A Note from Fatty: This is the second part in my Timp Trail Half Marathon race report. It might — but is in no way guaranteed to — make more sense if you read part one first.
There are a few things I know about myself. I know, for example, that I have a good set of legs. I know that I’m very competitive. I know that I am willing — eager, in fact — to hurt strategically.
I know that I can combine these facts to keep running up steep hills, when other people slow to a march.
Which, two miles into the Timp Trail Half Marathon, is precisely what I did. Not to catch and put a lot of distance between me and my competitors. No indeed, because I’m pretty sure that my running up steep pitches wasn’t a lot faster than marching up them.
But it did have the strategic benefit of making me feel better about myself. Of making me think, “Well, I’m good at something, at least.”
OK, fine. It was showing off.
I Question Myself
I passed a couple people as I grunted my way up the hill, bringing me to what is arguably the most beautiful part of the whole trail: Johnson’s meadow. It’s a gorgeous little valley, especially on a perfect Spring morning after a short rain during the night, which this was. Green and perfect, with tiny little flowers blooming among the tall grass.
“This is so beautiful!” shouted The Hammer, now right behind me. And she was right. It was a good reminder to me to look up and around during this run.
Then one of the guys I had passed during the climb came blasting past me down the hill and into the valley.
“See you on the next climb,” I said, presumptuously. But not, as it turned out, inaccurately. Because — if you’ll take a look at the elevation profile below (look at the dip starting right at mile 2), that little meadow only lasts about a third of a mile before you’ve got quite a bit of up (look at mile 2.5 – 3):
During that little climb, I passed the guy who had just passed me, along with a couple more people. And the young man in dreadlocks.
“Strong work, man,” I said to him as I went by, doing my best to not say something envious about his hair.
It would not be the last time I saw this kid, who, as it turns out, is named Phineas, and would eventually be the division winner in the under-19 age category.
To my dismay, in this photo you can’t even see those dreadlocks. Which is too bad, because they look pretty darned awesome. (Also, I love the fact that you can see someone behind Phineas in this photo is carrying a box of Krispy Kremes.)
I got to the beginning of the only extended mostly-flat section (look at mile 3 – 5.3 in the elevation profile above) with my super-secret strategy (which I will now reveal) intact: get to the flat section before The Hammer did, so that by the time I got to the end of it, she wouldn’t be too far ahead of me.
But a strange thing was happening: I was feeling good. Strong, even. Like I could speed up a little bit.
And so I did.
I ramped up my effort to what I’d later find is an eight-ish minute/mile pace. OK, more like 8:40 min/mile, but you get the idea.
And it didn’t matter, because Phineas still blew by me like I was a middle-aged man.
And I began to ask myself a question: “Am I going too fast?” Because if so, I was going to bonk before I finished the race.
But then another thought occurred to me. “If I bonk, does it matter?” The realization that if I had a legitimate reason to slow down and walk the rest of the race — i.e., I couldn’t do anything but walk — that it was perfectly OK for me to do so, was completely liberating.
And so I continued to go hard. To see how I’d do if I really pushed.
At mile 5.3 the Timp Trail race has a mile’s worth of fast, easy dirt road downhill, allowing me to clock my only sub-8 full mile of running in the history of…me.
I thought I was flying…until the guy I said, “See you at the next climb” a few miles back came running by me.
“See you at the next climb,” I said, again, (still) presumptuously.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Forty-eight,” I answered, proudly — although incorrectly (I’m still a couple weeks away from turning 48).
And then another guy passed me. And another.
Whether on bike or on foot, I guess I’m just a lousy descender.
I pulled into the aid station, slowed to a walk, and sucked down a Cherry-Lime Roctane Gu (my current favorite gel) — the first of three I was carrying with me and intending to eat during the run. People continued to pass me.
Luckily for me, miles 6.3 to 9.3 were next up.
And by next up, I mean next up.
And that’s where we’ll pick up (and most likely conclude) tomorrow.