Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Quasi-Marathon, and some thoughts on strategy

I ran in the Trail Dawgs' Stumpy's Marathon this morning – a no-frills affair through some nice woods outside of Newark, Delaware.
I didn't fully race it, and it's not fully a race. It's a supported run, with no real clock, no sign-up, and no guarantees. It's a free race and, while they like pointing out that you get what you pay for, it's a pretty good event. They had a bunch of rest stops, and did a decent job of marking a pretty complicated course. Bob R drove down with me, and I ran with him for the first 20+ miles. He wore a GPS, and had the route at 26.6 miles. Or maybe 26.8 – I forget.

It took me just under 4 hours. I break down the race like this: first two hours were fun; the third was difficult; the fourth hour was a brutal death-march. I didn't walk (with the exception of some steep climbs, where it was a good choice), but was really feeling the pain.
For the first three hours, I'd tried to run with Bob, even though I know that he does a lot more long-distance training than I do. Seemed more pleasant to run with someone, and it was good to have help finding the mile markers. For the first two hours that was easy enough. The third was a struggle. By hour 4, he left me in the dust.

It made me think more about the races I've done recently: Double Trouble, Half Wit, and this quasi-race. I'm ok with all of my results. The one that most disappointed me was half-wit. That was the only one where I'd made a conscious choice to negative split. The thing is, though – even if it cost me some time, it was the one event where I really felt like I finished strong.

Positive Split, Negative Split... there's a lot that makes sense about positive splitting a trail race. I'm not sure that my positive splitting cost me any time in Double Trouble or today (or that I should care much about the time today). But it's hard to deny that it makes me enjoy the running less.

My next race – a real race – is the Blues Cruise 50k. That'll be the farthest I've ever run. I'm thinking I should start off slower.

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