Monday, April 30, 2007

Pinckney Trail Half Marathon

With the Riverbank run just 2 weeks away I decided to run the Pinckney Trail Half Marathon with Paul, Jim, and Matt this weekend as a training run. Paul's friend Jim had discovered the race a few months back and talked Matt and Paul into running as well. I didn't really know what to expect for a "trail" run but I thought it would be fun.
As it turns out, trail runs are brutal. No road running comes close to the amount of hills that are present in a trail run. The half marathon was up and down the whole way with punishing climbs and steep, painful descents. It was run in the Pinckney Recreational Area near Brighton, MI in a beautiful wooded reserve with lots of lakes and streams. Also, it was a nice sunny morning with temperatures around 60. The trail looked a little like this (but usually hillier)
The first 7 miles were constant hills with some very steep and tough climbs. Miles 8 to 11 actually weren't that bad as we had extended flat sections and time to catch our breath. During the first half of the race I overheard another runner mention "cardiac hill" at the end of the course and I hoped it wasn't as bad as it sounded...but mile 12 was. It was a huge, steep, never-ending hill that couldn't have come at a worse or more painful time. Finally, we emerged from the woods at mile 13 to finish on a grassy area along one of the bigger lakes (Map/Elevation of course)
Despite the difficulty of the course I was very happy with how I ran. I felt like I had lots of energy and was able to push the whole time. At the 6 mile mark I was running slower than a 2 hour pace and didn't think I could break that barrier but I began making up ground and by mile 11 I was ahead of a 2 hour pace. Then I hit cardiac hill and lost any time I had gained so I knew I had to push hard the rest of the run to come close to breaking 2 hours. I gutted it out and ended up finishing in 1:59:26, good for 7th place out of 50 in the Clydesdale division (195+ lbs).
Paul and Jim raced well and finished at 2:09 and 2:14, respectively. But Matt was the real story. After running medium distances all winter on his treadmill he just up-and-decided to run the whole marathon, which is 2 full laps of the punishing course. He did 3 long training runs but never on trails prior to the race. The whole time I was running I hoped for his sake he didn't attempt the second lap. But if Matt is one thing, he's determined. Not only did he finish, but he posted an amazing time of 4:23 and finished first in the Clydesdale division. Very impressive.


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