Saturday dawned very foggy at my house. I frequently get fog here as I am in a very sheltered valley and live by two creeks that are good sized. Realize that this plan was odd but looked like my 18 year old would get up and take me to the race. I would walk home. Five drivers, three cars. Sometimes there is more going on than there are available cars for use. I estimated it was around five miles to walk home so was not too unhappy with it and there would be no time constraints.
I had decided I was taking the early start. It is a half hour prior to the official race start and meant for those who figure they will finish in over two hours and fifteen minutes. I am so happy that this start is available as it means I can finish with other runners. Normally, there are between 10 and 20 early starters. Saturday, I think I counted six. That didn’t bode too well for me having someone to run with a good portion of the time.
Strangely, I was one of the few early starters who had run the race previously. I didn’t run it last year as I was injured but I had run it the two years before that. It is a very tough race. I love it, though. I was a bit skeptical going in this year as I had been really tired after three fairly tough races from April 14th to May 5th. I had not run further than eight miles at a time since my last half. Most of my long runs had been six miles.
My first mile was much faster than I thought I should be running it, especially since I knew what was coming. I had missed my walk in there also. I was not paying attention much as the race starts and does a loop back past the start so through where the regular start runners are still warming up. By mile two I was about 30 yards behind the two other early starters that ended up finishing about six minutes ahead of me. Could I have kept up with those two? Not likely for the whole 20K so I’m glad I sort of ran the race the way I wanted.
The first part of the race is rather populated. To avoid the heat – this year wasn’t too bad but I can remember one of my previous years being unnormally warm – the race starts early. Very few people are out of their houses. This year I think I only saw two people out walking with their dogs.
I believe my first year running the XX, I was passed by the leaders about mile 4. I just went back to look but can’t find it. I know that the second year running it, I was passed about a mile later. This year, the leader and eventual winner passed me about 4.5 miles in. The first female passed me about 4.85 miles in or so. After that, it was steady stream of runners. Chuck, who has run the same races I have run several times, passed me at just about half way. That’s a good run for me but I was thinking I was going slow. Then, Kathleen passed me – much later than normal. She swore she was going faster than previously so I must have been also. It was particularly nice to have Stacey high five me (or low five as it may have been) as she went by. We talk on Twitter but have never met.
Here’s what it looked like we were running:
Nothing drastic in the elevation just constant. There are a not a lot of downs until the end and by then, you don’t want the downhills.
Kudos to the volunteers. Many went from water stop to water stop as they made their way back to the start as there was a slight deficit in the numbers this year. Dan, the race director, did a great job as usual. I am sure everyone had a great time. This is a fairly no frills race – no medals, no shirts – but you pay $14 day of and $10 advance ($8 advance if you are a member of the local running club) to run it. There was plenty of Gatorade, water, orange juice, yogurt and bagels at the end. And awards were plentiful.
And, the final news – I have a brand new shiny PR at this distance and for this course, having cut 7:27 off my previous best time.