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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Race Report: Scenic City Trail Marathon



Remember last year... when I ran my first distance trail run? And remember how I fell 4 times during the course of a half marathon? And how I was more mentally exhausted after that half marathon, than I was after running full road marathons? Remember that??

Well, apparently, I didn't. Because I signed up to run the full this year. To be honest, I wasn't all that nervous with the decision. Since last year's run, I've put in some distance on some trails, including a 50k and I felt like I was ready to go back to the course again and tackle it on my own terms this year. Instead of it kicking my ass, I wanted to kick it's ass.

And... as an added bonus, April actually signed up for the race, too! It was to be the race that made her a  Marathon Maniac with 3 marathons (almost 4, damn you CMM) in 3 months! For me... I just wanted to gain the confidence needed to sign up for the Stumpjump 50k.

We got to the race with plenty of time to spare and I was feeling good. Confident. I knew the race course, I knew what to expect and I was ready. The only thing I was afraid of, was getting injured. I mean, I ran half the distance last year and fell 4 times! How many times could I possibly fall during a full marathon?? I had tried to think of a good time goal to have, but eventually I decided that my goal would be to fall less than I did last year.

When the race started, April and I stayed together. I started off in front and then after the first aid station, we swapped and she got in front. I liked having her in front. I liked having someone else in front of me, so that I could follow their footsteps. As the run progressed though... I could tell that April's footstrikes were getting quicker and lighter, whereas mine were slowing down a bit.

Eventually, we split off... I held her back till around mile 11/12 where she had politely waited for me at an aid station, we parted ways and I settled into a slower, steady pace. Plodding along.

Scenic City is a beautiful trail. I think that the race might be a bit too crowded. I'd be in favor of staggering the half and the marathon starts in some way to thin the course out a bit, but that's probably just me being anal about having people around me all the time.

I know other runners say this all the time about trail races... that they only do them for the aid stations. But... they're not kidding. I mean, in a trail race.. all you're thinking about is getting to the next aid station. That's your next distance marker, your next goal. And for me... I fall into the routine of standing around at the aid station socializing for wayyyy too long. It's like... all the sudden I realize... Shit! I'm in the middle of the race! I better get going. It's like all you want to do is stand around, shoving peanut M&Ms in your mouth and talking to the wonderful volunteers. You forget all about that pesky race bib that you're wearing.

Once I slowed down around mile 12 or so, I started feeling better. More into a rhythm. But by the time I got to around mile 19 or so, I was starting to get tired and ready to be done with the race. It was around this time that I started chatting with a couple that were running the same pace. We chatted and ran together for about the next 4-5 miles or so and they seriously kept me going. Turns out it was Susan Donnelly and Rob Apple. Ummmm... yeah. I ran with them for 4 miles and I had no idea who they were. We spent the whole time talking about ultras (well, okay... basically I spent the whole time asking them a zillion questions about ultras. Which ones they liked, etc) and talking about Nashville runners that we all knew. It was amazing. I was in complete awe of them. Not only were they out at Scenic City running a marathon "to get the miles in" but they had ran 100 mile race the weekend before. That's right. 100 mile race!!!!! The weekend before!They have the life that I want... the ability to travel the country and the world and run. Together. They've ran so many ultras (Rob has ran over 500!!!!) and I was so fascinated by them that those miles flew by. And I couldn't have met them at a better time. I was able to keep running for most of the time while I was with them, whereas had I been alone, I'm sure I would have walked more.

Meeting and chatting with them was definitely the highlight of the race for me.

Eventually, while I lingered at an aid station, they took off and I had the last 2-3 miles to run by myself.

I finished the race about 30 minutes after April with a time of 5:41:30. My slowest marathon yet. But... I did meet my goal... Not only did I fall less than last years half, but I didn't fall at all! BOO-YA.

Did I gain the confidence to sign up for Stumpjump? Not really. Trail running for me is a whole different animal. It's going to take me some time to feel confident on trails. I wish it were something that I was just naturally adept at, but it's not. It's okay though. It took me some time to get comfortable running long distances, too. As long as I continue to push myself with more trail running, improvement will come naturally. And hell, even if it doesn't... I'll just make sure to sign up for races without time limits ;)

Stumpjump, I'll see you in October.

Boom. April and I after the race.

5 comments:

April said...

Boom indeed.

Did you see the article in Trail Runner about StumpJump? I'm afraid. Very afraid.

Chris said...

First thing I said to my nephew after finishing the 1/2 was "screw StumpJump".

We'll see.

Good job on the Mary and no strawberrys on the knee's.

Melanie said...

LOVE it.

Beth said...

Susan D is a badass. She is one tough trail runner. For real.

Stump Jump!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Tammy said...

I was actually looking at maybe trying this race in the future..I've never done a trail race, EVER! The details about the race say that it is a good course for trail running newbies, but now I'm not so sure!! Thanks for your report!!