Waking up groggy and with a headache on a Sunday morning (thanks the martini the night before - possibly?) did not exactly motivate me to hop out of bed, full of energy and ready to go. But, I did haul my butt out of bed and started on the coffee and a somewhat healthy breakfast, hoping that this, along with an Advil, would better prepare me for the day. Not the best start and it certainly did not forebode that the day would unfold splendidly!
By the time Michael and I were headed west, the sun was up, greeting a beautiful day, but the temperature stayed stubbornly around 48 degrees. I kept my eye on the car thermometer, wondering how much I was going to freeze on the run or whether I should wear my old blue Patagonia top (circa 1996) for the run. We found parking on PCH, ooohed at the scenery as we walked to Sycamore Canyon Campground, and shuffled along to stay warm.
The main thought running through my mind was not "Oh hell, I hope that I can finish this thing!". If it weren't for the chilly weather, I probably would have turned over that thought time and again. Instead, I kept looking at my watch, wishing that the 9:00 am hour would arrive sooner than later, so that I could get moving! Finally, the hour arrived! It was time to race, or merely run, depending on your definition. I told Michael to expect me in 2 hours - I set the bar low for my expectations! While I would be running along trails and through canyons, he planned to cross PCH and hang out on the beach. I envied him for just a moment! Putting aside such thoughts, I peeled off my top layer, begrudgingly, and tried to improve my position before the race organizer/announcer called "On your mark, set, go!". No gun, just a running start.
As for the race? It seems like a blur, but I will call it a 'race'! I definitely started out on the slower side, unsure of the pace that I should try to set for myself, and cautiously feeling out the dips in the rocky trail as we wound our way through the canyon. At a certain point, remembering someone saying "The first six miles are uphill and and the last six are downhill", I decided to kick it into gear. My only chance of moving up was to push on the uphill - from experience, I can actually pass people on the ascent! I didn't actually notice much of an uphill, more rolling hills, until I hit miles 5-6 when there was a nice, looooooonnnnnnggggg climb. Lovely! I stuck to my plan, pushed myself on the uphill and managed to pass a nice group of people, and then I kicked it on the downhill. At that point, I was elated with my performance, and was ready to call it a day, but no such luck. Many more miles remained... Fortunately, my body and mental will/resilience (or whatever) held up over the last few miles. I tried to enjoy the run, feeling the trail, especially when I returned to the familiar territory that I traveled the first few miles (it was a "lollipop" course), but by miles 10, 11 and 12, my mind was entirely focused on one thing: the finish line!
Which I crossed at 1:50 and some change. I was psyched about finishing and being able to walk, and there was a nice group of people who gave me a few high-fives and/or hugs as we shared the post-race high. We chatted over bananas, pretzels and other post-race goodies. It was a low-key event on the whole, which made me appreciate the entire race experience that much more. Even better - I love the t-shirt! I can't wait to wear it!
Post-post race - a somewhat relaxing lunch at Neptune's Net, something of a seafood dive along PCH, just south of the race. A nice cold beer and a plateful of fish and chips later, and I felt that life could not be more perfect on a Sunday afternoon.