Before my Race Report - I want to apologize to my 2+ readers...(Been a little hectic, almost overwhelming, with work, house, family, running, nice weather, etc). I did start running again after 3 days off and things went well. Got back up to 25 miles that week with 3 runs, longest being 12.8 miles on a warm Sunday. This week had 3 runs (6.8, 8.5 and 8.5) before today's race. Had absolutely No idea of what the course would entail. If I had seen this (Thanks to Carolina Runner)
(4/19/10 update: This seemed unreasonable. Now I've seen this and 1776 ft of elevation gain/fall seems more likely.)
So - this was at Dupont State Forest just over the border in NC, about an hour and 10 minute drive. Was quite warm in the sun, but cool in the shade. Got a decent reusable bag and very nice l/s technical shirt. Ran into my friend ER from Greenville and lined up at 9am. Race director was great - telling people as he walked from the starting line back thru the lined up runners. "This is where the 6 minute/mile runnners should be. This is where the 7 minute/mile runners should be" and so on. Everyone could hear him and people got the message. May have to bring that up at the next Greenville Track Club Board Meeting this week.
He also warned us that "the last 1.5 miles was Uphill, so save something". As this was an out and back for the most part, we'd have figured that out, but it was still good to remind us. He wasn't kidding either.
Partially gravel road heading down. Missed the first mile marker and went thru 2 in under 16. Seemed too fast for that distance, but I wasn't feeling that great. Just not alot of energy and was thinking it was going to be a long tough run. There was maybe a mile of flat surface on the whole course (the airstrip around mile 5.5 or so being most of that!). The almost 18,000, no wait, it's only 3500 feet of elevation change is something completely new to me. I guess I did fine since I finished feeling pretty good. The first half I struggled. People slowly passed me until we got to the end of the airstrip. I guess my Gu (or pre-race PB&J Bagel) kicked in and I felt Much better. Started running with people (I could keep up with people at this point). An older guy I was behind for quite a while as we walked some of the worst hills. I finally caught up and eventually moved ahead. Ran with 3 females on and off, mostly with KH for a few miles until she pulled ahead the last 2. Had some good conversation (and continued it post race; turned out we have practically the same 5k PR and other similar running habits). Course was varied...no trails sadly, but some pine straw areas, dirt/gravel mix mostly. Hills Hills Hills. Ran around a lake that you could barely see except one spot. The first place guy passed me going the opposite direction and ended up beating me by 34 minutes. Crazy how fast he was flying down that section. Long legs help. I do not have that luxury.
After walking sections of the first 8 miles, I pretty much ran straight from 8-11.5. I didn't mind walking as I wasn't racing for time or anything, plus carrying too much water in my camelbak on purpose also helped with the Chattooga 50k training. My finishing time: 1:55:09. Surprising to me to be that fast, so I am very happy with it. I can see me doing this one again because it is such a challenge. If my legs were fresh to start with, I expect I could do better. This constant training really takes it out of me sometimes.
Other notes: The females at the aid station by the airstrip were Wonderful. All stations should cheer like that! The finisher medal was pretty sad. Generic "Half Marathon" written on it. The red, white, and Blue would be appropriate if it had anything to do with being Patriotic. Still - any race you get a finisher's medal is good. The memory of the race is what counts! Easy packet pickup. May need to make a trip to Asheville to get some trail running shoes (Foot Rx had shoes for sale, Asics 2140Trail, but not my size). On the way home, the Assault on the Carolinas bike event was going on, Many riders coming up 276 up and over Caesar's Head. I certainly had it easier with my half marathon!
4-12-10: Adding 2 photos I took before the start of the registration/finish area: