Saturday, April 30, 2011

Race # 12 - Owl's Roost Rumble Trail Half Marathon, Greensboro, NC

Owl's Roost Rumble Trail Half Marathon
8:00 AM
Greensboro, NC
Time: 1:44:10
Placed 28th Overall; 3rd place Age Group

Today I ran the Owl's Roost Rumble Trail Half Marathon in Greensboro, NC. This was my second trail race of the month and again, I did not know the course coming in to the race. I did read on the website that it had an uphill finish so I stuck that in the back of my mind for later.

This race had the 'elite' runners going off at 8:00. I don't know how you get to be an 'elite' runner, but whatever. I'll explain later why I don't think all of them were too 'elite'. The 'blue bibs' were next (all the men half marathoners). As we lined up, I was not warmed up and had only ran from the car to get my bib number, so needless to say I would be warming up for the first mile.

We took off at the air horn sound and the first half mile or so was on a paved road. Eventually we hit the trail and fell into single file moving at a good pace. First mile was 7:44. I knew the pace would slow once we hit the trail so I didn't worry too much about it. What a warm up though huh? As we continued through the single track trail, we got to mile two and I suddenly heard commotion toward the front of the pack. Someone busted and landed hard. He bounced right up and fell back in line a few spot in front of me.

Miles 2-5 were all at a faster pace than I thought I would run but honestly, I was just trying to stay with a group, any group, and see how long I could hold their pace. There were a couple of times I had to pass because I felt the pace was slowing and I wanted to run what felt good for me, knowing that I may regret it later. Right around mile 5, I had a double whammy. My left ankle, two consecutive steps, almost rolled. It was a close call but luckily, no harm done, for now.

I kept looking at my watch waiting for the halfway point but when I saw the first mileage sign of the race saying 7 miles, my Garmin said 6.4. So a little short but not too much. I've come to expect trail running to be a little off. By this point I've made a couple more passes and am running alone. This would be the case for the majority of the remainder of the race. I wanted to see if I could catch those guys in front of me, but more importantly, make sure no one caught me. Easier said than done, especially with what I mentioned at the beginning. More on that later.

Around mile 8, my right foot absolutely nailed a root and it felt like my right big toe was broke. That could have been really bad but luckily I held it together and didn't spill. I came out of the woods and onto a single track dirt trail through a field before hitting some pavement and then the final water stop heading back into the woods. I could see the group in front of me, but didn't know if I could catch them. As I passed the volunteers, I immediately hit a bad spot and almost rolled my ankle again. Thankfully, I was ok. The group in front of me though started to gain momentum and basically left me. I knew I couldn't catch them so I concentrated on finishing without being passed.

Give the mileage shortage, I knew the race would end somewhere around my Garmin saying 12.4 or so. I calculated this all out and tried to give it my all for the last 2.4 miles. Then it happened. There. In front of me, was the 'hill'. I've ran harder hills. Heck I did the Pilot Mountain Payback Trail Marathon. Now THAT was a hill. But something about giving it my all for 12 miles, running a sub 8:30 pace for the majority of the race, on the trail, was too much. My mind was saying, 'Let's just walk this part'. My legs were agreeing, but something said KEEP PUSHING!!! I tried. But I gave in and ended up walking, seriously, like 8 seconds. But that was all it took. Behind me, I heard it. Footsteps. Ugh. I got passed. There was nothing I could do. The other runner offered encouragement saying 'Good stuff man' and I agreed and then started running again. This hill wasn't the steepest, but it was in the last place you'd want it during a race.

Once I got to the top, the passer was too far ahead for me to even try and catch. I just pulled together all I had left and went for the finish. I heard the crowd and emerged from the woods stopping my watch at 1:44:08. Good enough for 28th place overall and 3rd in my age group. I was beat. I was upset that I got passed but I really gave it my all. I knew that I left it all out there and the runner that passed me deserved to finish ahead of me. Granted he later told me that he ran those trails often and he knew what was coming, which I believe is always an advantage.

Overall, a great race. Compared to my only other trail half, this one had about half the elevation gain, and was about .2 miles short of the other, and I finished 9 minutes better. Still, I was impressed with myself holding the pace I did, overall pace for the race being 7:57. I always enjoy running trails, and this was no exception. Most importantly, I had fun!



Saturday, April 2, 2011

Race # 11 - ASC Greenway Trail Half Marathon, Fort Mill, SC

Anne Springs Close Greenway Trail Half Marathon
8:30 AM
Fort Mill, SC
Time: 1:53:38
Placed 6th Overall; 2nd place Age Group

I decided to jump in on this half marathon in Fort Mill after finding out about it and it's $17 registration fee.  Way less than the $45 I paid for the upcoming Owl's Roost Trail half marathon in Greensboro at the end of the month.  So I rose early and headed south about 2 hours for this race.

It was very low key, with an 8k in addition to the half.  I checked in, received my bib, and tote bag, and got warmed up.  We were told the course was marked with orange flags and ribbons and there would be multiple stream crossings and swinging bridges that we would have to walk over to avoid being bucked off.  Temps were in the low 40's to start.  At the start, we all headed off with the first stream crossing coming in the first 0.3 miles.  There was a swinging bridge here as an option if you didn't want to run through the foot deep creek.  Only one girl too advantage of the bridge as myself and the group in front of me took to the water.

We settled in and the lead group took off.  I let them go as they were probably running 7mm pace and I was doing good to hold on to an 8mm pace.  Myself and one other guy ran together for a couple of miles, me following him, and then I decided to pass.  He stayed with me as I tried to hold a 9mm pace.  We were told it would be muddy but the first 6 miles wasn't very messy at all.  That would soon change.

My Garmin kept measuring a little short of each mile marker, and after 6 miles, I pointed this out to my drafter behind me.  We began to chit chat a little and he mentioned this was his first half.  i congratulated him on hanging at such a fast pace, as I didn't know how long I could hold that pace, and I know in my first half, I wouldn't be able to do that.  We conserved our energy, and just kept running, no talking. 

We reached the bridle trail portion of the race and here came the mud.  With the rain in the past week, the second half of the race was full of mushy spots.  Around mile 8, we ended up catching up with a local girl who is part of the Rock Hill Striders (the local running club putting the race on).  We ran single file, the three of us, for a mile or so.  I then motioned for the pass and took off.  It was then that I decided to see if I could put my distance between myself and these two.

The last 3 miles were tough, with what seemed to be the most uphill parts of the whole race.  Maybe it was just my legs telling me they were getting tired.  I kept trucking though.  Passing a few people who were in the 8k race going on simultaneously.  Mile 11 went around a lake and mile 12 actually passed by the finish area where snacks were located.  But at the last second, the route cut back into the woods for the last 3/4 mile.  I only had to stop and walk once on the uphill, which I was content with given the pace I surprising to myself, held for the race.  

I saw the finish line and crossed in 1:53:38.  Good enough for 6th place overall, the 5th overall male, and 2nd in my age group of 25-34.  My Garmin actually showed it being 12.55 miles but not too surprised as most trail races are not exact.  I stuck around for a bit and enjoyed some food and got my AG prize (a frisbee), and then headed home.  

Overall, a great low key race on some great trails.  I enjoyed it and would keep this on my list to do in the future.