Saturday I finished the Blue SKy Trail Marathon in 05:25:47. That's 26 minutes faster than my 2017 time. I was 5th in my group, 50-59 year-old men, and 88th overall. We all enjoyed beautiful weather: cool temperatures, no wind, not a cloud in the sky.
At mile 9.2 I was in 67th place. I was having fun pushing my limits up and down the single track of Horsetooth. I eased to a more sustainable pace on the flatter part of the course, but was still running the outbound stretch of the Blue Sky Trail faster than I've done on long runs while training. Just before the turnaround, my legs started to feel off, and then I started to feel impending cramps in my hamstrings. I gobbled some pickles and potato chips at the next aid station, but it was too late. I battled cramps all the way to the finish. I ran until my legs cramped and then I walked until the cramps subsided, repeating this over the last 7 miles. I lost 3-4 minutes per mile and slipped 7 places.
On a different day, cramps might have been demoralizing, but so many things kept me in good spirits. The company on the trail was great, I saw friends at aid stations, the weather was perfect, and every other part of my body felt great. Best of all, eight months of training and racing was almost over. Finishing with a smile was easy.
I'm going to keep running this fall and winter, but nothing very hard or long. I might not start workouts until next April.