I just bought my first tube of Tecnu. Forget any soreness, the itching is driving me crazy! During the pre-race panel session, they had warned about the overgrowth and described poison oak. And I'm pretty sure I jumped over everything green on the trail but maybe during our (Clark and I) bushwhacking section right before mile 31, I could have possibly rolled in that junk.
I traveled out with Burch and Clark early Friday morning to Sac city. Coming off a week in DC (and travel in subsequent weeks) I have seen my fair share of DIA but it was nice to be traveling with people I know and have a few laughs with. Once in town we picked up our race packets, got a bite to eat, checked into the hotel, and got a little leg loosener in on the final two myles. It's always a pre-race plan of mine to preview the final section of a course just in case something dramatic is unfolding. I, at least, would know how far I have to gut it out.
Alarm went off at 3:00 AM for a 4:10 AM bus departure. Temps seemed reasonable and a few faint stars were out so it was shaping up to be pleasant at the start and throughout the day. Julie Fingar (RD) set up a few people inside a close-by office suite with goodies to boot. Inside were a few familiar faces: Thornley, AJW, Mackey, Joe Uhan, and Meghan Arbogast. Before I could down a Clark pre-race donut it was time to go.
I warmed up and felt really, really good. The lungs were working and the legs were cooperating so I got a good vibe that it was going to be a good day. But then again maybe it was a trap?? I was going back and forth in the mind and eventually settled on mid 6:30s were doable on the bike path (27 miles). Immediately from the start a couple shot off the front and Clark not too far behind them. I settled with Mackey and we had a good thing going through 8 myles. I didn't take any splits other than on the bike path were mile markers and I was getting rough mile splits, pretty consistent in the mid 6:20s. Right about that time Dave took off to get with Joe Uhan and Clark, got in front of them about 10 meters and stayed there for a few myles. I stalked behind all 3 of them about 10 seconds for the better part of 15 myles.
Soon we crossed a bridge (mile 18?) and small sections of single track trail. It was at this point that I realized that maybe the pace was too hot for me in the beginning. My legs were dead or just not spunky anymore. I trailed Nick about 20 seconds into mile 22 aid station and did another check with the mile markers on the path, slowed a bit to mid 6:30s but if felt more of an effort to stay there and now I knew I had over done it. Finally the marathon mark in 2.50:08 and I thought I was ready for some trails....
Normally I come alive on the trail but I realized as I was trailing Nick, he was increasing the gap ever so slightly and I was working way too hard. I decided to back off just a bit, gather myself for a few myles when all of a sudden Nick comes running back on the trail at an intersection "Scott - which way? There are no flags" He had lost a few precious minutes and then we picked the wrong way only to be detoured through a field back to the right trail. That's probably the moment when Poison Oak decided to take a ride with me back to Colorado - man I itch! Anyway, through 32 myles in 3.32 and I still was hanging onto Nick ever so slightly. After the aid he took it up a notch and officially broke me.
I still thought I was moving good but right at mile 35 aid station Burch came flying past - he was looking strong. Made me realize I was moving slower than I thought but I couldn't respond yet. In fact, all the way through mile 40 aid (Rattlesnake) I was on the edge of throwing up. Not from bonking cause I was eating and drinking very well but from riding the red line for too long. At Rattlesnake bar I took a couple drinks of Coke and that seemed to do the trick. My energy was better and now I know I was moving good. If I remember correct I hit mile 40 in 4.57 and knew I still had a shot at 6.15.
Up and down, in and out of canyons. Probably the most beautiful section of trail right along side the American River for the better part of 6 myles. I honestly was enjoying it and then the hill smacked me right in the face. 3 myles to go I was just about 5.59 total time. 6.15 was now out of the question because there was 1000 ft of climbing to go. Saunter in or just grit the teeth and go? I made a decision to saunter until about 2 miles to go when I got a peak of none other than Ellie Greenwood. Damn! Now grit your teeth and go! I don't know how fast those last two myles were but I can tell you I could not breath, if I had to guess low 8s to upper 7s. Finishing time of 6.25:52, exactly 10 seconds slower than my previous time 3 years ago.
I thought I was capable of a time between 6.10 and 6.15 but it wasn't meant to be. Having said that I'm happy. Every race can't be the best race and the experience with great friends, great weather, and a great beer makes it a wonderful experience. Thanks to Julie for hosting a top notch event. I can't say I'll be back (as I itch my body) but it's too soon to tell. Congrats to everyone who finished and, in particular, the Colorado contingent who mopped up 4 of the top 6 spots.
1 Powerbar (peanut butter-chocolate) 30 minutes into race
3 Powergels (2 Espresso, 1 straw-banana) hour, 2 hour, 3 hour marks
4 efs liquid shots (diluted in water bottle) nips every 15 minutes
2 20 oz bottles of straight water
3 cups of coke
And last, I finally cracked the triple digits for myles in a week - 100 even. Clark, Burch, myself, and AJW all got out for some myles (14) on the WS trail on Sunday morning.
If I don't beat Clark in a race, I have picture proof of a couple meters of day light between us...