I have completed trail races between 5K and 15K before and now I can add half marathon to the list. To be more precise, the Painted Rocks trail half marathon was actually like 13.62 miles (more than the 13.3 the website stated). Initially, I had hoped to run anywhere between 1:30 and 1:35, which like always is aggressive, but I assumed if I could endure the LA Marathon, this shouldn’t be too bad. Not quite: 1:46:28. Placed well though: 5/33 AG, 18/212 overall. I was told that the course was not that tough, so I wasn’t too worried about it the week leading up to the race. I also messed things up for myself by starting a little too fast, which made it for a tough 13+ mile run. Overall, it was a nice, scenic course, which hopefully will help improve on whatever I decide to run next.
This is an email I got from the race director describing the course:
“As for the trail itself, it’s almost entirely trail with the exception of a couple 100 yards of pavement and a really cool bridge you will run across the crosses the lake. This is a relatively flat race with only one small incline. It is NOTHING like Stairway to Heaven, that 15K is harder than most 1/2 marathons I have done! The trails are a good portion of single track with some double track sections. It’s a really nice run with a variety of views and sections along the lake and through the woods.”
I can agree that most of the course was trail and that it wasn’t as hard as Stairway to Heaven (it’s funny because they didn’t name the race that until after I ran it, but the name definitely fits). I don’t agree that it was a relatively flat race with a small incline. More like rolling hills throughout and a larger incline. The course was more or less an out and back so when we first started the race and had a bunch of downhills, I kept thinking, ‘this is going to suck on the way back!’
The rolling hills weren’t too bad; I actually liked them. The uphills were short enough that I didn’t get too tired, and once I got to the top, the downhills helped me build up speed for whatever came after. The single track parts of the race were interesting. On the way up, I was just a few feet behind a guy, which helped keep me at a consistent pace (although too fast). Then on the way back, I was literally trudging along and had to shift to the side of the trail to let 2 others pass.
Like I said earlier, the distance is what really got me and my poor race strategy of starting off too fast. Because it was a small race, I wanted to try to place well overall. When the race started, I was actually in 2nd for a brief moment. I settled into a more comfortable pace and moved down to 6 and then 8, etc. I don’t know my official placing yet, but I’m hoping it’s within the top 20, at least. So by starting off at the front, I ended up running with people going way faster than I should have been going at. For most of the race, I kept thinking, ‘how many miles have I run, how many more miles are left?’ It was pretty painful! To make matters worse, I built up quite a few blisters, which is just annoying.
This race fell on the same day as the La Jolla Half Marathon, which I ran last year. That course is just as tough, if not worse. This race was much smaller (~250) compared to thousands at LJ, so I didn’t have to worry about traffic, parking and dodging people during the race. I’m still thinking about a race to fill for May (possible trail race), if not, I’ll have another half in early June.