|This is a beautiful drive in the fall.|
After "helping" set up the start/finish line and then hanging out and visiting with friends in the great hall of the Lodge (though I think I missed about half my friends who were there), I headed towards the start line. Though I left in plenty of time to make my wave, I still managed to miss my start when a couple guys, having seen so many Skippo shirts, asked me about the race. I talked with them briefly and then turned to see my wave run off. Oops.
|Here you can see me realizing "Oops! I forgot to turn on my Garmin, " as I leave one wave late.|
I jumped into the next wave, to the vast amusement of Jacob and Gary, and spent the first .25 mile turning on my Garmin. While I'd been irritated about still having such a high wave assignment (19 as opposed to last year's 25), the first mile proved that I actually belonged further back. As soon as the course started to climb I was dragging. Jacob and Gary were long gone, Lo ran by with some encouraging words, and then person after person passed me with authority.
It was so demoralizing. I tried telling myself that the first mile is always tough, it would get better after the first mile. Of course, mile one ended up on one of the long hills, and it did not get better.
|It doesn't look so terrible in the picture, but it goes on forever.|
|One good thing about this year was that I was able to appreciate the downhills. There's a lot of up and down in this race, but typically all I focus on are the uphills. This year, the downhills were my saving grace.|
I carried my own water, so I skipped the first two water stops (saying hi to Cheri and Judy) and passed a few people there. Normally I'm not fast but I tend to get stronger as I go on. By about the halfway point today, though, I was realizing I'd screwed up with food. I'd had my usual almonds and coffee for breakfast and had also eaten a Clif bar about 40 minutes before the race. Turns out that wasn't enough, and by the 4-mile mark I was teetering on the edge of a bonk.
|At least I wasn't the only one struggling on the hills.|
Tarzan had most welcome news: "There's a water stop ahead...and they have M&M's." His animation and good mood were contagious, and I smiled for the first time of the race as another Tarzan yell sounded behind me. Those M&M's were a life saver! I grabbed a big handful and walked while I shoved them into my mouth. I don't know whether it was the sugar or just a mental lift, but my running was a lot better after that. "Better" being a very relative term.
Mile 6 crosses the park road between the Lodge and the visitor's center, and the cheers from spectators there were really nice. JB, who'd finished an an hour, was standing there and asked if I wanted company. "Yes, please!" He jumped in, started running, and asked what he could do to help. Since carrying me would probably be considered cheating, I chose distraction. I tried a little to hold up my end of the conversation but was too busy trying to breathe.
This stretch of the race features a steep hill followed by steep steps, and to add insult to injury there's more hill at the top of the steps. "OK," JB coached, "When you get to the top of this hill it's all downhill and you're going to run the rest of the way in." That's not exactly how it happened, but I did run most of the rest of the way. While I have a lot of room for improvement, one area my running has improved is in going downhill. I'm not flying down with abandon, but I've gained a lot more confidence and that paid off today. I passed several people on the last downhill stretch.
|Photo credit: Cheri Becker, who said, "Look super!" I didn't manage super, but I was able to at least fake a smile.|
|Couldn't even fake a smile this time.|
Photo credit: Brent Newman
|Goal met. So why am I so unhappy?|