Monday, October 22, 2012

F*L*A*T*S Trail Half Marathon Race Report

I chose to do this race because it is a trail race and few of them are held this close to Quincy.  I have run three trail races now--all half marathons--plus a few adventure races that included some trail running.  I enjoy them.  They actually pass quickly because you must pay so much attention to each foot placement.  Generally, I would say they are easier on the body too, but that is arguable.  Easier on bones and joints, perhaps...assuming you stay on your feet.

It fit well into my schedule as a long run.  I am focusing my training toward an April 2013 marathon, so I am building up my base.  Running a trail half marathon substituted well for a potentially boring 10+ mile run on the streets of Quincy.

The temperature was somewhere in the 50s when we started and the sun was shining--just about perfect.  We started by the lake in Thousand Hills State Park, near Kirksville, Missouri.  After running about one and a half miles on pavement, we entered the single-track trails.

The fall foliage was beautiful and the trails were in great shape--a little soft, but not slick.  Some sections were a bit rocky and a few others passed through open grassy fields.  It was mostly up-and-down, but there were a few flat-ish sections too.  The course was marked every half mile with aid stations every two miles or so where volunteers passed out Gatorade, water, Hammer Gel, peanut M&Ms, and other snacks.

I started off fast on the road to bank some time.  When we entered the single-track, I settled into a comfortably challenging pace.  I wanted to beat my Quivering Quads time of 1:59:48, but wasn't too serious about it.  The primary goal of the run was about training, not racing.  Anyway, about halfway through, I was on target to beat QQ.  About ten miles in, still on target, I tried to pick it up a bit to finish strong.  I thought I sped up, but my Garmin disagreed.  I was struggling.  With about one mile to go, the course turned upward again, but I could hear cheering.  That last hill was tough.  Then, I had to run on about a quarter mile of gravel with my feel feeling every rock through my minimalist trail shoes.  That was probably the worst part of the day.  I tried to run in the grass on the side of the road, but it was off-camber.  I could see the stables where we would finish, so I soldiered on, finishing in 1:51:32.  Goal achieved!  But, sore...and hungry.  Pizza and beer for me, please.

This was the second year for the FLATS 13.1.  It is growing and plans have already begun for next year.  It was very well organized.  The race director was easily reached when I had questions before the event.  The trails were picturesque and well-maintained.  Great volunteers, food, and swag--shirt, water bottle, reusable backpack.  The race is a point-to-point race within the park, so the bag check and transport were very helpful as was the school bus shuttle to the start.

I can definitely recommend this race specifically and any trail race to break the monotony of road running or to supplement your training.