|Me, Anna, Matt at MatchBox for dinner|
This race has options to start at 7, 8, or 9 am so I picked the 9 am competitive start. That means I got to sleep in until 7 am with plenty of time to eat breakfast, drive over to the park, go through packet pickup and wait around in the cold for the race to start. It seemed like the kind of morning where everything was going to go right!
Everything did go right. Packet pickup was smooth, there was nice swag, this had everything you'd expect to have at a small, no-frills trail race. The course was only 6.55 miles of wide gravel trail, making this a 2 loop out and back race. It's easiest to break it down into those 4 sections, and if they are under an hour each, I can break 4 hours!
At the start, I ended up talking to Rob Krar's sister in law! She was really nice but had to name drop when I started talking about Umstead. They also had a half marathon going at the same time, so the 2nd loop was going to be much less crowded than the first. The start was otherwise uneventful.
The strangest thing about this leg was that nobody would talk to me. I have the trail beard in full effect now. Sure there are more grays in there than I wanted, but I was making jokes with the other runners and getting nothing back from these people. I hit the first turnaround almost in silence, then checked my watch to see that I had missed the 1 hour goal by 11 seconds. Not too bad.
Back 1: 1:02:05 (2:02:16 total)
I made it back to the start/finish area still in relative silence, but did manage to get a few laughs out of these people. I slowed down some miles, and pushed it some other miles. For this being the "uphill" direction it still felt a bit faster than going "downhill". The use of quotes is appropriate here because you're only dropping down 40 feet. There's no turns, it's a straight, wide, gravel path with a 40 foot drop. That is about the best kind of trail I could hope for.
Out 2: 1:08:04 (3:10:20 total)
Miles 13 to 20 were pretty interesting. I had to pull off of the trail for a poop in mile 18, then in 19 I caught up with Tammy Massie, a well known ultra runner and good friend. We ran together at her pace for quite some time as well and talked about my training and strategy for Umstead (she's done it about 8 times) and that's always valuable advice. Overall this leg just had a lot of dragging though. My legs got heavy and didn't want to turn over as fast, and I was just trying to run comfortably.
Back 2: 1:05:54 (4:16:05 finish time)
Coming back uphill to the finish line, I wouldn't say that my legs felt fresh anymore, but they felt exactly like I expected to feel when I'm over 20 miles into a marathon. My glutes fatigued first, then my hamstrings. Knees, ankles, feet, hips, all felt ok the entire time. I don't think my heart rate got much out of zone 2 at any time over the race. Considering that my longest run between the WC-50 marathon and this (about 4 weeks) was only 12 miles, I figured these miles would feel a lot worse than they did.
And I finally found someone else to talk to! A fellow Marathon Maniac and 50-stater who was in town from Memphis. Her goal was to break 4:15, and she missed it by about 20 seconds. Still it was nice to be able to chat for a while, and since I was ahead of her most of the race she kept saying that I was helping her keep a quick pace.
I don't really have any kind of placement information, but I know I was kind of near the bottom. The average time for this marathon is about 3:38, I think I saw my age group award go to a 3:12 marathoner or something absurd like that. The course is just that nice! Flat, fast, soft, exactly the best race I could hope for. I love these small no-frills events.
And it was actually a pretty nice way for me to see Maryland! I got to visit with family, enjoy fine cuisine, see some urban nature, and drive around the city with the worst traffic in the entire U.S. Highly recommended.