Emma and I did this run last year with Floyd and finished in about 4:21, under hotter and drier conditions. We had no intention of trying to beat that time today, just get in a good long run, but Emma and I do have a tendency to push it a little bit when we run together.
We arrived at the park a little before 8 and were soon joined by Valerie, Jim and of course Danny (the tropical storm), who brought with him steady rain and cooler temperatures. I have to say that I was delighted to have Danny in town, my performance at most of my races this summer has suffered because of the heat and humidity so it was a relief to be running in cooler air and I didn't mind the rain at all (I learned how to run in Scotland). Not expecting anyone else to show up we headed off just after 8, but were surprised to bump into Jeff and Yana on the Island Trail about 1.5 miles along the course, they had arrived a little late but luckily knew how to find us on the race course.
We made pretty good time around the course considering the wet, slippery, puddly conditions and we all hung together until hitting the O-Trail. As is to be expected the group thinned out a bit here, but one of the fun things about the O-Trail is that when the group breaks up it's actually easier to see the people right ahead of you or behind you as you pass going opposite directions on this labyrinth of a trail. Near the end of the O-Trail we bumped into Chuck who was getting a very late start, but since we are so predictable he knew just how to find us.
My Garmin struggled through the trees and thick cloud cover, there is no difference between the way we ran the course for each lap so there shouldn't be two parallel lines along the route.
We finished the first lap of the Bruiser course in 2:09 which is a little better than many of the runs that we did on the course last year. I don't think the trail conditions played too much of a factor in slowing us down. Jim, Jeff and Yana finished here, Emma, Chuck and I made a quick stop and headed back out and I think Valerie was going to do a second lap of just the O-Trail since it's so much fun.
Apart from when we finished the first lap I wasn't looking at my watch at all, I really didn't care (that much) about how fast we were running, but I was trying to keep from slowing down on the second 12 mile lap. Generally speaking I was feeling good and full of energy. There was a slight pain in the arch of my right foot, perhaps a results of running the TMR TNR in Vibram's this week, maybe too much of a jump up in distance. Both my knees felt a little "tired", but nothing that had me concerned or made me think I should slow down.
When we hit 20 miles I stopped to pee and Emma took over the lead, and of course she picked up the pace a little. I think she was hoping to run a negative split. In fact, later she did admit that she was hoping to run a negative split, but I guess I wasn't pushing it enough in the first 2/3's of the second lap because as we neared the end of the run it became evident that it wasn't going to happen. With about 1 mile to go Chuck (who had run 11 miles less than us) took the role of rabbit in hopes of providing some incentive for us to really pick up the pace, but we didn't even try to keep up with his sprint. We did pick it up a little and it was lot of fun running right behind Emma through the tights turns of the Island Trail.
Our last two miles were probably the fastest of the day but we finished the backwards lap of the Bruiser course in 2:13. I didn't really expect to run a negative split so I'm not dissapointed that we didn't. I had a great run, it was so nice to do a long trail run with Emma again and it was nice to get out running with Chuck who we haven't run with since before the VT100.
Following the run we stopped by Stone's Cafe for bunch. First thing on the menu was "Monster Hash and Eggs" so I had to get it, what better way to recover from a long run than with a festival of pork products on a plate.
distance: 24 miles
weather: low-high 50's, steady rain
conditions: wet, muddy, puddles
gear: Inov-8 Mudroc 280, Wright Socks, shorts, t-shirt, hat, Nathan HPL #020