Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 race #4 - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot half marathon

Time to play catch up... I'm now 4 races behind, so I'm going to try to catch up on my crazy 5 weeks of races! 

With Leap Day this year, I was hoping to find a Leap Day-inspired race, but the only one I was able to scrounge up on the internet was a semi-official run in Oregon, but in my searches, I came across this race outside of Greensboro, NC which promised some awesome WTF swag for finishing. The premise was two-fold - the race was partially on the foxtrot trail in Northeast Park and in order to get to that trail, you had to cross a stream, in February, in North Carolina which would leave most people asking what you were thinking. We had several weeks of on-again, off-again rain leading up to the race, so starting about a week before the race, the race director sent emails letting us know that they were keeping an eye on the stream level and would make a decision about the actual course as we got closer to the race. By mid-week, the stream had lowered to about knee-level, but with a few more storms Thursday and Friday, we were back to a 5' creek crossing which meant we would not be taking on the foxtrot trail. Instead, we took about 3/4 of a mile to get to the loop which we did 3 times and then headed back to the start line. 

The race had more people lining up at the start than I expected, though the first trail run I did this year only had 72 finishers, so the 225 lined up for this race looked huge! The first 3/4 of a mile we were able to spread out a bit, but it did turn into a single track trail for our 3 loops, so there were a few parts that were hard to pass people, but the crowd quickly thinned out. I actually struggled a bit at the beginning of the race with my calves hurting quite a bit in the first 4 miles. I think my biggest issue was that the course was actually too runnable for me - I was running at a decent pace, but the hills were very small and rolling, so I wasn't feeling like I should stop and walk which meant my calves took the brunt of that decision. Since it was a looped course, the leaders started passing me on the second loop and you could hear a chorus of runners announcing that they were coming up from behind us. I ended up finishing 10th in my age group at 2:42:32. The finishers medal and sweatshirt were awesome! 



It was a nice late-winter day, but after the run, I didn't stick around the post-race festivities too long. I still had about a 2 hour drive home and the wind was making me cold. They had a few snacks available, but it was clear the earlier finishers cleaned out a lot of the food - there was still some chili left and a couple of random granola bars and I heard one of the RD's say they had ordered more pizza, but I decided I would go ahead and start my trip back to Charlotte. I was sore the day or two after this race, and I know trail runs are going to be harder on me than road races since I haven't done as many and you definitely use muscles differently during trail running, but I'm also falling in love with the trails - it's always a lot of fun and racing in the woods is just so different than on the roads where you have to worry about cars, potholes and over-crowded streets.

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