Sunday, July 29, 2012

Camp Croft Trail Marathon Race Report

Camp Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC
Sat July 28, 2012
Trail Marathon and Team Relay

The 1st Camp Croft Trail Marathon & Team Relay took place in the heat and humidity of the summer. Stating temps near 80° at 8am and a high of 98° (although it was likely only ~90° by the time I finished). The course followed much of the Camp Croft Half Marathon course before completing loops on the South Side of the park.
Many people believed this course was short leading up to the event - I had never been on the south side part, so I really had no idea. It was supposed to be ~26.2miles, but on a trail - I don't think you ever know. Multiple Garmins (I don't think you can trust them entirely either!) showed ~21-22 miles. Yes it was short, mileage unknown, but it was called a marathon and I am taking it as a marathon finish!

I knew a handful of people were not running due to the heat - I ignored the fact that it was the end of July when I signed up. Oh well. I knew it was going to be unpleasant. Plan was to carry 2 handheld water bottles for the 1st half (and some Gu) before swapping one handheld for my camelbak (left at the halfway filled with ice) and grabbing some more Gu there too. 

Started off on the 1st 7.5mi section and realized I hadn't raced in a Long time to realize what pace I should be going out at. Probably a little fast, but felt ok. Foot issue I've had for the last week-plus never materialized. Ended up with 2 others (Hillary and PR**) and we ran miles 3-13 pretty much together and had some good discussions. It was a rare thing for all of us to be running with other people during a race. Hilary kept cruising up every hill, and we'd catch her on the downhills. At the half though - she was gone!
Came thru the first aid station (to the encouragement of some friends waiting for their relay partners!) in 1:20. I've done the 1/2 marathon twice and came thru 1:11 both times, so I thought this was about  right in terms of pace. But - the heat was not pleasant. Water bottles lost their ice quickly and the aid stations weren't that refreshing. With Tiana's help refilling, I got back on the trail fast and kept plodding along.

2nd section was a little easier and only 5.5mi. There was some mud in many sections and the worst of it was thru here, sometimes ankle deep and unavoidable, so that also contributed to the slower pace. Shoes weren't ever sucked off, but they tried! Still recognized parts of the course and had No trouble at all following the markers but you actually had to stop and flatten out the directional arrows on the signs as they had curled up, hiding the tips of the arrows! Still feeling decent as we came to the next relay change/aid station. Large group there as this was also close to the start/finish. Came in at 2:17 and saw Kerrie & others again. Refilled my bottles and got out of there across the bridge. The water looked refreshing (and very brown), so I went down and stepped into it. Almost lost my footing (That would have been bad!) but steadied myself and dunked down to my chest.

Was good for a moment. PR waited on me and we started down the trail a minute before I remembered my camelbak was back at the aid station. Hmmm - what to do? I told PR to keep going and went back (and am SO glad I did!). Got an odd look or two I imagine, but Tiana took care of my one handheld and I put on my iced-down water-filled 2L camelbak and went back across the bridge.
Time (after the 4min diversion) was 2:21. (At the half's - 2:02 was typical)

Now the decline. Almost immediately - lost all energy. Took an S!Cap, but the others I had brought were ruined in my river dip. Soon realized I forgot to pick up the three Gu's I wanted from the AS and I had no more on me. I was hot and not feeling particularly good. I walked alot thru here. Would shuffle for a minute before walking again. Drank out of my camelbak frequently (I would drain it before the next AS!). I knew Kerrie would be coming thru here and after 20+ minutes, here she was. She pulled me along for a while, but I had to walk more and try to cool down somehow. I really had no idea how long this section was, so I had no idea how long it should take. Hoping it was as short as I'd heard.
After 1:12 on this section (3:34 elapsed), I saw Kerrie and other DNR goons at the parking lot at the last relay change. Meant to drop off my camelbak, but carried it empty the rest of the way (and you know how it's annoyingly bouncy when it's empty?!). Refilled my amphipod and continued on feeling slightly better. Still walking more than expected, but with the heat - I really didn't care. Got passed and was desperate enough (on an empty stomach for way too long) to ask if they had an extra Gu. I was in luck! Still following the yellow caution ribbons until there was an intersection...seemed like I should just continue straight-ish. No ribbons. After 5 minutes or so, 2 guys are coming back down the trail saying it must be the wrong way - no ribbons. It seemed like a well used path and the signs still said Lizard, although I had no clue what the trail name we were supposed to be was. Really hated turning around, even when seeing a discarded energy gel package (thankful for litterers if only for a moment).
So - we backtracked until the mystery intersection. Realized in another minute or two that we were right all along. Ugh. Wasted about 10 minutes with this extra mileage (not like it was that much extra as I came down with a thigh cramp thru here - ouch! Haven't had a cramp running in a LONG time!). I knew there was a bridge/river crossing less than a  half mile from the finish. The guy in front of me at that point decided he'd go across the bridge. I saw 2 people halfway, struggling to cross, and after recalling my earlier event in the water, decided to take the bridge. I like water, don't mind it one bit - but I didn't care to attempt it if I didn't have to - not with my thigh cramping up. Looks like a rope to hold on to may have been helpful (I heard almost Everyone pretty much fell - where's the fun in that?).
Anyway - soon enough came towards the finish, where my wife and little girl were waiting for me.
Happily crossed in 4:22:40 after a 48min section.
Courtesy of PACE Magazine

I was 13th out of 45. (Could've been ~11th?)

What I'll remember for future years (if I decide to punish myself again): Ice at all aid stations - most important, Gatorade/S!Caps at aid stations, knowing the course before I start (or writing it on my arm). Taking a breath at the aid stations and remember what I am doing there!
Was great seeing/meeting people - you know who you are!

**PR was a bandit. Race was sold out so he thought he'd run it anyway and drink the water, etc. He asked if that was frowned upon. As a 10 yr Greenville Track Club Board Member - I certainly told him YES and I explained why (outside the obvious). Hope he took my advice and paid the registration fee afterwards...not holding my breath though.


David Ray said...

Nice work on a tough day. Ultra-brain set in early with the heat. :)

Jon Allen said...

Good job, especially the second half when you didn't have your gu's.

imtheguz said...

Thanks - and yeah Jon - just giving my wife more time to talk to your wife!

Burrard Orthotics Vancouver said...

Is there another Camp Croft Trail Marathon coming up this summer?