Michelle and I had both ran the 50K last year (same course this year) and we did alot of remembering small landmarks. After around mile 5, we hop onto Forest Road 112 and head down to the first AS.
Even the road sections are pretty at The Trilogy
There are some large black animals around the Gateway Campground Sign-and as we get closer, we see these are actually cows! not bears. Apparently the front runner guys did encounter the bear. We get to the AS at Bee Run, and start through a meadow section.
I catch up to and pass some runners through here. I remember this section well, it's kind of overgrown with meadow grass and there are hidden rocks -. I encounter one and take a tumble into the high weeds.
This is also where we pick up Suzie for the day too.
We are then back at the Judy Springs Aid Station, for some more awesome quesadillas, and then we are off to the High Meadows Trail. Michelle and I have been talking up the Meadows view, and I don't think anyone was disappointed.
After the High Meadow, there is about a 5 mile stretch on the Lumberjack Trail. I didn't like it last year at all, but I ran out of water and calories through here. This year, I found it slightly better, due to us four runners together. It did not seem as wet as the year before. Still, it's a trail with rocks and mud section that makes it hard to get into a running rhythm.
I stopped for a bathroom break and caught up to John, who had just passed by. John was hurting. This was John's first ultra. It was actually his longest distance past a 1/2 marathon! I told John he picked a really tough 50K to start with! I hung with John for a bit, trying to give him some encouragement and positive thoughts for this section.
We spin back out on the road and now it's less than 1/2 mile to the last aid station, and then about a 5K to the finish. I grab a couple cookies and take off on the downhill here. Although it's been a beautiful day on the trail, it's easy to get impatient on the last few miles. Cardiac Hill was just not as bad as I remember it. Perhaps somewhere, I have improved on my climbing ability.
I spot Rhonda just a bit ahead of me; but it's too big of a gap to give chase on. I was happy to see my finishing time of 8.08. Last year I finished in 8.57 I believe, so I shaved quite a bit off this year-without much effort.
A word that came into my head early on during this race was 'effortless'. I was running well and not exerting all that much effort. I was not slacking or walking where it was not necessary, but I was not 'racing' this either, due to the upcoming 50 mile race in the morning.