On Sunday I ran in the Backside Trail Marathon. When I signed up, the forecast was for low to mid-70's for the high on race day. Of course, Sunday would turn out to be the warmest (hottest) day of the year so far with temps in the low 80's & humidity higher than normal. A night & day difference from my previous race at McNaughton Park in Illinois earlier this month where the temps were mostly in the 40's and windchills were in the 20's & 30's.
I could have chose pacing at the Indiana Trail 100 which would have been cooler at night, but felt I really needed to work on my speed (especially after the slow miles at Potawatomi). The course for the Backside Trail Marathon seemed like it would fit that need. It consists mainly of winding bike trails in 2 interconnected city parks within Louisville. When I ran this race in 2012, it had several road sections & was a fast course as far as trail races are concerned. There aren't any big hills in the parks, but there are countless "small" hills (in comparison to the LLTH training course I use). This race would let me see what kind of speed I had, if any.
I arrived an hour early & my car thermometer already read 60 degrees. I came prepared with a hydration & S-cap plan with hopes that I could finish the race before it reached 80. The 2 loop format helped as you don't always have access to a drop bag in a marathon.
I started at the back & though there was a timing mat at the start/finish, I believe the gun time was used (according to my watch). Starting at the back I knew I would run my pace & not get caught up with someone else's. With the 1st mile or so in a field or on the road, it would not be difficult to get by anyone.
Felt good at the start & began to slowly pass other runners. I always feel better to be passing than being passed -- only 2 runners would pass me that I wouldn't pass back this race. The majority of the runners were in the half marathon (1 loop), so the pace was pretty fast & I didn't pass all that many runners either.
My so-called "speed" seemed to be 10:30 to 11 minutes/mile. This included jogging up the hills. I felt comfortable with the pace, though it was much faster than usual for me. It was exactly what I was looking for from this race.
This is how to maximize your trail mileage in a limited area -- there might be 2 miles of trails in this maze:
There were several changes to the course since I ran it a couple years ago. Some road sections were removed & technical trail was added in parts of the park I had not seen before -- I thought it was a major improvement. I went down once on the hard packed dirt trail in a rooty section. The way my elbow is skinned up, you would think I fell on pavement!
I was able to maintain my "speed" for the 1st half or so. Then I started to get hot. Though I was taking lots of S-caps, my legs kept trying to cramp. At times I would break open the capsules to get faster relief. At about 18 miles, the legs became heavy & my pace dropped off. I couldn't recover, especially with the heat. From there on in, I just tried not to walk the flats. I was covered w/salt at the finish.
Looking forward to a new & scenic venue in Tennessee next month at the Thunder Rock 100. I'm hoping for cool temps, though I'm sure that's not likely to happen with my luck. Based on what I've heard though, course marking in this remote wilderness area will be my biggest concern at this point to point race. With a 30 hr time limit & lots of elevation gain, I'll need everything to go my way.