This is going to be more of an overview than in depth like last year. So if you want to know about the course specifics, go read that report then come back here.
Coming into Sehghaunda this year I felt like a much stronger person. Not only physically, but mentally as well. I’ve been with Coach Ian for most of last year and for the most part, training has been relatively the same. I’ve had a nice mix of bad runs and great runs. Most importantly though is I stayed uninjured for the better part of the year. Aside from my nagging ankle issue (which I just accept now) and my knees that act up over long runs, things have been a long slow climb up in the positive direction.
For example, I had a great 5 mile PR, a horrible DNF, and a fun pacing gig a couple weeks back with Jamie at Bear Mtn. Going into this week I had a nice cruise with the trail group on Thursday night with a 7:00/min mile towards the end, then basically repeated that the next day on roads and almost paced out a 6:00/min mile for the last 5 mins of my run, the day before Sehg.
The weather was hot during the week but changed drastically as a cold front hit on Friday, and pushed our starting temps of the race on Sat am into the low 40’s with windchill dropping them further. As you know if you regularly read my stuff, I am not fond of cold weather. We dropped the girls off to my parents, then picked up Jamie and headed to the start. I chose to go sleeveless and forgo long sleeves despite the chill. Everyone was surprised. I even had a photo snapped where by heavens, I was actually smiling.
Last years race, and its execution weighed heavily on my mind. I honestly didn’t know what this year was going to hold. I ended up deciding to cover my watch with my Buff and not look at until I got into an AS. For the most part, I followed this flawlessly. 2nd part of my plan was to run by feel, and not use the watch to influence this. Goal, achieved.
A couple time related goals I had: Beat last years time, Come in sub 5:00, Beat my Road Marathon time, finish Top 25.
The race for me really ended up being broken into 3 distinct sections, rather than just the checkpoints. So that is how my report will follow.
ACT 1: All is Well
I really don’t know who I talked about my goals with, but for the most part they were still being played out until the start happened. Thoughts like, How long can I stick with Jamie, or Tim, or Rob. I was all over the place. Then we started. I just kind of went with it and ran with Tim for pretty much most of the first section to CP1. As we neared CP1 I realized I was AHEAD of Jamie, and Rob, and Travis. Uh Oh. BUT I was feeling good and sticking to my plan. Being a bit more familiar with the course, I wasn’t afraid to pick out certain hills that I would end up walking as I knew there was no time gain, and only tiredness as a result of trying to run it. Power hiking is sometimes just as, if not more, efficient. Went thru a couple more Checkpoints still feeling pretty good head to toe. Up until about mile 13…
ACT 2: Troubled Waters
I don’t know what it is about my knees, but first they started to act up followed shortly by my breakfast not settling well. I decided the best thing was to slow down to manage the pain in my legs and deal with my stomach. I noticed I hadn’t started drinking cola till the 2nd or 3rd AS and I now looking back at it, should really just start this from the beginning. Things eventually evened out. My bottle was full of EFS and I drank it as I was thirsty. When I came into the AS I would swap the bottle with one my wife had premade for me. Then I would grab a swig of water, a swig of cola and 2 watermelon. Kept this for almost every AS and things fixed themselves. I only took one GU and never felt under powered or worn down. The knees just hurt, and running faster hurt them more. During this section some of the hills got longer and there were a few more so I slowed down on them as well. Coming up to AS6 I saw Rob coming down. Apparently I missed him during one of the AS and now was at least 5 minutes behind him. I got to the AS took off my pack and grabbed a handheld. Took a look at my watch only to be surprised that I was at around 3:45, faster than I thought I was. I had conserved a little energy by taking care of myself over this section, I figured now it was time to crank up the heat again.
ACT 3: Righting the Ship
Coming down AS6 can be…um…dangerous. Lately I have been working on my downhills and figured I would just go for it. For the most part my downhills on the day were rather good and I made up some good time bombing down them in a way I usually don’t. Made it out to the road and skipped the first AS. I had no desire to stop momentum before I hit the hill. Walked the hill and it would be the last walking I would do for the race. I soon found a good rhythm, grabbed some red-bull at the last AS, then set out for the last 2 miles. I remember run/walking this last year and was glad that I had the energy to lay down the 16th fastest time on the day. I ran the 4th section in 41:12. The last 2 miles sub 8:30. For being at the end of a marathon I was quite pleased. And the hill at the end? PLEASE, it felt so effortless this year. Rolled into the finish line and let out a roar as I was not only going to hit the bulk of my goals, but finish in a decent time of 4:36.
I crossed the line crumpled to the ground to get my knees taken care of, and swore I was going to cancel my ultras. Again. On the ride back home, this feeling waned and ultimately dissapeared. I just need to learn some better pain management. I figure I left around 6 minutes out on the course overall. The first 13 miles was in my MP HR zone, then easy until around mile 22 when I picked it back up again. SO there is possibly more and a chance to go sub 4:30, don’t realistically know how much more, but I have a goal for next year.
Once again, I had a wife who was awesome and helped keep me in the game. Solid friends and lots of encouragment along the way. Another year another great #Sehgahunda. A great trail marathon that I’m now proud to have done it twice. YJR, Boots and Fleet Feet put on a hell of an event!