Monday, January 20, 2014

Charlotte Trail Race, Boston Training Week 5

Saturday morning I joined a group of Carolina Godivans and ran the Charlotte Running Company Trail Race at the US Whitewater Center.  The race was really just an excuse to get down to Charlotte to try some breweries.  The combination of the two made for an interesting Sunday trying to get back to Durham, which I won't go into details here but let's just say that a detour to Salisbury to grab some Pedialyte and take a nap at my parent's was in order.  I blamed it on the hard running and sketchy post-brewery dinner the night before, but I knew the real reason.

Anyway, back to the race...

Godiva Crew at the Charlotte Trail Race
Punchline:  we won a lot of awards

I like trail running, but trails have never brought out the best in me.  Good trail racers are a different sort of runner than us "road racing" guys.  Going forward on a greenway or around a track may be monotonous, but is completely in my wheelhouse.  Throw in a few hills - ok, no huge problem.  Throw in a bunch of rocks and roots, and suddenly the advantage of my gaping stride and gangly legs disappears.  The more technical the trail, the worse I do (I still have a PR at the Uwharrie 20 from last year - longest time to complete a race, longer than any of my 5 marathons).

I was curious to know what to expect, and scouring the internet lead me to believe the course was a bit technical, but the prior race results yielded some fast times.  I tried not to over think it.  "We're only here for the beer" was the slogan of the weekend.  Nonetheless, I had the idea of trying to break 90 minutes for the "13 miler" (as it turned out, the 13 was really only 12).  But foremost, after shelling out a ludicrous amount of money on hotels/airfare for Boston in April, my honest primary goal was:  DO NOT get injured.

The 9 and 13 mile race started together and began the circuit winding up and down some hills outside the single track section on some wider gravel paths - this allowed the runners ample time to get situated in position.  It also gave me the ability to blast out an absurd opening 6:03 mile, which would normally be suicidal pace for me in a half-marathon distance race.  Oops.

The single track section of the course was designed for mountain biking.  This meant many switchbacks, but not as bad as other mountain biking trails.  Compared to Umstead or Uwharrie or the MST trail there were not too many rocks and roots.  The race featured no stream crossings, but many small ups and downs.  There was nothing memorably bad with the possible exception of something called "Goat Hill" around mile 5/6, about 100 meters straight uphill on a red clay path.  The ground was frozen solid, so it is was less muddy than the Run at the Rock course near Burlington, at least on this given day.  The course was exceptionally well marked and the aid station crews were encouraging.  Overall it was a very well organized race.

28 degrees at start, no problem:
goal was to have the shortest shorts in the field
The 9 and 13 ran together most of the early part of the race, which made it a little hard to say where I was in position.  At some point the courses separated and joined back up, only the 13 milers were put back behind the 9 milers, which made for me needing to pass a few guys again.  After the second mile, however, I was pretty much on my own the entire race.  I felt like I was going all-out on some miles only to see splits well over 8 minutes... such is trail running.  The last 3 miles were actually the easiest part of the course - mostly flat and not overly technical.  After I made it out of the single track, I had quite a bit left in the tank, and I pushed it in to finish in 1:33 - well off my 90 minute goal but a good effort.  The official results had me in 5th and I snagged an age group win.  All race participants received a blue hoodie.  All the 13 milers received a medal, and my additional swag for the AG win included a glass mason jar.

Godiva had a great showing overall.  Ronnie Weed and Lew Hendricks won the 35-39 and 40-44 age-groups respectively in the "13" miler, with Doug Hensel grabbing 3rd in the 40-44 category.  Bart Bechard was 3rd overall in the 9 miler (which measured to a true 9 miles), with Jim Clabuesch winning top Masters.  Kevin Nickodem decimated his competition and won his age group by 18 minutes in a time called by the race announcer as "Blazing!"

All and all, it was a good race to try somewhere else in the state.  I would recommend for anyone looking to break the routine and head down the road for a new race.

Then plenty of breweries...

The aptly named 8.5% ABV Double IPA at Triple C

Busy night at Birdsong
Not pictured:  NoDa Brewing

Doug attempted to eat an entire cow (5 lb burger!)

Boston Training Week 5

Monday:  rest day

Tuesday:  7.5 miles (3.5 in AM, 4 in PM, both on treadmill at home)

Wednesday:  7 miles (2 @ "tempo" on UNC track - 6:12, 6:26)

Thursday:  4 miles @ 6:48 pace in AM on Tobacco Trail

Friday:  2 miles easy on treadmill in AM

Saturday:  Charlotte Trail Race - 12 miles @ 7:47 pace on mostly technical single track, some warmup/cooldown

Sunday:  ugh

Total:  "only" 33 - last 'down' week - goal for week 6 is 50+


  1. Well done! You didn't try to help Doug eat that monster burger did you? The only good thing about a burger that size is that when you get tired of eating, you can lay your head on it like a pillow.

  2. Ha, I didn't touch the 5 pound burger. In retrospect it might have stayed down better than the pizza and pulled pork sandwich I had.