The TOP NOTCH Brooks jacket embroidered with the race's logo (see pic above)....kudos to Vince & Tanya!
2. The post-race vegetarian chili: All I can say is "Mmmmmm, Mmmmmmm, GOOD! That was awesome!"
3. Excellent volunteers and aid stations...couldn't do it without you!