Being on the receiving end of a cold the last ten days I wasn't sure how this race would turn out. On top of that I was dealing with a ton of issues needing attention around the house. Not that I'm making excuses, because if I didn't think I could race, I wouldn't race or I'd treat it as a long run day.
Friday night before was spent finishing up part of our back deck and a few other odd jobs that needed to be done. I hadn't finished putting my stuff together and taping my feet until 10:30. Not that I'm making excuses, I've just been more prepared for a race in the past than this one.
The day dawned warm and sunny. No, wait a minute, that was my dream before I awoke to dark and rainy. It was overcast the whole day with a steady drizzle greeting every runner out in the open throughout the day. At least under canopy it didn't seem so bad. We were even treated to snow at three different areas of the course.
Tracey arrived at our door at 6 a.m. and we headed out to Port Moody. Tracey was going to take some pictures and get in a run of her own while waiting for the race to unfold. We arrived at the perfect time of forty-five minutes ahead of the start, just enough to avoid the bathroom line-ups and get everything together. As people were getting their numbers and sweatshirts, I heard one person registering with the name of Hal Koerner. This guy wins almost every race he enters, having bested everyone last year at the Western States 100mile. Other names that I heard being passed around as late entrants were Brian Morrison, Gary Robbins, and Matt Hart. All of them extremely seasoned veterans in trail running. It made for an interesting day.
I, admittedly, started out faster than I probably should have, possibly due to how I ran Chuckanut with the leaders in my sights. I didn't want to let the fast guys go but after about twenty minutes of heading up, up, and up Diez, I knew I had to back off at least a little. The thing I remember most about this race two years ago was that the flagging was a little sparse and not so easily spotted. Seeing as I ran this part a while back (albeit the opposite direction) I had some idea how to traverse it and stay on track. I was within sight of Matt Hart for a bit and with him in the position of "the guy in front", he was prone to a few "pauses" while he looked for the right route. This may only take a second or so, but it throws you off your pace and you have to get back up to speed. This enabled me to catch up to him and use him as a trail blazer for a bit. We chatted here and there and eventually Aaron Pitt closed the gap and was with us, after I took the lead and surely slowed us down.
After a steep, steep descent, we came to a fast flat stretch where we caught up with Hal Koerner and could see Brian Morrison in the distance. I'm sure this caused me to go faster than I would have on this section of flat. As we were nearing the drop bag aid station, we passed Hal (who dropped at this point from a recurring plantar injury), came out of a trail, and were supposed to cross the road and continue to another trail that would lead us to the aid station. I honestly did not see any markings and from memory of an old race map, remembered we turned up the road. The funny thing was that there was the same pink flagging tape along side of the road so thought it was the correct way, not knowing that it was actually tape put there by Hydro indicating those trees were to be taken out. Anyways, we were almost past the parking lot where the aid station was when people started waving us towards them. In we went where we grabbed our stuff and I heard someone say, "What were you guys doing coming down the road?". Obviously we had, or I should say, I had, made a mistake. Matt, Aaron and I ran together wondering what had gone wrong and whether a DQ was in the works.
Funny enough we ran into Tracey at this spot and I asked how many people were ahead of us. She said two, so we figured it was the leader then Brian Morrison. When Brian came up behind us ten minutes later, we agreed we (I), screwed up. Brian convincingly passed us and this is where Matt fell back and eventually dropped due to nagging hip discomfort. After more of the upwards trudging, Aaron fell back a bit with problems of his own. I always saw Brian ahead of me but just couldn't bridge the gap, not that I was overly concerned. Around this point I was starting to feel crappy, whether it was the snow coming down, cold wind, my cold, or just going out too fast and paying for it, I'm not sure. Near the bottom of the out and back, Gary Robbins passed me looking absolutely awesome. On the way back up he passed Brian to stay in second place. Of course, I didn't really see too much of that as they had both gapped me quite nicely. Through the power lines again and over some rocky terrain I was in a real low spot. It took until the last really steep ugly stretch to get some energy back. I started taking in more Carbopro 1200 and this seemed to put something more into my legs.
While drinking from one of my bottles, as I'd done a million times in the past, pulling on the tab with my front teeth, the tab didn't pop out and instead broke one of my teeth!! I looked down to see if first some of the plastic had splintered off and was stuck in between my teeth but it was fine, it only felt that way because one of them was loose. Wasn't that just the icing on the cake for how I felt.
The last steep part was as bad as I remembered it from two years ago and the down to the lake was equally enjoyable. However, I remember the final leg to the finish being really long, and today it was quite nice. I even picked up the pace some and was running solid until out of the blue there was a mountain of stairs to climb. Although this wasn't as bad as the Dirty Duo stairs near the finish, they hurt nonetheless. It was only two hundred feet to the end so had to suck it up and look good and do a decent pace to the end. Unlike '06 when I swore I wouldn't do this race again, I was quite happy with how it went overall. I improved five spots and twenty-five minutes. Today my legs were tired but not the deep soreness I've had in the past which is a good sign and I'm looking forward to the training for Miwok coming up in a month. 200 kms down, 1061 to go.