I expected to feel pretty good going into HUFF because I hadn't run in two weeks, so I thought I would be fresh. WRONG! I guess I really underestimated the impact of the CrossFit workouts I've been doing. With the squats, burpees, rowing and snatches I did this week, my quads were toasted before I even started the race. Not to mention the 5k I ran yesterday, probably not one of my smarter ideas.
HUFF is a 10.8 mile loop course repeated 3 times (you're correct if you think that doesn't add up to 31 miles.) It is run around J. Edward Roush Lake in Huntington Indiana. It's a pretty flat trail run. The course is usually either muddy or snowy. This year it was muddy.
At the start of the race my quads felt heavy and a bit fatigued but I didn't think it would be a big deal. I ran HUFF last year so I knew what to expect as far as pace and terrain. My rough game plan was to run the first loop in a comfortable time, something around 1:45, then pick it up on the final two loops to run negative splits and finish with I time somewhere between 5:10 5:30. That worked pretty will for the first loop. I came in at 1:48, but I knew I was in trouble. My quads were already completely fried. If it wasn't for the fact that I was trying to keep up with Mike, I would have ended up walking most of the 2nd and 3rd loops. Every time I slowed down, he caught up to me and cracked the whip. We ended up running the entire either together or within a minute of each other, not by design, that's just how it happened. Believe me, I was trying to drop him, It just wasn't happening today, he was strong!
At the beginning of my third loop I started re-tooling my game plan. 5:10 - 5:30 was way out of the picture. Now I would try to beat last years finishing time of 5:56 (I couldn't remember the seconds. Not a big deal right? You'll see.) But as I started the third loop that goal began to slip a way steadily. I felt so bad during the second loop, it really didn't get any worst for the third. My quads were useless, and something weird was going on with my ankles (I was worried about it during the race, but afterwards I notice both ankles hurt in the same spot so it most be due to the two week running break.) I kept plodding away until I got to the last aid station, with about 3.5 miles to go. I looked at my watch, which said 5:23. That meant if I could maintain 10 minute miles I could finish under 6 hours. That would be easier said than done, seeing as how I hadn't been maintaining consistent 10 minute miles since the end of the first loop. They were now hovering anywhere from 10-14 minutes depending on the muddy sections and the road sections. Regardless, I thought I would give it a shot. Mike was right on my tail at this point. I tried to get him to follow me, but we were both giving it all we had. I decided to make my final move. when I got to the 1.8 mile to go point, I looked at my watch: 5:39. I was keeping a steady pace. This is when I started thinking again about beating last years 5:56. It would be tough but I though I had a chance. I kicked it into gear. I reached the final .8 miles with 7 minutes to go. I kicked it into the highest gear I had left and speed to the finish. The final .25 miles is on pavement. When I hit the pavement the clock read 5:55, I crossed the finish line in 5:56:41. Still unsure if I had beaten last years time, but pleased with my effort on a day when I had far less than my "A" game.
I really only had one running goal for 2007. That was to complete 25 ultras. The Huff was number 25. I'd call that a successful year.
Congrats to Mike on a fantastic gutsy run. I'll let him tell you the details.