This morning I left home around 6AM in direction to my race destination. I got there by 6:45AM and had to wait a few minutes to pick up my bib number and timing chip. Around 7:30AM I started my warm up with an easy jog for the first two miles of the course. It was suppose to rain but so far the weather was looking good. The wind was a problem but the sun was already showing up.
We got together by the start line around 8AM and had to wait another ten minutes for the late starters. Then the gun went off. At start there is a little incline followed by this long downhill. Some runners started a little too fast. After the first mile in the 5:40, things started to sort out. There was a runner in the front running by himself trying to brake the course record. Then a small group of four runners, and I was about 100 meters behind them. I had no idea how far ahead I was from the runners behind me. I stayed in control of my pace, trying to relax on the downhill and pick up the pace uphill.
I passed the two miles mark in 11:36. The wind was blowing side ways making things a little difficult but I was feeling good and keeping my eyes at runners ahead. The third mile was more of the same. The rolling hills kept coming. I passed the third mile in 17:16. And fourth mile in 23:16.
It was difficult for me accept what happened after the fifth mile. But first let me describe what happened between the fourth and fifth mile. After the 3.5 miles mark there is a gradual long hill of over 600 meters. It ends almost by the fourth mile mark where the paved section ends. The first four miles are on the pavement. Then there is a gate that is used to keep the cows in I suppose. So the pavement ends and dirty trail starts. We went up this dirty trail and we hit the highest point in the course. I believe it is around 1,050 ft. To make things worse started raining. The trail was already muddy from the yesterday' s rain. Then there is a steep downhill. A nice drop from 1,050 ft to 700ft. I hit the turnaround or five miles mark in 29:40. Not so bad for the conditions.
Then we had to climb this steep hill way back. The mud started to stick on my shoes and added a few ounces to my body. The runner ahead was starting to slow down and I was almost catching him. But I just tried to stay calm and finish the climb without trying to pass anyone. So I survived the long steep climb back to the top. That is followed by a long downhill section taking me back to the six miles or four miles mark. That I hit in 37:15. My slowest mile so far. No wonder with all that mud, rain and steep hills.
So I passed the six miles mark and all the sudden my legs become a cramping mess. My calves started to cramp so bad, that I could not even walk. I tried many times to keep running but no matter what I did, the cramps would come back. I was so way ahead of the runners behind me, that it took about five minutes for someone to pass me. I was extremely upset. Imagine being in no man's land being passed by joggers. It was quite demoralizing, but I had to deal with. Basically I walked and jogged the last four miles averaging a pace of 7 minutes and 8 seconds for the 10 miles.
Maybe I made some changes in my diet that did not work out. I have some work to do trying to find out what went wrong. But it is just one more lesson to learn. I'm frustrated but not defeated. Next year I will be back.
On Saturday I did an easy run from home to the bike path and back adding a few fast strides to loose my legs. I felt good and light.