Race: Pacifica Trail Race (21k)
Date: July 12, 2015
Place: 2nd Overall
I lined up at the start with my strategy in mind. I shot out from the start pushing hard to get ahead of the pack before the single track trail started. Another runner went out hard as well, and I got the feeling this would be one gnarly race. I kept up with him as we winded the through the first set of switchbacks but his pace was too hard to handle without burning up my energy. It was only 4 kilometers into the race and there was still 17 kilometers to go in this 21k race.
I made the call and dialed down my effort, saving my effort for the downhill. The first climb was steep, reaching 2000 ft. in just 5 kilometers. If I went too hard, I wouldn't have any legs for the two other climbs. I winded through a tree shaded segment into an opening and could spot first place ahead, already on the next set of switchbacks. I figured once I made it down the first summit, I could stop at the aid station and get a time gap between me and first place.
I reached the first summit, downed a gel and bombed the downhill with no regard. This is where I would make up the time between me and first place, as well as widen the gap between me and third place. I made it to the aid station filled up my bottle with fluids and checked my time gap. First place was over 5 minutes ahead of me. There was a slim chance I could catch him by utilizing my fast descents on the remaining 2 descents, but regardless I was going to give my best and fight to keep my current place.
The second summit was a short one, with no sight of first place on the climb or descent. It was on to the 3rd and final summit, one last chance to see if I could catch my rabbit. I picked off runners but none of them were in my race. I memorized who was in my race, so if any of them came up from behind me, I would know.
With 4k to go, I spotted a runner from my race trying to catch me. He put up a good effort to make it this far, but his breathing was heavy and fast, his posture broken. The game plan was to keep the conservative effort no matter how close he got. Either he would burn up energy and fade back trying to catch me, or I would pick him off on the descent if he passed me on the climb.
The runner faded and soon I was in the grandeur and solace of the mountain again. I reached the final summit and let loose on the downhill, it was all or nothing. As tempting as it was to ease up and recover, attacking immediately would create a bigger gap on the 3rd place runner trying to catch me as well as bring me closer to catching 1st place. Speeding through the descent, the only thing on my mind was, "attack!" Relentlessly forward I weaved through the downhill taking the switchbacks faster than before. If I wasn't going to get first place, I would battle to earn second place.
I reached the bottom and ramped up my speed for a fast kick to the finish. Crossing the line, I went to see a race official to ask about my placing. Before I could open my mouth, I was awarded the second place medal and congratulations from the race director.
There is this feeling of joy you get when you cross the finish, knowing you gave your best, leaving it all at the line. It's now onward, to the next challenge.
Be well and run on!