Race Recap: Bull City Race Fest, October 21st, 2018

On a cold, crisp October morning, a few friends and I headed into Durham, NC for the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon.

Me, Arun, Niles, Zach, AJ and Ashita at the start line

It was my fourth half marathon (1-Tobacco Road; 2-Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh; 3-Umstead Half) this year and to be honest, I wasn’t feeling in good shape for it — not compared to my fitness levels back in March. Training through the summer in North Carolina was not easy with the constant humidity.

My running buddy, Zach, had ran the course a couple of years back, his first half marathon in fact, and confirmed all the reports I’d been hearing of its hills. I’d only ran the 5 mile course before and was looking forward to the half.

I’ve never really been deterred from entering a race because of hills. I simply adjust my expectations based on it. 

Zach had yet to run a half marathon in under two hours, so my plan was to run a steady pace together and push him to a PR. After our hilly half marathon at Umstead, back in June, I knew this may not be easy (for me!).

Me and Zach ready to go!

The race started according to our plan. For the first mile we hovered in around 9:00/mi. If we kept this up and we’ll rock in just under the goal time.

I checked my watch at Mile 2 — 8:40/mi. We probably need to slow down a little bit, we thought. Nope, miles 3-6 flew by easy at the same pace. Yikes! We were going too fast! We were too concerned about catching up with AJ, who shot off like a rocket at the start.

At mile 6 we eventually caught up with AJ. That’s when the first of the hills started rolling in. Mile 7, while not the toughest hill-wise, was our slowest at 9:04/mi, but all was still good. Runners are always doing the math in their heads. We had time to spare.

My fueling plan was the usual, Gatorade Endurance gel pack every 45 mins, and a drink of water at every other aid station. This didn’t go exactly to plan.

I waited a little too long for the first gel pack which maybe explains mile 7. There were some hills during the last third of the course, so I took another one around mile 9.

Mile 9 is when I usually start to suffer in a half marathon, but this time I didn’t feel that. I felt much stronger than normal. The last third of the course hardly slowed our efforts at all. Maybe all that training in North Carolina’s humidity prepared me for this after all?

Again, doing the math, we rocked into mile 10 with big grins on our faces. We knew we had this race in the bag. It would take a really bad 5K now to miss our goal time.

In a final what the heck moment, I consumed an additional gel at mile 12 for the last stretch!

The course kept throwing hills at us in the last couple of miles, but my last two miles were my fastest on the course. I kept my eyes on the prize — the cold beverages at the end.

A lot of our team walked away with HUGE PRs — #breaking2 baby! 😉 Did Zach and I smash our goal? Of course we did! We came in well under the 2 hour goal. Turned out to be my 2nd fastest half marathon after Tobacco Road.

Me, AJ, Ashita, Niles, Zach, Shravan

I’m so happy about that. It definitely helped me overcome my summer training slump and restored some confidence as I reach for bigger goals next year.

We’ll be back again, Bull City Race Fest.

Added: Race Across Durham 10 Miler

I am so pumped to be running the Race Across Durham 10 Miler again in December this year. I ran in the inaugural event last December and absolutely loved it. Like last year, registration opened on my birthday, so it’s instant (hopefully annual) happy birthday present to me. 🙂

This time, not only is my buddy Dillon (above) running it again, but so is his wife, AND SO ARE ARE A FEW of my Morrisville Run Club friends. It is going to be freeeeeaking awesome!

Yes, I’m a little excited. Looking forward to training for this one already. It’s such a beautiful place to run.

 

 

Added: Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon

I’ve added the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon to my race schedule for Oct 21st 2018. Liz and I ran the 5 mile race before, but not the half — so I’m really looking forward to it. I hear there may be a hill or two. 🙂

I got a free entry into this race for volunteering at the Tar Heel 10 miler race back in April — AWESOME!

This will be my first race back after a bit of a break. It also seems like forever since I’ve ran this distance, so I need to start ramping up the mileage soon.

Review: Race Across Durham Trail Marathon & 10 Miler

It was so exciting to be part of the first ever Race Across Durham Trail Marathon & 10 Miler event. I registered for the 10 mile race, since this was my first ever trail race (and also because I could not run 26.2 miles on a flat surface).

