If you want to check out my "Pre-Race Chat" you can check that out for yourself.
My alarm went off at 0430, which was stupid early by my standards. I arrived at the Cedar Ridge Preserve around 0530 and was quickly set up by the finish/start line. My friend Brian was there and was really the only runner I was concerned about. I'm sure there were faster people, but I know that Brian is a bit of a better runner, so my goal was to stay near him.
The race was four loops of around 5.6 miles. We did two clockwise loops, then two counter-clockwise loops. The course profile is pictured below.
I heard reports of between 2,500ft to 3,000ft of gain for the entire 22 miles. Who knows, but it was fun to say the least.
Brian (Mountain Goat) and I chatted for a few minutes before the race, and were ready to go at 0615 at the starting line.
Dave (the RD) shouted "GO!" and we were off. Brian knows this place forwards, backwards, and upside down, so my original idea was to let him lead off and show us around.
Within a minute or so, some guy comes running around us and takes the lead. We didn't recognize the guy so we tried chatting it up with him for a few seconds. He wasn't very talkative, but we soon found out he was a road runner and this was his first trail race. At this point we realized he was either going to completely smoke all of us, or he'd completely blow up and destroy himself on the technical trails.
We hit a fairly long jeep road downhill and the guy started pushing it. I was prepared to let him and Brian go, but Brian made the smart decision and let him go. If he could hold that pace, more power to him!
Brian and I ran the rest of the first lap together. We chatted on and off, but Brian was feeling pretty uncomfortable so we spent parts in silence. As I've said before, Brian is a killer climber, so he'd pretty much drop me on the uphills and I'd catch back up on the downhills and flats. I've finally embraced my downhill ability and just let it go. Some would call it reckless, I call it fun!
Some guy caught up with us at some point and ran for a few miles then dropped off. Brian and I finished the first lap together in the same time of 47:35. We was no time at the start/finish. I grabbed my extra handheld that was already full with water and gels and was immediately back on the trail.
Lap 2 was interesting. When we left the start/finish, I was first out with my bottle and Brian was right behind me. About a quarter mile in I heard Brian shout some choice words and found out he'd hit his leg on some rebar or something. I made sure he was OK, and kept running. I looked back and Brian was still behind me.
It was at this point that I thought maybe this was my chance to put some space. I quickly changed my mind and just decided to run my race. It turns out that I did put some space (enough that we couldn't see each other) and finished the second lap in 49:47, only 1:11 ahead of Brian and a full 4:06 behind first place. I refilled my water bottle at the start/finish, then turned around to start my final two counter-clockwise loops.
I quickly saw Brian on my way back out and he was closer than I was thinking. My goal here was just to push the flats and downhills and keep quick hiking the uphills.
I was already digging deep and didn't have much more in me. I knew if Brian caught me, there wouldn't be much I could do. I was really capitalizing on any flats and pushing the pace well, cause I knew Brian would still be running the uphills.
The sun was now shining down on us and it was getting warm. Probably close to 90 degrees. I was drinking more water and realized that I'd actually have to stop at the halfway aid station this time. We came off a steep downhill and I rolled into the aid station. I refilled my water and walked out. I was just trying to stay out of view of Brian at this point, cause I didn't want him to see me walking. I also ran out of water just before the aid station, and I knew on the second lap I'd need to be sure and grab my extra bottle for the fourth loop.
I now came to that jeep road grinding up hill. I ran to the start of the hill and hiked up as fast as I could. I kept looking back, waiting to see Brian come flying up the hill, but didn't I knew if I could make it to the top, I'd at least finish the third lap before he caught me.
I made it to the top and smashed the downhills and flats into the start/finish. I finished my first counter-clockwise loop in 54:35, only 1:18 ahead of Brian, and 9:09 behind first!
The last lap I started with two bottles and got out of the start/finish area as quick as possible. As soon as I was out I walked for a second to eat a gel and got right back to running. My goal on this last lap was just to run as much as possible and suck it up.
I really pushed the downhills hard this lap because I knew that's the only was I was going to stay ahead. I hiked all the inclines and ran almost all the flats. It was getting hot and I was drinking a lot of water at this point.
I was running scared and just trying to hold off Brian, where ever he may be. I didn't expect to hold him off for so long. When I originally put a gap in between us, I didn't think it would last long. Now that I was still holding him off, I knew I needed to keep it.
On my way into the aid station I pulled off both my lids, so I could refill and get out. Once out I ran all the way to the bottom of the jeep road and started power hiking pretty hard. I kept looking back here just waiting for Brian to round the corner. Again, I knew if I could get to the top of the jeep road I could bomb the downhill into the finish.
Before I knew it, I was at the top and I still couldn't see Brian. I was pushing about as hard as I could go at this point. I was totally ready to be done. I'd been redlining almost the whole time.
Finally I made the last left turn, did a short uphill with stairs and knew that was it.
I crossed the finish line in 2nd place, 8:00 ahead of Brian, and a whole 10:49 behind first place.
I finished, chatted with a few friends, and waited for Brian to finish so we could begin our "recovery".
It was fantastic getting to race with Brian again and great having him there to push me as always. This will probably be my one and only time I beat Brian! Turns out the roadie in first place was a heck of a runner! My hat is off to him for coming out and just destroying a few seasoned trail runners.
David and Endurance Buzz Adventures put on a great first time event and really did a great job of course marking and race organizing. The post race watermelon was a fantastic touch, as well as the extra goodies for the top 3 finishers.
Final results along with splits can be found HERE, and I'm sure David will do a quick write up on Endurance Buzz as well.
Congratulations to everyone that raced. I expected a lot of first time trail runners, and there were quite a few! It's always great to see a bunch of first time trail racers.