Hills and more hills half

NCRC ClassicThis event was, as previous years, part of the Spring Triple Crown Challenge. I have done this event twice in the past, with last year being able to improve my time. I have only been able to train at Umstead Park, hill galore trails, only once this time. Most of my training had been completed on the Tobacco Trail which is basically flat with sometimes very low incline, which some say are rolling hills, but I would not even call them that.

In the morning, the usual routine, oatmeal, latte and a banana for about an hour before the event. Left early, got to the event area with plenty of time to relax and talk to other runners. After a quick stop at the porta-potties, ate the banana and walked around a little bit. Met with Shelli, she is a runner that has done many of the other half marathons in the area. Also met with couple people that ran the Wilmington half earlier this year. Some of them were not really familiar with the course and how much hills they were going to encounter. To some, I mentioned not to be fooled by the small visual hill after the bridge, because after that turn the hill continues for about another 3/4 of a mile. I told them to keep that in mind so they did not burn out too early during that portion of the event.

I ran for about a mile to warm up and get ready, drank some more water and I was ready to run. The goal was not to go for a PR since this course is a tough one because of the many ups and downs. But, I do plan to finish under 2 hours and a record for this event. The temperature was really good and overcast. Although the humidity still was a little bit high, I believe it was not going to be a problem. One last look at the CGSM and the sugars were within running range around 137. I am ready to start!

At the start all went pretty smoothly, I started mid-pack very close to 2:30 pacers. With ample room to run, since these are very nice pave road all the way to the Umstead Park trail entrance. Even at the trail part of the race, the trails are wide enough to be able to manage people passing you and you pass them without any difficulty. I concentrated on doing my race, a somewhat slow start to continue to warm up and to take advantage of the downhills, similar to what I experienced during the 10k here last year. I fueled at the 40 minutes mark, grabbed Gatorade at the 1st station and followed by water at the other water stations. After a quick downhill and the bridge, there it was, the over 1 mile uphill was waiting for me. I reduced the pace slightly, kept the cadence under control, but still in a good well steady pace. The turn into the longer portion of the hill came and went, half way I did another mental and physical check and I was feeling good. Sugars were still holding good and I pressed on the last portion of the uphill, I started to feel it, but I knew that the next mile was flat with a very small downgrade portion. Closing to the turn around I saw the runners and pacers I was going to catch up to meet my 2:00 goal, I am still feeling pretty good. I reached the turnaround and started to watch the runners that were behind me heading towards the turnaround. Some familiar faces, some words of encouragement and a few shout-outs. Especially to the runners that were still going the 1 mile uphill. Most of them were not having much fun, but they were determined to complete the event.

I checked my pace, still a good pace, but I knew it was not a PR pace. Wich, I was ok with, since I was well on my way to finishing under 2 hours. Coming back between mile 9 & 10 there was a very steep but short hill about .33 of a mile. I slowed down once again, increased my cadence, and tackled it but halfway into the hill I slowed down to a fast walk. I reached the crest of the hill and started to run once again toward the next water station. I grabbed some water, walked a little bit more. At this time it was getting a little bit warmer and still humid but not real issue yet. After that, I pressed on the pace until the last super steep hill close to the finish line, some more walking there and I was able to finish somewhat strong with about 6 minutes to spare. Still, a big smile on my face, since it was a very hilly course. I was able to improve once again my course time and finish under 2 hours. This was the third time finishing this event, I do not know if I will run it again next year or perhaps to look for another event. It will all depend on the Triple Crown Series.

[vtftable cols=”{0}0-4:c9daf8;{/}”] {f1}Month/Year;;;{f1}Event;;;{f1}Location;;;{f1}Type;;;{f1}Time;nn;
May-15;;;NCRC Classic Half;;;NC;;;Half;;;1:53:59;nn;
[/vtftable] [vtftable cols=”{0}0:c9daf8;{/}”] Event Highlight & Learning Points;nn;Highlights:

Course:  Out and back course. The scenery is great, trails are very wide and the Umstead Park is very relaxing. The course is extremely hilly. Tons of ups and downs. Including a mile and a half of uphill

Venue: Very decent Start/finish line. At the finish area the post event has food, plenty to drink

Expo: No Expo

Weather: Overcast skies, 64º with 88% humidity.

Fueling: Pre-Race: 1 serving Hot Cereal, banana and Latte.

Race: Gatorade at the 1st station the water at the other stations.

Post: Oranges quarters, banana and pizza.

Learning Points:

    • A course PR is a PR regardless.
    • It is ok to follow your plan.