Monday, June 10, 2013

Race Report: Sour Grapes Trail Half-marathon

I was back in the Brainerd, MN area over this past weekend to take part in the Sour Grapes Half-marathon Trail Race.
I ran this race last year, and enjoyed it despite the hot and humid conditions.

It was the first race in 2013 I'd be doing that I'd also completed in 2012, so a chance to measure the actual change in my fitness year-over-year. The results were about what I expected.

The weather conditions this year were much, much nicer: partly cloudy, temperatures rising from the high 50s to the mid-60s F, with a slight breeze. Because this spring - and I use that term loosely - has been wet, the sandy parts of the trail offered more weeds and more traction, so the course was in better shape. I ran similarly to last year, and had a couple of deja vu experiences, such as passing the exact same guy that I passed last year about about mile 4 - I swear.

There were some magical moments too. I remember running alone along a moist double-track trail in the deep woods, with streams of sunlight coming from above, punctuated by fluffy tufts of cottonwood trees floating down slowly - if I didn't look closely, I would have imagined it was snowing (AGAIN!).

I ran alone for a large portion of the race, from about 5.5 miles until almost mile 11 (except for passing several walkers from the concurrent 10.55k event). I finally caught and passed the lead female at that point. She was running strong, but one of her ankles was strapped into a rather heavy looking brace. She ran a strong race, I think she just ran out of steam. I know the feeling!

I was pleased that my Garmin 110 showed that my last mile was my fastest, with a pace in the 6:40s (not bad for a trail race). In the final results, I ended up finishing 2nd overall, and first in the 50-59 age group.

Last year: in heat and humidity I finished 3rd and ran 1:32:26.
This year: better conditions, I finished 2nd and ran 1:32:19.
Pretty close on first inspection, but honestly if the weather had been as good in 2012 as 2013, I would have run at least a minute faster. Still, that puts me only about 5-10 seconds per mile slower than last year, so maybe I'm not in such poor shape after all. Time will tell.

This was race number six in the UMTR Grand Prix, and I think I'm sitting in first place overall at this point. We'll see for certain when the series points standings are updated (hopefully soon).

One final note: I decided to build a bridge from this blog over to Twitter this week, so look for a short twitter fall to the right and feel free to follow if you are so inclined. Many times there are little tidbits of running information and wisdom that I'd like to share, but don't have the time to compose a blog entry. Let's see if a few tweets can help that. Onward and upward.

Found some photos posted on Facebook:

End of first lap, staying relaxed

End of lap two, bringing it home

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