But in the back of my mind, I probably thought I could do better.
Give me credit: those two other Infernos were done under adverse conditions. The first one, Left Gully was so hard, I used cramp-ons to climb up. And the second one was postponed for a day due to 20-plus inches of snow. I was just glad to finish, and thrilled to have gotten out alive. Plus, the top finishers were animals. No way I could come close to them. Right?
Somehow, despite my decision to never do it again, I found myself registering for this year's race after a one year hiatus during which I ran Boston instead of the Inferno -- much easier, by the way (except that there are more places to go to the bathroom at the Inferno). I think it was that voice in the back of my head telling me that this year was the year to improve. I had better equipment, a little more knowledge, and -- after a milder winter -- I'm in better shape.
The race was easier, to be sure. I kept up a 7:10 pace over the 8-mile run -- and it didn't feel that hard. The kayak was relaxing and comfortable (the result of a scouting mission I took 2 weeks ago). The bike was great (no kickstand or newspaper rack). The hike was quick (only the essentials on my back: skis, boots, helmet, pants, Gu, and a small water). And -- due to some half decent weather -- the hike up to the very top of Left Gully was fun... and the snow nice.
And my crew was perfect.
All in all, it was a great race on a great day. So now I can say it and mean it (for now): that's the last one.