After running the Indian Ladder 15k, and loving it, I had signed up for the Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon. Both races are run on many of the same trails in Thatcher Park.
I knew I wouldn't PR-ing at a trail half marathon (my first one at that!), so I focused on using this run as a long,over due training long run. I hemmed and hawed all week as to what my costume should be, since costumes are highly encouraged and ultimately went with Minnie Mouse, since I already had all of the necessary parts.
I had to remind myself throughout the run that - this was a training run, on a trail. My biggest goal was to make it out without hurting myself. My secondary goal was to finish at 2:30
Jen and I started out together, along with both the half marathoners & the 6 mile runners. The trails vary from being wide to mostly single tracks, so it was congested, which I enjoyed since it forced me to keep my pace in check. The hills in the first half the race are brutal. I was prepared for the first hill, I remembered it from the 15k, but then we took a right into even more hills. I was able to power up most of them, but could feel it for sure. I wasn't feeling the run yet and felt like I was dragging around dead legs for the first 6 miles.
When the 6 milers headed towards the finish, I started to feel a bit more in the groove, this part of the trail was idential to the 15 and I knew the hill that I had coming up. I dominated it but then wished that I had saved some energy and just walked since I felt trashed. It wasn't until around mile 8.5 that I stopped feeling like I was being punished and began enjoying the run more. ( I had been having fun all along, but my body wasn't)
I caught up and passed a decent amount of people (judging by the results I passed 23 people in the second half of the race & I was only passed once which I don't remember) and was feeling great. I started to have a bit of fun powering on the trails with more reckless abandon than I normally do and hitting all of the stuffed Gorillas that were in the trees.
About 1.5 miles from the finish I overreached to hit one of the gorillas and almost had a devestating fall. It would have been a face breaker and race ender but I somehow managed to stay on my feet. My heart began to pound after that and I had to pull my self together.
The trail then spit us back out on the gravel road, I definitely underestimated how long it was to the finish line. My watch had been slightly off, which is typical in the trees but I thought I only had about .5 left when really it was closer to .8. I went out too hard for what reserves I did have left and was severly disappointed when we ran down the straightaway turned right, and went back into the woods for another lap.
Once I made my way back to the real finishers chute, I gave what I could and finished with a smile. It wasn't within the 2:30 mark, but 2:32:36 which is only slightly slower than the Jamestown Half Marathon I did back in July. Considering this course was significantly more challenging and on trails, I am very pleased. And more importantly I did hit my main goal of not getting injured.
There was a gigantic post race spread, which I unfortunately didn't part take since my stomach needs about 30-40 minutes to be ready to accept food. But overall an awesome post race gathering.
The event is very well organized, the course is challenging and incredibly rewarding. Without a doubt I plan on running it again in 2014.