This race was an experiment to see just what I could do without training for it. After 3 weeks of tapering for the Blue Ridge Half on Apr 16th followed by 3 weeks of recovery based workouts my estimated finish time for this race was exactly where I ended up. My training would have supported a competitive effort for 8 miles so I would have fit right in with the 10k race, but I didn't do a half marathon on trails last year and it has been sort of a side objective of mine to try to do each of the 6 popular race distances (5k, 4M, 10k, 10M, Half and Full) on each surface (trail and asphalt) each year. Still, even though I was only at 92% of peak athletic capacity going to the starting line, when the starting horn sounded I gave it all I had and as always I had hoped to surprise myself.
Sure enough I kept a good competitive pace for about the first 6 miles, then a cruising pace for about 3 miles after that and the last 4 miles saw me drop into something just short of competitive. The camaraderie out there was great as demonstrated by Randy B. who passed me around mile 6 and effectively pulled me up a rather steep hill as I sought to chase the rabbit and by David T. who tried to pace me to the finish, but I was too far spent after about a mile of the pace he was moving.
Way cool too was my son, Chris, out there doing the 10k. He was on a section of trail in the woods that looked out into a clearing where I happened to be so we hollered out some motivation. He eventually finished 11th overall and won his age group! Yay Chris!
So I had wanted to surprise myself by finishing with a pace in the 7's, but mathematically I knew going in that it was a statistical improbability. Still, this was a great race with regards to the course, medals, food, and people, so I will keep it on the agenda for next year. It also gave me a lot to reflect on too. I have 4 weeks to get tuned up for the Conquer the Cove 25k on June 6th. That's just not enough time to get up to 100%, but I should be able to get to 96% of peak athletic capacity by then and having fresh knowledge of room to improve will really add some fuel to my fire as I tune up for it.
The Trail Nut Half Marathon
2011-time 1:46:56, pace: 8:09/M, Place 23/118 overall, 2/7 in my age group, 20/68 among men