As the Girl and I started running out of Carlton, the morning seemed surreal, to say the least. We had woken up 26 minutes earlier, arrived 20 minutes late to the start and were discussing things, like "hey, did you grab my wallet?". Running a race with the Girl turned out to be fun; the firs few miles of the course were gorgeous and we were able to look at the absurdity of our morning.
The Girl seemed to start out too fast. I probably started out where I wanted, taking several walking breaks on the hills but she was a little panicky, trying to catch up to people. She was a little more aggresive in passing the trains but, overall, we kept up the same pace. People quickly figured out that we had started late and thought that was pretty funny. One woman told the Girl that she would surely have won, had she started with everyone else. That woman probably changed her mind, though, when she saw Helen Lavin coming back on her way to a new course record. In fact, now that I am on that topic, I was amazed by how fast the front runners were all going.
I yo-yo'ed around the wife, always walking and eating more that her, but finally bid her adieu at the power lines. The Power Lines. They seemed so easy on the way out, maybe because I was still having to go the pace of whoever was ahead of me. After the power lines, I turned on the iPod and started running fast. Boy, did that feel good.
Suddenly, appearing like Jesus, or Bob from Twin Peaks, was none other than Steve Quick. I was passing him, saw him, and almost fell into a creek while saying hi to him. One may expect Steve Quick to be cynical, wry and prone to call me something like a Scandihoovian (he is Minnesotan, afterall). He is well-known for being an angry man on the trail, especially when he is tired, it's hot and the power lines are muddy.
But no. I would describe him more like a gentle Michael Jackson, only with a better tan and worse moves. I assumed he wanted peace, but was hoping to talk to him after the race (which, unfortunately, didn't happen) and ran on. The girl did talk to him longer than me and found him to be as funny and smart as he is in electronic life.
At the turn-around, I had the usual naive feeling of greatness. On the way back, I kept passing people steadily, until the power lines. At first, it seemed like a good time to take a break, hiking up the hills, but those things are steep. My legs started to cramp and the sun was making me woozy. On one of the last hills, I was 10 feet from the top and cramped simultaneously in both legs. I stood there, almost able to look over the crest, for a good 30 seconds before moving on.
From there, life began to suck. I got a little speed back in me and passed a few more people (nearly all of whom would eventually pass me back). I ran with Chris Hanson for a while; he seemed like a nice guy and would eventually pull away from me by almost a half hour over the last 8 miles. The last 5 miles were complete torture. I walked most of it, but even fast walking induced violent cramps. I got passed left and right, of course. It sucked; I vowed never to run a 50 miler ever again.
After the finish, I cramped up some more and then some more.
The Girl was only 13 minutes behind. She probably started out a little too fast and had a hard time over the last few miles. If you subtract her 20 minute late start, she was running in third place for most of the race and, probably, in second place for some of it. But over those last miles, she faded to fifth (her eventual place, with or without the 20 minutes). She was too panicky in the beginning, but who can blame her?
Personally, I didn't train enough miles this year. I was faster this spring than I have been in years, and close to the fastest I have ever been. But fast won't cut it at ultras, unfortunately. Up next is the TransAlpine race and then we'll see whether I'll start training for something long or something short. Picking a middle-of-the-road distance, like a trail marathon or 50K may be a good idea.
The Girl, on the other hand, is looking up how to get into the Western States lottery as I am writing this. If she got in, I sure would love to crew for her.