(with split analysis to be posted shortly) are up.
Was planning on stopping at 2 hours so I went out fast to try and run away from the pack for fun. Missed a key trail junction on the trail run (I thought it was going to be just an easy follow-the-streamers and I was reading ahead) and everyone followed me. I realized it about 200 meters down the trail because we had some huge cliffs on our left and after a closer look at the trail map realized we were supposed to be on top of those cliffs. Climbed up the huge hill side to the correct trail expecting to see all the old guys ahead of us laughing, but we still seemed to be in the lead. Eddie and Jon Torrance took off towards the top of the mountain, and for some reason I though King of the Mountain was control 2 so I took it easy behind them, saving my energy. I quickly realized leaving the control that it had to have been the King of the Mountain because it was all downhill from there and the view sounded just like the one Daniel had described for the KotM.
Well I jumped back to the front on the way down, but managed to run right by the second control at the end of the trail run, so once again I was right behind Jon and Eddie. They were looking for maps at the end of the trail run so I was able to jump to the lead again while reminding them that their next map was on the back of the trail map. I had been reading ahead so I took off on the Orienteering segment on a long trail run to the 3rd control. I managed to blow that control too, so once again I was chasing Jon. Got in the lead again going into number 4, but made a parallel error and got everyone to follow me so we spent some time wandering the hillside until Eddie ran over to a lower hill side and we all followed him into the control. I took off in the lead to number 5 and maintained it to number 6, but I blew number 6 and hit it behind Eddie and Vadim. They took off to the right, and I had been planning to cut right back out to the trail, so I split from them there. I hit the trail with just Flavius on my tail, but I took off on the trail and managed to get myself my first clean lead without anybody in sight going through the 7th control and the map exchange.
I had a really good loop on the second Orienteering segment and was able to push through it with the knowledge that I was dropping out at the end of it. I came to the second map exchange feeling pretty good but quite tired, and sat down and started rehydrating and eating some grapes. I was there for about 5 minutes before Paul Bennet managed to convince me to finish the course because there was only about 4km left and it was just straight back to the finish. There was still no one in sight behind me, and I decided that I could just jog it in and it wouldn't be that bad. I guess the idea of winning my first Highlander was just too much for me.
Anyway, I took off at an easy pace spiking the first control and deciding to take the right fork at 22. I spiked 22 but found no control there. I went out to relocate and realized that I had to be right on so I decided to just go to the other fork because I was too tired to wander around looking for a control. I later realized that the control was on a dot knoll, not on the boulder like I had thought and if I had just looked at my description sheet I could have saved myself the trouble of going to the other fork.
On my way to 23 I saw Eddie coming out of the right fork of 22 and was pretty mad that I had let him catch me because it meant that I was going to have to run hard now if I wanted to win. I spiked 23 with Eddie right behind me and saw Flavius leaving the control. I caught up to Flavius on the downhill out of the control and he turned around to congratulate me on my NA Champs win. We started chatting and jogging down the trail at an easy pace with Eddie right behind us. I started realizing that we had gone to far and decided to start cutting off the trail. Fortunately Eddie had followed us too so we were all three together going over the hill. Eddie took the lead into 24, but I managed to beat him into the control when I saw it in the distance. Then it was just a sprint down the ski slope to the GO control and a flat sprint in from there. It's a good thing it was a downhill finish because otherwise I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to beat the other two guys, but fortunately it was just a matter of leg turnover speed going down the hill and that wasn't a problem for me.
It was pretty cool to have won my first Highlander, but pretty amateurish that I wasn't able to stick to my plan. I had specifically come to this race as training with the knowledge that doing the whole thing would affect my training too much in the next few weeks and hurt my race form for the last 2 races of the season. Maybe the exhaustion affected my decision-making and allowed me to be suckered in to finishing the race, but I should have been much more prepared for that so that I could have stuck to my plan. Winning a Highlander is awesome, but it wasn't one of my goals for the Fall and since running the whole thing will actually set me back it was particularly bad that I didn't have the discipline to do what I had planned.
Preparing for races and maintaining a good training regime is all about discipline, and I am always fighting with temptations one way or the other, sometimes to go out with my friends when I need to be resting, or play video games instead of training, or even racing hard when I am supposed to be taking an easy day. If I want my training to be as efficient as possible I am going to have to have the discipline to follow the plans that I set for myself otherwise it will just be an anarchy of poorly developed exercise activities.