Friday, June 13, 2008

Oak Mountain State Park, Xterra Fun Run

I've been slow about posting on here about my race. I wanted to put some pictures on here, but I can't right now. My wife has been really busy with the computer all week, so I haven't had the chance to. I finally decided to write this up on this computer and I'll add some photos when I get the chance. Or you can just go look at Amanda's blog and see some photos from the race.

They day started at about 6:20 when I rolled out of bed and started getting dressed. Breakfast at the hotel started at 6:30, so we were there right when it started. We ate quickly and headed on out. Even with the kids, we were pretty quick. We grabbed everything in case we couldn't make it back before checkout time. Our hotel was just about a five minute drive from the State Park. When we got there we went straight over to the Xterra Village they had set up. It was pretty cool. I registered for the 21k race. We had just a little bit of time to stand around waiting for the race to start. I ended up at the start of the pack, but i kept inching my way back from the starting line. I knew I wasn't going to lead the whole thing, so I got about ten feet back from the start. They told us just before they shot off the cannon that it was really only about 20 kilometers and not a true half marathon. It is pretty hard to get an established trail to change lengths. Finally the little cannon was fired and we were off. There were only about 80 of us in the race. We went about 200 feet up the sidewalk, then took a sharp right for another 200-300 feet up to the road. Then we were on the side of the road for about three quarters of a mile before we turned up onto the trails.

The first aide station was right there but I passed it by because I had my watter bottle with me. I had not seen the trail or even a profile of the trail, so I really didn't know what to expect. The first mile or two of trail was perfect. It rolled back and forth and only a little up and down. When we hit our first big hill I noticed that everyone was walking up it. I though that was a bit strange, but when I got to it, I realized why they were walking and I joined in. I was probably going faster with a walk than I would have been running anyway. About half way up, I told someone that this hill was going to kill me the second time around (it was two loops of 10k).

Just before reaching the top I thought I might be able to power up and over the top. I managed, but then coming down the other side I realized that going down was going to be just as hard as getting up the hills. On my way down the hills I would make sure that I had my one free hand ready to catch the trees to help slow my decent. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the trails were pretty well covered with rocks and roots and stuff. There were only a few times that I was brave enough to look up from the trail to look around at the beauty. It really was a pretty area. I was very grateful for all the trees. I thought that we might break out of the trees towards the top, but we didn't there were only a few places along the whole course that I saw the sun. That being said, it was still about 85 degrees and very humid. There were three main hills along the course. There were three or four bridges to run across. There were also two streams without bridges to jump across.

By the time that I broke out of the trails onto the road, i was completely soaked in sweat. My water was warm and I needed to get some more to cool down. there was about a half mile on the road to get back to the starting area. Amanda was ready with the camera and the kids helped cheer me on. I tried to go faster on the road because it was much easier to run on the smooth pavement. Just before I got to the trails, I downed my second energy gel. At the aide station I filled my water bottle with cold water, man that felt nice. I also grabbed a cup of Gatorade. Now that I knew what to expect on the course, I took this part of the course a little harder. I knew it would be about two miles before I hit any hills. By this point everyone was pretty much settle in to where they were going to finish. coming up the last hill, I saw two people that I wanted to pass. I caught up to and passed one of them. I caught up to the next guy at the top of that last hill, but he seemed to have more experience on trails that I did, because he cruised down the hill creating about a 100 foot lead. Coming out of the trail onto the pavement, I thought I wouldn't have any trouble catching him, but he picked his pace up just like I did. I finished the last half mile really strong, but only managed to shorten the lead he had on my to about 30 feet before crossing the finish line.

I finished in 1:58:43. I was 18 of 80 overall, 16 of 56 males, and 6 of 9 in my age group. I was very pleased with being able to finish in less than two hours. That is right about what I thought I was going to do. I ate some post race snacks then sat down in the mist tent to cool down. After just a bit, we took the kids over to the lake and let them swim for just a little bit. after only abut five minutes Alex tripped and cut his hand open, so we just left. Overall it was a fantastic day. I had a lot of fun. I am really glad that I chose to do this short trail run (yes 20 kilometers is short) before just heading out on the trail for the White River 50. It gave me the experience that I need to be more prepared for WR50.

Well, like I said I will post some pictures later.

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