Yesterday, a fairly big (by ultra standards) group of people went for a somewhat-social jaunt up Mount Nebo. I say somewhat social because I, like many others, will try to compete in any context.
Nic started off the first climb at the front, with a large group running behind, but gradually Steve, who I met that morning, and I reeled him in. The three of us ran/walked in front and together up and down the hills, before we made our way onto the slightly downhill singletrack near the top. We blasted through the mud at a ridiculously quick pace (set by Nick), getting plenty wet and dirty, before taking a wrong turn and running the road to the Cafe on top. My quads/hamstring insertions were really sore, and I debated taking a ride to the bottom, but only for a split second. After slurping down some powerade and eating a muesli bar, I rejoined Nic on the trail, with Steve not too far behind. We passed the rest of the runners, who were coming in the opposite direction, and had spread out to a certain extent.
Steve soon caught up, and I let him run in the middle, as I had to let off some serious gas. When we returned to the fire-trails, I was really pleased that the other fellas slowed to a walk on the few instances that I had to retie my shoelaces.
We stayed together, chatting about running, travelling and culture, among other things; while blasting some 4:35s on downhill sections and walking the steep ups. Nic's stomach was starting to hassle him, however, and with about 8kms to go, he gradually slowed until it was just Steve and I running together.
Steve seemed alot stronger on the uphills, while I had more speed on the downs. I kept cajoling him to reduce the pace, but just ended up running as quick as him; we were both hurting pretty badly, but he seemed to be in slightly better shape. This was confirmed when we hit the final 500 metre section of tarmac, where we battled it out. I slowed to a jog in the last 200, seeing that Steve was much stronger, while he was running around 14km/h into the intersection that marked the start/finish. In the end, he put about 15 seconds on me, but I didn't really care - I was happy to have ran well and made a new friend. The final time was 4:48 for 47km with about 1200m of vertical; but the best part was that I negative-splitted the run. This is impressive for me - even though the return leg was mostly downhill - as I usually go out way too hard, and then crash on the way back. I didn't push myself too much at first, as it wasn't really a race, and this allowed me to finish strongly and give it a nudge at the end. This was augmented by the fact that I ate plenty of muesli bars, and had adequate sports drink over the morning. Additionally, despite having run way quicker than I do in training in this event, I am not very sore today at all, although it could have been a different story if I decided to go for a run. Instead, I played plenty of backyard cricket, sprinting around the tennis court with alot of pep in my step.
This Fatass run has given me confidence for Hares and Houds; I will be able to start at my own pace and still finish strong. It also makes me more enthusiastic about the prospect; if I race it properly, I wont have to spend a week on the couch like after K2D. Let's hope that the niggles abate before then!