I started right up in the front next to Jonny and the herd of 5ok guys that were trying to crack 4 hours and battle for the win. I knew I wasn't going to run fast, but no one seemed to want to start with their toe on the line. I figured what the heck!
We were off, and Jonny immediately went at a pace that I wasn't willing (or able) to match. It was fun watching the 50k guys ease into the race with a little conversation and joking. I tried to really focus on relaxing the long road into the park. I find that the road is just a section to endure- you have to wait for the real fun. I waived to Jess Fyffe at the Horseshoe parking lot and headed into the woods.
My legs didn't feel fast on the long downhill. I remembered the year I ran 2:05 that I let it rip on any down grade. I could tell even before the climb up the Reservoir Trail that I wasn't going to pr. I stayed in control going up to the Monadnock vista. Runners who started behind me began cruising by me up the climb. The first women passed me right before the little section near N. Ponds trail. I've taken a few walking strides here in the past, but not this year. I was climbing decently, but my lack of speed on the downhills was hurting my chances for a fast time.
I felt pretty good coming into the aid station at the Ridge Trail intersection. I think I was at 42 minutes and change. I tried to walk as little as possible while climbing Pisgah Ridge. Again, I climbed with my least amount of walking in my four attempts at the 23k. I gave a little yell when I hit the summit. I always do for "The Bossman" Elijah Barrett. I thought out loud "Well Elijah, it ain't fast but at least I'm running..."
I love the section from the top of the Ridge to the aid station at Kilburn. I had been passed by about 6 runners since entering the woods, but I've never been passed in this section in the years I've raced it (my 3hr plod in '05 not included). No one passed me, but as I finished a Gu and some Gatorade at Kilburn aid station a swarm of runners pulled along side. I saw Keith Bourassa a few meters into the climb after the aid station. We shook hands and he was gone. Next, James Callaway joined me. He told me the Comeback was going strong and I looked good. I sure didn't feel good, but his words encouraged me to keep grinding. I knew the real pain was about to begin.
There's no faking Davis Hill. It just hurts. The grade is easy enough that you know you should be running, but it comes late in the game. I tried to keep James' blue shirt in view as I slowly clawed my way up. This is where knowing you're not going to pr hurts you the most. I could have gone harder, but I just didn't see the point. I gave up on myself. On Hubbard, I pulled over to pee and another runner caught me. While peeing I accidently stopped my watch. I climbed with the runner and passed him. He caught me on one of the steep downhills and asked me what I was hoping to get for a time. I said something like "I don't know, I've run 2:05 before..." He told me right before the the turn onto Winchester Rd that we were at 2:02. That was it; I could stop killing myself. I told him good luck and stopped for some Gatorade and water at the top of Winchester Rd.
I gingerly ran down Winchester Rd. My quads and feet killed on the descent. I knew the little uphills at the pavement were going to be torture. I could here Griffy cheering for me from
Greg's house. It didn't help. I had no fight left. I stopped and was offered a water or margarita from Nate and Tanya. I nearly chose the latter. With former in hand, I limp jogged up the hill. I walked a few more times, chucked the empty bottle into my yard, and got passed by the first woman right on the last turn. The first, first woman that passed me on Reservoir apparently missed the sharp turn up Davis and lost about 10 minutes. I mercifully hit the tape at 2:18 on the nose - good for 19th place.
It wasn't pretty, but it was a blast.