The 10 mile race started at the West Point On The Eno Amphitheater, an open area in the middle of the woods. From there, around 200 runners gathered, ready to run through the trees toward the river to join the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

The race was timed (time-chip on back of the bib), but there was no starting mat, so time was taken from the starting gun. I wasn’t too motivated by time on this race. I wanted to run it well, and enjoy it at the same time, so not having a starting mat didn’t bother me.

I was expecting a little bit of a bottleneck at the start of the race, because we had to transition from an open field to a single track trail. There was no pushing or shoving. Everyone was very chilled and polite and seemed to be out there to enjoy the day.

It took about 1.5 miles or so to thin out on the trail. I managed to pass quite a few people at the beginning and catch some groups that were running at a pace I was comfortable with.

I was really glad I spent a few weekends before checking out the trail section by section — it was really helpful mentally, as I knew which sections of the trail were most challenging and when I needed to preserve energy during the race.

The trail was well marked, and I didn’t hear of anyone getting lost. I did hear about a number of falls though — I’m amazed I managed to stay on my feet.

It was a tough course. Probably one of my toughest races to date. Just look at how tired I am above. This was taken just after having crossed the finish line.

There were two aid stations. One at 4 miles, and one at 8 miles. I decided not to carry any fluids and rely only on the aid stations. That worked out fine for me.

I didn’t stop during the race to take any photos I’m afraid, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the official race photos. There were 3-4 photographers stationed along the route. I tried my best to look like a real trail runner when I spotted them.

Here I am with my friend, Dillon, looking a bit more refreshed after some fluids and snacks at the finish. There were shuttle buses arranged to take runners on the 10-15 min trip back to the West Point On The Eno for the race after party. Beer.

Isn’t that a lovely medal? Well, yes it is. Very nice. It has the Durham skyline, with water tower, complete with the Eno State Park and River at the bottom.

I was glad family could come and join me for the after party. It was a very chilled affair — which was fine. There was food and beer, and a band playing in the background. People sat around on the grass field, or at the picnic tables. Xander (below) was happy to have freedom to run around and enjoy himself.

Based on my training runs, I would have been happy with any time under 2 hrs, so to come in at 1hr 45min was a nice surprise. My Garmin logged the course at 9.4 miles, and  11:10/mi pace. The official distance was 10 miles, which brings my pace up to 10:31/mi. I can only assume my GPS signal got a little lost at times which accounts for the missing 0.6 miles.

 

If you’re interested in more of the course details and elevation, you can check out my Strava activity here.

One final note — if you do intend to sign up for it next year, sign up quick. The race sold out in a number of weeks when registration opened at the start of July.

 

Training for Race Across Durham

Eno River State Park is an amazing place. I’ve being doing quite a bit of running there to prep for Race Across Durham. The scenery is beautiful, and it feels so remote. The trail is both challenging and rewarding and full of wildlife. The race is only a couple of weeks away now, but I think I will definitely keep running here throughout the year ahead.

 

Race Across Durham

I just signed up for Race Across Durham (10 miles) trail race! It’s scheduled for December 3rd, 2017 at 9am, so it should be nice and cool and have no nasty black flies, right?

It winds along the Eno river in Durham, starting at West Point on the Eno park to Eno River Rock Quarry.

I’ve been running some trails recently, but this is the first trail race I will participate in. I’m pretty excited about it.

You can check out the route here. Strava calculates it as 8.4 miles and estimates I’ll take 1hr43m to run it! 🙂

I did just notice it’s up hill the whole way! Great!

Route: Running Of The Bulls 8K

Next Friday at this time, I’ll be picking up my race bib for Bull City Running Company’s Running Of The Bulls 8K (website).

The race starts on Saturday morning, June 3rd at 7.15am. It’s the first time I’ve ran this particular race, but I have ran very similar routes in Durham before so I have an idea of what to expect (i.e. HILLS).

I enjoy running through cities. You get to see things you easily miss when driving through. You also get a better feel for where everything is. I’m looking forward to it!

2017-05-26 16_05_34-Running Of The Bulls 8K _ Strava Route