Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 American Tobacco Trail Half Marathon

So this was going to be my second half marathon after running the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon last April. I had intended running the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) last year but missed the sign up by one day.

Of course, this race was going to be a bit different as I would be running it minimalist style.

It was an early start for a Sunday with the alarm going off at 4:30am, a quick shower to wake myself up and then downstairs for breakfast. I do not follow any particular race diet, instead I stick to my normal routine. After a bowl of oatmeal and orange juice I brewed some fresh strong coffee for the 20 minute drive to the remote parking location.

The drive was uneventful but it was interesting to see all the other vehicles obviously heading to the same destination with their vehicles decorated with 13.1 and 26.2 stickers.

In the car I ate a couple of GU Chomps before a short walk to the line of waiting buses and we were quickly taken to the starting location.

Arriving at the baseball park I was surprised at how many people were there already and the length of the lines at the Porta-johns. Finding a quiet location near a light so that I could see, I took time to tie my huarache sandals making sure there were no twists in the laces that could cause discomfort during the run.

Next task was to get rid of my backpack. Although not a big issue I think it would be a good idea in the future to pre-label my bag (name and race number) and also tie something bright and distinguishing making identification after the race that much easier and quicker amongst the hundreds of other bags.

With 30 minutes to go, next was a necessary visit to one of the numerous Porta-johns after the mornings OJ, coffee and water.

With about 20 minutes until the start the pace runners for the 1hr 40min time walked past me on the way to lining up. My goal was to complete the race in under 1hr 45m, but the pace runners are separated by 10 minute intervals, so I choose the quicker pace with the view that I would stay as close to them for as long as possible.

After a very cool rendition of the American national anthem on the saxophone the race was started. At my first half marathon, I started way too far back from the starting line and spent much of the first two miles dodging my way around slower runners. This time was much better. There were still a number of runners who really should have lined up further back but not enough to cause any issues.

The first two miles were around the 7m 35s pace which was spot on and I was feeling good, in fact by mile three as we hit the Tobacco Trail I had left the pacers behind.

Drink stations are always a challenge as trying to take on fluids and run at the same time is always a problem. Typically, I tend not to slow down and try and get one or two mouthfuls of water at each station.

A great advantage for this race was that I had run this section of the Tobacco Trail many times and before I knew I was approaching the half way mark and was feeling great. After 45 minutes I consumed a GU Gel (vanilla bean) and shortly after arrived at the mid-point of the race where the organizers had a clock set up. The time was 50m 26s, which was about 2 minutes ahead of my goal time and I was still ahead of the 1h 40m pace group (who were about 1 minute behind).

About mile 8 the pace group finally caught me, forcing me to up my pace to try and stay with them. I managed to stay with them until about mile 9 when I just could not keep up any longer.

Normally by mile 9 things start to not feel comfortable, in particular, there may be some discomfort with my knees or more importantly my IT band on the outside of my left knee. However, for this race at least, I was having no problems.

For the remainder of the race, I kept the pace group in sight but was unable to close the gap until the last mile. At this point the competitors were spread out, and I was starting to increase my pace using a couple of runners in front of me as a target. Finally, I crossed the line not paying too much attention to the time but seeing that it was around 1h 40mins.

Immediately, you are supplied with a medal, a space blanket and a bottle of water. I thanked the pace guys and decided to pick up my bag. With my jacket on, I finally realized that I had to stop my Endomono gps app on my phone.

The organizers had ensured that there were plenty of supplies for runners at the end of the race. Chocolate milk, yogurt, bread from the Great Harvest Bread company, Papa Johns pizza, fruit (bananas and oranges) and beer.

The real time updates for the race on their web site meant I was able to confirm my times and positions in the race immediately.

After cheering on a few runners through the finish line it was time to head home. In no time I was on a bus back to my car for the short drive home.

So, my second half marathon was complete and not only was I able to meet all my goals, but they were actually exceeded.. What next ....

No comments:

Post a Comment