I've had a few days to think about the Salida race and how it all went down. I'll refrain from the typical blow-by-blow race report and just shoot out random thoughts about the course and my race as well.
1. The new course is awesome. Overall the total vert gain is not much different but the way you gain that vert IS different. This is easily the 3rd toughest trail marathon in the state.
2. The course conditions were amazing. I have never seen this course so dry of snow and mud. However, If the course were in horrible shape with let's say, a lot of snow, it would make it exponentially harder than it was before with the latest course change.
3. The weather was perfect and really there for a little bit, almost TOO warm.
4. From an expectation point of view in terms of my performance and results, I came up short. (reasons to follow) But from a strategic and race execution standpoint I did great considering the circumstances... I could not have run any harder or faster for that day, period. No regrets.
5. Circumstance #1. About a week and half before the race I started having sore spot which was either extreme muscle tightness, or maybe even a slight tear in my right calf. The Tuesday before the race is really acted up and had me questioning if I could even race on it. Forced rest the remainder of the week going into Salida made it more than manageable come race day. No problems there. I felt it but it was just there, not an issue.
6. Circumstance #2. The Tuesday before the race was ALSO my birthday and one of my unexpected gifts that day was the onset of a head cold that afternoon. At first I suspected it might be allergies but by late afternoon I knew that was not the case. Nursed it the best I could but it did impact my race. The first two miles were miserable and I felt like I was running under water. Could not breathe right and the legs were all off in terms of turnover, etc.
Like I said... from an execution standpoint the race went fine. I was able to find the appropriate level of effort and hold it throughout the race, ending with an average HR of 163. However, even though the engine was running right and I had the RPM's dialed in, the gear box was off and the power was not effectively reaching the wheels.
7. The silver lining... I did not have the race I wanted. Shit happens. I'm good with it. I am good with it because I had an AWESOME training cycle going into this race and even though it sucked with the cold I was still strong. I'd hate to think what it would have been like with the cold and to not have been trained up... a very long day out there I suspect. This race was hard and I ran it hard, and that in turn will only serve to make me stronger throughout the season.
I've been in Palm Springs since Sunday and have had two great runs here. Still some residual drainage, coughing and hacking from last week and that is getting better day by day. They have awesome trails here!
I did get a HUGE blister on my right heel during the race that has yet to pop... We have named him Kuato... :)