This year, I had an additional year of running behind me, real-life friends to ride with and meet up with at the race, and, above all, a goal. You may recall that back in December I was publicly gunning for my friend Wade, who's become something of a race-day nemesis for me. While I dramatically improved my time in the Pere Marquette race, I failed to beat Wade, which resulted in two months of his gloating (so far). When he signed up for the Castlewood Cup, of course I had to take another crack at ending his winning streak.
|No, he didn't enjoy his victory at all...|
|In response to my report card on my 2011 goals...|
|This year's shirt|
About 20 minutes before the race began, we made our way closer to the start line. Big River Running had several propane heaters blasting, and I found myself a spot right in the middle of all of them. I looked around to see if I recognized anyone and saw Drew from Team Virtus, so I abandoned my cozy refuge to say hi before we all headed to the start.
This year, racers departed in waves that were 1-minute apart. Drew was (I think) two waves ahead of me, Chuck and Wade were one wave ahead, and Robin and Val were in my wave. We wished the boys luck (though I may have been mostly serious when I told Wade to break a leg) and pretty soon it was our turn.
|To view larger picture, click here|
|From the 2011 race. This year I was on a mission that didn't involve stopping to take pictures.|
I felt surprisingly good early on. Since I rarely warm up before a race, usually the first mile or so is rough, but this was ok. I definitely wasn't chilly after the first hill! By the time we came out of the woods after hitting mile 2, I was ready to lose my gloves. Thankfully Lori was there cheering and taking pictures, so I tossed them her way.
Much of the race was suprisingly similar to my last Castlewood training run, and it definitely helped me to know what was coming up. It's a great route, some hills, but plenty of down to go with the up. Lots of fun to run there. From mile 2-3, the course was fairly flat, which was good because I didn't manage to run much of the next hills at all. Mile 3-4 was my slowest split of the entire race, at 12:48. Luckily, once you get past that section you can tell yourself you're basically halfway done. I ran through the mile 5 water stop feeling pretty strong. As I grabbed an energy gel, I thought I heard someone call "Super Kate!", but I didn't recongize anyone there and thought maybe I was imagining things.
Heading up the hill I saw Lori, who told me Wade was about 2 minutes ahead of me. Damn! How did he gain a minute on me? I started getting convinced I was was going to lose to him AGAIN and spent the next mile or so mentally composing facebook statuses where I admitted being beaten once again by someone older, bigger, AND sick. Sigh.
Running alone this year, I had a much quieter race, and I didn't have anyone pushing me from behind. Still, few people passed me in the back half of the course. One guy came flying up behind me, so I moved out of his way and he zoomed by without saying a word...but he was toast before mile 7 and then he was the one moving over for me. I kept catching up with people and be comfortable following behind, but they kept moving out of my way. It probably made me push myself more so that I didn't get re-passed.
Just a bit past mile 7 I spotted Wade's Team Godzilla shirt towards the bottom of the hill. I was so happy, but I held in my excitement and worked on steadily catching up with him. I was afraid if he saw me he'd speed up, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to run any faster at that point. I caught up to him before the course crossed the road, and then I quietly stalked him until I was ready to make my move. Right around the ranger station, I moved up next to him, said, "Just remember, I'm already a minute ahead of you..." and then ran past giggling. :D
|I actually paid for the pictures, but my computer isn't cooperating with downloading them.|
I guess it's only half a mile or so, but it's the longest half mile in history. I'd rather run uphill on singletrack. You can see the end. You can hear the end. But you just keep running away from the end...until finally you curve back towards the finish line. This year I didn't have my teammates running with me and telling me to give it my all, but I was so ready to be finished with that stupid field that I ran as hard as I could, crossing the finish line in 1:39:42--a 3:23 PR, and more importantly, a long-awaited victory over my race-day nemesis.
|So happy to be finished.|
We walked over to get some of the delicious pulled pork being served after the race, cheered for Robin and Val as they finished, and then hung around while they called out some attendance prize winners (I didn't win, but Chuck did) before heading for home. Despite losing the nemesis crown, Wade was pretty good-natured about the whole thing and didn't threaten to leave me behind even once. While he's all about a rematch, I think I'll savor my victory for a nice, long while. And you better believe I'll spend the wait gloating.
|At least I can feel confident I wasn't taking it too easy. :)|
Women: 73/135 (not quite top half, darn it)
Age group: 15/22