What a weekend! PJ & I along with 3 other guys in the Rocks & Roots Trail Runners group have been coaching a Trail Runner 101 group through Fleet Feet Sports Columbus over the past 12-weeks for their first trail half-marathon or 10K. The goal race was The Hoot Half Marathon or 10K over at Alum Creek State Park, Rocks & Roots’ home trail. It has been so fun seeing everyone growing their love for trail running and getting stronger each week and upping mileage. Some were road runners just looking for a change and others would be running their first half or 10K. So baller that they picked a trail as their first half! That takes some serious balls and I love when people have that drive for something challenging.
The race was on Sunday but the Saturday before PJ & I drove to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania to meet up with a friend who just had a stem cell transplant on his hip a few weeks ago but wanted to do the Pennsylvania Tough Mudder. Jim is a great friend that has grown to be like family to us and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet up with him since he lives in Colorado and we don’t get to see him too often. And he did the whole dang thing on crutches. Maybe I need to post a video of this dude. Talk about some good inspiration going into a race. I sure forgot how sore Tough Mudders can make you until I woke up on Sunday. I also turned “hill killa” (what PJ calls me) mode at Tough Mudder and ran hill repeats while waiting for Jim to make it up the hill. Smart.
I was really excited for The Hoot Half Marathon for a few reasons- 1. I couldn’t wait to see everyone we’ve been coaching finish 2. This was the perfect opportunity to get a good long tempo run in on trail and push myself and 3. I love Fleet Feet Sports Columbus/Premier Races! They’re just always so fun, especially since we’ve gained so many friends over the past couple years.
The goal for this race was to end up averaging under 11:00/mi. for the half-marathon. Really I would have loved to have 10:30 as a goal pace but I knew sub-11:00/mi avg was a more realistic goal for right now. I plan to run the Stone Steps 50K around 10:00/mi avg. so for longer training runs 11:00/mi is just fine.
Honestly everything went as great as it could have. Seeing as we woke up Saturday at 3AM, drove 3+ hours, did Tough Mudder for about 5 hours, drove 3 hours back, ate doughnuts for dinner and breakfast, it was probably a really good training run for pushing myself through pain and when I feel like absolute garbage. It was tough, but I made it tough on myself. Not really on purpose, but it happened and I’m glad I have that mental strength to push through some of the hard times on the trail and still do a great pace.
There were plenty of aid stations in reality but it was pretty hot and humid so I found myself emptying my two 1o oz. bottles before I ever got to aid stations which was good to have that happen in a training run. Seeing friends at the 2.5 mile aid station and throughout the course really helped. Most of the dudes from the Rocks & Roots group were a bit ahead of us but PJ decided to be a gentleman and stick back with me and help pace me to make sure we got under 11. God bless his heart of gold.
I started getting some stomach cramps and feeling a little woozy around mile 6 but I quickly realized I didn’t take my usual pre-race Tums and salt pill-duh. I always take at least 2 Tums before a race and a salt pill as I’m a really heavy sweater so this is more preventative than anything. About a mile later I was golden and we ended up doing negative splits for the rest of the course. We passed quite a few people on the last 4 miles which is always a good push to help bring it home.
Something I’ve been really relying on during faster trail runs is mantras. The past couple runs has been “you’re stronger than you let yourself believe” which is so true for me. Sometimes I simply don’t give myself enough credit for being a good runner and slow myself down because I let myself believe I can’t run fast or a good pace for that long. I repeated this to myself about 100x and before I knew it we were in the home stretch.
We kicked it into high gear (OK probably medium at this point but this was as fast as I could go..the throw up feels were strong) and ended up coming through at 2:27:24 at 13.43 miles. Trail miles are always ish so to me, this is right at half-marathon distance and I’ll count it as such. That averages out to be…10:59/mi. Ha! I am so good at just squeezing in sometimes. Like 2 years ago when I wanted to run the Air Force Marathon sub-4 hours and I finished with 3:59:59. Our actual moving time pace was 10:55/mi so this doesn’t include the stop to get into my bag for tums and a salt tab or re-filling my bottles which happened a couple times. I’m hoping come Stone Steps time I’ll hopefully have a good crew to do this for me so I can fly through aid stations.
Here’s a sweet video that Fleet Feet Sports Columbus put together from The Hoot Half Marathon!
The race gave me good confidence in my training and it can only go up from here. Unfortunately my heart rate was way high and I’m sticking to the recovery time based on that so I’ll take today (Tuesday off) as well as my normal Monday rest day and be back at it tomorrow for 12 easy miles. We stuck around to see everyone else in our Trail Runner 101 group finish and it was the perfect end to the inaugural Hoot Half Marathon. I so hope to get to coach runners again next session. Helping others to see their potential is a great feeling (at least I hope that’s what everyone got out of it besides the poop, shoe and other jokes we had on the trails).
This also marks just under 3 weeks until the Barkley Fall Classic 50K which we’re doing “just for fun” but it’s hard to get others to realize how running through briar patches and struggling up and down hills is a weekend of good fun.
Time to finally clean those rotten crusty trail shoes of ours which is without a doubt the least fun part of running trail. Sometimes I can’t believe how bad I was smelling for hours. Thank goodness for the sense of smell diminishing as the sense of sight and hearing heightens in trial running.