The alarm went off at . I had my clothes and everything I would need to take with me laid out the night before. I got dressed and for breakfast had a banana, some oatmeal and a cup of coffee and just before leaving I drank my chia fresca. After triple checking what I was taking with me we left between and . As it was going to be cooler than it has been lately and the race was in Lawrence I wore shorts but wore a long sleeve running shirt with my wind breaker and brought a short sleeve just in case and my new Brooks Cascadia trail shoes. We arrived at John Taylor Park next to the Ballad Center and at 7:30 and checked in pinned on my number and stared my warm up using my new pre-race play list. At 8:30 after a quick talk from the race director we were off.
My plan was to find a comfortable pace and maintain it with my goals to beat last year’s time and not be last in my age group. I went with the main group and before I knew it I was ahead of my planned pace with one of my fastest miles being 9:21. For some of you that might not seem like much but for me, that is good. I decided since I went out strong I might as well test myself and see how it unfolded. Around two miles in I got passed by four people and not long after they turned right at a fork in the trail and a guy came down the other side and told me to go left saying the trail was marked wrong. I was skeptical but I went (it turns out someone came through and took down some of the markers) as the trail came back together I fell in behind the first person that passed me and the other three came up behind me. When we got to a clear spot I moved to the right and waved them by since they were in front of me before the mix up. Meanwhile I tried to keep them in sight knowing I was going to pay for keeping this pace later. And about five miles in I was feeling it, and the thoughts started to creep in; “if I am struggling here what business do I have thinking about a 50K?”, “surely I am not last but I can’t hear anyone behind me”. I had a Clif Shot with me and I decided it was time so I used it and drank some of my water and dig in.
Well, I was not near last and about six and a half miles I heard footsteps and I got passed by a guy about my age and then a woman a little later. I was determined to push on, but my hip flexor was hurting and my legs were not happy with me, so I was monitoring my pace. Although the negative voices persist I continue to tell myself, this is what I am doing right now. I never saw another runner until I was exiting the trailhead with between two thirds and three quarters of a mile left to go, it was the guy who passed me a couple miles back. I had been giving everything I had and saw my wife Kristen on the street just before the finish line, I said “I’m dying here” she replied “you’re not dead yet, keep going”. It turns out that the guy who finished fifty seconds before me finished third in our age group. I was pleased with my race and convinced that the effort I put forward was what I had to offer today, but I missed out on a coveted rat trophy by fifty seconds! The temperature was perfect, the trail was in good shape and the scenery was beautiful and my wonderful coach was there to support me and take me to breakfast after.