Friday, June 3, 2016

On Tired Legs (Trent/Waldron half marathon race recap)

Last Saturday, I ran the Trent/Waldron half marathon in Anchorage. This is the second year I have run it, and I suspect this is one I will continue to run on a regular basis. I’m 46 years old, and I expect that at some point, my running will naturally slow down. The interesting thing about the Trent/Waldron is that the results are age graded.

So, when I ran it last year, my time was 2:20:40. I was 45 years old. There are statistics that predict how much you will slow down as you age, and so when you run the race on subsequent years, they give you an age adjusted goal time. The goal time is supposed to be an equivalent level of performance to your performance when you were however much younger in a previous race. I’m not sure if my explanation is really clear, but there you go. If you beat your goal time, you get a mug.

Anyway, my time last year was 2:20:40. I was surprised when I got to bib pickup to find that my time had been adjusted by an entire two minutes, with the passage of just one year. My goal time was 2:22:18.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to do in this race. I had done the Knoya Ridge run less than 48 hours before this race, and my quads were really sore. I hadn’t done a lot of elevation work recently up until that climb and I was feeling it for sure. Plus, the night before the race it was really hot in my house, and I didn’t sleep well at all, tossing and turning until at least 3 am. I had to get up at 6:30 am to make it to bib pickup on time, and I was really tired. So, I was not in the best of conditions for racing, and I was really unsure how I would do.

The first 2 or 3 miles were really brutal, because my legs were letting me know that they were Not. Happy.  However, once I got warmed up, things got better, and I found myself moving along pretty well. I had figured out ahead of time what time I needed to hit the halfway point if I was going to beat my goal, and I hit that easily.

The course for this race is really nice. You start at Westchester Lagoon, and run up the Chester Creek trail for 6.65 miles, then turn around and head back. The course is mostly through woods, with lots of little bridges to go over and tunnels under roads to go through. I think the bridges and tunnels add interest and make it fun. The outward portion of the course is very gradually uphill, and on the way back, obviously it’s gradually downhill. So on the way back, you feel really fast, which is awesome. I didn’t stop to take any pictures along the way, because I was really focused on beating my goal.

I have been using Map My Run to track my runs for quite some time, but this race was one of the last straws, I think. I have been pretty frustrated with the GPS tracking on Map My Run, and the distance tracking for this race was off by more than half a mile from the very beginning. I don’t think it started tracking my running until 6 or 7 minutes into the run. And it just got worse from there. After crossing the finish line (of a half marathon, 13.1 miles), Map My Run said I had run 9.64 miles. Nope. Not even close. Luckily, the race crew had put mileage signs each mile of the course, and I had my Garmin Vivosmart HR on.  Although it doesn’t have GPS, I was keeping track of my time with it, and watching the mile marker signs, so I had a pretty good idea of how I was doing.

I was still feeling pretty good as I got close to the finish, so I *think* I picked up my pace the last couple miles. As I approached the finish line, there were a few people in front of me, and I all of a sudden got competitive, and had to sprint past them. One of them, an older man, was very encouraging, yelling at me to “dig deep” as I ran by him. I think my breathing was pretty hard and audible by that point, so I think he knew I was working hard. Whoever he was, I appreciated the encouragement. It took a few minutes after crossing the finish to get my breath back.

I was thrilled when I got over to the tent with the results computers and saw that my time was 2:18:18. Not only did I beat my age graded goal, I beat my time from last year by more than 2 minutes. On tired legs.

(post race, with my hard earned mug)

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