X-posted from HNAC email, so forgive the duplication.
In a surprise to no one, the course was extremely muddy and rainy. There were heavy amounts of standing water through many sections of the course. The on/off rain helped turn the mud into actively flowing streams. The mud in the cow pasture area coming from the final aid station was impressive. Inches of standing mud, that made your shoes weigh 5x as much. Luckily 400m uphill the course was a streambed again, and the mud got washed away. The volunteers were happy, and for the most part so were the participants.
My personal experiences included:
- I hadn’t really been prepping for this race; I’ve been following a plan for an October Wineglass 26.2, so I knew it was going to be a little rough.
- I got to hang out with Ved and Sarah on a ride to the race and bib pickup the day before, which was excellent. I also saw Ellie, Greta, Jean-Luc, the Dawsons, Ian, and many others, which was really nice.
- Went out a bit too hot with the cool kids before remembering that 31 miles of trail should not be started at the same pace as a half marathon, unless you’re one of the cool kids.
- Coming through the first loop without incident at about 2.5 hours.
- Leaving my refill gels on the table at the start/halfway point (oops!)
- Starting to feel muscle spasms at the start of the second loop, but not listening to them (which mostly worked out).
- Not doing too badly until halfway through the second loop when disaster struck.
- Coming out of the Beach aid station, there was a car passing on me the gravel road. As a result, I couldn’t see the right turn sign and missed the turn into the trail. Being 23 miles into the race, my mental navigation skills were not good. I went about a mile down the road when the race director drove by and asked which race I was running, and politely informed me that I was not on the course, or even very near it. At which point I felt like sitting down and crying, because I barely had 50k in my legs, and I definitely didn’t have 50k + 2mi. Also, I had been picking up speed on my detour, so I had covered a fair bit of real estate. I think it was the single most demoralizing moment of my running life.
- I turned around, and found a football on the way back to the course, which I picked up so I could bring home to the kids… so I ran the final 8 miles with a football without getting a touchdown. This probably makes me an honorary member of the Buffalo Bills.
- Leg cramps came with a vengeance between mile 27-33.5, so it was walk/run as things would allow.
- At one point in the race I came through the mist to see Ian and all the cows neatly in a line fanned out behind him, with all their faces pointed at me. It was like a Stephen King novel, but weirder and less violent. Silence of the Cows…
- Came through 50k at 5:33. The last few miles took longer, and I finished with 33.5mi+ on the watch (which usually runs significantly short on long races) at about 6:08.