Full DisclosureThe 13th Annual Inside-Out Sports Classic Half Marathon was not a trail race, not technically.
Sure, the majority of the course leads runners along the Reedy Creek bridle trail in Umstead State Park. But, officially, IOS Classic is not a trail race. I'm telling you this in the interest of full disclosure so that you can decided now whether you care to read further.
The MotivationThis race served as a great excuse for me to run with Brother and Brother's Wife for the first time. The three of us have been tentatively planning to run a race together since early last year. And, the IOS Classic Half Marathon managed to meet all the criteria to make those plans a reality.
The criteria were simple, really:
- The event date needed to jive with our schedules.
- The race site needed to be located somewhere between the Triangle and Asheville.
- The terrain needed to be suitable for runners used to running on roads.
- It needed to be a half marathon, or thereabouts, to warrant the lengthy drive one of us would have to make.
The IOS Classic marked the second half marathon for me as well as for Brother and Brother's Wife. Their first was at Disney World last October. And, my first, as you know, was the Canal Race in Roanoke Rapids this past March.
It's also worth mentioning that the 12th Annual IOS Classic 10K was my first race ever, which I ran on May 16 last year. So, this was sort of an anniversary race for me.
My goal for this race was to run 13.1 miles faster than I did in my first half marathon. But, given that the IOS Classic course was a bit more hilly than the Canal Trail, I had low expectations.
The RaceRace morning arrived. And, the three of us woke up extra early in order to be ready to run at the 7:00 start time. It was a humid 60-something degrees as we waited among the other half marathoners. The race director said quite a lot of stuff through a bull horn, none of which we could understand.
As the 609 half marathon runners moved crossed the starting line at 7:01 am, I realized that we were pretty much in the back of the pack. I figured this was good, because it would ensure that I wouldn't start out too quickly.
Wrong. I nodded a "see-you-at-the-finish" to Brother and headed to the side of the road.
Starting out too slowly inspires one to sprint past the crowd, which messes up one's hope of maintaining even splits. I should have known this as I raced through the weeds beside the road in order to find a more agreeable pace. But, so be it. I still have a lot to learn about racing.
As my f-lite 230s touched the packed gravel of the Reedy Creek trail, I felt more at home on the crunchy terrain. A box turtle on the side of the trail made me laugh to myself, because I remember seeing a box turtle during the 10K last year along this stretch of the course. I wondered if it was the same one, a fan of the IOS Classic.
Aid station two/six surprised me with the familiar faces of Anthony and Shannon! I've never seen a familiar face during a race before. And, their presence actually gave me a bit of an energy boost on the way back. That may be due to the fact that I knew Shannon would be taking pictures.
Photo by Shannon. See her full set of images from the Inside-Out Sports Classic Half Marathon here.
Yadda, yadda, running, running...Oh, look, there are the lead speedy people on the way back. The turnaround must be near. It's just after this incline, right? I can hear the cheering.
Yep, there went the turnaround. I took a sip of Gatorade and marveled at the burning sweetness. Ugh!
More running. Passing. Amazed that I hadn't been bombarded by the ubiquitous Umstead flies yet. I imagined they loved this sort of event, like a moving breakfast buffet.
A gap between me and the faster people grew wider as we hit the last significant hill before aid station six. I pushed harder, focusing on a dude in a red shirt, hoping to catch him. (I didn't)
A race volunteer told me I had about three more miles to go. I looked at my watch and realized that I'd be lucky to beat my previous half marathon time much less finish in my secret fantasy goal time (not telling).
Here's me approaching the finish, clearly cursing the time I just read on my watch. Thanks to Carolina Snapshot Sports Photography for posting this online.
I left the crushed gravel behind and turned onto the paved greenway where I spied, for the third time, a young mother with her son and a cow bell. She amazed me with her ability to travel to three different points during the race just to cheer on her husband. That took planning. And, seeing her there with her son made me think of my own family, which inspired me to pretend that I had a reason to show off.
Run faster now...
Thanks to the longest last mile ever, which was punctuated by a cruel hill just before the finish, I completed the race just under a minute over my previous half marathon time (1:39:xx for those keeping score at home). That figures. But, there were hills, dammit!
After removing my timing chip, I headed back along the course to cheer on Brother and Brother's Wife. They each finished in very respectable times. And, I was incredibly proud to be there with them. Then we went to Neomonde for a proper post-race pre-lunch.
Thanks for reading!