The run stunk. I never ever felt good. I spent the first few lightly rolling miles just trying to get my heart, stomach, and breathing under control in preparation for the ruthless hills that I knew were to come. Just as I seemed to do that, the hills indeed began. So did the heat. It was probably only in the low 80s, but to us northerners, we may as well have been vortexed to Death Valley. We had a weekend once when it got above 60 and have otherwise not been able to train in anything with short sleeves. Booties remain the standard on the bike.
Disheartened from the omission of the naked aid station at mile 4 (it cracked me up last year) I inched up the mile long, cambered dirt hill thinking "after this, everything else will feel easy." Wrong again. Somehow, in the midst of feeling awesome last year, I neglected to notice how tough all of the subsequent rollers are. I fell off the pace pretty substantially from miles 6 - 10. I actually swore off the race ever again at that point, but I reserve the right to retract that swearing off. A couple of gels at mile 10 restored a bit of wind to my sails (glycogen to my muscles?) and I pushed through to the end. I didn't realize it until after I got home, but I actually ran almost 2 minutes faster than last year, so I am retrospectively pleased with that fact. It just felt so slow.
Pushing down the finish chute my lips and fingers went numb and began to tingle. That's usually the sign that I've reached my limit. 12th place finish. Same as I would have been last year had I been racing pro. I'm really excited to do Boise so I can stop comparing all of my performances to last year!
Now the ode to my peeps. It turns out that the Spokane contingent pretty much rocked Wildflower! Jeff Blackwell, Sam Piccici, and Molly Obetz were all 5th in their age-groups, Ben Greenfield was 4th in his, Phaedra and Sean Linder were 8th in their age groups (Sean hadn't run in weeks due to a hip injury and still had a great race with painful aftermath, and Phaedra had a stomach bug), and Troy was 9th in his. These are huge age-groups, by the way, so everyone from our community was in the top 10% of their respective divisions. That is especially phenomenal given our cold spring and the difficult, hot conditions in California!
My carpool and camping mates, Sean, Troy, and Molly deserve special credit for being phenomenal company. They were even courteous enough to eat their post-race double doubles outside the car. Our campsite (above) wasn't exactly the paradise we scored last year, but it's amazing how a patch of grass can become home. Sean even sacrificed his tent fly so we had something to sit on. Unfortunately, this didn't provide much in the way of shade or peace from the early morning parking directors with megaphones. "Why did Ken send those guys down the hill?!!" When there are 30-something hours of driving, several nights of camping, and a mere 5 hours of racing, the race itself is almost seems like an afterthought. I cannot believe how well the trip has gone both years. I do not like sitting in cars, and the hours on the road flew by (perhaps that's easy for me to say since Troy did all of the driving). It may have been our reminicing about Conrad and his love for horses, the sagacious advice of Dr. Laura, or Molly's constant narrative (I can clearly see yr nuts!), but regardless, it was so fun I think I might just have to do it again.
Many thanks to Laura D. and Troy for the pictures!