Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 race #1 - High Shoals Half Marathon

This was my second year starting my running season off with a trail run. Last year I did the Charlotte Running Company's trail run at the Whitewater Center and last weekend I upped the ante by doing a half marathon at South Mountain State Park put on by Table Rock Ultras. There was a marathon and a half marathon option, with the marathoners starting off 30 minutes before the half. I've hiked these trails, going to the top of the waterfall twice, and this is not an easy hike, let alone trying to run it.

The first section of the race started out on the road and helped spread out the runners a bit, with a short, steep uphill, then fairly flat and a little downhill before turning left into the woods and heading up. There were a lot of switchbacks in this section, but still enough room to pass people when needed. There was also a nice downhill section that lead back to the parking lot before heading onto the main trail and up towards the waterfall - so many stairs! 

The weather held off for most of the morning, originally calling for rain, but just ended up being misty and foggy through the second half of the course. 
  • Mile 1 - 13:15
  • Mile 2 - 10:17
  • Mile 3 - 19:23
  • Mile 4 - 15:01
  • Mile 5 - 16:31
  • Mile 6 - 14:12
  • Mile 7 - 15:36
  • Mile 8 - 15:36
  • Mile 9 - 12:29
  • Mile 10 - 11:51
  • Mile 11 - 14:54
  • Mile 11 - 16:15
  • Mile 12 - 8:50
  • Last .15 - 10:50
Official time: 2:49:48

I ended up coming in 6th female in my age group (30-39) and 8th female overall. I was trying really hard to catch up to the two women in front of me who ended up being in my age group (of course!), but they ended up beating me by a good 20 seconds. After the race, I caught up with a few people who I had talked to before the race, changed into warm clothes, grabbed some food and watched the first marathoner finishers come in just under the 4 hour mark. 

Overall, I really liked this course - it was really well organized, there were great course markings at each turn and it was a nice small crowd. The marathoners and half marathoners were on the same trails for parts of the race, but even being in the middle of the pack for the half marathoners, I only saw 3-4 of the lead marathoners heading the opposite way on a single-track trail, and the trails were never too crowded. There were 3 water crossings on the course. There has been a lot of rain in North Carolina lately, so the water levels were probably a little higher than normal, but I was mostly able to stay on the rocks and only got into the water up to my ankles. There were some people who avoided the rocks altogether - they were slick with the misty morning and some folks chose to go knee - thigh deep into the water instead of risking the rocks. I decided to take it slow and stayed on the rocks and never felt like I was going to lose my footing, but it's definitely something to consider for a January race in the mountains. 


The race shirts are awesome and as part of the race packet, you got free socks from DaFeet and all finishers got arm warmers and a car sticker with the same logo that's on the t-shirt.

I also broke the cardinal rule of racing and tried out a new pair of shoes on race day. I ordered a pair of Salomon X-Scream shoes from Ragnar (woo Orange shoes!) and tested them out by walking around the neighborhood in them for two days before deciding that they were a better option than my Hoka One Ones that have been giving me ankle trouble since this summer. I didn't have any major issues with the shoes, though I do think I'm going to try a different pair of inserts in them as I started to have a little arch pain in my left foot near the end of the race. 

Even though I was sore for the rest of the weekend, it was a great way to start off race season and I've already signed up for another trail race for next month! 

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