Hot Damn, but it's hot! 97 degrees at 7:30pm start time. Got maybe 90 minutes of daylight left, but a hell of lot more heat yet to come. Don't want to think about the humidity, but it's way the hell up there too. Even with the sun low and in my eyes, I didn't want the ball cap. The visor would have been nice, but only for an hour. I figured on the bandana instead, partly to soak up all the sweat, and partly as a headlight pad for my noggin. Didn't want to deal with a hydration pack laying against back either, so a single water bottle is the entire list of all my gear. I have enough weight already without adding more. What I need is a radiator to suck the heat off my body, and I damn sure don't need anything else on my body to generate more.
Besides minimizing the gear, I also have a slow motion agenda so as to minimize the amount of heat I generate from within. Won't be doing much more than an easy glide until the sun goes down, and then I suspect I won't be going much faster even after. I'm thinking about a finish without badly overheating, and not much else. Walk the ups, run the downs, and take what I can muster when the trail is horizontal.
I leave out from the start near the back of the pack and hit a bottleneck rather quickly. The next quarter mile is all military grade start and stop drills, then slips into whatever speed I wish at the out and back. Down a short bit, back up the same way and then around and onto the back fence line. The sun's in my eyes so bad, I can hardly see, and have to use my hand to block the sun a few times, but then we turn left and it's all fine from here.
I can hear the headquarters area when we finish the start loop, and soon after the 10km runners start busting through us. Some of it's ok, but when a pace-line of five or ten go by, it gets a bit old, waiting for them to pass. I feel as if I should just plow back onto the trail and force them to go around, but that would be harsh too, as there's no place to go around. What would have done it better for me, and the others as well, is another fifteen minutes or more. I suspect our 30km fast guys did the same damn thing to the slower 60km runners.
At some point just out from the first aid station, all of us merge together much better, such that we're all running about the same pace, and there is much less conflict. The first aid station is at 4.5mi and I'm under an hour, but just barely. There's a dozen or more runners buzzing around the tables, filling water, eating a bit, chilling.
Must be three quarters of a mile roughly to where we finally lose the 10km runners. Might have been much nicer to give each race an hour gap instead of the 30 minutes we had, but thats just the race director in me thinking. Soon after the 10km spin off, we get to the beginning of the big balloon loop, where Axel stands guard to make sure we all go to the right.
This section of trail takes advantage of the Juniper Trail, which I like quite a bit. Even though there's not much elevation gain or loss, this trail rides right on the rocky edge of every arroyo in the area. Rock hopping from one to the next, dodging trees, and endlessly turning. The sun goes down, as the humidity ramps up, but the heat just keeps right on burning. The wind does reach into the trees a good bit and wash over us like a caressing hand, but it still isn't enough to keep me from getting soaking wet from my own sweat.
I hook up with Penny and Amy along here, tuck in behind, and listen to their girl talk for a few miles. Penny's rolling along really well, Amy hangs on, and I eventually let go, but not until after the unmanned second aid at 8.4mi in 1:53. There's another dozen people buzzing around when we arrive, but I can't figure out exactly why. The coolers are low to empty and one guys is filling a cooler with a large water jug he's pulled in from the back side. I get what I want and escape ahead of the crowd. Time for a gel, which costs less than a few seconds. Soon after, Penny and friend are gone.
I roll up on Don along here and slow to walk with him for a bit, while the pack I left behind now washes over us. We have good company for a bit, but then I go bye and start up the climb to the park road. I catch Rich up near the road, and figure to visit with Rich too, but he doesn't seem to be in much of a mood to talk, so I stay mum and walk just ahead for a bit. Slowly, I begin to pull ahead walking, and then catch up to Amy. Looks like Penny has tossed her as well, and good for Penny, to keep rolling.
The next aid at 11.7mi in 2:50 is the corral in full hum, with dozens of people all about. I get a drink of coke, refill my water, and scarf a few orange slices, before rolling back out, with Amy in tow. Down the hill and back onto Juniper Trail, heading back home, we pick up Roni. The three of us roll along walking more than running, but a fast walk more or less, until we come up on another dozen people standing around a down runner. And there's Penny again, taking care of a young man with heat issues. They have more than enough people wrapped around the laid out runner, and one more will just be in the way, so I skim on bye, but Amy stops to reconnect with Penny. Roni stays on with me, and we keep on going, and although it's difficult to run, I try to keep pushing my forced walk. Eventually, Roni falls off as well, but she's in the 60km and I'm in the 30km, so she's being as careful as me in her own way.
And so I continue for the duration on my own, with s few passing by, and me passing a few as well. I pass sets of runners on the trail side, and a few lying on the ground, each trying to deal with the heat, and some not doing very well at all. I stay on track, keep going, and eventually get back to the same aid I was out just after the balloon loop at 17.2mi in 4:00. I get some ice cold water and keep marching, but I'm now stumbling about, tripping a bit, and wondering how much more of the heat I can stand. No way could I have done the 60km today. So glad I'm only in the 30km and starting to feel really bad for all the guys doing two loops. But damn. As wet as I am, I'd be big time dealing with underarm and crotch rash real soon, so its good I only have another 2 miles to go.
The last two miles are so slow, knowing I'm close, wanting to run, and suddenly realizing a big part of this last bit is mostly uphill. I do drag my ass in and not soon enough for me at 18.4mi in 4:39. I cross the timing mat and go sit down on my cooler. Fumi walks over to let me know the real timing mat is further up and I haven't crossed it yet, so I get up and walk a bit further to find the real finish at the second timing mat. What the hell was that all about? NO matter. I am done, and add another few minutes for stupidity.