This past Saturday I did a trail half marathon, The "Race for the Land". It is run on 1400 acres of private land near Stanley, NC. The owners maintain trails on the property, and proceeds go to the Catawba Land Conservency.
The trail half started @ 7:30am, and the weather was perfect. Clear skies and a little cool at the start, just as the sun was rising above the tree line. Another cool feature was that the race was capped at 200 entries. After the cattle stampede start of my last road half, the start of Race for the Land was a nice change! Trail folks are laid back. No one was updating their facebook status from their android at the start line or any of that nutty stuff you might see at a typical road event.
The horn sounded, and we were off! Not knowing the course, I went out easy. I fell into a nice rhythym, and was in with a group of 4 or 5 people for the first several miles. Around five miles, I was running by myself, which was actually nice. I was having a bit of stomach trouble for the next several miles, but worked my way through it. I took a Gu at the one hour mark and felt no ill effects from it, and my stomach cleared up. I was wearing my Nathan Hydro Vest, which was awesome, although the sloshing of liquid got to be a bit much at times. Around mile 6, there was a loop that you had to run twice. It began at an aid station which was immediately followed by a very nice climb. I walked / jogged up the hills, trying to conserve a little energy for later on.
To my surprise/delight, time seemed to pass by rather quickly! I did start feeling some fatigue around mile 9, but after cresting the large hill on the 2nd loop I caught and passed a couple much younger than myself. That mental boost provided the old man with the energy to bring it on home for the last 5K (That, and the fear that they were taking a break for a minute, then would smoke me around mile 12!)
With the second loop completed, I was back out on a fire road and on the path to the (uphill) finish!
I crossed the finish line, tired and happy, no major aches or pains/injuries to report. There was no chip timing, and as usual, I forgot to stop my Garmin right at the finish. Finishing time was around 2 hr 20 min.
After the race we stayed for the "Nature Fest" which was also being held on the property. As a awesome bonus, I got to meet Jennifer Pharr Davis, Hiker, Trail Runner and womens record holder for the fastest hike of the Appalachian Trail, averaging 38 miles a day, completeing the trail in 57 days!! She is a beast!
Be sure to check out her book, " Becoming Odyssa" about her adventures on the Appalachian Trail!