Woke up around 4:30 or so which is a little earlier than I would normally rise for an 8:00 start but considering I had a 90 minute drive up to the race, I had to plan accordingly. The weather called for a pretty fair chance of rain but considering it was strictly a running event, I didn't have to modify things too much other than to pack some warm and dry gear for after the race.
Having driven the course about a month and a half prior, albeit backwards, I knew that the first half of the race would be pretty hilly with the last 6 miles or so being pretty flat with a few tough downhills inside the final 2 miles. The course is a point-to-point starting at the eastern shore of the lake running to Fontana which is located on the western shore. As luck would have it, their was a gentle easterly wind which was good considering the temp hovered just above 45.
My plan was to run an aggressive first half of the race until the flat section and then hang on from there. I hoped that there would be several runners of my ability and better but with another race being held about 30 minutes away in Kenosha, I knew that the field might be a little slim. Either way, I wasn't there to compete for placing, rather I wanted to turn in an honest effort and shoot for a PR despite the hilly course.
We toed the line right on time were off with the classic cap gun start. The course essentially went straight for about 200 meters and took a sharp left hand turn up a fairly steep hill about 100-200 meters long before turning right onto what would be the main road for the remainder of the run. I had four guys with me before we hit the hill and by the time I got to the top of the hill, I was alone and would stay that way for the rest of the race. The first 2 miles followed a definite uphill trend and I went through in 11:26 which was pretty much right where I had hoped to be at this point. I had to glance at my watch a few times throughout the race to keep from settling into a lull being that I was alone. This particular race only had 4 aid stations so missing a stop would have been a bummer so I had no choice but to take something at each of them. This normally is not an issue but each time I came up on an aid station, the people working it were off socializing and had to literally run to the table to get there in time before I went through. I actually had to grab my own fluids at 2 of the 4 stations because no one was there, strange?! By the time I went through the 11 mile marker, my watch only read 10.75 miles which meant either the last 3 miles were going to be long, or I'd turn in a PR that really wasn't a true PR. This problem got ironed out during the final 1.1 miles that was actually 1.4.
After driving the course prior to the race, I thought for sure my back and quads would be screaming while going down the 2 substantial downhills inside the last 2 miles but much to my amazement, they actually felt pretty good. I attribute this to the new Zoot Ultra COMPRESSRX shorts that I wore for the race along with the new Zoot Ultra Team top which I must say is a really quality top! The new Ultra TT 4.0 really felt great other than the blister that formed on my left achilles after about 3 miles because the skin between the chip strap and the top of the back loophole got pinched each time my left ankle dorsiflexed before heel strike. Other than that, I can't think of any gear related complaints.
As I neared what sounded like the finish line, I noticed that there really was no actual finish line or finishing chute set up. As I got closer to the final turn a guy standing at the corner of the final right hand bend shouted "run towards the guy holding the rope over there"! I had to hold back laughter as this is the first time I really had no idea where to go at the end of a race. Naturally I took his advice and when I shouted to "the guy holding the rope" asking him where to go, he essentially said, "this is the end of the course". There you have it, my finish line dialect, again strange!
Overall I was happy with my race on an honest good course and I was especially proud for not sacking it in halfway through the race. Total time 1:15:45, only :19 slower than my half marathon time from last season that was on a much flatter course. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for this season. Time to put in some serious time on the bike, Kansas 70.3 is just over a month away!
Special thanks to Jake at Zoot for all his help and to some of the other sponsors including Garmin, and GU. Considering my new Ridley is still in the box at home, I can't give any props for performance just yet but going on looks alone, it's pretty impressive! Good luck to everyone this season, hope to see you out on the course!