Although I don't think it was personal, I was not happy to see that the local paper, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, published the photo of me splayed on the ground half-conscious after collapsing at the finish. I'm sure that some of my rivals will have good time with that, but it's a bit like taking a picture of some celeb's butt as they head to the bathroom. They gotta do what they gotta do, and it does tell a story (yeah, I was at the end of my cable there, dangling between abject exhaustion and oblivion) but I wish't they could have taken a pic during the previous 3 hours and 11 minutes when I was ambulatory, indeed cursorial. However, I won't hold any grudges.
Former US Ski Team and UAF coach John Estle sent out the database of splits of the top 20, which is always very interesting to peruse. My pace was right on through 21.5, but I gotten eaten alive by the others in 3rd - 8th over the last 4.7 miles. Those INOV8 Flyroc shoes were fantastic through the trail and dirt-road sections, but they were trouble on the pavement. No cushioning, and my legs quickly took a beating. I think the slow down over the last 4 was due to a combination of dehydration and glycogen depletion, combined with too much trauma to my quads. Probably could have run faster if the last 9 were on flat gravel or trail, not a 1700 foot descent over 4.5 miles followed by rolling terrain, mostly on pavement.
The 2nd place in the 40+ age group was my first defeat in nearly 30 local races in that division since moving here in 2004. It had to happen at some point, but after I started winning the masters division here, I made a goal of making it all the way through age 49 without a loss to a local or within the state. It took a moderate cold and Wayde ran a great race, but that's part of the game--you line up even when things aren't perfect and you give it your best effort. On wobbly feet I congratulated Wayde on his fine race, and I also appreciate the cheerleading from his wife. I'm okay with it, but will resolve to re-ignite the streak next year for one last hurrah in the 40s.
Actually it was much much harder to lose the sprint for 5th place, because that might just be my last chance for one of those brass plates. Little did I know that Brook Kinze from Anchorage was a 29: 16 10k runner http://newsminer.com/2006/09/20/2130/. Had I known that...well I hope that I gave him a tough go of it over the last mile and a quarter. I harbor no ill-will toward him for the kick at the end. That's competition.
This race is picking up in popularity (only once in the past decade has a 3:10 not netted a top 5), and I'm not getting younger but the competitors are. To challenge for a top 5 once again may be a long shot, especially since I doubt that I will run the full marathon here next year. By July this year I had already decided to focus on track running (1500 m to 10000 m) next summer and maybe some road racing in Anchorage. After that I'll just do 10 to 20 km trail runs--such as the Equinox Relay--to enhance ski training, and for the aerobic thrill. Or maybe I'll just take a break in August when the kids are still out of school.
So 2008 will be the next time to consider doing the Equinox, and by then who knows? A top 5 at 50 would be pretty awesome. However, my next marathons are going to be more cautious and more fun. I'd really like to run NYC or Chicago someday and do not want to make the Equinox the center of my summer existence. This time the race itself was hard to enjoy because I was so close to the edge for so long; I could tell from the first hill that things would not be easy. Nevertheless, I had a great time from 16 through 22 miles, well except for The Chute and some ensuing cramps.
So for now, and maybe the next couple years, I bid thee adieu, Equinox!
[Postscript Sept 20, 2006: I was still feeling a little raw and disappointed yesterday, so changed the wording regarding the picture in the paper. No hard feelings.]