Before leaving Carson City, my training had waned due to smoke and ennui, and, despite a lack of smoke, the lack of motivation persisted. I suppose driving many hours a day (when not spending days drinking beer, of course) didn’t help either.
Leading up to race day, I hadn’t run even twenty miles but once in (I’m guessing) about three and a half years and even that was two years ago. I think I’d pretty well blocked out the sufferfest this death trudge was going to be, as did Nick. The night before the race was a comedy of trying to determine gear, logistics, nutrition, hydration, WHILE DRINKING BEER.
Mind, I knew I’d finish. It’s in my stubborn, relentless nature. What was less determined was how long it was going to take and just how shitty it was going to be. Back when I was semi-legitimately training (in August), I gave myself six goals. First are the standard three for every “race”:
1. Have fun. First and foremost, always.
2. Stay vertical.
3. No blood.
The next two are time-related:
4. Reasonable finish: 6:00
5. Stretch finish: 5:30
The last was an arrogance goal:
6. Beat Nick.
Granted he hadn’t been in the groove for while, but he was a Leadville 100 and UTMB finisher and had done some distance pacing this summer. Oh, and I’ve got 20+ years on him. Yeah, total arrogance goal.
Race day was beautiful. Crisp 30° start and a cloudless sky. Nick and I did the slow trot/power walk for the first 10K. I stopped for equipment change and he was gone. Fair. I had no idea of my time. I purposely wasn’t looking. My only change of plan was going to be to push with what I had the last 10K.
“C’mon old man, get moving!” He laughed and turned up the trail.
“Fuck off, Nick!”
The aid station vols were initially taken aback, but they saw I was laughing and, being aid station vols near the end of a long-ass race, completely understood. I snarfed down some food and drink, grabbed a couple of VFuel gels (look at me dropping brand names like I’m somebody!), fist-bumped all the vols, and I took off like a snail on a trail.
I caught Nick after about ten minutes, and we hiked up the hills and jogged together for a while. Feeling frisky, I said I was going for it. That’s when the knee pain that was lurking in the background came to the fore. Stabbing pain. Swell, my IT band had finally given up. Somehow, I managed to run most of those last miles with gritted teeth. My epithets were colorful to say the least. The beer and food at the end made it all better. Except for my IT band. That’ll take awhile.