Going into the weekend I knew I was fit, I'm much more fit that I was at any point last year, which was part of the reason I thought that 4:45 was a reasonable goal, and that I could probably go faster. I also knew that my goal was to use Sageburner as a training run to gauge where I am in my training. To be honest, If I wanted to go fast, the long run last weekend was just about the wrong thing to do. I'm not a strong climber, and the 7000+ feet of vertical took any freshness out of my legs, so entering today I felt OK, but I didn't have any pep in my legs.
Starting off the race I was still pretty optimistic about my chances of running 4:40 or so and I marked Duncan Callahan as a good gauge of where I should be. I followed him up the first hill and down to the base of the second climb where I let him go a bit. I still had him in sight about 7 miles in although I was just about certain I was in for a tough day. I was running about 8:49/m averages through the rolling climbs but I was working too hard for that early on. The subsequent miles begun to really heat up (it would hit about 80+ on the course) and I continued to push harder than I should. I pushed hard to the top of "gateway" and then into the halfway aid station, this is where things turned south.
Coming up out of a tough descent and subsequent ascent I headed out with one bottle (should have stopped to drink a bottle and take a full out) with the thought that another aid station was about 3-4 miles away. This next sections is hot, exposed and I was already out of water 2 miles in. As it turns out the RD's removed the aid station and I was out of water for the next hour. At mile 20 (where the aid was last year) I was still on pace to hit my goal of 4:45 but dangerously dehydrated, beginning to bonk a bit and I had a decision to make. I had come to grips with the missing aid station (though really discouraged) and I knew how far the next one was (~4 mi) with still the toughest climb to go before I could get aid.
I decided that I would save it and shut it down. Could I have continued to push and made a run at that goal? Perhaps, but it would have meant that I strayed way over the red line and could very well have led to me hanging out the rest of the evening/night on and IV drip. Being that I have Sun Mountain in 3 weeks, I wanted to be able to go race there. I'm a bit disappointed in that fact, the fact that I didn't continue to push into the finish but I think it was the smart decision. I really shut it down for the last 10 miles and walked a lot, stopped at the aid station for a long time to drink and drink about 3 bottles the first time and a few cups of coke. Then again 3 miles later for 2 more bottles and again at the final aid stop 2 more bottles.
I crossed the line in a personal worst 5:31:xx. Which as Rick Hessek would say, was a nice walk :) and it was. It was actually a nice 20 mile run and a 10 mile walk. I came in with two goals, go under last years time by 30 minutes, and retain my AG title, both of which were not attained. With the conditions on the course and the direction (I think this was a slower run than last year's direction) it wasn't the worst day ever, but competition wise well, my pre-race goals seemed pretty unrealistic after I learned that Parr won it in 4:23, with DC taking second in 4:32. In anyone's reality, I shouldn't have been anywhere near the footsteps of those two (and I wasn't). I was closer to Parr than I was last year while completely shutting off the engine for 10 miles so I guess I can take solace in that.
I did have fun, which is always the goal. And this sport continues to humble me, which I need on a regular basis. I've thought that I may take some time to rethink my goals for Sun Mountain, although the course is much better suited to the training I've been doing so we'll see. Do I think I can really come close to sub 7:45? Well, not really. I'll taper, so hopefully I'll have fresh legs. I think I can nail the first 20 miles, but after that I'll just see how hard I can take it. I do need to bring 2 bottles along, I know that!
Overall, my body feels good today, I'm gonna go for a run this evening, and we're headed out for a hike in the black canyon. The only part of me that is sore is my stiff back which I've been dealing with for a few weeks, so I guess the higher mileage was good for something :) So for those scoring at home, I'm 0-2 on the day with a pair of backwards K's and a walk... But we get to lace 'em up again in 3 weeks...