Wednesday, November 14, 2012

HR Backcountry Half Marathon

First off, a huge thanks to the Agile Fox, Chris Boyack, for all these really sweet pictures!  He showed up and used his mad skills to catch the true essence of the race in some amazing shots.

I've been wanting to run this race for years now, but it always fell on the same Saturday that we have an annual work meeting.  The first mile of the course heads up a bike path right behind my house and it just killed me not being able to run a trail race in my backyard.  This year the meeting date was changed, so I was all in.

With an iffy forecast, I was pleased to wake up on Saturday to sunny skies!  My cousin Scott came over and we jogged down to the start about a 1/2 mile away.  We kept jogging around the park to stay warm until the start.

After some confusion figuring out which direction to start the racers in, the organizers sent us on our way to the hilly course.  Like the Wildcat Mtn Trail Challenge, this race is constantly going up and down.  That's fine if you're out for an easy run, but try cranking up the pace and this course is tough.

Lindsay taking the lead from Nicole during this stretch.
Once we hit dirt, I found myself running with the #1 (Nicole) and #2 (Lindsay) ladies.  They were flying fast and I felt like I could sustain their pace.  We'd end up running very close to each other until mile 9.  It was fun watching the two of them jockey position and you could clearly see how Nicole was strong at the uphills while Lindsay excelled on the technical downs.

Around mile 6, our mellow weather came to an abrupt end as ice pellets started to fly.  Man, they hurt!  We got pinged for about 5 minutes before the ice turned to snow.  Then the biting wind and snow stuck around until the end.

Around mile 9, the last long uphill climb began and I was able to pass Lindsay and create some space between me and the ladies.  I wasn't feeling it on the climb, but I'm pretty sure they were feeling it less.  I set my sight on a guy ahead of me, but could only match his pace, so I didn't make up any ground.

While my heart continued to pound in my chest, I reached mile 11 and the long downhill stretch back to the finish.  Time to let loose and fly.  This was when I came upon a dude sitting in the tall grasses with a Boston Marathon jacket on.  Hey, I recognize the guy behind the camera lens....Chris!  I shouted a hello, but had to keep moving in order to end the pain.

More pics from Chris...

The end comes pretty fast once you hit the bike path.   Despite not catching the guy I was chasing, I did come upon another struggling runner that I passed right before the nasty little hill leading up to the finish.  Passing him got me into the top 10!  I finished in 1:28:32 which was a PR for me by about a minute.  But then I compared notes with a few other runners and learned the course is .3 miles short.  So, no PR for me, but it was pretty dang close and still came out to a sub-7 pace for the race.  Had it been a full 13.1, I probably would have been about a minute off my PR and for that course - whoa nelly!

There were some very fast times thrown down by other guys.  Scott came across the finish line soon after me nabbing 2nd in his age group - and that's with 58 miles of marathon training on his legs that week!  The top two guys went under Dave Mackey's course record with the winner breaking it by five minutes!


  1. Amazing job, Woody! I think a fast, moderately hilly half marathon is one of the most important workouts you can do. I'm going to try to incorporate more of them in next year's training. (I saw your name on the Hardrock applicant list-- I can't wait to see how the lottery unfolds! Good luck!)

    1. I agree Andy! I've tried to go out and run some long tempo runs on these trails, but I can't seem to muster up the same speed (or desire to run fast for long) when I'm out there alone. The race atmosphere always brings it out of me though.

      Yes, we'll all be able to move on from our fantasy HR thoughts after 12/16. If by some crazy chance my name is drawn, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to fall asleep for days as my heart will be racing in fear!

  2. Congrats on a great race! Top ten in that field on that course is awesome. Sub-7 on that course is no joke! It was great to see you flying by.

    1. Thanks Chris! I thought I could get close, but really didn't think a sub-7 was possible. I'm guessing it played out that way b/c I knew the course so well. Put me on more unfamiliar trails, and I'm sure I'd find a way to blow up

  3. Great job out there Woody! Fantastic result!

    1. Thanks Stu! Looking forward to seeing you out on those trails. Let me know when you're heading out for a run and I'd love to tag along.