Saturday, April 9, 2011

Roll On! - Mountain To Sea Trail 12 Mile Challenge

I've been feeling a bit beat up lately. Too much running I think. I'm still dealing with the aftermath of running the Umstead Trail Marathon in a totally unprepared state. It would be wise to take some time off and recover. And maybe find some new shoes to replace my worn out Mizuno racing flats.

But, what's this? A twelve mile trail race sponsored by my local running shop! On a trail I'd never run on before... How could I resist?!

So, 3 days before the race, I signed up to run. No, I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack when it comes to decisions involving running.

The Stats
For those of you who are only interested in the race stats, here you go:

  • Pre-race Coffee Consumed - 3 cups (Mmmm, I love coffee!)
  • Pre-race port-o-potty visits - 3 (my sincere apologies to the person who had to use the port-o-potty after my last visit!! Damn coffee....)
  • Pre-race starting corral conversations - 1 (damn my introverted personality!)
  • Number of times during the race I thought I was going to puke - 3 (all in the first 3 miles. Damn you coffee!!)
  • Number of times I twisted my right ankle - 5 (damn you roots and rocks!)
  • Number of times I cursed - lost count...
  • Number of times I fell down - ONE, and that was just a slide down into a ditch on my arse. I consider this a raging success for a 12 mile trail race!
  • Number of people I passed - 4
  • Number of people who passed me - lost count.... I started too far forward in the pack. Sorry, everyone!
  • Unofficial Time - 2:09, 10:45min/mile pace.
Pre Race 
The night before the race, massive storms rolled through the area and dumped 10 feet of rain on the trail! Ok, maybe an inch or so. But the storms, kept me awake for most of the night (I'm a very light sleeper), so I got only 3 hours or so of sleep. I worried about the lack of sleep and the possibly very muddy conditions of the trail, but both turned out to be non-issues.

After my disastrous transport issues at the Tobacco Road Half Marathon, the MST 12 Miler race was a welcome relief. I never waited for a shuttle van for more than 5 minutes. This is just one example of how well the race was run. Many thanks to Bull City Running and all the volunteers for making everything run so smoothly!

The race start was right on the shore of Falls Lake. Where else but the South could you be required to drive on Possum Track Road (I couldn't make that up!) to get to the race start?

The Race
I tried to choose a sensible position in the starting corral. Honestly! But I didn't count on coffee poisoning (actually the coffee was excellent, but I drank too much) during the first 3 miles. I was fine for the first mile or so, but then I burped. Urgh.... coffee burp. The next 3 miles were sheer misery and I think about 100 people passed me. Enough said about that...

About mile 5, my stomach settled down and I eased into a nice survival pace. I struck up a conversation with the guy right behind me (Wendel, I should have asked your last name) who was running the same pace. We ended up running together off and on for the remainder of the race. It's nice to be able to talk to someone while running. I need to convince some of my runner friends to come trail racing with me...

The Mountain To Sea trail along Falls Lake is beautiful. I really enjoyed the course. The trail was hilly, but the hills were more rolling and less steep than Umstead. When I had the chance to take my eyes off the trail, the views of Falls Lake were excellent. I had expected very muddy conditions with the downpour of the previous night, but the trail was only truly muddy in a handful of spots and generally just wet. Other than the treacherous, slick, wet roots along the trail, the running was easy.

I felt good enough toward the end to push hard for the last 3 miles and finished strong. My hard goal was to finish faster than 2:30. My stretch goal was to finish in under 2 hours. If I hadn't screwed up in the first 4 miles or so, I might have made it in under 2 hours, but overall, I'm very happy with a 2:09.

Post Race
Man what a great food spread at the finish! Cookies, fruit, bars, bread, bagels, and several drink options. Nice! I had a few snacks and  hung out for a while to watch the awards presentation. I also finally met AC of the very cool Running Down blog, who ended up winning his master's class. Congrats, Anthony! I think I'm anchoring the other end of our master's group. Hey, someone has to be last too...


  1. Kudos to you for enjoying the coffee before a race. I'm still too squeamish about drinking the stuff before running this sort of distance. Sounds like you enjoyed a fantastic race in spite of the, er, digestive issues. And, that's great. The course really was a beauty. I definitely plan on being there next year.

  2. I can't resist the coffee pre-race ritual, Ash. But I often over do it (about half the time actually). I agree completely about the course. Out of all the trail races I've done in the past year, this is my new favorite. Barring injury and/or stupidity, I plan to run this again next year.

  3. Hey! It was good meeting you out there. Great report, and thanks for the shout out. I seemed to have missed the lake though. was it on the left?

    We have some similar stats, because I can't resist the caffeine either. I like starting the race a few pounds lighter if you know what I mean.

    If you liked this race, I recommend Owls Roost and Philosophers way coming up.

    Hope to see ya out there.

  4. @ac - Yeah, on the left.. then the right and left.. then the left again.. then I fell down. Maybe it's better not to do any sight seeing.

    I'm already signed up for Owls Roost and Philosopher's Way. As long as my body holds together, I'll see you out there.

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