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Eagle Creek Trail Half Marathon – Race Recap

I wanted to win this race. I really wanted to win this race. I ran it two years ago under Lindsey’s 10K bib and took an unofficial third place. So now that I was really running it for real I wanted to take a shot at winning it. If you follow Lindsey or I…and particularly me on the internet I am not afraid to state my goals and ambitions when it comes to running. Maybe that makes me cocky or something but I don’t really care. I am a big believer in the idea of positive thinking and reinforcement of that thinking through verbalizing what I want to accomplish. If I am afraid to state my goals due to some sort of fear, embarrassment or whatever…how can I ever possibly make them happen. If you don’t believe them…no one will. So with all that being said…can you tell I wanted to win the race?

Race morning: The alarm went off sometime around 5. Got up, made some oatmeal and coffee, and got the day started. We didn’t have Marshall as he stayed the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s. That made things 1000% easier for us. Lindsey kept asking me how I felt and through out the week I felt pretty good but come the morning, I was nervous. No point in lying about it. I wanted to win and I was nervous to see how I would do. I knew once the gun went off…I’d be fine but before hand I was anxious. Before I knew it, we were out the door and on the way to Eagle’s Crest on the west side of Eagle Creek Park to race.

Look at that fresh fade. We got our #frontporchchat hair cut on Friday night. Yeah I just used a hashtag…thats right.

The race started at 7:50… about 20 minutes after the full so we were parked and ready to warm up by 7:25 or so. Lindsey and I did a mile or two with some strides at about 5:45 or so. My legs felt tired…or maybe it was nerves. Who knows. I just wanted to get started. One final stop in the woods and it was time to start. I jumped in the corral and looked around…doing the stereotype game I liked my chances. I was confident in my ability and was going to run my race but by just giving guys the “eye test” I thought I had a pretty good shot at the W.

Getting ready to warm up. The singlet came off…obviously.

This year the Planet Adventure people changed the course a bit…they made it a little more runner friendly…especially the opening mile. Previously they ran you from the start through some grass in a zig-zag manner and then hit tough single track after about 200 yards. It lead to major congestion issues…but this year they chose a different entry way to the woods that allowed the field to spread out.

After the gun went off, I settled into the front with one guy leading the way around the field toward the trail head. I let him lead the way just settling in and seeing how I felt or if anyone else wanted to run with me. The first mile was all grass or manageable downhill double track. Based on my spilt you can see it was like running on the road. At mile 1, I decide to pass the leader as he was slowing…I think he went out a little hard and was fading. So here I am one mile and in the lead. Could I hold the lead? Better get to work.

The next two miles were a mix of old access road and undulating trail. I was feeling good and happy with my gap to the chase group. I thought contained maybe 2-3 guys but I couldn’t tell for sure. I was feeling good.  Working hard, real hard…but feeling good.

This is right before you come out of the woods run and the Causeway across to the Eastside of the park.

Once we hit the Causeway…somewhere around mile 3.2 to 4 or so, I tried to open it up a little more…I was feeling good and knew that if I wanted to win I needed to take advantage of the road miles. It seemed to work as I glanced back across the road as I went back into the woods I gap seemed to be getting larger. It was around this time that I ran into Ben (super trail runner, 50K, 50 mile, 100K kind of guy) who was out running the course. He offered some encouragement and was on his way.

Once I was into the Eastside of the park, it was very fine gravel trail. Nothing crazy. I start to pass a ton of marathoners. Everyone was very polite and moved out the way. I am sure I was quite the sight hammering down the trail…heaving breathing as they were out pacing themselves for two loops of torture. We ran across the beach parking lot into the woods again and then across another parking lot and back into the woods. It was at some point before we hit Lilly Lake that I looked back going down the 2nd or 3rd flight of stairs that I noticed a runner and he was closing fast…well crap I thought. I did not notice him at any point before the race or in the chase pack. I quickly looked at his bib. Same color as mine…I immediately thought wonder where he came from and how quickly will he catch me!?!? I keep running doing my thing, not overcooking it but know that I will be caught soon.

