I suspected last year it might happen after I barely squeaked out that victory but I never thought that it would be Josh "the Butt Crack" Snyder who would beat me! (inside joke) But that's the way it goes. I feel like I am just a little slower either due to age or coming back from injury and Josh has definitely gotten faster, especially in the last year and so now I may be chasing him instead of the other way around. I really am proud of him for a great effort and really maturing as a runner.
Nonetheless it was a very fun race and I was grateful to just be able to run without pain. Last year in that very narrow victory I ran through a lot of piriformis and sciatic pain and this time I had very little pain to speak of and that allowed me to enjoy the race much more.
I followed Josh all the way to the turnaround, staying just about 30 yards behind him. Part of this is because I like to just zone out and enjoy the scenery and not get caught up in conversation that can detract from the experience of being out in nature. I also had more practical reasons for staying back and that is because I did not want to be whipped by small branches after Josh went through.
We made the turnaround at around 2:16 or 2:17 which was right around the usual time and then Josh let me lead and so I thought I would push the pace. In past years I have been able to leave behind people by really ramping up the effort. This effort definitely would have left Josh behind in previous years but he hung tough and ran a great race. With about three mountains to go, Josh began climbing very strong and I just couldn't maintain that effort any longer and he left me behind.
|Picture from A-BF Course|
More and more in recent races, a tough trail marathon or 50K has left me very debilitated and limping from sciatic pain and stiffness but that is gone. I'm not sure if it's the anti-inflammatory that the doctor prescribed, my new stretching routine or new foot strike or even just the dry winter weather. For sure, I am going to keep on doing what I'm doing because I'm ready to finish another 100 this year and I hope it is Bighorn so I can get another Hardrock qualifier in.
|View from the top of Winding Stair Mountain on the Ouachita Switchbacks Course|
Now it's time for my own trail race - the Ouachita Switchbacks 50K. Last year was the first year for me to put on this event and so I did not run because I wanted to make sure things ran smoothly. But this year I feel comfortable with how the race is going and my wife Suzanne will take over RD duties and I will get to run this beautiful course that I laid out. It's going to be great!