Catherine and I have come to Pinecrest together three times, but this was the first time we were around for the annual Pinecrest Run. I've been interested in the race since we found out about it because the trail around the lake is ridiculously technical. But it turns out that the course doesn't go around the lake, which was (initially) disappointing.
The course is basically a figure eight--first we run two miles through the cabins around the lake, then we set out on the lake trail before doubling back up a steep fire road and down the dirt road to the start. I think I settled into 8th place pretty early on during the first half of the race, but I picked off a couple of runners ahead of me and by the time we came back through the start I was sitting in 5th.
Once we hit the trail, that changed quickly. Apparently, road runners struggle on trails. The trail section was short but it was very technical, and I passed three of the runners ahead of me like they were standing still. (The fourth, a high school cross-country runner, was long gone by then.)
When we left the trail we started up a short but very steep fire road climb out in the sun. I ended up hiking the last half because it was more efficient (and possibly faster) than running it. At the top there were no course markings so I headed in what seemed like the only way to go. But after half a mile I hadn't seen any more markings, which worried me because up until then there had been a flour mark every 100 feet or so. At least the runners behind me were on the same route.
At that point we were descending gradually on a dirt road. Eventually two runners behind me caught up, and I was able to confirm we were on route. I had no kick left in my legs, so I figured that they would beat me because they had caught me. But when we got back on the road for the final stretch back to the start/finish, they faded or I surged and I found myself alone and ahead again.
I ended up in 2nd place, about three minutes behind the winner, and I was happy with the result.
Catherine and I love Pinecrest and we loved this race. Hopefully we can do it again next year.