Sunday, October 3, 2010

Race Report: Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon

Some quick 411 about the race before...
It was a terrific morning for my first trail race: cool, crisp, hardly a wind nor a cloud in the sky. We even had a revolutionary figure travel from the past to fire the musket to start the race. Race strategy? I had none. No previous experience trail racing.

Before the race start, I took about a 3/8 warmup jog with RK and EM (the same EM I couldn't catch last week) just to warm up. The musket fired and we were immediately greeted with a half mile climb on asphalt. I think that was a way of spreading out the 375 or so runners because the trail was a lot of single file running. Nice move by the race coordinators.

Trail running is nothing like pavement or running on the bridle path in Central Park. It was rocky, uneven, muddy...all the things that make trails trails. Furthermore, there were a lot of short steep climbs and quick fast descents. Rolled my ankle a couple of times and saw some spills. It was also difficult to pace because of the climbs and rapid descents, so I tried to race by my heart rate.

Around mile 7 or so into the course, I managed to take the lead in my group. I wasn't comfortable because I didn't want to get lost (again) and I don't like being anyone's rabbit. Thankfully, a couple of other runners that I had not passed earlier caught up with me. Only problem was that I couldn't keep up with these newer guys.

Mile 8 on was a series of struggles. It was a struggle to keep up with the guys that passed me, to keep my legs moving on the soft surface, to stay focused on the trail. I stumbled quite a few times as fatigue started to set in. The fast start started to take it's toll, but I dug in.

Somewhere in mile 10, I was passed by another couple of other runners I hadn't passed earlier. I was impressed by how easy they seemed to be running. "I'm slowing down quite a bit," I thought. I was passed again around mile 11 by an older gentleman I had passed earlier at a stream crossing. At that point, I thought I must have slowed quite a bit. I was having a hard time keeping up with everyone that had passed me. I didn't always check my watch and pace my eyes had to be on the trail.

My finish time was about 1:38:05, if I remember correctly. I was just so glad to have finished the race. I felt I had gone out fast and just tried to keep the effort the whole way through.

After I settled down at the finish, I checked my pace times and I was surprised to have found that my fastest miles were actually the last 4 miles. I didn't slow down at all. The 5 total that passed me were just fast. Also, my fast start wasn't fast at all. In the end, my arms were up so much to help me in balance that my shoulders had a pretty good workout themselves.

My splits were as follows:

Wrapping up, I had a blast with RK and EM doing this race. I can definitely understand why people get into trail running. The miles passed by so much faster I had to be so focused on almost every step. I definitely see more trail races in my future.