Last Saturday I did something that I never thought that I would say. I ran a trail half marathon! Now, don’t get too excited – yes, it was a beautiful trail through the woods and along the Jackson River. It’s finely crushed gravel that is built on an old railroad bed. Not the roots and rocks of a trail that most of you think about. (I’m too klutzy to do those trails).
The race started and finished at the Intervale Trail Head of The Jackson River Scenic Trail in Covington. It was actually a perfect location for me. Covington is an hour from home and is on the way to my Mom’s house (1/2 hour from her). So, I made this weekend my “Mom’s Chores” trip for the week. I stayed at Mom’s Friday night so that I had 1/2 hour less to drive on race morning. Picked up my packet at the Chamber of Commerce on my way up to Mom’s.
I had fixed spaghetti for supper Thursday, so I was really wanting pizza Friday night. Luckily, Mom was agreeable to the idea and we headed off to Pizza Hut. Hubby was manager of a Pizza Hut for many years in the 80’s. (I had many of my spaghetti pre-race meals from there when he was working). I still love their thin crust pizza – so, that’s what we had. And, yes – it was yummy!
Race morning I left super early. I was a little unsure of the parking situation and I wanted to be there to watch the marathoners take off. Today was a full marathon (starting at 7), half marathon, 10K and 5K (those starting at 8). Got up, had my bagel with peanut butter and Pepsi, fixed a Pepsi to take with me and hit the road. Took a cooler with a couple of water bottle and a glass of ice to fill up my CamelBak before the race.
I had read that there was only going to be 2 water stops on the course. (Confirmed that at packet pick up). Even with an out and back course – that’s only 4 stops for 13 miles. Not great, especially since it had been SO humid all the previous week. So, I figured that carrying water was a necessity.
Headed down the road to the race start. About 10 miles down the road I realized something. Oh, crap, I didn’t brush my teeth. So, after I got off the exit to go to the race, I stopped at a convenience store – bought a travel toothbrush and toothpaste – then proceeded to brush my teeth in their bathroom. That’s a first for me.
Got to the trail head and got parked. Just kind of chilled in the car for a little bit – then, up to the port-a-potties and to watch the marathon start. This was the first year for the marathon – but, they seemed to have several. Watched them take off, talked to a few people then back to the car.
Headed back up to the start about 40 minutes or so before the start. Did the usual pre-race stuff – port-a-potty stops, minor stretching, keeping loose. During the pre-race instructions, they said that we would pass over a few roads and that there would not be anyone there. Most of us were a little leery about that.
The gun went off and we got under way.
The trail really was as advertised. It was crushed gravel the whole way and really flat for the most part. There was only a few places that wasn’t shaded – so, it really was a nice course to run on. I decided that on my way to Mom’s, I may stop by and run there.
We were only about a mile down the road and I realized that carrying water was smart. It was a really humid day.
The roads that we had to cross were not really a main road – but, a side gravel road leading to a home. So, no worries there. The only “real” road that we had to cross was manned by volunteers and a deputy.
Whenever I run with my CamelBak, I usually have a plastic baggie in one of the pockets for my gel packages when I take them. Another thing that I forgot – so, I waited on the water stop for my gel so I would have a trash bag. The first water stop was at about 2 miles – so too soon. The next one was at about 5 miles. So, that was where I did my gels – coming and going. I honestly thought that there would be another water stop half way – but, there was not. There was a lot of people who were hurting with limited water. A couple of us were talking at the end about how glad that we had water with us.
The second half of the race went really well for me. I passed several people from the turnaround through the finish. No one passed me after the turn around. It was just one of those special races.
I felt strong as I crossed the line – and was super happy to see that I had actually won my age group! Maybe I should brush my teeth at convenience stores before all my races from here on!
Another minor glitch was the awards. They did not do the awards for any of the races until after the marathon was completed – approximately 2:30. That’s a long time for the finishers of the shorter races to hang around. However, I told her that I needed to get back to my Mom’s, so I was able to get my age group winner certificate.
I really did enjoy this “trail” race. The crushed gravel was easy to run on and I always enjoy running along a river or creek. This is a race that will definitely be on my calendar next year.