I went into this race having almost no idea what to expect. I convinced myself in the days before the race that I needed to be prepared to accept whatever outcome I found. I had had problems with my hamstring for several days the week before the race and I just didn't know if I had much of my fitness left that I had built up over the summer. My training through the month of October wasn't bad, but at the time it didn't seem very good either. I just kind of ran each day with almost no focus on how far or for how long. Toward the end of the month I thought for certain that I wasn't running nearly as much as I probably "should" have been. Turns out this was completely wrong. Apparently the rest was just what I needed.
My hamstring started to hurt just a few strides into this race. I thought for sure I was going to have to deal with that pain throughout the entire day. Turned out that it never hurt again after the first 20 miles. It also turned out that as my hamstring pain went away my entire body began to feel stronger and faster. I ran very comfortable for the first half of the race. I had a few minor stomach problems in that part but somewhere around mile 20 my stomach really settled and I knew that if I could keep my stomach together that things were going to go well.
At the halfway point I knew that I could thrive on the more hilly and more technical terrain of the second half of the course. I just didn't realize how much I would be able to thrive. I ended up running the second half of this one in 3 hours even! With about 15 miles to go I realized that I was really pushing the pace and it felt really good to go that fast. I really had not raced that fast and felt that comfortable doing so ever in my life. I wasn't thinking much about anything. Just running faster and faster and at times falling quite deep into meditation and at other times a seemingly other dimension in which time seemed to almost not exist. I just ran faster and it stopped seeming like it was taking me either a long time or a short time, I was just running. When it was all said and done it had felt like the easiest race I had ever run. My body felt strong the entire way and my mind felt like it had been in a good place the entire time - never too focused on the race itself, but never wandering too far away and getting too distracted. I just ran, and ran fast, and my mind and body simply allowed for me to do that without getting in the way. It was probably the closest I've ever come to running a perfect race because I never really felt like I was running a race and yet I was able to stay focused on my nutrition, hydration, pacing, and other areas needed to run a successful race. I never actually had to think about any of these things. They just happened. I never really had to think about anything, it just kind of all happened as I simply ran quickly through the forest.