Well, it's not exactly an annual thing. This was my 8th finish but only my 6th blow-up. The 2008 and 2009 races were very pleasant to the end but then I was not pushing the pace for a pr those years.
It was looking like a beautiful day ahead as I rode down to Derby with Jenn, Ken and Margherita. Jenn and Ken were going to be volunteering and Margo was planning to run with me. I was looking forward to that because it is so rare that I get the opportunity to run with her and she is a very dear friend to me and has always been very supportive of my running. We arrived around 7:15 and I enjoyed spending time as always meeting and greeting friends at this small event with many regulars and the majority of runners being Mangum TC members.
We lined up in the road a few minutes before the start and then Mark promptly sent us on our way. I had planned to take it easy for the first 3 miles to get up the early hills the first time and then adjust out pace accordingly. The plan was to average 9 minute miles for as long as possible and hope to hang on for a pr. Sound familiar?
The plan was working perfectly as we passed the 3 mile mark in 27:07 and everything felt nice and easy as it should this early in the race. Another part of my plan was to avoid stopping at the aid stations to save time. I was carrying a hand-held bottle and since Jenn was working at aid station two, I had pre-filled two more bottles and put gels in the holders and given them to her so I could just drop off a bottle and grab a new one each lap. This would save me a little time so I wouldn't have to wait for refills. I was also carrying extra gels in my pockets and if necessary I could grab a cup at the other aid stations.
The plan was working to perfection and Margo and I completed the first 10.5 mile lap at about 8:55 pace with no stops. It was beginning to feel a little warm now that the sun was getting high but it never seemed to be a factor although I was sweating in a few sections and a little breeze was picking up. The second lap was almost a repeat of the first as our pace stayed steady. Once again I blew through the aid stations just swapping out another bottle as I passed through.
As we were finishing up the long hill near mile 20, Margo told me she was having some hip pain and she was going to quit when we got back around to the lodge. I had enjoyed her company but I understood why she didn't want to risk injury so I continued on alone passing the 2nd lap less than a minute slower than the first and still my overall average was 8:59. Now if I could just hold on another 10.5 miles.
I continued on a with determination, feeling good but it was still a long way to go holding that pace and the effects of those first 21 miles were there. All went well for the next 1.5 miles but when I hit the hills on Pappy Rabb Road for the 3rd time the zip had gone from my legs and I was slowing considerably and by the time I turned onto Derby Road I was reduced to a slow shuffle.
Obviously the 9 minute fantasy goal was gone but if I could somehow make a decent run for it the last 7 miles I still had a shot at the pr. I actually stopped at the aid station and let Mrs' Doom refill my bottle and I slammed a cup of coke , then headed out determined to give it one last push down Sycamore Lane. Well I pushed but the pace was still just a shuffle and by the time I hit the dirt road it was over. There would be no pr today or this year.
At that point I decided to just to get to the end as comfortably as possible and began to do a run /walk. I wasn't feeling bad but there was just no energy so I just tried to keep a good attitude, enjoy the rest of the race and get to the end and the delicious spaghetti lunch and social time that was waiting for me at the finish. I sat down at Jenn and Ken's aid station long enough to make a shoe adjustment and drink some more coke before heading up the mile long hill one more time. It wasn't too bad and I crossed the line in 5:14:11.
Once again I had a great time. As always Mark puts on a great little race for us and the volunteers and locals are wonderful. Very happy to have been able to share some great miles with Margo. Hopefully she will be running more ultra's in the future. Hope to be reporting on another Derby this time next year.
On to the next one.