- Ran a half marathon in Ireland — so scenic!
- Ran my first full marathon EVER. Meh.
- Had my first serious running injury — Peroneal Tendonitis. Spent 4 weeks in a boot and many weeks recovering.
- Fell out of love with Hokas.
- Used an online running coach to help me get back on my feet.
- I got in a few runs in Maui, HI. Can I go back?
- Started an effort to radically reduce meat in my diet — and yes, it was before I heard of, or watched Game Changers. 😉
- Welcomed Hokas back into my life.
- Didn’t trail run nearly as much as I should have.
- Started a new training plan – Hanson’s Half Marathon Method. So rigid and mileage heavy, but I like it.
- Started training for the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon in Virgina Beach. Hoping for a PR.
- Fell short of my annual 1000 mile goal, but ran my biggest month EVER in December at 160 miles.
- Back again in 2020 as a BibRave Pro.
- Fell out of love with Hokas again. I need new shoes.
First off, Race Across Durham is one of my favorite races of the year, and it’s right here in Durham, minutes from where I work everyday.
This was my third year running RAD, and was a much better race for me than 2018 — mainly because I felt ill on race day and struggled to enjoy the experience as I knew I would have otherwise.
2019 made it all better. Zach and I hadn’t done much trail running to get ready for this race, and were thankful to the course preview runs set-up by Bull City Running and Life Skills Foundation. I believe the second preview run may have been the first time on the Eno in 2019 for us.
Still, we’d decided our number one priority was to enjoy this race, so once the race had started we settled into a conversational pace and did just that.
You never remember the hills until you hit the bottom of it and then exclaim, “yeah I remember this hill now”. That happened multiple times along the course.
The route meanders through the trees, alongside the Eno River, gradually increasing in elevation as we head toward the Eno Rock Quarry.
Around mile 4 we hit the first aid station and stopped for a snack, a drink and a photo. I’m not sure we’ve ever ran a race this relaxed before, and it felt good.
Even though it had rained the day before, the trail was in good shape, not really any muddy areas that I noticed.
At mile 5 a surprise awaited us. There was an unofficial aid station set up with a box of beer sitting on a table. Everyone was just running past. Crazy, I know. Not us — nope. We stopped for some “trail magic”. Thank you very much to whoever left those out.
So we were half way there. The next aid station was not until mile 8.
In 2018 we were missing a bridge or two due to some flooding. This year the bridges were restored, although I kind of enjoyed running through the stream last year.
The last hill up toward the quarry is probably the toughest hill on the course, but it leads up to one of my favorite sections of the course — running over the stepping stones and then along a ridge between the quarry lake and the river.
We stopped and posed for the photographer before crossing the river, and were promised we’d “make the cover” — not even kidding. Maybe even modeling careers might be launched from this. Who knows?
However, it looks like the photo didn’t make the cut to the website, never mind the cover of anything! 🤣
The out-and-back section from 2017 was added back into the route this year, and while the section is not very technical we were beat by that stage and were glad to reach the turning point and run that last leg back to the finish.
We ran through the finish line together, my belly giving me a 1 millisecond advantage over Zach’s time. Lots of snacks and drinks available there while we waited for the shuttle bus back to the after-party. The oranges were amazing!
We didn’t have to wait long to get on a bus. I felt really bad for the driver though as she had to smell multiple bus loads of smelly trail runners all morning.
This was not a race I’d been planning to run or was preparing for. A friend of mine had registered and unfortunately she was unable to run it. Thankfully the race directors allowed her to transfer the bib to me at short notice.
This was my third half marathon, and the most challenging to date. I knew it was going to be difficult as I had ran sections of the course before. However, now it was a race. Knowing how hilly the out and back course was, I had accepted it was not going to be a PR run for me, and I was fine with that.
I convinced Zach (and he convinced his training buddy, Courtney) to sign up on the morning of the race. It’s much more fun racing with friends.
Access to, and parking at the race was great. There wasn’t much traffic and there was plenty of places to park (at surrounding businesses). From the parking lot, the race start was across the road, just outside of Umstead State Park.
The half marathon start time was 7.00am. There was also a 10K which started at 7.20am. I estimate maybe 300 runners for the half — so quite a small local race. It was an open course too, so there was no stopping other runners or cyclists from using the trails with us (and there were quite a few doing just that).
The whistle blew, and off we went. The aim was to stay slightly ahead of the 2:00 pacing group as we wanted to finish under 2. I arrived at this target scientifically of course.
Back in March, I completed my first half marathon in 1:49:00. In April I completed my second half marathon, with hills (h), and a stop to poop (p), in 1:57:00. So it stands to reason that few extra hills (h) minus a poop (p) would result in 1:59:00.
Mathematically speaking: (h*2)-p = 1:59:00
The first few miles felt really good. We were easily keeping a nice gap between us and the pacing group. The hills were slowing us down a bit but we were still tracking at a decent pace.
It wasn’t long after the turnaround, maybe a mile or two, that I had to let the pacing group pass me and come to a realization that there was TOO MANY FREAKING HILLS on this course to complete it in under 2 hours.
At mile 9 (why is it always mile 9!?) I couldn’t keep going on long incline. Zach kept going strong but I had to stop running and walk and watch him disappear into the distance.
The humidity was getting to me. At every water station I was drinking at least 2 cups of water/Gatorade, which I’ve never had to do before. My clothes were drenched in sweat – even my socks were drenched.
It rocked my confidence a little to be honest. I couldn’t help thinking how unprepared I was for this race, and how unprepared I would be for a full marathon, and why would I ever want to run that distance!
After some one-on-one time with God, questioning life in general, the course started to flatten out around mile 10. I was now running again. The next mile and a half was downhill which helped, even though my legs felt like lead at this stage.
There was one more brutal hill at the 12.6 mile mark all the way to the finish. As I started the final ascent, I was surprised to see Zach ahead — not far at all. I made a valiant attempt to catch him, but ran out of steam quickly. He turned around and waved, and then put in a little extra effort to cross the line.
I found out later he considered waiting for me so we could cross the finish line together, but he feared I would run past him. And yes, I would have done exactly that. So he made the right call to run for the finish.
I crossed the line about 20 seconds after — happy to be done.
There were plenty of snacks after the race, but no beer. I mean, come on. I could have murdered one or two cold beers after that race — easily. I did manage to pick up a nice race shirt though (which is modeled below) which somewhat makes up for it.
Someone asked me if I would run it again. Yes, probably. I wasn’t happy with that performance at all. It beat me, told me I sucked, so I want a chance at redemption. I’ll be back sometime, NCRC Classic Half Marathon. You wait and see.