March 26, 2010

Cuivre River Trail Half Marathon – 2010

The Quivering Quads trail half marathon was a staple for Midwestern trail runners from 1994 to 2003. It was (and still is) the only race to use the trails at Cuivre River State Park. The race was discontinued in 2004 so the promoter could concentrate efforts on other activities. Luckily the race came back for the 2010 season, and it fell on an open weekend in the schedule. The race was put on by Fleet Feet. They are a local running store that is very active in the area racing scene.

There are not a lot of long trail runs in our area so when this one was advertised I registered right away. It turns out that early registration was a good idea, the race only had 400 openings and it quickly filled. Several teammates from ROCK Racing and the Metro Tri Club also got registered in time.

Robin and I pre-ran the whole course on 2/28, three weeks before race day. I was excited to find that this trail is a lot of fun to run and only about 25 minutes from my home. To get the race out to half marathon length , two trails and an out-n-back section were combined. The southern trail is Big Sugar Creek Trail and the northern loop is the Lone Spring Trail. Each trail has a big spring with water gushing out the side of a hill. I’m thinking I’ll be wading in there on summer-time training runs.

Several days of rain before the race limited the parking options and shuttle busses would have to transport all racers from distant lots to the start line. The opportunity for chaos was high, but Fleet Feet had it planned well, and no parking/shuttle issues came up. Another sign of their good planning was changing tents, gear storage tent, and a whole line of porta-potties.

The forecast for race start was rain and 38 degrees. The start was done in waves so the 400 racers wouldn’t be jammed together on the narrow and wet singletrack trails. Waves were 25 runners each and were sent out at 3 minute intervals. Wave number was determined by stating a previous road race time during registration.

Part of my pre-race plan was abandoned before race day. I had thought about using this race a long-slow training day for the Berryman Marathon, so when I registered I put in a slightly slower time to get one of the last waves. But as the race approached that competitive-drive feeling won out and I decided to run the race for the best time I could and I abandoned the ‘training day’ idea.

I followed another part of my pre-race plan and ran the first 1.8 mile out-n-back faster than my normal distance pace. My thinking was: I wanted to get to the single track ahead of the rest of my wave and maybe enjoy some open running instead of the pass/be-passed shuffle. The plan worked somewhat… I ran out ahead of the wave, but into the back of the next one… so I ended up in the shuffle anyway.

One of the best decisions I made that day was wearing my INOV-8 Roclite 305’s. The shoes performed perfectly. There were parts of the trail that could be described as treacherous. Narrow rocky ledges alongside creek drop-offs could be a serious fall. I was so sure of my footing in these shoes that I ran them without a second thought. There were over a dozen creek crossings with water in them. The shoes drained well after each one and didn’t leave me with that wet-heavy feeling. Another long run completed with no blisters. I love these shoes. I also wore the INOV-8 MistLite pants which are water resistant enough to keep all the mud splatter from soaking in and weighing down the pant legs.

The other good decision was sticking two Honey Stinger Ginsting gels in my pants pocket. I swallowed one at the crossover from Big Sugar Creek Trail to Lone Spring Trail and another about 40 minutes out from the finish. They gave me just the boost needed to hold onto the pace I was running, and they are the only gel palatable enough that I can down one anytime.

The trail was muddier than any other time I had seen it. It was muddier than any other race I’ve ever been in. Luckily I trained all winter in snow, mud, ice, rain, and freezing temps so I’m sure my legs never really noticed a difference. This trail played perfectly to my strengths, narrow rocky tech sections, steep hills, and all singletrack. I felt strong and fast. I had a great race, finishing in 2:24. 12 in AG and 161 OA. Starting near the back of a 400 racer field and moving up to 161 was a thrill. I’m sure I lost time in working my way around slower runners, but it sure is a morale boost to always be passing someone. Thinking back on it now, I don’t think I was passed at all. Cool.

Fleet Feet, please do this race again next year!

1 comment:

  1. Great write-up on a race I was happy to see resurrected. I am lucky enough to live near the park and run the Lone Spring loop regularly.