Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun running through the snow that covered most of the course from about mile 3 to mile 13, but once we got back on dry ground my legs felt like I had already run 50 or 60 miles - not a good place to be at mile 13. I tried easing back a bit, but felt even a bit worse when I ran slower. No one was pushing a very aggresive pace at this point so I was able to stay somewhat near the leaders despite how weak I was feeling. I tried my best for a few hours to stay close enough to still be in position to take a shot at the leaders later in the race if I could turn things around, but finally at about mile 35 I decided to ease way off and let go of any hope of racing for the win and just try to figure out a way to finish. Well, after 20 more miles (probably half of which was walking) it was obvious that finishing in the state I was in was going to be a stubborn death march that I just wasn't willing or interested in taking part in. I eventually pulled the plug at mile 56. Even with only 35 miles of hard running my legs feel as fatigued and sore today as they usually do after running a full 100.
I am of course a bit upset to have had such a tough race, but I had several hours out on the trail yesterday to come to terms with this one and begin to focus on the things I could take away from this that will make me a stronger runner in the future. I got to run with some great folks and then see most of them finish in Auburn several hours later. It was far from how I envisioned my day going, but it was still a great thing to be a part of.
Huge congratulations to Kilian and Ellie. They both had amazing races. Kilian showed amazing persistence and just kept plugging along at a decent clip all day. Mike, Nick, and Jez made him really work for his win and each ran amazing races themselves. Ellie's performance is still too unbelievable for me to put into words, but I'll try anyway. Ellie was 15 minutes behind with only 10 miles to go in the race! And she ended up winning by over 20 minutes! This after she was more than 30 minutes behind the women's leader when she left Michigan Bluff at mile 56. When the dust had settled she was across the finish line with the second fastest women's time in the history of the race. I couldn't help but think about how similar her race was to my race last year, but in reality what she did yesterday made what I did last year seem like no big deal in comparison. The amount of time that she made up on the leaders in the second half of the race was more than double what I did last year. Good stuff.