All pictures courtesy of Tom R. Thanks Tom!
Sharon helped out at the first (and last) aid station at firelane 1. I think she had a good time and was only a tiny bit sorry she wasn't running today too. Its always great to see a smiling face at an aid station. But its even better to see a familiar, smiling face. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Maniac Hippo, single-handedly manning the 2nd and 3rd aid station at the top of the Saltzman road. Tom was also out and about taking pictures and providing much appreciated encouragement. He promised only pretty pictures so hopefully I'll have a few of those to post later. It was also a pleasure to meet a few others I've only read about and seen in blogland, such as Bret and Tom's friend Kyly. And of course, it was great to see Sarah and Wendell of PCTR fame again.
Most of the course was on familiar territory, but we travelled a few new trails and roads I've never ventured on. I missed one turn-off, which really tickled me considering that I feel like I know these trails so well. I saw the marking for the turn, but I never saw the trail. Found out later that there had been some vandalism to the tape. So I guess I'm not crazy. Fortunately, I knew were I was supposed to be and it probably only added an extra quarter to half a mile to the run. The weather was perfect...not too hot, not too cold, no sun, but no rain either. Once we hit Saltzman road I was pretty much alone. Marc had offered use of his iPod, which I declined since I've never run with music. I was happy to be with my thoughts and delighted to be out on a trail that I could run again.
Sharon ran with me the 6 miles in from the last aid station. I was feeling surprisingly good, but it was still a great boost to have her along. She is an awesome, loyal friend. The last few miles were downhill and rocky, so I took it a bit slower than I would have liked to help protect my knee. Otherwise I might have broken 6:30. Oh well, this was a training run, right? There will always be another day to race.
Back home I plunged into an ice bath and managed to hang out there for 20 minutes. I'm looking forward to the easy week coming up. Next big run is the Lake Youngs Ultra on June 9th. It's only 28.8 miles, so that will be a walk in the park, right?