I was pretty pumped for the race and feeling confident. I wore my HR monitor and decided to let that pace me, since I had HR data from a half-marathon that I did three years ago. The start of the race is fast because there is a lot of downhill in the first three miles. At about mile 2, I was running more-or-less with two guys from Acidotic Racing, Chris Dunn and Brent Tkaczyk, who were chatting back and forth and I was wondering how they could keep the pace and talk. At some point in the Winter Loop or the Valley Farm loop, I started to get a side stitch, but at this time it was very light and manageable. I have a history of side stitches in 10Ks (2 out of 5) and I had one in the Muddy Moose that I managed to mitigate. I noticed that talking aggravated it so I focused on my breathing and this seemed to keep it in check, although it continued to linger in the background (unlike Muddy Moose where it never recrudesced). As I was coming into the FHS aid station for the last time, I yelled out a big FHS Nordic cheer and the side-stitch suddenly jumped to a new, but still manageable level. I focused on breathing a little more and then woot-wooted to ryan, who was working on his 2nd 50k lap. Well, the woot-woot was the tipping point and the side-stitch was now full blown muscle spasm that felt like mohommed ali punching me from the inside. Maybe I gave up trying to work it out too soon but I stopped and walked to give it a rest, not that walking is the quickest way to ease the pain. As I walked, there I went from about 15th to 16th to 17th....to who knows, maybe 10 people passed me?
After a couple of minutes the pain was back to what I thought was manageable and I took off, probably too fast because I thought "well I've walked for a few minutes so I must have lots of energy". Side-stitches are like hiccups. Hard to get rid of and they just keep coming back. I had to stop and walk again coming out of the fields and into the Valley Farm Aid Station, where I took an electrolyte tab and drank a coke given to me by my friend Peggy Paine. I took off up into the Campus loop and was feeling pretty good. The SS was very very light - I hadn't dropped it but I could run with it. On the big climb I passed a couple of people, crossed over into Oak Hill and was feeling pretty good. I had a couple of down hill miles in Oak Hill which I thought "I need to get some time back" but also "It's downhills that aggravate side-stitches". So I took it conservatively. In the little field loop just after the start of Oak Hill I lost it again and the SS came back. I stopped immediately before it got too big and I walked again and was passed by the two people that I had just passed. I started again and just decided to take it really easy on the downhill part of Oak Hill going into gloucester hill. Obviously stopping for a SS was worse than running slowly downhill.
One more very brief walk somewhere on Gloucester Hill and then it was mostly uphill. The ss was very manageable, not really painful at all, but I was afraid to really push the pace. Somewhere on the little loop after the Pownal Loop, I was passed by Katja Fox, who seemed to be running very easily. I couldn't/wouldn't keep her pace and let her go, she eventually caught up with Carrie McCusker and Ellie Tucker, who were about 30s and 1 minute ahead, so Katja was really moving.
I crossed the line in 2:01:05. I counted up my "lost pace" during my stops/walks and figured I lost about 6 minutes due to these, none of which I could get back without aggravating the SS. Chris and Brent finished in 1:54:19 and Don Medd, who I was a little in front of when I got the SS finished in 1:55:08, so 5-6 minutes lost seems about right. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.
Interestingly our Trail Monster 25K team (me, Don, Lily, Shauna, Stephen, Kelly) placed first, less than a minute ahead of the Acidotic Team. I'm glad my ss didn't slow me down any more.
So, not a great race but I've got many more ahead of me. Ian and Erik put on a brilliant show. It was great to finally run it. The cool, cloudy, showery weather that we had during the run cleared by maybe 1PM and we had a sunny, gorgeous afternoon with great music, food, and beer.