Sunday, September 23, 2012

Inaugural Chasing Taj 25K

I was hoping to race a half marathon this weekend to tune up for Ridge to Bridge.  The leaves are just starting to change, the morning temperatures are finally comfortable, and the Panthers already appear ready for another 7-9 or worse season, but as it turns out late September is still too early in the season to find a good longer race.

Originally I had thought I found one in Hiddenite, NC about an hour west of the Tajlili homestead in Salisbury, and had planned out my whole week expecting to do that one, until I found out at the last minute it was replaced with a 10 mile trail race.  After 3 hours on the Mountains-to-Sea the weekend before near Falls Lake, I needed something relatively quick to get my racing confidence up.  

Unfortunately the next closest option was in Camp Lejeune, which just wasn't the place I wanted to spend the better part of a weekend.  So I constructed my own pseudo-race right here in the Triangle, the "Chasing Taj 25K*"

Course:  entirely Umstead Park bridle trails, uses much of the notoriously difficult marathon / Inside Out Sports half marathon courses, so is about as hilly as any you'll find here locally.  Description that follows may not be intelligible to those unfamiliar with Umstead Park.

Start at intersection of Reedy Creek Bridle Trail and Reedy Creek Lake.  Run to Turkey Creek, up  Turkey Creek to Greylyn, turn right and take brief stop at "Horse Water" (5.6mi), with no race volunteers, entry fees, or budget, quick stops are allowed in the Chasing Taj 25K and do not count toward total time.  My race, my rules.

Turn around and double back on Turkey Creek back to start (water stop at Turkey Creek allowed, which is 10.3mi), up "Corkscrew Hill" and "Cemetery Hill" to "Mid Gate Water" (13.5mi)

Then turn around and back down all the hills back to the start (about 15.8mi total by my Garmin, which always measures a little long, so probably about a 25K in total).

Pre Race DJ:  plays a lot of 90s music.  Who can argue with this to get fired up for a long run?

Too bad half of these artists are either dead or have lost all of their hair.

Participants:  the first annual event was not advertised well; as a result, there were two participants - the 'meet organizer' and Ronnie Weed, the "major of Umstead Park" (my own nickname, earned because apparently he knows half of the people running through the park on a given Sunday).

T-Shirts:  TBD, design submissions are welcome

Results:  no official results were kept; the first leg up North Turkey Creek was just under 7:30 pace, the section going back from 'Horse Water' up to 'Mid Gate Water' had some testy hills, but was held at 7:10 pace, the last section going down was hammered pretty hard (roughly 6:20 pace), total time was around 1 hour, 53 minutes which is a course record, and about 4 minutes slower than I went through the split at NYC before falling victim to the Bronx and the hills of Central Park.

Total distance for day:  18 miles including a little over a mile warmup and cool down from main entrance down ranger road and Reedy Creek Lake.

Total distance for week:  49 miles, down from high of 56 the week before; average since late June has been just under 43.

Next few weeks...

Two more 'hard' weeks of training (50+ miles), one more 20+ miler, a trip to Arizona, three days of trainings/conferences at work, juggling 'two jobs' in the office, then taper... 

Finally getting back into ok sleep routine, life keeps throwing small wrenches my way, but I feel pretty good overall; as long as I stay healthy, I am cautiously optimistic about the race in late October.  I'm getting in all the miles I can, but don't think I could realistically do much more.  Thankful to have strong support structure with family, friends, and running partners.

Post Race Food:  best part... brownies...

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