Most know this is my favorite race of the year. I've prepared many differnet ways and ran it different ways. It is a great race and has had outstanding direction and support since I ran my first one in 2000. Now-a-days, I tend to run it like I did that first time, plus I throw in what I have learned and gauge it by feel. When I line up I try and stay relaxed and ease into the race. I do a few test runs the month before to see what kind of fitness might be available.
The Blue Loop. I used to hammer it, but I found it is a good time to just settle in and run it at training pace. Nothing to special about that. I typically see people who went out much too fast. I see quite a few people around me who are wearing gas stations and wonder if that's all necessary to be in the top 10-15% of the field. I try and take good care of myself early. I have to watch I don't eat too much.
To Highway 12. Whoever was going to be ahead of me by now is. I'll pick an occasional person off here and there as people start to reconsider their early starting pace. From Duffin road until I exit the woods, I check to see how long it takes so I can gauge the time on the way back. It gives me a feel of how I'm moving later on. Coming out of the woods you can finally see people ahead and the first inkling of racing enters my head. When I see people ahead, I don't have to think about closing the gap, it automatically happens. Getting to 12 is a big lift as my wife usually starts crewing for me here. I chug some hammer gel and drink and get ready for the next section.
12 to the turn. I get a little pumped because now I count who is ahead of me coming back. There are exceptions, but I typically start catching people here. I try and get out of that turn as soon as possible because now I need to start finding a hot spot.
Turn to 12. Seeing people on the way back. Exchange hellos. It is a fair amount of uphill so I try and not go buck wild. I don't like to have my low spot here, so again it is just getting a feel. At 12 is the last real load up for me. Don't eat as much after this.
12 to Duffin road. Through the prairie and into the woods. Usually my lowest part of the race. I run that hill at a decent clip because, I pass people, I want the people behind me to wonder what's going on, and it gets my mind and body to start thinking about racing. I used to hate this section, but now because I know how long it should take I don't worry about it. It is hard to see people in here, but usually a fair amount of people are just ahead. I usually catch a few people in here. At Duffin, I blow down my first load of Pepsi or mountain Dew and do an evaluation.
Duffin to Confusion Corner. I do well through here. If things are going well I start seeing more and more people. It is not uncommon for me to see 3-4 people on the hill just before Confusion Corner. Last year was the first year I saw zero.
Confusion Corner to Horseman's. Game on! I try and stretch it out. Probably running my best if things are going well. I just go by people and that is a huge boost. You really have to watch lighting out too early. Though fun to run past people, there is a lot of ground left to cover.
Horeseman's to Horseman's. I time these sections as well. I waste little time in aid stations. Heck, I barely acknowledge people anymore because I am waxed. Again I count how many ahead of me and how far. This is a very difficult section for me, but it is for everyone.
Horseman's to Finish. Hopefully I am racing. Half the time it is survival, but even then my early easier pace has left me just a hair better than most. There is always a hand full off people totally shot. I feel for them. They laid it out there and now all that's left is the survival shuffle. Man I have been there. That's one reason I run it the way I do now. Every few years I'm doing my fastest running at this point. But, I'm at the point in my Ice Age career that the fast guys are way ahead. There is usually huge gaps of minutes between people. Hard to go wicked buck wild when no one around. Not that I want to, but it sounds good typing it.
Just under 8:04 last year. I wasn't happy with the time, but I wasn't disappointed. With this plan, I usually can run the last 35 miles without getting passed. Maybe I need to notch it up a hair next year.