Monday, September 14, 2009

09/12: Suncrest Mountain Half Marathon

Late in the Suncrest Mountain Half Marathon, or whatever this chamber of horrors officially calls itself, I was running on pavement beside a woman I had been running near for maybe five miles when we turned a corner and saw yet another daunting climb in front of us. "I swear, if I see one more more freaking hill in this freaking race, I'm gonna freak," she said in a voice that suggested she might be overestimating her tolerance by one hill. Actually, although we still had a hill or two in front of us - not counting the one in front of us - she didn't freak. She picked up the pace, instead, leaving me and several others eating her dust.

Earlier I was afraid I was leading this same woman astray. I passed her, along with a few other people, on a wide trail section, just before we hit a questionable junction with one definite trail and one possible alternative. Being in the lead, except for the many people in front of us but out of sight, I got to make the decision so I went with the more obvious trail and people behind me followed, which I wasn't sure if they were following me or if they made their own decisions. At any rate, I ran for about fifteen minutes or so without a sign that I was actually on course; I was very concerned, and probably would have said something to the woman behind me if she hadn't been wearing headphones, when I finally came to a T intersection with orange arrows pointing to the left. Either we never left the course or the marshals anticipated this particular bit of foolishness and left helpful hints to guide errant runners back on track. In either case, I avoided the embarrassment of getting my ass kicked by a feisty Utahan wench moments before we were both devoured by bears.

Talking to a couple of guys after the race, they said they were surprised by how tough the course was. I looked at the profile beforehand so I had a good idea what to expect in general, but I was surprised by how much uphill there was in the predominantly downhill first half of the race, and the downhill in the mostly uphill second half. The course was a mixture of trail and pavement, with the first trail section - a foliage-lined single-track - coming a little less than a mile into the race. Since we hadn't sorted ourselves out by pace yet and still had a random mix of half-marathoners and 5k people to deal with, this wasn't optimal but I don't know the area so I don't know what other options they had. If they could reroute the course so we run the more open trail sections early, that would probably help - I might have run 2:17 rather than 2:18.

After the race they immediately printed up individual results on what are basically business cards, so I know I was officially the 26th finisher in the men's half marathon and 7th in my (40 - 49) age group, with a time of 2:18:38 (10:34 pace). I actually received two cards - the first one had my name as Michael X and the card dude insisted on correcting it. Still, I'm counting this as my first race run as a member of the Nation of Islam.

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