Wow, when was the last time I started an entry with that much positiveness?!? I seriously had the most consistent, solid race that I've had in years. My usual race: set goal a little high, start off quick feeling strong, have some low points during the middle, get passed by a few people towards the end telling myself, "I don't care if anyone passes me, I can't go any faster", and finish the hurt-fest with a slow shuffle feeling crappy about my running and myself. Last weekend's Baker Lake 50k was totally opposite.
Last year I wanted to go sub-4:30 meaning I'd have to hit the half-way at 2:15 at the latest. I also thought about trying to do a negative split on the way back by running quicker. Never been able to do that in the past so don't know why I thought I'd be able to. Anyways, in that race I started out too fast and crapped out even before the halfway, finishing in 4:41 or thereabouts.
This year I still had a sub-4:30 in mind but didn't know if it was going to happen. The plan was to go out fairly easy and try and feel good the whole way. After not doing much trail running I wasn't sure how I'd feel. This is an easier trail race than some I've done but is still challenging in the second half.
I left following three fast skinny guys. I kept up with them for the twelve minutes it took to get to the trailhead and then they were gone. After twenty minutes or so I heard footsteps behind me and turned to see a young girl bombing up behind me. I imagined my next blog report being titled, "I am officially old", because I get killed by girls now. I stepped off the trail and let her go by then kept pace with her, making sure I didn't go too hard, therefore breaking my pre-race plan. She ended up letting me go by when I got too close siting that she needed a pit stop. I didn't see her for another twenty minutes until she blew by me again. I was thinking to myself that she looked kind of young and possibly hadn't run too many of these before. Knowing that I've done the "start out too fast, end in a crash" scenario before, I couldn't even warn her about keeping an even pace she was going so quick.
I was running up inclines when in the past I would have been walking. I did have a bit of a low spot around the 1:45 point so started drinking every five minutes instead of ten. It must have done the trick because before I knew it I was running on the flat section to the last big bridge before the turnaround. It was the fastest I'd ever made it to the halfway point, 2:04. The three frontrunners were about six minutes ahead of me, the quick girl about a minute, and there was a guy about two minutes behind me.
My time at the turnaround was fast as I had two bottles made up and ready to go from my drop bag. I left feeling strong again but knew not to hammer the first flat section on the way back because there were some steeper switchbacks waiting.
At about the 2:45 point I came across one of the three leaders who was in a rough state throwing up on the trail. I stopped to make sure he was alright and didn't need anything and he ensured me he was okay. Turns out it was the guy who'd won the race last year but started today feeling sick. Guess it caught up with him.
At 3:10 I saw Quick Girl ahead on the trail, not running up to her name. It didn't take me too long to pass her and the way she was going I pretty much knew I wouldn't see her again.
I started getting into that frame of mind where I just plug along at a decent but not too fast a pace and walking some of the hills. Just like the Kelowna marathon last year I thought I'd try running hard in the last bit of the race, like the 3:30 mark (I figured I would make the finish around 4:10). Just as I was coming up to that time point the guy who was close to me at the turnaround finally showed himself. I congratulated him on having a good second half and let him go by, but not before I asked how old he was. Thinking the two remaining guys ahead of me were younger than 40, if this guy was too then I was in contention for getting a Baker Bear for being the first old guy (over 40) to cross the line. He told me he was 29 as I let him go by me. Seeing as I had planned to try and pick up my pace at this time anyways, I thought this would be a good time to try my plan with him pacing me. I have to say I've never felt that good at that stage of a trail race. We were cranking up the hills where if I was by myself I would probably be walking. We even ended up chatting a bit on the flat spots. I wanted to show the young guy that it was going to take work to drop this old-timer.
We neared the bridge that was basically a huge log over a fast moving river and we kind of missed it, heading down to the river instead. I shouted that the bridge was over this way and went over it ahead of him. Again, I don't know where this burst of energy came from or what I was trying to prove, but I took off for the next ten minutes, essentially dropping him until we got back to the trailhead. I saw he wasn't that far behind so I kept the pace up all the way down the forest service road and eventually over the dam where I looked again and saw him back in the distance. Funny because usually it's me that trails behind someone and watches them run off down the road, unable to catch up. I felt a little bad because he'd basically pulled me during that low stretch thirty minutes earlier. I guess a race is a race and I finally felt like I had a bit of that killer instinct I haven't had in a couple years.
I finished in 4:16, 11 minutes better than my previous best back in 2007 and my fastest 50k in years. It was also good for first place out of all the old guys, earning me a Baker Bear for first in the Master's category.
This was also the debut 50k race for Carrie and my sister, Karen. Carrie finished in 6:53 and Karen was 6:41. Congrats to them both!! I was so proud.
Coming up could quite possibly be the Whistler 50 mile ultra on Nov. 5. It would be cool to be in the first race that took the H2H's place.