I was treating this as a training run for my summer exploits (Three 100 milers in three months). I knew recovery time would be crucial so I've been trying to toughen myself up. Thus, two weeks after going all out at Cool, and after about 40 miles of running this week (no tapering), I wanted to go out, have a good time, finish in a reasonable time (not back of the pack) and yet hold back enough that I would be able to recover rapidly and get right back to running and training.
It appears my goals were met. I finished in the middle of the pack, took about 24 pictures, the race felt easy (most of the time, there are always some "bad" stretches), and I'm feeling pretty good Sunday evening (which is when I usually feel the worst).
I saw a bunch of friends at the start- besides race director John Medinger (publisher of UltraRunning magazine) and his assistant Stan Jensen (run100s.com) I saw Luanne Park, Suzanna Bon and Kelly Ridgway, who, among them, too, three of the top four places in the women's division. Also talked to David Wright, Chuck Wilson, Jim Winne and Tina Ure among others.
We were off at first light (before sunrise) and I hung out near the back of the pack, feeling stiff and tight as it took about four miles to warm up. Taking pics along the way, at one point I jumped up on an old log to take one from a higher angle, the log started rolling, and I rode it aways before falling off- safely and with camera intact. Lots of ooh's and ahh's from the peanut gallery (which included assistant-race-director Lisa Henson).
The course was mainly in the shade during this section with lots of rolls- up and down, up and down, never very far up or down though. The first big downhill came just before the mile 12.2 aid station. We finally got a brief flat stretch after the third aid station before our first big climb, fully exposed to the sun, a steep 600' ascent. At the top the nice views included a view of our next aid station, the turn around point, 4.8 miles away (but only about a mile as the crow flies).
To get there we had to drop about 700', then climb another steep exposed 750' hill (it was now approaching noon). In this section we saw the leaders heading back the other way. At the top of the hill we still had about a mile of steep rollers- up and down and up and down and...
I got to the turn-around at 5:23 (12:03pm) and headed back, not wanting to push too hard, but wanting to get even splits. I saw Mark Vegh midway back to the next aid station, unfortunately he just missed the cut-off at the turn-around and had to drop.
I felt really good on the return, except for the two too-steep descents. Otherwise the constant up and down felt good, run downhill a little ways, then walk up a little ways and repeat over and over and over. I thought I was making good time and I was passing lots of folks but at about 14 miles out I caught up to a woman in blue and I could not pass her. For the next three hours I followed her, chased her, always between 10 and 200 feet behind. Usually I pass people on the downhills and lose ground going up, but she pulled away from me on the downhills and I caught back up going up. Then we would crest and off she would go.
The running felt easy and the two of us passed a lot of folks and, when I saw that I wouldn't quite make even splits, helped each other make sure we at least broke 11 hours. (Her name was Monica Moore, age 35). With about 1.5M to go I started to get bonky, I hadn't been eating enough in the heat and I slowed down a little, finishing in 11:56 (5:33 return), about two minutes behind Monica. I'll blame the heat (80º in the afternoon and a lot less shade) for the slowdown. Granted, I wasn't really pushing too hard, but neither was I taking as many pictures as I had outbound. I know a lot of other runners were two or more hours slower on the return than they were going out.
I usually don't feel like eating for awhile, but I headed straight to the tamales (excellent!) and had a couple of those with rice and four seven-ups while visiting with Mark and Luanne and Monica and Suzanna (women's winner) and others as we watched some of the runners I had passed coming in. ;-)
I picked up my very cool finisher's jacket and we took off for home, stopping at Foster's Freeze for a SuperBigGulp size Caramel Malt (4 trillion calories). We got back to Redding by 11 and after preaching at two services this morning I was ready for a nap. I feel much better now though than I did after Way Too Cool. And I didn't fall!