Sunday, October 2, 2011

Leave No Trace Half Marathon, Sept 3 2011

Leave No Trace Half Marathon, Sept 3 2011
Saturday morning I stepped on the scale, pleased with the 161 lbs reading (down from 172 not long ago), got dressed and left to run the "Leave No Trace Trail Half Marathon" at local trails. I ran this race last year (inaugural) and enjoyed it, so here I was again.

The course description reads: "Technical, mostly single track trail run... good climbs and descents..." which is correct. The course was dry and the weather was hot and humid 70F at 6 am).

Mile splits in trail races are meaningless because of the irregular course, but here are my splits anyway: 8:49, 8:53, 9:04, 9:16, 9:35, 9:04, 9:16, 9:35, 9:09, 9:10, 9:04, 9:06, 9:12, 8:58, 9:28, 9:05, 8:53.

I started too fast and I knew it. I was trying to position myself a bit in the front so I am not stuck behind slow runners on a single-track trail, but everyone was running fast, as if they were in a panic, so I got carried away. I see names of people who I passed after the first mile and their average pace is 10 min/mile. What are they doing running sub-9 min first mile? I have to remember from now on to slow down! Running a fast first mile is counter-productive. It is always better to have negative splits and pass lots of people instead of slowing down and getting passed later in the race.

The first couple of miles I felt I was running fast and sweating a lot, burning whatever little glycogen I have in my body. I then stabilized running at a comfortable pace with little sweating. On a hot day like this I put my water bottle in the freezer overnight. Then as the ice starts melting, I can use the cold water to wash my face and cool my head, or drink it. Cold water feels so much better on a hot day! At the first aid station I filled the half-empty bottle with Gatorade. Sweating started again as it was getting hotter and harder with time. I made the mistake to take ½ water 1/2 Gatorade at the 2nd and last aid station while I only really needed water, so I started getting sick of the Gatorade.

Throughout the race I passed quite a few runners and only remember being passed by one, Laurie Schroeder, who finished 2nd Female overall. She came from behind a bit late in the race (mile 4?) and slowly but surely passed every one behind me, then passed me, then the runners ahead of me, one at a time, and disappeared into the trail. I thought I'd never see her again, but I caught up with her with only 0.2 miles to go and passed her as I was sprinting to the finish line, and finished ahead of her by 21 seconds. Seeing the finish line is such a relief that I have to sprint from sheer joy, no matter how tired I am.

Finish time: 2:03 (9:05 pace) finished top 3 in age group (50-59)
(Last year there were 78 finishers, this year 143)
Here is a picture of me after the finish:

I was very pleased with my strong finish and time (2:03), until I later saw that last year my time was 1:57! But, looking closer at the results I see that Kyle Bowman who won the race both years, also finished 6 minutes slower this year. It seems that the heat had affected everyone.

After the race we were offered bananas, oatmeal bars and various bags with chips, etc. Normally, I would have taken several pieces of everything home (my wife accuses me of going grocery-shopping after races). Or, I would have eaten stuff at the spot (hey, free food!) After the 5 mile Twilight Trail race a couple of weeks ago I had Gatorade (a couple of cups), watermelon (3-4 slices), three glasses of beer and about 12 pieces of pizza. But that was then (pre low-carb nutrition). Now, I just had water and took a banana home (to eat it during the week, one bite a day :) :))

Overall, a fine race, one to do year after year!

PS. Sunday I went for a recovery run with my wife and managed to run 15 miles at 9 min/mile pace, a bit surprised since it felt slower and very comfortable.

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