I knew based on past finish times, the elevation profile and the fact that marathon runners were going to run the first 13.1 with the half marathoners that this was going to be a fast race. It was similar to the Scenic City Marathon because of those 3 things. BUT, unlike Scenic City (5 1/2 hour cutoff), there is no cutoff time. There is no one on a bullhorn at the 5 hour mark calling out “30 minutes until the finish” (not in those exact words, but a bullhorn creating a sense of urgency none-the-less).
The forecast was rain and 50 degrees. The trail was going to be wet and muddy. Really, this is not a shock or a deterrent. It just makes it all the more fun. I think my favorite part was running in the back and watching people who were trying to avoid the mud and the creek crossing. 🙂
I wore shorts, compression socks, a tank, a long sleeve top, a hat, a fuel belt and my Nike Terra Kigers. I was wet the entire time, but the long sleeve helped to keep me warm. My hat helped to keep the water off of my face. Because the aid stations were about 3.5 miles apart, I chose my fuel belt over my pack. I used their nutrition and drinks. I ate a 1/4 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at each aid station. I drank Nuun and water. Nothing fancy. Again, my nutrition plan worked out well. I had no stomach issues.
A majority of the runners were doing the half marathon. I decided to tuck in the back and hang with the speed of those in the back. They were fast. It was challenging. I ran almost the entire 13.1. I walked a portion of the one major incline. (It was nothing worse than “red trail to the left in Percy Warner” x 2.) Doable and not intimidating!! The first portion was about 1 1/2-2 miles on a jeep road, then you cut off to a wide, rugged road and trail for about 4 miles. My favorite part was before the water crossing and hill. You ran through an overgrown field with rock formations on each side. It was really pretty and quiet. After you came off the first 6 mile portion, it was an out and back for about 3.2 miles each way. This was wide open jeep road, no trees to catch the rain drops. This was a rolling 6.4!! I liked this part because you got to see the REALLY fast runners on their way to the half finish and later the marathon finish!
At the half marathon mark, my time was 2h 15 minutes! I knew I needed to slow down a bit.
My last two 26.2 distance training runs were at least 6 1/2 hours. I really had no idea when I would finish this race. I had no goal or pace in mind. I was going to test my fitness by staying with the 1/2 marathoners as long as I felt good. 2h 15 is close to my half marathon road pace, so mission accomplished for lap one.
Going into my second lap, I knew that I needed to slow down a bit. I also knew that I could finish with the same time as Scenic City, 5:15. I had a time cushion to walk a bit more this go around. I also had a choice if I wanted to walk a bit more or not. Miles 13.1-20 were not too bad. The hardest part was going from miles 20-23.2! UGH!! I knew that once I got off of the trail and on to the jeep road again that my pace would be faster, walking or running. It seemed like I was constantly assessing myself. . . over and over for the last 6 miles.
Does it hurt more to walk or run? Neither? Then, RUN!
Do you need to be walking?
You can run up that hill!
It will only hurt to a point and then, it will not get any worse!
When I realized that I had 1.4 miles left and that I had the ability to finish under 5 hours? IT WAS ON!! I gave all that I could. I am not sure that there was much more to give for this race. I made it under 5 hours! I was thrilled.
Here are some stats to compare this race to Scenic City.
- Scenic City, 2424′, finished in 5:15
- Dry Creek, 1753′, finished in 4:55.
This would be a GREAT first trail race. The aid stations are spaced at a nice distance apart. It is not too steep, overall. It is small. There is no time limit. It was fun. The Race Director, aid station workers and any one else I met or talked to at the race were VERY nice and accommodating. Think about this for next year. It is worth a look.