Friday, April 17, 2015

Charlotte Racefest Half Marathon Race Report

As I mentioned before, I wanted my 2015 race schedule to replicate my 2014 schedule as much as possible.  So this meant a half marathon in April.  I didn't really want to do the same one again, so I opted for this race in Southpark Charlotte.  This race starts and ends basically in the same place as the Turkey Trot we did last Thanksgiving. Even though this course was somewhat hilly, I had hoped to go faster than my open half time last year.
Nice Shirt

I stopped by on the way home from work on Friday night and picked up my packet (and the packet of a friend).  It was right at Dick's Sporting Goods in Southpark Mall.  It didn't take long to pick up the packet, as it really wasn't a packet, just the race number and the t-shirt.  Traffic coming back on Fairview/Tyvola to I-77 was pretty backed up though.  Saturday morning I headed out about 6:30am and leisurely parked at the Southpark mall.  Now when I do a running race, they seem so logistically simplistic, I feel like I must be forgetting something.
Loop Course

I basically just parked and walked over to the start.  I was a little chilly since I was in my singlet.  I was sans sherpa in the race so I couldn't take a shirt with me.  I ran for about 10 minutes to warm up and did some striders. 
Yup, my Garmin started

The nice thing was that nobody seemed to want to line up right at the start so it was easy to toe the line.  Eventually the gun sounded and I took off.  Like, too fast.
Yeah, a 5:33 first mile is not exactly what I had in the gameplan, but I just got excited and went with it. I actually felt pretty good coming through 5 miles under 30 minutes.  The next mile was slightly downhill and I went sub 6 on that.  

But by then the leader was way gone. In fact he was so far ahead, that I actually had my own pace vehicle after the 10K runners split off.  It felt like I was in the lead, so that was fun.  Except for the times I would catch up to the vehicle and have to start to pass off to the side, and then it would speed up and I would catch a mouthful of CO2. Not as much fun, then.

Then the mile 7 hill came.  It was pretty butal.  I struggled a little up but struggled even more after it.  Just couldn't get legs back churning again for a 6 min pace.  That 6:29 miles was a bit demoralizing.  I recovered some and was able to cruise a 6:04 into mile 9 in 54:21 (6:02 avg).

Then we had to turn onto this "trail".  It was basically an old paved trail in desperate need of repair.
The Dreaded Trail Section
I just couldn't ge any rhythm going.  One turn wasn't marked at all (no volunteers and nothing on the trail).  The trail went straight and I took 3 steps past the turn before I realized I needed to turn.  I guess this was foreboding.  So those next 2 miles killed me, a 6:36 and a 6:31.  There went any hope of a good time.  

Once I got out of the trail I just tried to churn, but couldn't really get it going again and hit mile 12 in 6:12.  The pace vehicle had kinda pulled off as I was passing walkers from the 10K race.

Shoulda taken that Left turn in Albuquerque
So after that I made one more turn and tried to push.  Then after a minute or so the pace vehicle came up and goes "I think you made a wrong turn!".  I'm like what? Crap! What?  I did a U turn and headed back.  I turned right instead of left onto Barclay downs and then got all the way onto Runnymede before turning around.  I must have missed the markings on the road.  There were no signs and no volunteers directing runners.  I looked to the right and saw the police shutting down the street, so I went that way.  Problem was that they were there from the beginning of the race, as this was the first mile of the course.
So I got back onto Barclay and onto the course just as another Half guy was coming to make the turn.  He looks at my yellow bib and is like "Did you take a wrong turn?".  I said yup, how old are you?  Since he wasn't a masters, I felt better.  From my Garmin data, I lost 1 minute and 49 seconds in my wrong way debacle.
So I try to hang with guy, not knowing if he was now in 2nd or 3rd or what.  I made a bit of a push with a half mile to go, but he turned and saw me and just took off.  Stinking young bucks and their leg speed.

So I came though the finish and saw the 1:23 on the clock and it finally sunk it just how much time it had cost me.
So I was officially 1:23:15, for 4th Overall and First Masters.  Full Results Here. So without my 1:49, I could have possibly come home in 2nd place with a 1:21:04.

Oh well, I still would not have broken 1:20 as I had originally dreamed of.  Ironically, I thought that 4th or 5th overall and first masters was attainable.  So I achieved my goal there.
Post Race Refreshments and Awards

I got some bananas at the post race tent and too 1 of my 2 alotted Mich Ultra beers.  Then did a 1 mile cooldown run.   I hung around for the awards and got my money for first masters: $50 check and $50 to Dick's sporting goods.
Overall, I'm not a real big fan of the course (even sans the wrong turn).  I will probably never do this race again.  Although, it is a good time of year and the start, finish, and post race venue is nice.

Bonus Training Mileage
For the most part, on this course, I was happy with the 6:09 Garmin average.  I think I'm in decent shape.  Not the shape for a good Half Iron Triathlon, but we're getting there.  One week of rest and recovery and then we start the next training block before Challenge Knoxville.  The calendar is starting to move more quickly now.