On Saturday I ran my 17th half marathon, 4th this year, and 2nd trail. I was feeling pretty well rested after chingachgook, despite also running an additional 15 miles during the week. Saturday night consisted of so.much.sushi as I had gone out for a friends birthday. I woke up Sunday morning still full.
I managed to force down some pop-tarts and a small Stewart's coffee on the way to Thatcher Park. I was one of the first runners to arrive. Again with my need to not be late to races. In the parking lot a few of us stood around trying to decide where we were meeting. Online it said the Horseshoe pavilion, which obviously, isn't the same as Hailes Cave Pavilion where all the other Thatcher events I've been to have started. We saw some people heading to the right of the lot, and decided to give it a go and it turns out there is a great pavilion there along with far nicer bathrooms !
I registered, used the bathroom, adjusted sneakers and made small talk with the other runners. This event had the whole range of runners 5k, 10k, half, full, and 50k. Jen arrived and since the half runners ran the same course as the 10k we were able to run together.
At 8:33 we were off. I decided to be a bit smarter this time vs the Indian ladder 15k where I was determined to run every hill, and walked up the first big hill this time. At first we were on the backwards course of the 15k, tough, after a turn off, I was clueless. I chugged along feeling strong. Most of the course was well shaded which kept the temperatures comfortable. The first 6 miles went by quickly (probably because there were still other runners around & Jen and I were always fairly close).
As we cut back through the field in front of Hailes cave, I said farewell to Jen and stopped in the bathroom. I haven't had to pee during a race in years, but with the plan for it to be a training run, I figured there was no harm in the stop. As I made my way around the back end of the horseshoe pavilion, I heard Jen's name called as she finished.
I loved this part of the trail, it follows along the cliffs- protected by nice wooded fences. I was behind someone that Jen knew, we were talking to her before (in detail about cottage cheese), but I didn't know her name. I was happy to stay behind her for a bit, keeping my pace in check but ultimately passed her as we made it to the road/ death hill that seems to be in every single race I've done at Thatcher. I did a bit of run walking up some of the bigger hills and when I reached 8 miles I implemented the walk the first minute of each mile. This seemed to level out my pace. I came more prepared after Chingachgook and had gu chews with me, I ate my first pack just before 8 miles and the second at 11.(because I felt full on hungry by then)
Many of the trails on this half of the course were new to me also, I wish I knew them better to be able to run solo here. Parts were a touch muddy, which surprised me since we've had such a dry summer but none were so bad that it changed my course much. It seemed quick before I was spat back out onto the road to start making my way back.
On the way out, there was only one spot that wasn't well marked, clearly they had received the message because when I returned it had a minimum of 15 ribbons! It wasn't until I was .10 away from the finish that I saw another runner coming from the other direction. He was powering the 50k course and was already at about 19 miles. My ego was relieved that I was never passed by anyone running the longer races.
After 2:41:39 of feeling great I made it through the finishers chute. If you're looking for crowd support, this isn't your race. Since I didn't have any friends or family there the only one to acknowledge my finish was John (race director for chingachgook). I made my way over to my bag for water and then enjoyed some cookout.
Shortly after I finished, club day started, so I sat and watched the egg toss, the water bucket passing and a few other shenanigans before heading home. Over all a great day and a great race. It was well marked, well volunteered and I look forward to running it again next year.