I think Matt signed up to motivate himself to train more regularly. I have been sort of adrift with training, not following any plan, just trying build base mileage. I have one goal race in view, the Sole Challenge 24 Hour Race in late May. Without a specific distance to prepare for it has been too easy to take a day off. Matt got sick in the days leading to race day and missed a least a week of training runs. He started feeling better about 2 days from race date.
We made the 3 hour drive Friday evening for the Saturday race. On race morning we went to the finish area to catch a shuttle to the start early enough for packet pickup. After some confusion at packet pickup, we walked to the start area. It was partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 30s, expected to reach into the mid 40s. Our plan was to run together at whatever pace was comfortable for Matt. No racing today.
The race has a downhill start and soon we were moving along a little faster than 9:30 pace. Matt thought 10 minute pace was good for the early miles and we gradually adjusted to that. The course is completely in a rural, wooded setting. If we had not been toward the back of mid-pack, seeing wildlife would not have been surprising.
We just ran easily, observing those around us and chatting some. We saw runners take the last cup or two of water from the first water table as we approached. Tables were to be at 2 mile intervals so we figured we'd be OK till the next one. The second one also was without water.
We found ourselves running with a Marathon Maniac who was the most talkative person I have met. As we came to the 3rd water table it seemed we would finally have some water. Stopping to take a gel and get enough water meant we lost our chatty companion. For the most part our place in the pack was changing very little by this point. We got water again at the fourth table.
There was minimal vehicle traffic for most of the course. We encountered some hills in the 8 to 10 mile area and we ran up them while some walked. We saw some skiers/snowboarders finishing a run that came quite near the road but high on the hillside above us. As we passed we could see the ski lift taking them uphill.
Matt was thinking he'd consider speeding up after 10 miles and somewhere after mile 9 that's what he did. Before then my watch showed a 10 minute per mile average. Our pace picked up to the lower 9 minute range. And we passed several other runners.
We soon came to a turn and a bridge that we had driven by on the way to catch the shuttle. We made a turn or two, got a glimpse of the finish area and started one final out and back that would bring us back the finish. And before we expected it we were at the turnaround. As we continued at about 9 minute pace our watches showed we should have more than a mile to go. We approached the finish line hesitantly and even stopped because our watches had not even reached 12 miles. The volunteers said to come on through and confirmed that everyone else was saying the course was short. Our finish time was about 1:57. My watch showed 11.8 miles.
We received our finisher medals and walked through the post race area, unsure about our results.