Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Inside Out Sports Classic Half Marathon 2009
May 17, 2009. This event is put on by North Carolina Roadrunners Club (NCRC) in conjunction with Inside Out Sports. I had never run it. (I figured you had to be crazy to run Umstead.) This year the course was changed and much of it was run inside the State Park. The surface on Reedy Creek Bridle trail consists of fine packed granite screening. Soft on the knees.
The run started off of Weston Parkway at the Broadband.com office parking lot and proceeded across Weston, onto Old Reedy Creek Road which crosses over I-40 and then enters Umstead State Park on the Reedy Creek Bridle trail. This was followed to its far end at Turkey Creek Trail junction where there was a turnaround. Then, all the way back to near the I-40 overpass but with a veer at that point onto Black Creek Greenway, for about two miles before ending back in the parking lot. Oy! It was characterized as being "challenging".
I had not planned to run this race, or the corresponding IOS 10K which also traversed some of Umstead. Conflicts and not being a long distance runner my primary reasons for not even considering either. But, as things sometimes go, the conflict dissipated and I lost my senses and entered the Half.
The morning was dreary. Intermittent rain was predicted. I expect there were some who may have signed up who decided not to actually run. The race started at 7 a.m. During the wait I spoke to a lady who was stretching and learned a new stretch from her. (She won women's 3rd place.)
Off we started. By the time we got to the I-40 overpass, where there was a water stop, I had already thought at least twice about dropping down to a walk, but didn't. Yet. I bypassed the water but waved to the NCRC volunteers I knew who are real troopers .. as are all the other volunteers who came out, and later endured the rain. Let me not forget NCRC member Chris D who monitored the runners on the course on his bike, making sure all were okay.
The road became gravel with private homes. I wondered if I was the last runner, since the pack had disappeared. I stayed near a couple running in front of me. There were some behind who eventually passed, one lady I jogged with for a brief while said her Dad and brother were also running. I think they passed me later. In Umstead Park proper, the surface changed to the granite screening. Nice. I kept the couple in my sights. They were running easily at a comfortable pace, conversing as they ran. The sun came out for about 15 minutes. The temperature hovered around 70 degrees.
I had not been on this part of the Reedy Creek Bridle trail before. It was mostly flat with maybe small inclines. But I knew what was coming! Somewhere in here we passed the 10K turnaround marker. I thought, ten more miles! Once I got to the airport overlook, I was into familiar territory. The hills were beginning. They seemed to start gradually and as one progressed along RC Bridle trail, got increasingly longer or of steeper incline. The steeper sections were usually short and sometimes twisty. But it was the long, unending inclines that were killers.
I think it may have been after the airport overlook, but not much, that I saw the first male runner on his way back. He was massaging a cramped leg. I estimated he would finish not much more than a bit over an hour.
One lady whom I spent a lot of time running with or near (we ended the race one or two apart.) was encouraging and kept me going when I might otherwise have flagged. In fact, I did on and off. She ran ahead and I dropped to a walk. As I was going up the dreadful RC trail just beyond the junction with Reedy Creek Lake trail, she was coming back down. Eventually I caught up with her and we dragged ourselves to the end. It was her first Half. Kudos to her!
Any way, Reedy Creek Bridle trail after the junction with Reedy Creek Lake Trail is a bitch. Yep, I said that. It is not steep but just keeps going on and on up hill. (for about .96 of a mile) Even my dog takes time to sniff and slows down on it! I mostly walked, with a jog now and then. And we weren't even at six miles yet! Not until the water stop at the turnaround at Turkey Creek Trail (and that trail is a story in itself!). I dragged around the semi circle loop there, slurping water and forcing each foot to move to try to make it to the downhill portion.
I sympathized with those I saw still trudging up as I jogged back down. At this point, the couple I'd previously been following picked up their gait and they made it to the finish long before I did. I saw them going up a return hill as I entered the bottom. Smart runners, they'd saved it for the last half!
Sometime between my 7th and 9th mile, it began raining. Lightly as I neared mile 7, and then it became increasingly heavier. My Nike Lunars were soaked, my shorts heavily plastered to my legs. Thank heavens I thought to wear a running cap, which I rarely do. Puddles formed in the gullies at the edge of the trail. The folks at the water stop near Graylyn were dripping, but offered welcome water or Gatorade (this is where I took my first Gatorade.) Sometime after I passed the 10K turnaround sign, Chris rode by, mud streaked up his back from the bike wheel's revolutions. He was in his element and happy. He said I had about three miles to go. It was mostly flat here so I just kept on trudging, not thinking of time, just moving.
I had run out of the small bottle of Hammer (unflavored) Sustained Energy mix I'd made and had eaten about 6 Jelly Belly caffeine sports beans. (they also contain potassium and sodium.) This combination seems to work for me.
I was nearing my running pal as we approached the water stop at the I-40 overpass. She veered off to the right and I thought maybe there was a porter potty there she was heading for. Nope. That is where one connected to Black Creek Greenway. I did not realize that I still had two miles to go. My legs were weary. We came to a junction where we both hesitated (It had been hard to hear the race directions earlier because of nearby chatter) but we both sort of remembered not to veer off. By this time, it had stopped raining, but was still gray and misty.
When we came to yellow cones, the volunteers directed us straight onto the ending loop. 1.2 miles to go. I had been hoping to break my 2.29 Half Marathon time, but it did not seem likely. My legs were heavy and thighs aching. This was perhaps the longest 1.2 I have ever traversed. Flat but oh, boy. Walk, jog, walk. After we turned the loop and were heading back to the cones and the turn up hill towards Weston, I began non-stop jogging which lasted until I was about half up the final hill towards the street cross over. I had nothing left when I got on the short stretch of sidewalk towards the parking lot entry. That may have been the slowest walk ever! However, when I turned into the parking lot, which was downhill, a switch activated. Downhill kicked me in the butt to a full out sprint to the Finish.
This was the toughest Half I have done (as if I've so many before! Hah! ) but it turned out to be a personal record for me. Slow for most, but I am very happy with a time of 2.22.45. That is seven minutes faster than prior gun times, and about 5 faster than chip times. I finished 194 out of 228 runners. I think having run some of the NCRC March, April, and May fun Thursday night events helped. Despite the toughness (for me) I loved the event. Would I do it again? Maybe. But I might do the 10K next time!
The median time based on 228 runners, was about 2.01 (the 114th across finish line) There were 80 men and 57 women under 40 years old in the race. (114 men, 74 women under 50)
The male winner was Paul Potorti, 45, in 1.25.10 and the female winner was Yvonne Ou, 32, in 1.28.15
Oh, yes. A post note. (in case any one actually reads this) I tried using my Nike Sportband even though the display was kerplunk. I had tested it on a short run down the block, pushing the buttons the proper numbert of times and then uploading the result. It seemed to work Okay. So I used it on this run. Come home, eventually upload and find that I ran less than half a mile and it took me over an hour and a half to do so! In a parallel universe, maybe. So much for the Sportband.