(As taken from race report emailed to my coach afterwards before blog was live)
Overall I think I am pretty happy with the results, but think I could have definitely run better...I think part of that was because I hadn't run at all the week leading up to the race. I had Monday off, then decided not to run Tuesday because my hamstring tendon was still a little sore, but Wed/Thurs were just super busy with work and house stuff that I couldn't squeeze it in. Then Friday we were traveling and didn't have any time to get it in either.
I mentally broke the race down into 3 segments (it was also a 55k relay our other friends were running). The first 5.5 of the race were up, then a little down and back up to 13 where it was then all downhill to the finish. Though I feel really deceived by the elevation map because at no point did it seem like I was going that dramatically up or down. There were several sections on the back 20 where it was very flat but yet the elevation map shows all down.
The first 10.5 was most of the elevation gain and I wanted to start out pretty easy to make sure I had some juice left for the last section. I felt like I was going pretty easy, even though my HR was above 170 pretty early on. I took every advantage on a flat segment or downhill to recover a bit and get the HR down when I could. Even though my legs felt really off and "wonky" (not sure the best adjective to use here, but I think you know what I mean) I felt pretty good going through the first aid station.
The section 10.5 miles was a little up hill to start then lots of fun switchbacks going down the hill and toward the second aid station. I had been battling with the 3rd place runner back and forth for a while and I kept him in my sights the whole time, but I could feel that I was getting a bit tired. I caught up a bit more as we came into the second aid station and I topped off my water bottles and headed out only a couple of seconds behind him.
The last 13 were supposed to be all downhill (according to the elevation map) so I was excited that I would have this on my side as I began to get more tired, though that never really materialized. I could tell that the runner ahead of me was getting very tired because he asked me a couple of times on the trail if I wanted to pass, but I declined. I better liked the idea of staying a few steps back of him and pushing him before I was ready to make my move. We got to a water drop about 2 miles further where I topped off and he stopped to do the same. He was taking his sweet time so I decided to make my move here, even though I would have rather waited a few more miles. I hit miles 23-24 a bit harder and put quite a bit of distance on him in the process, though I knew it took a lot out of me at the same time. I thought if I could just drop him back he would kind of give up and slow down a bit and I would be okay. I knew by this point that I was absolutely going to run out of water before the end of the race. The sun came out, it was very hot, and there was absolutely no cover. I tried to sip my water as little as I could to ration it but I was so damn thirsty in the desert!!
I still felt pretty good until about 7 miles to go when my HR was all over the place and my chest began to get tight. From this point on I kept moving forward at whatever pace I could manage but had to take a couple of walk breaks each mile, during which I would count 30-45 steps then begin running again. I ran out of water completely with about 4 miles to go and felt pretty bad by this point. My legs still felt okay, but I was extremely thirsty and hot (also forgot sunscreen so I was baking in the sun!). I just kept pushing forward hoping that the guy behind me wouldn't show up in the distance. A relay runner passed me and said there was nobody behind me for a long time, so I eased up my push a bit and made my way to the finish.
I'm not sure what exactly caused my "bonk" in the race. I think there were too many factors to isolate just one. I didn't actually feel really any different with the elevation before/during the race, or during my visit at all to AZ, but maybe it effected me more than I realized? I felt like my nutrition was spot on during the race (stuck to my normal plan), except for hydration the final leg. It never got extremely hot by temperature standards (I think only mid 80s) but the sun was really beating down on me especially with no sunscreen on. There was only about 2300 feet of gain, so I don't think that was too much of a factor. I think I'm just going to blame it on no water and the heat and move on with it. Maybe on a better day I could be closer to 4:30.
The guy finished in 2nd ahead of me is also a crazy awesome runner and friend of mine (I could have had 2nd if I hadn't told him to come run with me lol!). He is also a pro triathlete and all around badass. That being said, very happy with 3rd place and to have beat a lot of local Flagstaffers.