Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 Race #1: Charlotte Running Company Trail Race

So in 2014, I did three trail races, the Color Me Green 5k at the Whitewater Center, Ragnar Relay - Appalachians and my final race of 2014, the First Day of Winter Half Marathon, but none of those really prepared me for the 13-mile trail run at the Whitewater Center on January 17. In all of 2014, I probably put a total of 13 miles on my trail running shoes, so this was brand new territory for me! After running the Ragnar, I was very interested in trying more trail races, but I had so many races on the calendar already that it was hard to fit any more in, plus, most trail races are odd distances (compared to road races) and I was really focusing on the half marathon distance in the last half of 2014. 

I'm still hampered by a knee injury from back in November, but I've been able to keep running, so my goal for this race was just to finish it under the 3 hour time limit - I had finished my last half marathon in 2:41, but I knew this one was going to be a lot more elevation change and much tighter trails, so I thought it would be pretty close. Since I knew the course was going to have some good hills in it, running on all three of the difficulty levels that the Whitewater Center has, I decided not to do a formal 4:1 running / walking ratio and just walk when needed. The first mile or so was on a wide open trail with a pretty decent downhill portion, so I knew the pace I was seeing was faster than I could keep throughout the race, but it felt good and allowed the majority of the pack to spread out. 

  • Mile 1 - 11:13
  • Mile 2 - 13:34
  • Mile 3 - 14:33
  • Mile 4 - 13:59
  • Mile 5 - 14:46
  • Mile 6 - 15:51
  • Mile 7 - 15:05
  • Mile 8 - 15:39
  • Mile 9 - 14:36
  • Mile 10 - 13:45
  • Mile 11 - 13:04
  • Last .84 - 13:25

Official time: 2:47:31

Around the 5 or 6 mile mark, I started to doubt whether or not I would be able to finish the race and had thoughts about splitting off to just do the 9 miler, but I also knew that the last 4 miles of the race were going to be on the easiest trail, so I kept moving and eventually I found myself alone in the woods for awhile. It was a really pretty day to run in the woods and while it was a little cold at the start, it ended up being great running weather, right around 40 degrees.

As I started on the last trail, I started to catch up with some people and ended up passing 7 guys in the last 4 miles! The last 4 miles were on the Lake Loop and it was just a big circle around a lake through the woods. I almost didn't stop to take any pictures, but then I thought, why not!? I'm wasn't out to break any records - I was out to have fun, enjoy the scenery and this was too good to pass up! 

My Garmin only had the mileage at 11.84, but I don't think I missed any of the turns - there were volunteers throughout the course directing people at every intersection when the 3 distances (4, 9 and 13) split up - so I'll put it down to the trees blocking the satellites and go with my official pace of 12:53 / mile instead of my Garmin pace of 14:08 / mile. Either way, it was a tough run, but I really enjoyed it. 

The course support was well placed, the trail signs were easy to follow and while the finish line wasn't much of a party by the time I completed the race, there was still plenty of bagels, cookies and gatorade for everyone and I think if it would have been warmer, there would have been a lot more people hanging around and cheering for the runners. All of the runners also received an awesome sweatshirt (seriously the most comfortable sweatshirt I own) and all of the 13-miler finishers got a medal.

How was your first trail race experience? 


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