Well the race is over and as the subject suggests, I didn’t make it. Lots of justifications went through my head for dropping, but the most honest one was that I wasn’t having fun.
The morning was beautiful, the pic below shows some of the Texas runners who came to the event. Several had been here during the rain-out last year.
The course had changed and while the new trail was nice, it added about a mile to the first aid station as it switch backed up the open hills. I was behind where I wanted to be about 20 minutes after climbing out of pine canyon (view below)
Once I left the aid station, the temperature started to rise and the running was becoming less fun. It was another 6 miles before I hit the first downhill back to the bottom of the rim. Compared to last year, the sky was beautiful, but I knew the 10 miles I had to go at the bottom of the hill was going to be hot.
Most of the stretch between the bottom aid station and Washington Park was done at a fast walk. Even though the trail was a miserable muddy mess last year, the weather was cool so I did this stretch 40 minutes faster than this year. My watch read 89 degrees as the sun beat off the rocks along side the rim. I think the actual temperature was low 80’s but it felt like an oven.
Finally when I got to Washington Park, I sat in a chair and ate some fruit and tried to cool down. I was about 100 minutes behind where I wanted to be. When I left 20 minutes later, I started up the hill. I kept thinking how miserable this was and that I’d have to make that same return trip along the bottom of the rim 24 hours from now and the weather was supposed to be warmer on Sunday. Once I hit the base to the steepest part of the hill – I dunked my head in the creek, turned around and headed back down the hill. I threw in the towel at 31 miles.
I got a ride back to the start, had a beer with an English guy who also dropped, and met Tracy for dinner that night. The following morning, we went to Denny’s only to see Olga and Larry. Olga had dropped in the middle of the night. We then went to the last aid station, before the finish and hiked the trail up and over the rim to the other side (pic of Tracy below).
At the finish, we talked to the race director and it looks like only two of the nine from Texas were still on the course. The others had dropped through-out the night. I hate not finishing what I started, but there is always next year. I decided that I’ll run 50 miles at Cactus Rose in 2 weeks to make up for my shortage in miles.