For the most part, I'm very pleased with how this race turned out. Of course, my friend points out that according to the ultrasignup rankings, I should have won, so take that for what it's worth.
Anyways, Catherine and I have been looking forward to this race for a while. She ran it last year while we were dating, and I drove the support car, so it was fun that we could both run together this year.
The day was almost ruined when we realized Buffalo Jim wasn't wearing his buffalo hat. We expressed our disappointment. Fortunately, he had a valid excuse.
I lined up on the front row, and I took off at what seemed like a conservative pace, but the adrenaline (and maybe a slight downhill) must have messed with my perception, because after a half mile I saw that we were running at almost 5:30. By the end of the first mile, I was alone with the eventual winner. We must have said something to each other, because I remember him saying something about this being his first trail race and that he decided to run it because it wasn't technical at all.
He pulled away from me a little on a small hill in the third mile, and I decided to let him go. I didn't know if he was faster than me or just going too hard, but I thought I would be foolish to chase him either way. Interestingly, I pulled him back almost immediately on the quick, but moderately technical, singletrack descent to the Mountain View Trail. Right--not a trail runner.
Once we were on the Mountain View Trail, he slowly pulled away from me again, and I quickly realized he probably wasn't coming back, although I never actually lost sight of him. Unfortunately, I couldn't see the runner behind me, which meant I was stuck in an ever-expanding no man's land, which isn't great for the motivation.
The trail itself was harder than I expected. It wasn't technical at all, but there was a gentle headwind and it seemed like we were always running gradually uphill. The result was that I always felt like I was pushing against something and never just cruising along.
For the most part, my effort could best be described as a gradual fade. And when, at about ten miles, I realized that I wasn't going to catch anybody and nobody was going to catch me, I stopped thinking about what I could do and started thinking about what I could get away with. Fortunately, I didn't slow down as much as I thought I did.
I think the winner finished in 1:21:xx. I finished in 1:22:26 and picked up a little cash for it. I guess that makes our times the fastest in the long and illustrious two year history of the race. The third runner (and first woman) finished in 1:27:xx.
It's always humbling to get beat so handily, especially when you don't feel like you could have done much more. And I don't think I could have gone much faster, at least not this year, other than maybe saving a few seconds with some better mental tactics near the end. Next year I'd like to go under 1:20.
This was the first half marathon I've ever run, and the pacing is tricky. I know how hard to go out for something shorter like a 5K, and I know how easy to go out for something longer like a 50K, but 13.1 is a whole different beast. I'll get the hang of it.