Friday, August 26, 2016

Hodges Hoedown Half Marathon Race Report

Last weekend I drove out to central MA to run my first race of the year. Yeah, I know we're eighth months into 2016 but better late than never, right? As usual, I was totally unprepared for the distance given my training of twice weekly runs totaling 8 - 10 miles. I did have one 10 mile training run under my belt but that was only because I got lost one day in the woods and my planned 7 mile run was unintentionally extended. 

First race bib for 2016. It won't be my last.

View of Hodges Dam near the race start/finish line.

I somehow managed to convince my friend Mary to join me for this race. Mary recently ran a sub-four hour road marathon so I knew I would never be able keep up with her if she was here to race. She decided to stick with me. Thanks Mary! We haven't run together since she broke her ankle on a training run with me and some friends on ice covered trails in the Middlesex Fells several years ago. Ice is one thing we didn't need to concern ourselves with on this day. It was in the mid-eighties and very humid. Just the type of weather that destroys me. Oh,well.

Mary and I at the start. The smile will soon be wiped from my face.

Bringing up the rear at the start of the race. We would later pass several runners only to loose places after missing a turn.

The first four miles of the race were fairly flat with some short, steep climbs but very technical with plenty of rocks and roots to contend with. Miles 5 - 7 were the most difficult and hilly, at one point climbing about 200 feet in less than a mile. The downhills were also challenging with many loose rocks. I chose to move slowly on the descents not wanting to risk a bad fall. The final four miles were mostly flat, smooth trail but I bonked badly with two miles to go and my pace slowed significant. We also missed a clearly marked turn between miles 7 - 8 which added about eight minutes to our time.

The course was not as flat as it appears. There were numerous short, steep climbs.

 Mary led the way throughout the race and set a good pace for me. I would have run slower if I was on my own. I knew the pace was WAY slow for her and told her she could leave me at any time but she stuck with me....until I bonked.  

Peace sign, or me counting the number of times I stubbed a toe in the last mile?

Mary crossing the finish line. She put 11 minutes on me in the final two miles! I'm sure she could have run 30 minutes faster if she ran her own race.

I really had a blast running with Mary despite the weather conditions and my poor fitness.  I already have my sights set on the next race.

Happy Trails!

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