With 3 miles to go, I found myself doubled over with exhaustion and stumbled to a low fence post to sit down. These ultramarathons, I've learned, are about nutrition, forward motion, and a series of cons. I was down on all three counts.
My mistake came at mile 41 when I got it into my head that I might be able to dip under 10 hours. We seem to be drawn to whole numbers for some reason (even though they are quite arbitrary). I discovered a third or fourth wind (you stop counting and just go with it) as I made my way our of the Rattlesnake Bar aid station. Julie and Daisy were there and I was feeling pretty good with 8 hours behind me.
So the con began anew.
I found myself running briskly on the twisty trails marauding up the American River knowing full well that at mile 47 I would be facing a 1000+ foot climb. In fact, I had run it just two weeks ago. I told myself that "you can only go so slow on the last part, why not steal some minutes by pushing now."
Those 6 miles were glorious, and then I hit the big hill. Only, it was much steeper than I remembered, and despite my steady 200-300 hourly calorie diet, I was done.
I wobbled up the next mile to a final aid station for a Gu and some Coke and met Julie for the last 2 miles. She took up the role as the con, and I tried. Honestly, I tried. But, my hamstrings were cramping, my hip flexors were cramping, and the hill just went on and on.
51 minutes for the last three miles.
I "sprinted" the last 50 yards and I sat down in the finish area with a very large grin. 10:01:10. It isn't often you beat a prior time by 1 hour and 37 minutes. I can chase 10 hours some other day.