I made sure to start out conservatively, but not wimpy. After the first mile I was DFL and stayed that way for almost the whole day. I looked at the others as they passed me and checked off a few saying to myself "I'll see you later, and you and you." My first and second 10K were done in about an hour each. The first 25 miles were all up hill varying increasingly from 1-3% grade, which isn't really a big deal but felt pretty relentless by the time we finally turned around and headed back down. I had my usual low spot from about mile 20-30. I wish I knew why that happens because it's pretty miserable. My legs ached, my feet hurt I got side stitches.
As the day wore on I just kept plugging away. After my first hour I did the 20:2 run:walk ratio through until the last hour. At about the 50 mile mark I was feeling better and better. I even started getting in AT pace range. By the time I was about 2/3 done I figured I could finish in under 12:30 if I kept it up. By the time I got through the last aid station with 7.7 miles to go I passed 5 of those people I had counted on seeing again. Two of them were a pair of women who were walking together. They caught up with me right after I passed them and we kept pace together, almost imperceptibly accelerating as we went. We were going at about 8:30 miles and they were really giving me a run for my money. I decided to see if I was pushing them or they were pushing me, so I slowed down and sped up occasionally to see if they would follow suit. They stayed right with me. I asked them what kind of walk:run sequence they were following and they said they were just playing it "by feel". I told them I wasn't interested in beating anyone but the clock and I wanted to finish in under 12:30. Further, my walk breaks came every 20 minutes, for 2 minutes. One woman huffed that it didn't seem like enough of a break but I assured her it was working for me. Have you done that for the whole race? I sure have, after the first hour. I warned them that I'd see them later because my walk time was coming up. As soon as my watch beeped and I stopped to walk they slammed on the breaks and we walked together. I think I really beat the life out of them with that fast stretch of 20 minutes. I took off again after my 2 minutes were up and they stayed behind.
I flew the last 10K feeling very, very good. OK, I was tired but I still had a good time and felt like I could push it hard. Unfortunately at one point I became unsure of the route and backtracked trying to decide which way to turn at an obscure intersection. I got in about an extra half mile and lost about 5 minutes. I waited for the 2 women to catch up and we confired about the likely route. I took off again and luckily we guessed right. I continued stronger and stronger on to the finish. After I pulled ahead again I didn't see them until they crossed the finish line about 20 minutes after me. Right at the end there was a pleasant single track next to a river then up a suspension bridge over the river and down to the finish line. I was pleased with the 12:23. I ate some food (forced myself) and went to bed very achy. I finally took some Ibuprofen and was able to sleep, more or less.