Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Race Across Durham Trail Marathon - 2017

I'm tired of marathon training. It takes too much time. It exhausts me. It make me feel guilty for sitting on the couch, or eating some pie, or drinking a beer, or really anything that makes life worth living. For the Race Across Durham trail marathon, I decided to just skip all the bad parts (in other words, nearly all of it). But before I tell you about my master slacker plan for marathon glory, let me tell you about the race.

Race Across Durham winds its way all the way across Durham County on the Mountains to Sea Trail, and through a good portion of my favorite place - the Eno River State Park. The scenery ranges from bucolic to gorgeous, especially in the finishing miles.

As usual Bull City Running put on an excellent race. Dozens of friendly volunteers and decent aid stations helped me as I stumbled through the 26ish miles of rooty, rocky trails. Post race, there was a live band, BBQ, massages, and free beer! Instead of a weaponized finisher medal, they gave us these lovely little handmade Christmas ornaments (mine is currently hanging on my tree).

In terms of difficulty, this one is difficult to grade. The first 16 miles are actually pretty easy, with gentle rolling hills and lots of flat riverside and lakeside trail. Then around mile 18ish, things get ugly. A series of relentless river-to-ridge climbs and descents begin hammering away at your already battered legs. Cruelly, the hills get bigger and more technical as you approach the finish, with the nastiest stretch around mile 25. The race director is a sadist. In a good way. Here's an elevation graph that shows how I feel about the course.

My beautifully marbled quad muscles are now digesting deep in the belly of this beast. 

Whisky, Laziness, and Long Runs
I've been slowly whittling my marathon training down over the years. I just don't have the patience for it any longer. Like my shoes, I'm a fan of minimalism in marathon training. This time, I took a bold step into laziness and decided that all the mid-week mid-distance tempo runs and speed work were useless, so I skipped them. Also, I waited  until the last 5 weeks to train. My Strava training log is a barren wasteland, punctuated by a handful of weekend long runs. I figured a long run, followed by some good whisky for recovery was all I needed. Over 5 weekends, I ran:
  • 9.8 miles
  • 10.5 miles
  • 12.5 miles
  • 13.5 miles
  • 19.5 miles
I skipped milk, pickle juice, or any other foolish recovery drink for the perfect long run recovery beverage.

Did it work, you ask? You know what? I don't care if it worked or not. I did survive the race, and I nearly enjoyed my marathon training. Well, at least I enjoyed the recovery beverage. Next marathon, I'm just going to skip all the training runs and wear a hydration vest filled with whisky on race day. I'll probably have a great race! Or die happy. Either way is fine, as long as I don't have to train.