Saturday, April 27, 2013

Trail Marathon

I couldn't miss the opportunity to run a trail half marathon, on some of the same trails we ran during the Dances With Dirt 100k relay last September. Booked the race well in advance and, of course, my training was a disaster, but I was going through with it, just because.

You could not have asked for any better weather for race day, it was perfect.

Due to the tightness of the trails and the amount of people in the race (~800), they were have a 'wave' start. The first group that started off were people that legitimately thought they had a chance of winning and then up from there, starting about a minute apart. I, rather over-confidently, decided to opt for the 8:30 road mile pace, but start at the back of the pack. The course started out across an open field at the edge of the lake, but very quickly went into the woods and didn't mess around from there. For the first mile it was still quite congested as either we caught up with the stragglers in the previous group of the sprinters in the following group. The trails are very tight and a quite a few people aren't so big on trail etiquette and can make it really quite tricky when they try and sprint around you like a bloody gazelle. You really have to pay attention of the trails and look out for exposed roots, loose rock, etc. This is mentally taxing and it really doesn't help when you are right behind someone and can't see what is coming up.

 My first problem arrived at around 1.5 miles in. I had gone for a short run on the Thursday before the race and ended up have a slight pain in my left achilles tendon, this came back with a vengeance, hills started to suck. Just to top it off, at around 2.5 miles in, my right achilles decided to join the fun, ahh the gangs all here, let the party begin, every hill came with pain, getting worse the longer we went on, deep bloody joy.

The race scenery was gorgeous, but with it being a technical trail run, to look around while running would have meant a severely turned ankle, or worse. Rather bizarrely there were a couple of times during the race when I was completely alone, with no one in sight, I even thought that I'd somehow managed to miss trail markings, but no, it was just hilly and I saw people ahead, it was really quite strange though.

The race had many, many hills, with varying degrees of nastiness. The pain in both achilles meant that they were all slow going. I basically ended up running/ walking like a bloody penguin up most of them.

 On crossing the line we were handed a bottle of water, the all important medal and sent on to the snack table, which had bagels, bananas, muffins, water, etc, all very pleasant. I staggered on, found a spot on the ground and lay down and tried not to die.

 Final official time was 2:18:00.2, 38 out of 68 for my age group, 339 out of 766 overall. According to my Garmin, taking into account stopping to let people past, I got 2:17:50

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