|Darren and I post race sporting the McDavid gear|
I flew into Reno Thursday and we got in a nice 5 mile run Friday morning. Things were feeling well and we were both eager to race.
Morning came early at 3:30am and we made the two hour drive over to Cool, CA for the 7am start. A perfectly clear morning and sunrise with temps in the 40s made for a chilly start. I opted for short sleeve shirt, shorts, McDavid arm sleeves and calf sleeves, gloves, and Pearl Izumi Fuel XC shoes (I didn't have enough time to run in my new Hokas, so I didnt want to crack them out of the box for 34 miles - will be wearing them for my 100 miler next month).
We got started right at 7am on a side road and after about 50 meters we veered onto single track. I was in third onto the trail (actually fourth but the one guy off the front already was running the 21 mile race). The guys in front of me, Brian and Aaron started upping the pace just a half mile into it. We were clipping along at just over 7 min pace and it felt great but I began worrying about pushing too hard. I backed off at about the two mile mark and let them pull away, so I was sort of running solo, since we had opened up a gap on the field.
I hit the first aid station at mile 4 right at No Hands Bridge just under 30 minutes. Then we ran an out and back to Auburn Overlook. I really enjoyed this section running alone along the American River on some sweet single track. I reached the turn around at 1:01 and was one minute behind Brian and passed Aaron at the aid station. Aaron caught back up to me but I was in a good groove, running around 7:20 miles, so I didn't adjust or change anything when he came up behind me and sat on my heels. I just focused on taking in 100 calories every 20 mins and sipping water from my hand held bottle.
We reached the station at No Hands (12.4 miles) again at about 1:31 or so and started the climb back up out of there. Soon came the K2 climb, which is purported to be 1,000 feet in a little over a mile. I think it might be more... Anyway, this climb is stupid steep. Aaron was anywhere from 10 ft to 100 meters behind me up it. Once crested, it's basically a rolling trail to the 16 mile aid station at Knickerbocker. Over this section I got away from Aaron, who later dropped at 21 miles (he ran 20 miles the day before the race). So, now I was running alone for good. Getting splits at each aid station, Brian was 3 mins, give or take 10 seconds, ahead of me for the next 13 miles. With 5 miles to go (the 29 mile mark) he still had 3:10 on me but I was feeling good, so I upped the pace a bit to the point where I was running a comfortable, sustainable pace but also pushing.
At about 2 miles to go, I saw Brian far up the trail on a climb. He was looking back and saw me, so started running with new purpose. I got to watch him finish while I was still on the trail. He finished in 4:54 and I in 4:55. Last year's winning time was 5:11, so it was a good effort on both our parts.
1st Brian Miller 4:54
2nd Me 4:55
3rd Ray Sanchez 5:11
I felt great, so I headed back out onto the trail for 40 more minutes, catching Darren for his last two miles. He ran last year in 6:14; this year.... 5:38. Huge improvement and would've been faster had he monitored the salt intake to ease the cramping he had.
|L to R: Darren, Grae, et Moi|
|Darren parting shot|