The Foxy Run Trail Half Marathon is a race I ran last year, but under a different name: the Painted Rocks Half Marathon. When I read about this race, I either forgot or wasn’t aware that I had already ran it in the past. I still recall that race being pretty tough considering it was an out and back and the fact that it was a trail race at a half marathon distance. But I survived this year’s and just a little bit slower than before: 1:48:03 (13.06 mi, 8:16 min/mile, 6/21 AG, 94/310 Overall). According to the website, the course was supposed to be 13.30 miles, but I believe I heard the race director say that they actually shortened it this year and changed up the course? Even though I did run a shorter distance than expected, it was still longer than needed because the runners ahead of me ended up taking a wrong turn, and of course I followed. More on that and a few other details later.
My cousin decided to come down to SD to catch a Padres game the day before the race, so I decided to go as well. It was an evening game so we didn’t have dinner until a lot later than usual. And because of the game, restaurants downtown were packed and the pizza place we decided to eat at had a 30 minute wait for a table. So we decided to have a few beers at the bar while waiting for a table to free up. And there you have my pre-race preparation: late dinner, alcohol, and greasy pizza (not to mention the garlic fries from the game). So based off all of that, I am actually very thankful at the results of the race!
The course is pretty straightforward, exit the parking lot of the park and run along a single track trail along the edge of the lake. Make a left to cross the lake via the bridge and then run along the lake some more. You finally make a U-turn at the half-way mark and more or less go back the way you came. I’m not too fond of out and back courses (especially trail ones) because if you run into a steep downhill on the first half of the race, you know you’re going to have to run it UP on the way back! A little bit before the half-way mark, I noticed a group of runners up ahead who looked like they had made a wrong turn, so I followed them as they started going in what I thought was now the correct way, but came to another dead end. I marked the course map which now, looks like an obvious error; apparently, it was only .25 miles. The other problem with this out and back course is that in addition to looking out for rocks and holes in the trail, we also had to be on the lookout for runners who were still on the ‘out’ portion of the race. Fortunately, the part where I did run into other runners, the trail was wide enough for more than one person.
I feel like I did a better job holding back at the beginning of the race. But now that I think about it, it’s hard to tell if I am purposely holding back or am just tired and that’s the fastest I can run at the moment. Either way, my first mile (and 2nd) was a lot slower than I usually run the beginning of my races, which I hoped paid off later on. It’s weird because immediately after the race, I didn’t recall any huge hills, but definitely a lot of rolling hills throughout the entire course. But after looking at the actual race data (via my GPS), it appears I ran 3 fairly steep hills, with the last one being right before the finish! My body must have tricked my mind as to how challenging these hills really were, which I should do more often. The elevation change for those 3 hills were only 75 feet, miniscule compared to other hills I’ve tackled in the past.
I was all over the place in terms of pacing; I suppose the hills played a major role in that. At one moment, I’d be aggressive and try to pass a runner, but at another point, I’d be so exhausted, I almost felt like stopping and walking (glad I didn’t let that happen). I did feel like I hit a 2nd wind near the end and was actually racing against another runner head to head. I think I used up whatever energy I had left just before we made our way back across the bridge because once we got onto the bridge, I slowed down and didn’t even try when the other runner passed me. I was able to stay within striking distance and when we finally reached the parking lot, I knew the finish was in sight. I felt like I had enough left over for a strong finishing kick, but I didn’t push it and finished right behind the other runner, which I was perfectly fine with.
As we crossed the finish line, the race director actually placed my medal around my neck and then told me that I finished within the top 50, so I got to choose an item from their ‘prize’ table, which was unexpected. I remember right after we made the wrong turn and finally got back on track, a runner told another, ‘there goes our top 50 placing!’. But after the race, I heard the same runners (I’m assuming) talk about how they still placed even though they got lost. I must have placed in the 40’s or so because there wasn’t much to choose from by the time I got to the table, so I just picked the item that I would most likely use, a pair of running socks.
My prize for placing in the top 50!
For most of the race, my feet felt super uncomfortable, probably from all of those twists and turns on the course. So I wasn’t surprised to find 2 randomly formed blisters on my toes. The good news is that my next official race isn’t until June. The bad news is that race is a full marathon, which I did not think I was going to do (ever/in the near future). I think I will rest/recover for a few days (hopefully not weeks) and then build up as many miles as possible for the full. I do have a business trip up to Portland this week, so hopefully I will be up for a run while I’m there!