We have had significant problems in past with the fast runners catching and passing the back of the pack. In order to resolve this problem we must strictly enforce the following cutoff times. If you cannot maintain a 12 minute per mile pace for the first 12 miles, please do not sign up for this race.
I did not read this precursor before the race, and I am not a comfortable 12:00 min/mile trail runner. I am most comfortable at 13:00 min/mile. I did know that there was a 5 hour 30 min time limit on the course (not sure why I was not able to compute the math). I just thought, “Trail marathon? Sounds fun. Chattanooga? It’s close. Just ran 50 miles? I don’t have to do any extra training. So. . . here it goes. . .
The temp at the start of the race was 58 degrees. The high on race day was 83 degrees. I knew it would be warm, but there was no humidity and a cool breeze from time to time. It was hotter than I expected and that might have been a factor, toward the end of the race. But again, it is how you choose to think about it. I was not worried about the temp or hydration or what to wear. I told myself that the temp would not feel overwhelming and that I could run well in any temp.
How did my new stuff fare? I was very happy with my new tank and shorts from Oiselle. Both will continue to be favorites for many more miles to come. (Check out Oiselle and contact me with questions on size or style.) I loved my Amphipod handheld. I would not use it for a road race, but I will use it for my trail runs. My Nike Kiger’s were good. I have been sold on them for my training runs. This is the first time I have worn them for a race and for a distance over 14 miles.
There are two things that I like a lot about the races sponsored by Rock/Creek, the aid stations are well spaced/plentiful and the hamburgers at the end are awesome! There were 98 runners in the marathon, 17 women, 81 men. There were 193 people running the 1/2 marathon. So, about 300 people running together on single track for at least 12 miles. Only 300 people running St. Jude Nashville, would be glorious. 300 people on single track trail, needing to maintain, at least, a 12 minute mile means, find your spot, don’t trip, don’t stop and don’t slow down. Your pace will be set by the crowd.
My concern in this race was not, “will I be able to pass the slow runners/walkers”, but “how long can I run at this speed?” HA!! That kind of made it fun. There was barely any walking for the first 12 miles. Once the 1/2 marathoners split from the full marathoners, it became more of what I am used to. I am used to having space, quiet out on the trail in races. You can run with others, if you want, but you can also ‘find your spot’ without anyone to talk to. As one of my training partners, Kathy, can attest to, you DO NOT want to be in front of, or behind, a “negative Nelly”. It will suck the life out of every mile. I was in front of a woman early who proceeded to tell me all the “difficult” (in her perception) parts that I needed to be ready for in the miles ahead. Thank goodness, I was able to shake her.
I really liked the course. It was not flat. There were moderate climbs. There were also some great, long descents that were not too steep and very runnable. I looked forward to these places. I also did not think the course was that technical. It was not muddy or wet at all. There were no rivers to wade, mud walls to scale or ropes to climb down. It was pretty cut and dry. I loved the cool tree covered trail and I enjoyed the moments without the trees, near some awesome rock formations.
I’m not sure that I did my nutrition well. Toward the end, I did not want any more food and my stomach was a bit unsettled. I ate the food at the aid stations, and I had two gels of my own. I do not think that I ate enough. I only took in one 20 oz serving of Perpetuem. I think I should have had more, at least one more serving. I also drank Heed the entire time. I may have only had one 20 oz serving of water. I was well hydrated, but I do not know if I had enough sodium. In hind sight, two more gels and one more serving of Perpetuem might have helped my stomach, toward the end. I will also comment that I did wear my fuel belt, because I knew the temp would be in the 80s. My fuel belt holds two (10 oz) bottles. If I needed it, I would have a total of 36 oz of liquid. There were two spots between aid stations that were 5 miles apart. I did need my handheld, plus one 10 oz bottle for these times. If it were cooler, I would have been fine with just one 16 oz handheld.
The finish did not come soon enough. I really did not have too many walk breaks in the first half of the race. In the second half, I had more time on my own and more walk breaks and I STILL finished with an average pace of 11:55. I finished in 5 hours 12 minutes. I was the last female to finish. 🙂 I was thrilled to have this average pace for 26.2 miles. To put it in perspective, for those of you who run 50K’s or follow my finishing times via this blog, I would have had 5 miles to go in a 50K and could have finished that in about 1 more hour and 10 minutes. This was the fastest race that I have ever run on the trail. Definitely, the fastest starting pace to any race I have run. I knew this would be fast ahead of time, and I am glad I went along for the ride.
Friends!! I finished this race in first place in my age category. I was the only woman in my age category, but I get a prize!! I think that I am proud to have this race in my history because it was tough and I gave it a go. AND, because I joined 16 other women to run this heavily male dominated set of competitors. 🙂
(SIGH) I am happy. I am happy to have run a 50K, with a PR the second week of March. I am happy to have run a 50 mile race at the end of March, and this race at the end of April. This is a dream for me. I love these opportunities to experience the sensations of trail running. I love the opportunity to be every bit of who God has for me to be. Just contented. . . As always, thanks for following me. I hope that a tiny bit of my passion, stirs in you a desire to do more than you think you can. YOU can do the things you dream of doing.