Every busy schedule needs some respite. In years past that rest has been in the form of breaks from running, however the past 6 months we have been more than a little preoccupied preparing for next big adventure (read www.jfdioverland.com) so running has actually become the break, the pro of this is that any long run feels like a treat, the con is that I have turned into a rolly Polly tub of lard trundling down the trails.
So with the stress of condo rental, insurance, truck mods, route planning, and what bloody social media outlet is the most engaging and interesting for people, oh and not to mention how to pack my personal gear into a 62L tote, put to one side for the weekend (well a Saturday morning) it is time for my first race of the season, Pick Your Poison.
This is how I found myself driving a motley crew of Cam, Mitch, Ben and myself to Horseshoe ——- with Geoff meeting us there. We arrived to find the hill shrouded in fog and still covered in snow, conditions obviously weren’t going to be quite as conducive to a fast run as they were last year, that combined with getting fat over a cold ass winter and all reasons/excuses for not getting a PB were in place. Now don’t be thinking that this is one of those under dog stories where at the end I triumphantly dip at the line to shave a second off last years time, I didn’t, in fact I added several hundred seconds to last year. Ok there, that is out of the way, so I can continue and any of you reading won’t have false expectations.
It was great seeing all our trail buddies coming out of hibernation, it was unfortunate that Heather had to work, however Mitch and Geoff were keeping me suitably entertained. Mitch had decided to throw down the gauntlet and declare that he would be pipping Geoff to the finish on this day, Mitch is an aspiring ultra runner, where Geoff is much more of an ultra veteran, still I thought this may be an entertaining dual as Mitch has been training hard in preparation for Sulpher 50k his first ultra. Geoff was a little taken a back by the challenge but more than happy to take up this whipper snappers challenge.
The race started at pretty gentle pace, the trails certainly were going to be challenging. I got to catch up with a few more friends on that first loop. Just after the first aid station I decided to look back and see how the Mitch-Geoff battle was shaping up, I saw Geoff was a minute or so behind me so I waited for him to catch up, we chatted for a while and established that Mitch was just behind. Mitch caught up and we cruised together for a while with me chastising Geoff for his decision to sign up for a Tough Mudder. Near the end of the first lap I pulled away from the boys on some long up hills.
At the start of the second loop I was going to wait for the guys and run some more with them and watch their battle unfold, but at the first aid station I got talking to a girl I had been running just behind during loop 1, and we ran together for half of that second loop having a good old natter so time just flew by. The only slight hiccup of our time running together came when we were taking about work life balance, as the word balance left her lips she tripped and hit the deck hard, fortunately the irony did not escape her and we had a good laugh about it after she had dusted herself down. I had put some distance between myself and the boys but had been able to catch glimpses of them as the trails switched back and forth. I saw that Geoff had built a lead over Mitch but couldn’t really tell by how much.
The trails were enormous fun, I actually really enjoyed all the slipping and sliding, then to cap off a great race I got lapped by a 50k runner a couple of minutes from the finish, not normally a bonus, but it was Simon Donato from the TV show Boundless, we had a brief chat and I was a little star struck.
I happily collected my socks and settled in to wait for the boys battle to pan out. To my surprise Geoff game blasting in just a few mins later, he must have turned on the afterburners in the later half of that last lap. Mitch came in not too long after, but I made sure to be fully changed for when he did just to psych him out, young grasshopper needs the odd slap down. Mitch was delighted however this was only his second time running this distance on the trails and he had taken the better part of an hour off his previous time.
The rest of the morning was spent chowing down on the awesome post race food, and waiting for our 50k friends to finish up. Shout out to Melanie who took third female in the 50k.
The only low point of the day was the near 3 hours it took to drive home.
Only two more races before we head out on our big trip.