SweetH2O Sweetheart Half-Marathon Race Report

Friday Night (10 Hours before race time): After a quick run Friday afternoon, I began to gather my clothes, gear, and fuel for race morning.  As a trail run on the same trails as my target race (the Sweetwater 50K), this race was a perfect opportunity for me to test out my nutrition strategy and gear.  Following the advice from Hammer on calorie intake per hour for training and racing, I planned on ingesting 200 calories through combining Perpetuem Solids and Hammer Gels (Montana Huckleberry).  Since the start time temperature would be in the 30s, I planned on drinking only one serving of HEED (Hammer’s equivalent to Gatorade) then filling my empty bottle with water.  Although Gatorade would be provided, I prefer to get electrolytes from drinks that don’t contain artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors.   Concerning my gear, I decided that I would wear my running tights, shorts, Patagonia beanie, gloves, a long sleeve shirt, and my Nike windbreaker.  Of course, I wore my Newton shoes (http://www.newtonrunning.com/ ); definitely the best investment I have ever made.  Around 10:00pm, I decided it was time for bed.

Saturday Morning (6:00 am): After a restless night, I got up at 6:00 am to grab some breakfast (fruit smoothie and a maple oat nut scone) and finish packing my gear.  The second we arrived in the park, I immediately began to get flashbacks to the Sweetwater 50K I did last year.  This would prove to be the norm as the race was a single loop of the 50K course.  After picking up my race packet, I headed to the bathroom.  Ultimately, I failed in this venture and would have to deal with some extra unwanted baggage throughout the whole race.  With 10 minutes before race time, I finished gearing up and took a quick warm-up through the parking lot.  At the start line I lined up with my project facilitator, who I would stay with the whole race.  Race time….

Waiting for the Starting Gun

Race (8:00 am – 10:20 am): The race started with a nice downhill, then quickly headed onto the beautiful trails around Sweetwater Creek.  Because of flooding a couple of years ago, the trails at the park are very technical with fallen trees, rocks, sand, and brush piles littering the trail.  Now the first 5-6 miles of the race were fairly chill; the real race started with the infamous gas-line climbs.  Essentially, this section is a nice set of steep hills/downhills on a trail through a clearing (like for power lines).  In the middle of the set, there is one hill that is run not on the cleared path, but to the side in the woods up a gully laden with rocks covered by a generous amount of leaves.  The place is just asking for twisted ankles.  At this point, I was feeling good, but starting to feel some burn in my legs going up the hills (I decided to run the hills instead of walking them to get revenge from last year).  After the gas-line section, we ran up to the Top of the World (TOTW) and an aid station where I got some water.  Next, we tackled the power-line climbs, which essentially mirror the gas-line hills, but have one of the steepest hills I have ever seen.  Even walking/sliding down this hill is intimidating.  During one of the next climbs, I decided to take off my jacket, because the temperature was warming up to the mid-40s, and in the process lost one of my gloves.  Post gas-line, TOTW, and power-line was easy trail running with moderate hills.  My project facilitator and I started to pick up the pace and cruised around 8:00 min miles for the last 3 miles of the race.  I say cruised, but in reality, it was relative to the pace and intensity we did going up and down TOTW.  Between mile 10 and the finish, I stopped at another aid station and my dad snapped some pictures.  We hit the finish line in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Running with my project facilitator for my Senior Project (Sweetwater 50K)

Post Race (11:00am – 12:00am): After the race (and after I finally got to go to the bathroom), I decided to go look for my glove on the TOTW section and also log some more miles for the day.  However, I had no luck… although it did feel good to get some more miles in (especially since the weather was now in the mid 50s).  Last but not least, I went down to the river and soaked for a couple of minutes.  The water was ridiculously cold, which led to probably the most painful ice bath I have had because my toes stayed right between the feeling and numb point and just rung with pain.  All in all, a successful race.  Oh, forget to mention that I messed up my nutrition horribly; I assumed the serving size for the Perpetuem solids was 1 tablet and so I was off by a long-shot on my calorie intake.  Oh well, I felt fine during the race.  Guess I’ll just have to test drive my nutrition during another weekend long run.

Freezing Cold Water

Next Day Thoughts: Whoa…quads are absolutely burning.  Sitting down and standing up now requires some effort.  However, every other part of my body seems to be doing fine.  I should be up and running by Monday afternoon.  Thanks to SportTracks, I was able to generate a nice elevation graph.  The first 13.6 miles are from the race, while the last 5 miles are from my post-race jaunt around TOTW.  Looking forward to the next time I hit these trails…

Just a little bit of elevation change...


6 thoughts on “SweetH2O Sweetheart Half-Marathon Race Report

  1. Hi Alex!

    I’m glad you made it through the race safely. I used to walk the trails at Sweetwater Creek when I lived in Douglasville. When the creek was really low, I was able to walk across the stones from one side to the other.

    here’s to memories made in the great outdoors!
    Aunt Dea

  2. Congrats, nicely done! The elevation graph is crazy, holy cow that’s a huge ascent…well, actually, a whole pike if huge ascents! Dang.

    And ahh yes…the post-race ice cold water trick…also works anytime in the Pacific Ocean, regardless of season.

    Anyway…well done!

    • Thanks DCRainmaker… I follow your blog religiously and through your posts you have become a big inspiration to me. Hopefully, we’ll cross paths someday down the road.
      This race was killer, but I always enjoy a day on the trails :).

  3. I’m impressed with your fortitude and planning, feel those traits will take you a long way in all parts of your life.

    In the summer I often sit at the waters edge at Sweetwater with Tina and reflect on life while crocheting. Very sure next time I’m there and I’m gazing across the sparkling lake, thoughts of you and your race will come to my mind and I’ll say “Cheesh, how did he ever do that?”

    Looking forward to checking out further posts and learning a little more about a very special person who also happens to be my grandson.

  4. Very steep at some parts! I hope I can make it to the 50k this year-I would love to see you run the race and see the beautiful trails! Can’t wait for some more posts-especially about health information. Great post!

  5. Nice Chart. Would have been great to have gone with you and Mr. S, but your description and chart help a lot. I hate and love the fact that we will be running that 2 and 1/2 times in a month.

    Keep up the good training and blogging.

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