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Race Report: This Race is For the Birds

04 May

Race Name: This Race is For the Birds, 4/24/2010
Race Website:

Your Overall Time: 1:09:56
Your Goal Time: 1:09:00

Race Info: This was a race in Shepherdstown, WV, that had a number of distances: 7.7m, 4.9m, 2m and 1m. The big draw of the race is that it was held in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center which is usually closed to the public. This race was also a trail race.

Pre-Race: I have been battling runner’s knee for the last 4 weeks so I have not been training really hard, but I wanted to run in the race because my wife and daughter were running in the 2m race and scenery promised to be good. I finished marathon training 6 weeks ago and so I figured that even though I hadn’t run more than 6 miles since the end of the marathon, I could still run this race at my goal pace. For this race, I planned on running at about 9:00/mile. I also decided to try Patrick’s 2/6/2 pacing meaning 15 seconds slower for the first 20%, a little under pace for the middle and everything I had for the last.

Race: Luckily, the course was laid out in a way that made breaking the race up easy. It consisted of 2 loops: a 2 mile loop followed by a 2.9 mile loop. For my distance, I ran the 2 mile loop once and the 2.9 mile loop twice. That gave me a good way of breaking up the race, especially since there were no mile markers in the woods that we ran.

There were three big variables in this race for me: my runner’s knee, this was my first trail race, and I didn’t know what the elevation profile was.

The knee turned out not to be a problem: no pain or restriction whatsoever. The trail was a big variable. At some points, it was single file and at it’s widest it allowed two people to run side by side, but even that was dicey. The trail was good to run on, but I definitely had to pay attention to where I was running. Finally, the course had some very, very steep trail hills. I have never seen anything like it in a race before. Rain was forecast for the day, but it held off until later. Good thing because on a wet course, I have no idea how anyone would have made it up the path of these hills!

Because of the narrow path, I was at the mercy of the pack a bit regarding pace, and I couldn’t match my goal paces precisely at all- especially with the hills and the short distance, but I did follow the basic plan of slower for the first loop, a little faster on the second loop and do what I could for the last loop. And that seemed to work, especially because on the last loop, I knew exactly what the course was going to throw at me.

The best part of the experience and the reason I am doing this report for a short race is that I distinctly remember feeling a burst of energy at mile 5, start of the 3rd loop and knowing that because I hadn’t killed myself earlier, I was going to be able to run the last loop faster. Sure enough, I passed a bunch of people on that last lap and had great energy.

Post Race: Overall, I am happy that I nearly met my goal. Given the difficult running conditions, I can’t believe I came so close. I set my goal assuming road racing conditions. The family also had a great time with their races, so it was a great way to spend a Saturday together.

Next up for me is some rest time to recover form the runner’s knee. I imagine I’ll do a 10k and 5k in the summer and start preparing for my real goal: Philadelphia Marathon in the fall.

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