Wanting to push for a better time and to step out my comfort zone, I decided to run fast on the first big descend. I ran this course a total of 4 times and I took it easy on the first descend every time... and for good reason. The first steep descend is over a mile long on pavement. Running fast put a lot of stress of my legs. Coach Jimmy told everyone to take it easy and I listened. But I want to push it a little. I wanted to know if my body can take the stress. After all, I have been running trails and I haven't really have any problems on the descend (on trail). I descend on stuff that was 3000-5000ft high and I was fine with it. This one is only several hundreds feet, I should be able to manage. I figured I will probably get tired out and then I just need to spend some time recover.
It was a pleasantly surprise to see my Ironman Coach Jason and a few Ironman teammates to be out there running. My AC 100 pacer Erin M is also out there to cheer. I should of take a pictures with all my pacers (Kevin, Erin C, and Erin M). It was the first time that all 3 of them are in the same place after they accepted my invitation to be my pacer =)
I did my warm up, I felt good, and I took off.
I was surprised to feel very good on the flat leading to the downhill, I was going at a good pace and I wasn't tired. The descent was fine too. I pushed with a good pace that's faster than I normally would go but manageable. I focused more on my heart rate and breathing because I want to make sure I can maintain a good pace for the single trail that follow. After the downhill Coyote Christian passed me before the single track (we did a 50k and he finished just right ahead of me) and I tried to follow him. But after a while something is not right. My shin stared hurt a lot and that never happened. Next thing I know I have to walk. As a matter of fact I have a hard time moving my leg. It's official! I trashed my legs mile 2 of the race. It hurt so much quitting sound like a very good idea but that isn't an option. I then focused the next 2 miles on recovering. By this time Coach Kiley, Kate Robot and Erin aka my AC 100 pacer passed me. Kiley and I were running for a while but he eventually pulled away. Finally, finally, after 2 long miles my leg started to come back a little and I was able to run at a decent pace on the flat. Not at my normal decent speed but I was happy that I was making progress. I passed a few people during the descend leading to the fire road and I actually caught up and passed Kiley.
By mile 6 I know I won't recover the way I was hoping for. Kiley retook the lead. I decided to give it my best anyway just to see how my body react. I power hiked the uphill and run a section here and there. At mile 9 I helped another racer by giving him water and salt tab. When I started the big descent on mile 10.5 I knew I was done. My legs were shocked that I can't go fast on the downhill. I was probably going 65-70% of what I am capable of... I did see Kiley and was about 1-2 minutes in front of me, but I just cannot catch him. I just want to finish the race and be done with it. It was nice to see speed racers Natalie and Sim cheering for me at the last uphill. I sucked it up like a buttercup and run as 'fast' (but slow *_*) as I can. at 2:52 something, I crossed the finished line. I was maybe like 15 seconds slower than my last year time. I blame it on the guy that had cramp! I gave everyone a high five, told Coach Jimmy and Coach Kate what I did, and we went to have lunch.
As much as it hurt this proved to be a very good experience. As one of my favorite quote, we don't learn from happy time but we learn from struggle. I struggled, and I learned. I am glad to try to step out of my comfort zone on a course that I ran a few times prior. This helps me train for my 100 miler races. I know pacing is important, but I did not know doing something stupid for only a few minutes can destroy my leg. I am glad everything happened happened today. Sometime we can't change the outcome, but we have the power to paint our outlook. As long as I learn something out of it, that's what it matters.
I am running Carlsbad half marathon in two weeks and I am looking forward to try something new again (probably not as dramatic as this one).