Sunday, October 13, 2013

Raptor Ridge Trail Half Marathon 2013 Recap

On October 13, 2013, I ran my first trail race, the Raptor Ridge Half Marathon.  The marathon took place in Escondido and started across the street from the North County Mall.  The race was limited to 400 people, which gave it an intimate feel.  I was pumped up for the race, feeling well prepared and ready to go.

I walked right up to the starting line and got a position in the front row without a problem.  Standing next to me was Nick, a guy I remembered from winning the UCSD Triton 5K earlier this summer.  At that point, I knew at best I was taking second.  The race began and I got on Nick's back, running the first mile in 5:24.  I knew this was unsustainable, so I let Nick go, but noticed there was no one behind me.  I was wondering what was going on - I was in second place!

The next two miles I ran around 6:20 pace and stayed in second.  Around the fourth mile, a man named Matias caught me.  We chatted for a bit and then the 300' climb up the single-track began.  I said, "go for it," but Matias told me to set the pace and that we would push each other.  Up the climb we went and a third runner joined our little group.  We crested the peak, tore down the backside and floated into the turnaround at 6.5 miles. Matias made pace for the next mile or so and then I took over going back up the hill we had just ran down.

As we ran back, we started to pass all the runners behind us.  They all yelled "good job" and "way to go" and encouraged the three of us to keep at it.  This type of positive encouragement from the runners we are competing against always amazes me.  After the race, a guy named Marcus called this the "warrior spirit."

We then flew down the front of the hill and as it bottomed out, my right side got a massive cramp and I told the two other runners to leave me.  I walked for about a minute, my side aching and my mind thinking about there goes my good finish and self-pity began to creep in.  Then the cramp started to go away.  I turned around and saw two runners approaching and decided to drop the hammer, pushing myself to a 6:05 pace and opening a gap.

Up ahead I could see Matias and the other runner, but they looked too far away to catch.  I just wanted to hold onto my fourth and maybe win my age division.  I concentrated on pace and broke the remaining three miles down in my head into twelve 400 meter segments, then eleven, then ten, etc.

As I ran, I opened a bigger gap on the two runners behind me and I started to pull in Matias.  The other runner having dropped Matias.  I didn't think I had enough race left to catch Matias, but slowly and surely I was gaining and he looked to be fading fast.  Finally, at the last 200 meters I caught him and gave it everything I had left, sprinting by him and to the finish line, finishing third!  I couldn't believe it. A podium finish.  I timed myself at 1:26:35, but the official time has me more around 1:29.

It was a little ironic that I finished one place ahead of Matias, because I don't know that I could have beaten him without his encouragement.  Thanks Matias, I owe you some help next time.

Receiving my free sneaker coupon and extra large beer.
(Thanks to Sean Reynolds for the picture)
Then it was off to the Hess Brewery in North Park for the awards.  I was looking forward to a medal for coming in third, but I didn't get one.  Instead, I was given a coupon for a free pair of Merrell shoes (worth about $100), a $15 gift certificate for RoadID products, an extra large Raptor Ridge beer and anti-blister cream.  Not bad and completely unexpected.  

A beer well earned

Thanks to Dirt Devil Racing and the San Diego Running Institute for putting on a great race.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

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