Turning off the main Hwy and on to the farm to market two lane highway we were now driving on a sheet of ice. We watch a pick up truck ahead fish tail every now and then. I felt comfortable in Carter and Mariana's front wheel drive SUV.
We arrived at the race start 10 minute before the start of Marianna's 50K race. I headed to the start to see my friends Tom and Michelle. Marianna and Rachel started together about 15 minutes late. They all were to have good runs. It was Michelle's and Marianna's first Ultra.
My 25K race started one hour later at 7 AM. 25k is just about right for me now. My left knee can take not much more (don't tell it I might run a trail marathon later this year). Besides, I'm tired of trying to figure out the right nutrition plan for an Ultra. And 25K's can be run hard and they're over quickly.
I hoped to have a good race despite no running the week leading up to race. I was battling a stomach virus but felt good two days prior to the race. I did walk 5 miles three days before race day and figured the time off may be a good thing.
The first mile climbs a bit and I was sucking wind. As the trail began to level off I got into a rhythm and hooked on to the back of about five young dudes who were moving at a pretty good clip. Hey! I was feeling good and feeding off these guys and their energy. Almost felt like a road bike team pace line.
After five miles the group broke apart. The first big climb found me trailing a guy I knew was also a masters runner. My competition. I passed him and put the hammer down. Gotta beat this guy to the finish. That was on my mind the rest of the race. Nothing wrong with that, Right?
At the top of the second big climb there was Michelle! We spoke briefly and up ahead was her husband Tom. Tom and I had a couple of laughs as he took my picture.
Still moving well and now running with my friend Fabian on the long descent into the final aid station I hoped to keep my energy level on high. A brief chat with Chris at the aid station and I was off alone on the final 1.5 miles to the finish trying to keep pushing. The energy dial began to slowly turn down as I tried desperately to keep it up. With about half a mile to go the fellow I was trying to stay ahead of passes me! Oh No! I try to keep up then he cuts off course. I yell at him, "Hey, the course turns here."
"NO" he said as he keeps going straight, "It goes this way."
"The arrows point to the left pal." I responded
He kept going. Cutting about 20 to 25 yards off the course jumping over a bright yellow tape to get back on course.
Now, I may not have been able to keep up with him anyway. He was moving well and I was spent. But......
As I Crossed the finish I noticed the time keeper tried to catch him to give him the first place masters award. He was already at the parking lot heading for his car. I wondered. Was he afraid I would confront him maybe, and call him out? I would not. Maybe he felt bad knowing he did cut the course. He undoubtedly saw the yellow tape he jumped. I hoped he did not intentionally take that shortcut.
Again, I may not have caught him, and this isn't the Olympics. "It's just an effing run."
I was happy with my effort, and my cute Kitty second place award was cool too!