For all of you that are going to say, or have said, "Oh, yeah, another 'training run' that he goes out and wins (or tied in this case)", I wasn't thinking 'race' in my head at any point along the way. I didn't really want to be out front for any of it and even contemplated starting 15 or 30 minutes later than everyone else so as not to be tempted to run harder than I should. Really. I have to say I wish I had run this race in the past because, in my opinion, it was one of the best organized races I've done. The aid stations were awesome, the flagging plentiful and exactly where it was needed at those 'doubting myself' times, and the volunteers were very helpful and supporting. I also like the way the relay was run in conjunction with our race because there were always people you could see on the course and the exchange points were packed with encouraging runners waiting to head out. I know I said last year I was going to try and get people I know to run 40 miles or 40km for my 40th birthday but it never really materialized. Carrie and I went to Whistler instead and I incorporated this run as a last long one before UTMB to go along with our 40th birthday weekend. I guess when I turn 50 I'll do a 60km run.
Tim, Dave, Dario, Hozumi, and I all ran the first leg pretty much as a train following Tim's perfect pacing. It was fun to chat along the way and also as a perk they were able to catch me from going off course in the first couple miles because it heads out onto some streets and my eyesight is failing from old age so it was tough to pick up the flagging at times. At the Perth aid station they all stopped to get water but with my camelbak I kept going. Long story short I ran alone save for a couple relay people going past me like I was standing still until I passed the University at around 26 miles when Hozumi caught me. We ran pretty close until Nine Mile Hill when I managed to run/walk that stretch on my own again. Little did I know that Hozumi's powerwalking outclassed my 'running' up the hill and he was right with me and we reached aid station 8 at the same time.
Normally I like to run on my own in my own misery but I have to say it was quite enjoyable having someone along for the ride at this point. We talked about all sorts of stuff to pass the time. At the Powerhouse station for the second time I could feel myself losing some energy and my fun meter was on low as Hozumi and I took off together. I think he actually might have waited there a bit for me as his crew had bottles ready and I had to fill my camelbak. My energy level picked up after some Coke and we were running strong the last few miles save for the longer uphills. I couldn't keep up with him on the steep hills and when I wiped out with about three miles to go I stood, brushed myself off, and hoped he was long gone so I could just do my usual finish line shuffle. At the next turn I saw him waiting for me, probably not a pity wait, but to see why I had stopped, like, due to a wipeout or something. Somehow I knew in the back of my mind that he wasn't one to sprint to the finish and this actually came up in conversation with about a km to go. We laughed and couldn't understand how people would sprint to a finish after running 50 miles total and three hours with someone. It was a classy move on his part that this didn't happen because he could have dropped me anytime in that last eight mile stretch. Together we finished in 7:24 quite comfortably.
The next day my legs felt pretty good. I was telling Hozumi that, due to training for Fat Dog and UTMB, I hadn't done that much straight running for months. Most of my training has involved running but also thrown in has been a lot of climbing up steep stuff. That's why I'm surprised my legs didn't cramp and I could walk the next day which was a good thing, too, as Carrie and I did the Ziptrek tour at Whistler.
Thanks again to Wendy Montgomery and her band of merry volunteers for being part of my birthday celebration and putting on such a terrific event.