Finally, my first race of the season. I've been waiting since the 1st of March for my racing season to begin. The race felt like crap, but I know that I brought that upon myself with some hard workouts leading up to race day. Even though this was my first official race it was really just a training run for me. I've got plenty of other races to push hard (see list at right).
The race was fun even though I didn't feel good. I knew the race directors as well as most of the people at the aid stations. The course got a huge amount of snow the previous weekend and although most of it had melted and drained away there were plenty of spots where it was still sticking around and melting as the day warmed up. It was a 12.5K loop with options of 1 to 4 laps. I chose 3 laps since it was the longest option shorter than a marathon so it had the best chance for Trophy Series points. As it turns out this race was also had the smallest field with only 17 finishers. I started out front with Tim Gentry a fellow RMRR runner. I let him pull ahead after about a mile or so since I knew he was faster than me and I really wanted to start pretty easy. We had a pretty good lead on the rest of the pack so I figured that I'd be running alone most of the race. Boy was I wrong. The 50K race had started 10 minutes ahead of us and I started to catch the back of the pack before the first aid station. As the laps went on I think that I even started to lap some of the 25K and 12.5K runners who were starting shortly after us. Before the race I got in the port-a-potty line too late and decided to drop out of that so that I could get to the start on time. That error may have cost me because I started to have stomach problems coming into the first aid station that was about 1/2 way into the lap. There was a long deceiving climb coming away from the aid station and lucky for me there were some trees and bushes at the top so I was able to pull off behind some bushes to relieve myself. I got myself going again and felt good for awhile, but still not 100%. I was still in second place so I decided to keep going easy and see how things played out. On the second lap the stomach problems kind of came and went, I finally had to pull off again at the same point that I did on the first lap. This time it really helped and I was able to finish the lap feeling pretty good. That held up until the aid station where I developed a side stitch that I just couldn't shake. Finally about 2 or so miles from the finish I noticed somebody catching up to me quite fast. The only person that had passed me so far was one of the 25K runners and this was the third lap so the faster 25K runners should all be done. He finally got close enough that I could see his race bib that identified him as a 37.5K runner. I was pretty sure he wasn't in my age group, but I still didn't want to get passed this late in the race so I turned it up a notch and my side stitch took a back seat and eventually disappeared. He still seemed to be gaining, but with the side stitch going away I kept gaining speed and before I knew it I seemed to have shaken him. I didn't dare look back though. Finally the finish line was in sight and I took a peek and appeared to have enough of a lead to hold him off. I kept the speed going so I'd look good for all the spectators. My sister in law, Stevi, and her husband Greg had brought my nephews Ryan and Alex to come watch my finish so even though they're only 2 and 3 I still wanted to impress them.
The other thing I should mention is the conditions on the course. Most of it was fine, but there were plenty of sections of snow. The first lap the snow was pretty hard with small sections of mud on either end of them. The second lap the snow was starting to get trampled and melting. The third lap had much more mud and even most of snow was pretty wet. I can only imagine what the course was like on the 4th lap for the 50K runners.