Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trent Waldron Glacier 1/2 Marathon

We topped off a whirlwind week (bought a new car, kids finished school, coached a runner at the State track meet) with a 6 hr drive to Wasilla (more or less the New Jersey of Alaska). Just after settling in, however, my son ended up taking a trip to the ER with a late night asthma attack. They took care of him quickly and fortunately he's fine. I ended up getting three and a half hours of sleep but felt ready to go.

Race time - Saturday was a cool overcast morning, 48 or so. Maybe 200 people showed up and the atmosphere was very low key.

The certified course is all on bike paths, and consists of two out and backs (of roughly 7 miles and 6 miles). It was well marked in chalk, turn signs where needed, accurate mile markers, and water stations about every 2 or 3 miles.

The first 3.5 miles follow the path up the Chester Creek path, so there's a low-grade but steady climb (especially on the 2nd mile). Then it's back down. The second out and back follows the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which is mostly flat or lightly rolling until mile 9-10 where it climbs 150 feet or so to Earthquake Park, where a sub-division fell onto the mudflats during the 1964 world record earthquake.

I hit the mile in 6:05 in 7th place, feeling okay but sleepy. Soon moved up to 6th 20-30 m behind this masters looking guy who had a quick-tempo stride. He also seemed to know everybody. Think a lean George Costanza in Adidas. As a more of an ex-trackster who tends to lope, I found his cadence was offsetting. I wanted to pass him, but the same time didn't feel so hot (or awake) so hung back. I'd reel him in, and get to within 5or 10 m, and then he'd gun it a little, and I'd get tired and would have to back off to 40 or 50 m behind. I was kind of cursing myself for not dialing into my own mojo, but couldn't get around him either. Splits were consistent hovering around 6, depending on up or downhill. I waited for the blow up. Mine.

Suddenly at 7 miles he let up, breathing hard, and I zipped by into no man's land, with the next guys 40 sec up. It also started to rain a little. Within a mile I could tell that one of them was broken. His stride was bouncing and his head lolling. Up to Earthquake Park at 10 miles (with a long mile long hill) I eased into the hill and just as I passed him we cautiously ran by a cow moose and her two calves not 10 feet off the trail. Fortunately they paid no mind.

By then, the light drizzle that had started at 7 miles had turned into a steady rain. Hit 10 in 60:27. The downhill mile was a relief, but I was just hanging on. The last 2 miles felt fast (as I was pushing) but seemed interminable. I had some hope to break 1:19, but with 300 to go, I knew the finish was too far off to get that goal.

Held on for 4th OA. Post race was rather lame. You had to pay for sport drink, it was raining, and race mugs only went to runners who had done this race in the past. I'd heard the Anchorage running scene was a little off compared to Fairbanks so I got the hell out of town.

Nevertheless I was pretty happy with the outcome (wanted a sub 1:20, felt that under 1:19 was possible), especially considering the distractions and stresses the hours and days beforehand. Looks like I won the "age graded award," whatever that'll entail, with a WAVA converted 1:10:06 (that is, according to their calculations, my 1:19 at age 50 is the relative equavalent of an open runner (19 to 35) going 1:10). Also got the 50+ course record by almost two minutes. That's probably a better measure anyway.

Overall, the Trent Waldron's a good little race and I'd go back.

Splits for the weary reader:

1 - 6:05
2 - 12:20 (steady gradual uphill)
3 - 18:25
4 - 24:27
5 - 30:21
6 - 36:19
7 - 42:15 (downhll)
8 - 48:11
9 - 54:10
10 - 1:00:27 (uphill)
11 - 1:06:27 (tired downhill)
12 - 1:12:34
13 - 1:18:39
13 - 36.2 (1:19.16)