Oh, boy, was that 30k a rough race. I got up at 5:30 on Saturday morning (I handed the party responsibilities over to Andrew around 2:30 and I went to bed) and drove about a half hour out to Bradley's Pond. It was freezing. Actually, below freezing. For the entire race. Worse if you count the wind chill. I've never started a race with so much clothing. For upper body, I had a Under Armour skull cap, handkerchief around my neck, UA sleeveless compression T, FSU tri jersey top, Pearl Izumi arm warmers, a long sleeve Starter dri-fit T, and gloves. For lower body, FSU tri jersey bottoms, RaceReady running shorts (because they had pockets to hold food-stuffs), sweat pants, 2XU calf compression guards, Thorlo socks, and some baseball socks. Phwew. I ended up having to take off the handkerchief, skull cap, bandana, and gloves. Lucky I had pockets.
If I had to describe the course in one word, it would be "hilly." It is an out and back course with the first (and last) 2.25 miles on pavement and the rest on packed red clay. Every mile on the course is marked (for both races), leading you to have many references to let you know where you are on the course. Since there's also a 15k, you know where the 1/4 and 3/4 points in the race are. Also, due to the way the turn-arounds are set up, you know where the .3 and .6 marks are in each mile that is also a part of the 15k course. You also know where the .6 miles are in the 30k course. This would all be VERY helpful if you were trying to pace yourself.
I was not trying to pace myself. I had no idea what time I would run. This is the longests I've ever run continuously. I started off at a reasonable 6:35 per mile, but ended up averageing 8:06 (finishing in 2:30:57). It was the last few miles (and the previous night's drinking) mixed with the hills that really slowed me down. I was feeling fairly strong up until the turn around. In fact, I was in 15th place at the turn around but finished in 28th. I only passed one person on the way back.
Near 14 miles, I took a gel. I've never felt a gel hit me so hard. About 5 minutes later, I noticed that my eyes were open wider and that my strides were quickening and lengthening. Maybe I should have taken one earlier. I haven't had the chance to experiment much with gels on my training runs since I'm not carrying water. I took one once and felt like I was dehydrated. In fact, I didn't eat hardly anything before the turn around because I was feeling like my system had too little water. I guess that's what happens when you drink power smoothies before the race. Let me give you a recipe for my power smoothie. Realize that I only drank half of this before the run: 1 bag frozen mixed berries, 1 6oz package of yogurt, 1 scoop Hammer HEED, 1 big squirt Hammer gel, 1 scoop protein powder, 2 bananas (and ideally a serving of FRS concentrate which I was out of). Ya, that smoothie will get you going.
After finishing, I was thinking that the Tallahassee Marathon on February 1st would be a disaster for me, but then I heard a seasoned runner mention that the hilly 30k course was harder to run than a flat marathon. The Tally course is flat. There is hope for me yet.