So mystery runner catches me at some point early out on the trail around the lake…but he doesn’t try and pass me he just kind of settles in about 10 feet behind me. I was still feeling alright at this point…I mean I was deep inside the pain cave but at this point I could sustain the hurt so I decide to accelerate around the lake. It is flat and either dirt or crushed gravel so you could really hammer.  My plan was to try and drop him as I thought he might of used up too much energy in the effort to catch me. Initially my plan was working as I opened up some more of gap. If you look at my mile splits you can see we were humping it. This section of trail/road was pretty easy to open up on. I’m not sure if the splits are accurate or not but I was moving. I pass one our rock star athletes, Katy, just after the lake and before the aid station. I totally didn’t notice her but she saw/heard me and shouted some encouragement.

As I was making my way back across the Eastside of the park toward the beach again and then the causeway Mystery Runner gathered himself and starts to run me down again and so by the time we hit the last section of trail before the road back to the Westside he is right on my hip.

We come out of the woods and onto the road together and not a second…I mean literally not a second after we hit pavement…he takes off. I try and stay on him but it is a lost cause. He was motoring it. At this point I am probably running around 6:25-6:30 so my guess is he is somewhere around a 6:00. If you look at mile 10 that split contained the Causeway back along with a nasty uphill back into the woods and I ran it in 6:52…so he had to be somewhere around 6:20 just to give you an idea.

As Mystery Runner is slowing pulling away, I am left all alone again trying to figure out what to do next. Keep working is my only option. I can feel sorry for myself that I got dropped and slow down or I can keep pushing and make sure that I keep 2nd place.

Once back into the woods for the last 3 miles, I was HURTING….real bad. I mean real bad. Like I mentioned before once you come off the causeway you get greeted by a couple uphill climbs and some technical single track. I am putting my head down and pushing but my pace is slowing and my legs are on fire. I make it down out of the trail and onto the access road at the 5K turnaround…only 1.5 to go. I can make it and feel good about my chance for 2nd. I make it to the last aid station at 11.8 at dump into the woods and we promptly climb and climb so more. You know how I mentioned how the first mile was fast because it was all downhill? Well mile 12 was all uphill for the return. I dump out of the woods and back onto the grass, make a right hand turn and enter the finishing chute. I hear but don’t see Lindsey screaming…even though it was over I was in no mood to look up I just wanted to be done.

The End. It’s over. I was ready to be done.

I cross the line in 1:38:09. 2ndplace. I’ll take it.

The Podium. Took home some sweet swag.

Post Race Wrap Up:

I wanted to win but it wasn’t to be…I got beat by a better runner on Saturday and I am fine with that. I gave it everything I had on Saturday and have no regrets about how I raced…and heck it was a great workout for the ultimate sub 2:45 Chicago Marathon goal (there I go again putting my goals out thereJ) After collecting some Chocolate Milk after the race, I chatted a bit with the guy that won…turns out he is some 19 year old that had never ran a half marathon before…nice Glenn real nice. Beat by a rookie. Haha oh well. Oh and when he passed me he was wearing headphones that looked to be some ‘Beats by Dre’ headphones…I mean they were huge. Either way…he was a heck of runner and had a great race. Congrats to him. He earned it.

As for me, I’ll keep grinding away for Chicago. I am happy with where I am in training right now. I am feeling good. I have some hard weeks ahead but I am looking forward to it.

My splits are below…I am not sure how accurate they are with the coverage in the woods, turns, switchbacks, etc…but knowing how I felt on Saturday they might not be too far off. The last three miles were brutal. Trail racing is hard. Real hard.

Mile 1 – 6:04

Mile 2 – 7:12

Mile 3 – 7:30

Mile 4 – 7:04

Mile 5 – 7:20

Mile 6 – 7:10

Mile 7 – 6:20

Mile 8 – 6:55

Mile 9 – 7:15

Mile 10 – 6:52

Mile 11 – 8:08

Mile 12 – 8:40

Mile 13 – 8:05

Mile .49 – 3:37

Finish – 1:38:09

Total Mileage – 13.49

Total – 7:16 per mile

Oh and this is what I did the rest of the day. They didn’t care that I didn’t win and I like that.

Beer drinking and eating popsicles. A winning combo.

Questions: Do you like to state your goals? Did you race this weekend? Do you race while training for your “A” race?

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