First time event. So close to home this is a must do for me. For many years now I have stopped here, after work, on my way home, to get in a mid week run, on one of the many trails in this town. Usually I stick to the paved trails, but often I go on the packed gravel. If I want a little hill action there is the scenic trail down to the water. RD John put together a scenic tough course and I am looking forward to it, even though I have run every step of it before, most of it many times.
And the weather is looking great! After so much rain and the potential for showers today, it is going to be a sunny and warm Spring-like day. Some runners will even see snakes on the trail.
Race is limited to 50 in the full and 50 in the half and it is sold out. Plenty of room for parking though, right at the little park by the start line. Lots of Marathon Maniac friends and I am looking forward to showing off "my trails" to them. I just hope everything is marked well, because there are many connections and possibilities to go off course. The map on the website makes it look like a simple double out and back with very short loops at each end.
Start - The Rogue Wave is here running the half and we start off together at a nice easy pace. Crowded but at least we can run two side by side on the paved, then packed gravel trail. Trails are mostly very packed dirt/gravel and some pavement, so I wear my road shoes, the shoes I always wear when I run here. Now approaching "Grand Junction" and I see many runners streaming in from the right. I know that we are supposed to turn left, but many are turning right and some are standing there unsure. I yell to just go left and the people near me do.
Beach - 3 miles in. The long gradual downhill was fine. Now a short out and back on the beach. Farther than I expected and on to the very loose gravel. Energy sucking section with gravel moving and feet sinking and sliding on the gravel. But terrific views. On the way back we will not do this little bit, but I will have to do it again at mile 16 on my second time on the course. Now up the steep switch back hill to the bluff. Nice gentle run along the bluff and out to the aid station.
Mile 5 - Well stocked aid station. Feeling good. Ashley slows some and I go on ahead. This should be a quick out and back with a little loop, staying along the bluff. But no, we are directed across the street. On a trail behind a different set of houses. And steep hills too. Twisting up and down and across a couple more streets. I have only run here once or twice before and I was not expecting this today. I am getting confused, but am following the markers. Somehow back along the bluff and happy to see runners that are ahead of me coming back.
Mile 7 - The little loop part. But this is really discouraging. After the loop, if we go back the way we came, this is going to be a very long course, about 28 miles! The problem is that I have a family commitment this afternoon. I really need a sub 5:15 finish time, and under 5 hours would be much better. Here I am at 1:15 in and just reaching the turn around. With a second half slowing, this is not looking good. I guess that I will have to ask them if I can get a finish as a half marathon and/or take a DNF. But wait, we are taking a different way back and here I am at that aid station again and on an accurate mileage course. Whew!
Mile 10 - Running with Suzanne and Dan which is always nice. Up the long hill, we do well, but I want a gel and a short walk break so they get ahead. Back at Grand Junction I see them continue straight and keep going a long way. I yell but they do not hear. At the junction I see lots of ribbons and clearly we are supposed to go straight. Then a quick right turn up a steep thing, then down to the main trail. Back where I know I should be and an easy trail to the finish of the loop......
Mile 12 - .......except for the little loop by the pond. I go passed the finish area and the trail takes me out to the main road. Turn left and in just a short way there is a small trail back to the left and down. I have run this little thing only once before and not when the lake was flooded. We had been warned that there were three big puddles here, and they were not exaggerating. The trail goes directly into the lake and is thigh deep and long. The next two puddles are only shin/knee deep. No getting around them. Then 50 yards to the finish line. Fun way to end a race, but not the best way to mark the halfway point.
Mile 13.1 - Wishing I had worn my trail shoes. Socks and shoes are heavy and squishy, but I think the socks are staying in place. Completed the first half in 2:20 so I can slow a lot on the second half and still make 5 hours. Feeling much better about getting done in time, no thought of stopping now.
Mile 16 - Walk the beach this time. No need to fight it. Walk up the steep hill too, but moving along. Run the bluff all the way to the aid station.
Mile 18 - Now I am prepared for this up and down and street crossing stretch. Just have to tough this out and the rest will come in short sections. With 8 miles to go, I can run 13 minute miles and be close to 5 hours. This should be very doable, even with some walk breaks.
Mile 21 - 3:55 on the clock. Keep it under a 13 minute mile and I will hit 5 hours. No need to push harder than that. I also would like to save something for next week's mountain marathon. Happy that I can run slowly for long sections. Even the mile long uphill is not so bad and I only walk a little of it.
Mile 23 - Dan and Suzanne finally catch me, after making up time from going long. Funny, this is the same scene as 2.5 hours ago. Watching those two get ahead and approach grand junction. This time they hit the proper turn. Sub 5 looks very promising, but it will be close.
Mile 25 - Tired but no pains. It has been a good run on a tough course. Slow but steady pace for the second half and I never felt oh so tired. Fun to wade through the puddles knowing that the end is so close.
Mile 26.2 - Finish in just under5 hours. Wish I could stay but I really need to get home. Walk to my car and drive home without changing my sopping shoes. Make it in time to shower and on with the day's activities.
21st place of 44 finishers
Race#380, marathon or ultra #137