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Race Report – Umstead Trail Marathon

Although this race has a well-deserved reputation as a tough course, I have to admit it seemed almost easy.  Even with the approximately 2000 feet of elevation gain and several miles of technical singletrack.  I suppose there’s nothing like a brutal 40 miler one month prior to really re-set your norms.  Yes, I know what some of you hardened ultrarunner nutso’s are thinking – and no, I don’t agree that if 40 miles is good that 50-100 is better.  You just go on with your bad selves while I stick with distances under 40 miles.  Back to the marathon…

Originally intended as a training race in the build up to the Bel Monte 50k later this month, I wasn’t going to go very rested into it and treat it like a long training run.  Although, considering that Bel Monte is more of a fun finish event more than a race for me, I don’t see how it matters much.  Anway, I got really busy w/ work stuff and came into the marathon a lot more rested than I’d orignally planned.  Whatever.  So long as I can recover reasonably quickly, it’s all good.

My plan was to run the first half relaxed and holding back, then build into a strong second half.  Strangely, I found myself at the front of the womens’ field while holding back, even on the singletrack which isn’t exactly my strength.  I did have some good times chatting with some guys on the singetrack, making a wrong turn at one point (oops) and, in general, having a blast saving the big effort for later in the day.

Trucking along...

There are several out and back opportunities to see where everyone else is, so I saw Bull City Track Club teammates George, Ulf and Ronnie running strong way ahead.  I also saw a relatively tightly packed group of women a few minutes back a little past half way.  It’s when I started the traverse back across Turkey Creek when I really started to push.   I realized that since I had a gap on the other women and I felt really good, that I probably was going to pull out a surprise win.   Always cool!  When people asked what my goal time was, I said somewhere between 3:30 and 4 hours.  Of course, I hoped for something closer to 3:30.  I ended up with 3:30:49, which I’m very pleased with.  Sure, it would be nice to have crossed the line a little before the arbitrary 3:30 benchmark, but whatever. 

I did negative split.   First half was 1:49 and second half was about 1:41+.  So, um, all the fellows I mowed past during the second half, sorry about that.  You weren’t necessarily slowing so much as I was speeding up.  That was sort of the plan.  OK.  That WAS the plan.  Regarding all my mile by mile splits, I have them because I wore my Garmin but I hate knowing my pace when I’m racing prefering to go by feel.   Besides, even though I had a (pedestrian sounding) average pace of 8:03, there aren’t really any “average miles” on this course due to the terrain.  Looking at my data, I only see 3 miles at a pace close to that.

Anyway, I felt really good the whole way.  Sure, my legs got tired- it is a marathon- but I was able to close very strong and never felt any pain or fatigue that remotely approached that which I experienced during the final miles of Uwharrie 40.   Today, I am sore, but it’s a very managable sore.  I’ll get a massage Tuesday afternoon and be back into the run training in no time.  OK, I am 40+ now, let’s get real.  I’ll be back at it in a little time.  Until then, I’ll be spinning my legs out on one of my 5 bikes. 

Five bikes?!  Yes, 5 bikes, don’t ask.  That’s what happens when you get into riding and make friends with cyclists.  A stable of multiple bikes starts to sound reasonable. 

Woodtick placque by Dennis Geiser.

A quick note about nutrition.  We had a batch of bananas rapidly approaching over-ripeness the other day, so we food processed it up into banana mush and cooked it into banana leather.  That banana leather rocked as my primary calorie source during the run and was a fine complement to the Recovery e21 electrolyte capsules that kept my legs firing for 26+ miles. 

Congrats to Ulf and George for their studly sub-3 hour performances, Ronnie for a top 6 placement and Amy Scott for her 6th female spot.  Also many thanks to the friends, volunteers and friends who are volunteers who came out to cheer us on along the way and especially big thanks to the Carolina Godiva’s for letting me into this fine event.  The schwag bag was awesome with ginger chews, smart wool socks, a snazzy high-viz green shirt and other things.  Of course, the traditional finisher’s pint glass with a picture of a lovely (ick) woodtick on the side and the fine woodtick placque created by Dennis Geiser.  

I do hope to make it back for future events!

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