Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Belmead Trail Fest Marathon

2015
Belmead Trail Fest Marathon


 Results:
2015
Belmead Trail Fest Marathon
2015- time 4:15:29, Pace 9:32/M, Place 5/21 overall, 1/2 in my age group, 5/11 among men

Garmin Stats: HERE
  
Event History
None: First time participant
 Marathon History
2010 Richmond Marathon 3:35:31
2011 Richmond Marathon 3:34:12
2013 Creeper Trail Marathon 3:42:46
2013 New River Trail 50k USATF Marathon Split 4:37:22 

Expectation
My participation in the Belmead Marathon was a somewhat spur of the moment decision. It has been almost 2 years since I've ran a full marathon and my training for most of the summer has been less than stellar. I failed to go the distance at a planned 20 mile training run a few weeks prior to this event, the following week I succeeded in going the 20 mile distance, but I did it in four 5-mile runs with 5-10 minute breaks between sets, it was kinda slow so I was only modestly encouraged by the results.

Nine days before Belmead I finally completed a 20 miler non-stop with an average pace that was historically mediocre for my efforts at this distance. It seemed a good time to just get out and test my conditioning with the 26.2 mile distance in a race supported environment. 

The Event

Kneesee and I drove to Powhatan from Roanoke the morning of the race and I barely made it to the start line with less than 2 minutes to spare before the race started. I didn't get in any warm up stretches or short warm up sprints before I was heading across a grassy field and down a gravel road. I started in the back of the field and with about 200 or so people in front of me I made it into about the top 25 before we hit the single track dirt trail at about 1 mile in.

With 4 distances in the event, a 10 mile, a marathon, a 50k, and a 50 miler I wasn't even entertaining any ideas about what place I might be in. I wasn't really even racing anyway. It was just a training run in a race supported environment. I held off on any aggressive surging for positions and just focused on feeling good. Their was one point about 2.5 miles in where the course was not clearly marked at an intersection and some of us went off course for about 100 feet or so. I pulled out a copy of the printed turn-by-turn directions and got us back on course rather quickly, so we only lost about 2 minutes on that debacle. Other than that, the entire course was very well marked.

The coarse consisted of two loops merged together in a figure 8. The first loop is a little over 4 miles long and the second loop is little over 6. As a marathoner at this event the course objective is to run the figure eight loop twice, then run the longer loop a third time for a total distance of 26.8 miles. Technically, anything over 26.2 is an ultra, not a marathon, but no point in splitting hairs over a few tenths...particularly at a low key, old school, non-USATF certified race.

So after 3 miles or so we emerge from the rolling single track trails and head up a grassy field towards one of the historical buildings, a school with some impressive architecture built in the late 1800's for African Americans, then we spend another mile or so on a mix of rough road and field and  then headed back to the start to complete the short loop.









The long loop took us through brief sections of field and gravel road, but was mostly rolling single track dirt trail. I wasn't being aggressive with it because I didn't want to have to deal with burning out in the later miles of the race. I took a minute or two at most of the aid stations to drink water, gatorade and eat some calories, but I didn't stand around needlessly.

After finishing the figure 8 the first time, I knew everything the course had to offer. It was a steadily rolling course with almost nothing to offer in the way of flat surfaces or prolonged inclines or prolonged downhills. I had been averaging about a 9 min/mile pace, but I wasn't going to fight to keep it since I wasn't familiar with the distance, so when my pace started dropping into the 10's and 11's for the second 10 mile trip around the figure 8 I wasn't disheartened in the least. There was very little passing going on, so I knew I was holding my own with the top 20% of the field anyways.





Starting the 3rd lap around the longer loop had me a bit nervous because it had been almost 2 years since I had ran longer than 20 miles. I just focused on staying comfortable and quite literally surprised myself to find that I wasn't losing anything in my pace. I had a few typical overexertion twinges in my feet, but nothing that would be worth slowing down for. I finished feeling tired and worn out, but otherwise content that I was uninjured and that I could have pushed harder if I had really wanted it.   
Me finishing!

    

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