"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Yankee Springs Trail Half Marathon Race Report

Where:  Yankee Springs State Recreation Area, Michigan
When:  Saturday, June 2, 2012
What:  Trail Half Marathon

No pictures.  Sorry.  I was too busy to take any.

On Saturday I ran the trail half marathon at Yankee Springs.  This is a smaller event with maybe around 100 participants in the half marathon.  I enjoy trail racing anyway for it's more relaxed atmosphere.  A small trail race was even better.

I experienced a couple of firsts for this race:

  • First time ever I've been early for a packet pick-up.  The race info said packet pick up on Friday night 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.  So, I showed up a little after 5 p.m. figuring a bunch of people would be there already.  Nope.  It hadn't even started yet.  Yep, this was a laid back event.
  • The next first was that I was assigned #1 for my bib.  Awesome!  It was only because I was the first one to register way back when registration opened up.  It was still something to live up to.  Fortunately no one seemed too worried about it and it did start a few conversations.

Saturday morning the half marathon was to start at 7:00 a.m.  It rained most of the day Friday and into Friday night.  Sometime over night the rain stopped.  Yay!  Saturday morning when I left to drive to the race site it was about 45 degrees.  Boo.  Considering the day of rain prior to the race the trails were in very good shape.  All the rain even helped to pack down the sandy spots to make them a bit easier to run through.

I don't remember each mile and there weren't any mile markers anyway.  I did use my Garmin but being under a thick tree canopy most of the time makes it's measurements suspect.  I do have some general impressions from certain segments of the race:

Miles 1-4:  I wasn't feeling great.  I was getting my brain ready to accept a less than stellar day.  We came up to the first aid station at mile four.  Since that seemed really early to me I just kept on trucking and continued down the trail.  It was here that I said goodbye to the conga line I had been a part of and set off on my own.

Miles 5-10:  I found a port-a-bush, did some business and took off down the trail.  Suddenly I was feeling 100% better.  There was about 2 miles where I was by myself.  It felt like just another Saturday morning long run on the trails.  I was enjoying the bird song and looking around at the beautiful surroundings.  Just before the next aid station at around mile 6.5 or so I caught up to some people and followed them into the aid station.  I stopped just long enough to dump some water into my handheld and took off ahead of the people I followed in.  Now I was feeling great and cruising.  I started catching and passing people.

Miles 10-13 - Got to the last aid station at mile 10 following a couple of guys that I ended up following the rest of the way.  I passed right through the aid station and they only slowed down long enough to grab something.  In the last half mile I passed these guys, but one of them managed to sprint by me right at the finish chute.  It was all good.  I didn't have a sprint left in me at that point.

My finish time was 2:34.  I was shooting for 2:30, but considering how bad the first 4 miles felt, I was happy with it.  It was a fun event, well organized and really had that trail running vibe to it.  I'll most likely run it again next year.

What did I learn?

  • Short, quick, light steps are critical to efficiently eat up the trail.
  • I need to work on my hill climbing.  That cost me more time than anywhere else on the trail.
  • In something longer than a 10K, not feeling well isn't the end of the day.  At some point that feeling may pass and a great day can still be salvaged.
  • I have a long way to go to be ready to take on a 50K.  I want to run one in the fall of 2013, but we'll see if I can get there by then.