Short Version: I got lucky. I predicted sub 52:00 and I ran a 51:59.
Longer version: I had signed up for the second wave in the start. As it turned out I ran just under the 7:00 pace that they require for the first wave.
The 1 1/2 miles the course runs downhill (about 270 vertical feet). The first mile split came at 6:03, ridiculously fast for me unless it is downhill. I felt good, but felt I was pushing the pace a little too much. At 1 1/2 miles we go uphill, 90 feet in almost 1/2 mile then a short steep downhill at the mile 2 mark. Mile two was 6:51.
After about 1/3 mile gentle downhill we hit a hard 2/3 mile climb to the mile 3 mark. This split was 7:23. We were starting to pass the stragglers of the first wave. They had a 5 minute lead, but we were passing them at three miles. Someone should lend them a clue.
Mile 4 is one of the easiest with a net elevation loss and rolling hills. This one went by in 6:49.
Mile 5 is tough. It is one very long moderate uphill the whole length. The split was 7:20
After 5 you continue the uphill climb. Then there is a nice 1/2 mile downhill, followed by a short steep uphill and turn. I had some brain fade during this stretch and let my effort back off somewhat until I remembered that I was supposed to be in a race. Then you hit "The Dip". In 300m you drop 90 ft then climb up 60ft on the far side with the mile 6 marker at the top. My quads were hurting so I was afraid to go full out on the this downhill like I have every other race. It is really steep. 6:57 for the mile.
Mile 7 starts out with about 700m of a very slight downhill until you hit a right turn and then start running up the same hill that the race started down. As has happened every time I've run this race, the sun came out to beat down on us on Vassault street with no shade. Furthermore, the wind did its normal thing and hit us in the face at 10 knots going up this hill. As usual, there was no one around me to draft behind. I struggled up the hill trying to hang on. This mile was 7:33.
With only a half mile to go I tried to keep up the effort for the rest of the 400m of uphill. Then we turned downhill to the finish. I was picking up the pace and ready to cruise in when two young guys passed on either side of me in a kick to the finish. They were racing each other, but I couldn't let them get away from me. I took off after them weaving through the idiot first wave folks as we wind our way through the strange finish serpentine before getting dumped out onto the grass field like kids being shot out of a waterslide. I had passed both guys before the field but lost my balance in the transition from asphalt to sod and one of the passed me. With about 60m to go on the grass I sprinted after him. We were shoulder to shoulder as we neared the finish chutes, but he decided to enter the same one as I was. Rather than push, and risk an entanglement, I let him have the win and entered the chute right behind him. I think it was those guys, racing each other, that gave me the sub 52:00 I had predicted. If they hadn't been there, I would have cruised into the finish with a respectable kick but missed my goal. As it was, my last 300m was an all out sprint and gained me the few seconds I needed.
Next year, I'll be aiming for 50:00