It's a darn good thing that this race was only 3 Days long.. otherwise I may have never finished writing these reports up!
Getting up on Day 3 wasn't actually hard, since everyone had slept like crap and was awake well before the alarm went off anyway. You would think as exhausted as we all were, sleep would be easy.... nope.. even if you take an Advil before bed, those aches and pains announce themselves every time you move. We had to pack up the cabin before we left since checkout was at 11 and we wouldn't be able to be back by then. It's such a shame to rent these beautiful places and not get to enjoy them at all. I never even stepped foot onto the gorgeous rear deck that overlooked the river..it would have been the perfect place to spend an evening sipping beer and rocking on the porch swing. (Maybe when I'm 80.) We spent a few minutes at least taking pictures to document and prove just how pretty our cabin and the surrounding were and off we went.
In my head I was planning on a nice, easy day... a relaxed pace with no time goal in mind.. just a finish. My legs were feeling tired (DUH!) and I figured there was no way I'd be able to push the pace. The RD Steve posted some prelim results for the overall which got me fired up since he had listed a certain woman ahead of me, whom I had finished well in front of on Friday and I had dropped in the first few miles on Saturday and had never passed me after that.... I pointed this out to him, and he said they were just prelim results, but it worked to get my competitive juices flowing. The trick this morning was to stay out of the way of all the fresh, rarin' to go folks that came out just for the 20K race... Get in front of one of them at the start and they just might run over the top of you as you creak and hobble your way to the trails.
The race starts on the pavement before it dumps you onto the single track, so there was plenty of time to get things a bit warmed up before we hit the uphill. Once we hit the single track, I ended up behind a couple of people that were talking up a storm. Now, most of the people I have met during trail running are wonderful, enjoyable people whom I love getting to know... but every once in awhile you meet someone that just rubs you the wrong way. And here I was stuck behind 2 of those people.. and they were talking to each other.. loudly. I had to get the hell out of there.. uphill or not. I eased around them and headed uphill at a pretty good clip trying to give myself a little space. Wonder of wonders... my legs felt fairly fresh and strong, so I went with it!
I ended up behind a woman who I had met the year before.. we were on the same search and rescue crew so we had a bit of a chat about that. Her birthday was the next day and we chatted about how last year her guy had planned a big surprise party for her, that she ended up being late to since search and rescue ran longer then the race would have! Margaret and I played tag back and forth a few times, but she was on fresh legs so by the time we hit the unmanned station she was ahead of me and would remain so for the rest of the race. I continued to push as hard as I could, marveling the whole time that my legs were feeling so remarkably good. Margaret was my rabbit.. as long as I kept her in sight, I was happy. If she started to get too far ahead of me, I pushed harder... it was a fantastic mental boost. We passed quite a few guys, and the question of the day from everyone seemed to be, "How much further??". Stu Johnson and Paul Schoenlaub had run all 3 courses a few weeks before and Stu had warned me that he thought the 13 mile course was actually closer to 14 miles. I was mentally prepared for it to take longer, but apparently that wasn't the case for quite a few folks.
I admit to being really ready to be done running by the time we started dropping lower and lower and I could hear sounds from the road. Margaret was still just in front of me, and when we hit the pavement I gave it everything I could...admittedly it wasn't a huge amount... and she held me off to finish 1 second in front of me. I was darn glad to be done. Darn glad that no one had gotten hopelessly lost this year, darn glad that I was able to finish all 3 days, darn glad that I have the ability to be able to run in the woods with wonderful people for 3 days.
I love this race.. I love the WONDERFUL volunteers that devote so much time and energy to making sure we remain hydrated and sated, I love the RD for deliberately picking the hardest courses possible, I love the beautiful surroundings and the fantastically cold, leg refreshing river. Can't wait for next year.... I am determined to have a good 50 mile race next year.. determined.