Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just a Marathon

This past weekend, two friends and I traveled to Kentucky to run the Land Between the Lakes trail race. I was signed up for the 60K event, they were doing the marathon. There was also a 10K, half-marathon, and 50-mile run. Lots of options...and lots of runners. One of the biggest trail races I've ever run: almost 900 runners! The 2 mile road section helped spread runners out just a little bit before we hit the single-track trail. There was congestion as we funneled onto the trail, but people maintained a reasonable slow jog/fast walk for about 1/4 mile. Then we all settled into an easy running pace. It was perfect to keep me from going too fast. My only goal for the day was to finish uninjured. For me, this was a TRAINING run, not a race.

My two friends, Gregg and Jeff, settled into their own paces. Kentucky Ed was with us for a while too. For most of the first 15 miles, I found myself running behind Gregg, but ahead of Jeff. Seemed about right. I chatted with new trail runners around me (there were a lot of newbies) and let the miles and time easily pass. The weather was perfect (40 degrees to start, about 60 degrees at end of race, mostly cloudy) and the trail was in great condition--no real mud or creek crossings. Fairly packed down and smooth. Still, there were roots and I did snag my foot several times--once was a full-blown tumble to the ground! Smashed my knee and hip, but it wasn't too bad.

Eventually, I caught Gregg around mile 15 and we ran together for a few miles. Later, I would get ahead of him on fast downhills, then ease up or stop at aid stations to continue with him. It was a gentle pace and I was pleased. So much so, I decided to stop at the marathon distance and not do the full 60K. It was the right decision. Gregg and I walked in the last 2 full miles on the road section back to town. It was a nice cool-down. I had no muscle aches, no joint pain, and my heart and lungs were having a great day. Just a perfect training run...that happened to be a fully supported race! Some days "just" a marathon is exactly what you need. No more, no less. Gregg and I finished in 5:14. Pretty slow overall, but it was a trail race...so it's not a terrible time. If this was a road marathon, our time would have been 30 minutes faster. We were in the middle of the pack. After showering, we drove home, stopping at a ubiquitous Cracker Barrel for lunch. Even after the 4.5 hour drive home, I felt good--just a touch of stiffness, but no pain. It was a good day.

I now have 25 days left until the Umstead 100 miler in North Carolina. If I can get in 2-3 easy long runs (15-20 miles), I'll be set. Nothing crazy between now and April 6. Bring it on!


David said...

Smart. Way to stick to your plan!

Chris said...

Thanks David. We'll see how the 100 goes. I think it was wise to stop earlier and just do the marathon. Good long run.

ed said...

Kind of surprised to see you back there with me at the start, but realized then you were on cruise control & just wanted to get in a very easy long run -- Congrats.

Hey, no more tumbling acts!