I slept poorly and just over 4 hours. Maybe I should have slept in my own bed and driven since I would have ended up with the same amount of sleep. I forgot to bring the Benadryl so didn't have that option when I woke up at 2 am and couldn't sleep. At 3:45 am I decided I might as well get up. I had a Lean Body Shake, coffee, and watermelon for breakfast. I left at 4:30 to head to the start where packet pickup opened at 5 am. I arrived shortly after 5 am so got a parking spot close to the starting line. It was very dark and then it occurred to me I didn't have a light in the car. It would likely be dark for the first few miles but I didn't worry too much about it. I figured I could just go slow and others around me would have lights. The temperature was 66F and a little humid since it had rained overnight. However, the trail seemed pretty dry. It was warmer than predicted since the cold front had not quite come through so I ran shirtless which turned out to be a good decision.
I saw Allan B. at the start line and he noticed I didn't have a light. He had a headlamp and a small flashlight which insisted that I use. It wasn't too bright but just enough to get me through the first 2 miles until it got light. The race also included a 100 miler with everyone starting together. I got up close to the front since we would be heading straight into the woods and figured I would end up being at least in the top 10. I was thankful to have the light since it was dark but only turned it on in rocky sections. I'm sure other runners thought I was nuts running without a light but it was easy to see most of the time.
The starting pace didn't seem too fast. My plan was to finish the first loop in around 4:20 or 10:30 pace. The course is the Berryman 50 mile in reverse and I have run it close to 9 hours the past 2 years. The reverse course is more elevation gain according to my GPS so maybe a little more difficult. Allowing for my second loop slowdown I thought 4:20 was reasonable even though Ultrasignup predicted my time at 9:26. The first 10 miles were interesting since I was running with about 10 people in the lead pack. The first 8 miles were between 10:30 - 11:45 pace (averaged 11 min) so seemed quite reasonable . At the same time I am wondering why am I still with them since it felt easy. I kept thinking someone is going to take off soon since this has never happened. Usually, someone takes off right away and I don't see the leaders.
After the mile 9 aid station, I took off before most of the group and was right behind a couple of the leaders for a very short while and then all of a sudden one of them takes off at a blazing pace and a few others followed. They were quickly out of sight. A couple guys stayed behind me and I set the pace for the second pack for awhile and we sped up too. Eventually I was passed by one of the guys but I completed the remaining 17 miles at 10:17 pace. The loop was a little over 25 miles (had about 25.5 GPS) and I came in at 4:27, refilled my supplies and was off at 4:30.
Nutrition was pretty simple. I used mostly Huma gels and a few other brands I don't like and won't buy again now that I've experienced Huma. I consumed 4 gels per loop and a few pieces of banana. Also, used 2 servings per loop of Sword. The second loop I consumed more banana and a tiny avocado wrap which I considered lunch. It worked quite well and I had very few hunger issues.
Energy was steady the second loop but hamstrings were feeling sore and getting more difficult to run up hills but I still ran up them as much as I could although slowly which is faster than walking for me. Even though I had slowed I was surprised I hadn't seen anyone. Coming into the 40 mile aid station I see the guy I had passed earlier leaving. I eventually caught him walking and he started running behind me once I passed. We ran together until the next hill and then I went ahead.
For the second loop, I had been running 11-something until mile 35. The next 6 miles were mostly 12-something until I caught the guy that I passed. As much as I slowed I managed to not fall completely apart and most of the remaining miles were 11-12 something. I finished the second loop in 5:06 so 9:36:51 overall, placing 4th out of 42 finishers.