the 18k pushed off at 8am, whereas the 11k started an hour later at 9am. we arrived about an hour early to register, put on our bib and time chips, and plan out our "hydration strategy" (as the race DJ called it) for the race. the one surprise about the distance is that the 11k wasn't exactly 6.83 miles, but rather 7+ altogether.
i stopped drinking fluids about an hour out, but i did have a gatorade pre-game fuel exactly 15 minutes before the start. and because the first water station was a full 3 miles in, i decided to race with a small water bottle (20oz) in hand and a clif gel shot in my pocket.
at the start line, there was a mad dash to get out in front in the first half mile, because single track takes over for the next couple of miles as the trail narrows and gets increasingly steep with boulder climbing, steps, etc. vim & i decided to stay in the middle of the pack, so we could steer clear of those trying to win, but ahead of those who were a bit slower.
the ascent covered just over 4.5 miles in all, deceiving many who thought that the fire road at the halfway point was the peak. luckily, we were armed with that knowledge from our scout last week, so conserving energy while making the climb was vital. once the elevation flattened out and we started making our way down the ray miller trail, i kicked it into another gear. i literally flew down the mountainside, passing people one by one by barely sneaking off to the side. the view of the pacific ocean while roaring down the switchbacks was sublime and awe-inspiring.
i crossed the finish line at around 1:16, placing me 60th overall in an athletic and competitive field. felt surprisingly spry too, as if a couple of more miles or two wouldn't have been a reach. i supposed we could have went out a tad faster on the hills, but i liked our strategy of conserving for the end. vim crossed the tape a few minutes later, so we were able to celebrate amongst all the other racers.