Steve and I ran together for several miles. Sometime along the way I realized that I was still feeling a bit too comfortable and had been relentlessly chatting at Steve so sometime around the 6 mile mark I upped the pace on a long gradual climb dropping Steve and bringing a couple of other runners into sight. Yes, the chase!
Having a couple of carrots ahead really motivated me to kick it up. I noticed that a lot of folks were walking the steeper hills so I used those areas to really close gaps ignoring the massive amounts of pain that I was in and the fact that I'd stop seeing clearly (maybe I should have brought some gu or at least HEED). The pain and suffering paid off though because when I hit the 2.5 mile to go mark I had moved into 12th place and a small group just up ahead of me, including the three women who had passed me very early on in the race.
By the 9 mile mark I was running on pure determination and feeling very thankful for the long mountain bike races I've done in the past. Another 30 minutes of misery can never compare to the hours of misery involved in a 12 hour race.
As I closed to within 100' of the group in front of me, the eventual woman's winner and one guy pulled away leaving me and two other women (Katie and Lauren) to duke it out til the end. On one of the nasty steep climbs Lauren stopped to rest and take in a GU. She was quickly out of sight so I FIGURED I had 12th place wrapped up which was good because no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to close the 50 foot gap to Katie.
Eventually, I began to realize that I'd never close the gap and resigned myself to that 12th place. That is, right up until I saw Lauren closing in. Shit! I was literally on fumes at this point but the last thing I wanted was to be passed in the last mile so I mustered whatever strength I had left and amazingly closed the gap to Katie.
I was so shot that I barely made it out of the finish shoot without falling over. You know you've pushed yourself to the limits when both legs are quivering uncontrollably as you try not to pass out.
final thoughts tomorrow.