Depending on how you look at it, the Ugly Mudder is either the first race of the season, or an off-season race. Either way, it was my first time racing since the Philly Marathon Half-Marathon in November. And it went ok. Don't know that I enjoyed myself as much as I should have, although I finished around where I expected to. It's not a great fit for me, though. It's a hard race, and that's part of it – but there are some harder races that I like more.
In part, I find the 11 am ('ish') start time a challenge. When do you eat? But much of it goes back to the fundamental issue I have with racing: I'm a better trail runner than road runner; I'm a natural negative splitter; and trail running favors positive splitting. And Ugly Mudder really favors positive splitting. It's a huge race – 700 people? Maybe 800? On some pretty narrow trails. So even more than most, it's imperative to start out at least ok and get position. But I overdid it, so that I was pretty beat 15 minutes in, knowing that I had around 45 to go. And it's not a very forgiving race. It's some of the same trails as Half-Wit (albeit in the opposite direction), but I'd say that mile-for-mile it's a harder race. Similar hilliness, but trickier footing. And while there are fewer sustained climbs, there are more short but ridiculously steep, no-way-you-could-run-that climbs. So when you're realizing, ¼ of the way in, that you're kinda spent, there's not a lot of opportunities to get that energy back.
Unlike a lot of other runners, I did manage to stay on my feet. Even more surprising, I managed to stay on course – which many other runners didn't. Someone – again! - had stolen some of the trail directions, causing mass chaos. I was among the least affected, although among those most affected, some had to run extra, others less. So I suspect that I wound up around where I would have – with some who should be behind me ahead, and some who should be ahead, behind.
My goal had been top 35, and I wound up in the high-20s, so, yes, goal achieved. One guy I'd almost caught a few times 2 years ago, then couldn't get close to last year, finished right in front of me. I mean right - I was sprinting at the finish line and he didn't beat me by a full foot. I'd consider this a significant accomplishment, if I didn't know that he'd been part of the group that ran extra.
So that's where things stand now. I've had a good off-season, and this was a good benchmark, especially since I won't get to run Tyler. And who knows what's next? Apparently there's less sleep in my future, and that can't help things much. But then, maybe it can – sacrifice a few minutes, chill out some, and enjoy myself more. We'll see.