2016 Abe's Trail Trek Half Marathon
New Salem's Lincoln's Home
1st Place Overall
Last week I put in a tempo training run on the course just to scout things out since I hadn't been out there in a while and luckily the course was roughly marked. Got in a good run in 1:30 and some change so I was feeling good about the weekend to come. Trainings been going well. Kind of took a short downtime stint in late September after some decent unattached 8k XC races at some of the local universities. I ran some short mileage weeks and then decided to ramp it back up for some 50k's in a few months. Lots of strength endurance work the next couple months. This race was a good way to get in some racing and speed work on the trails, which is important.
The race went off without a hitch. Right out of the gates Tim from Iowa, who is now at WIU grads program, went out looking strong. He was a DIII runner from Central College in Iowa. At the time I had no idea who he was. He was moving at a good clip and slowly pulled away the first couple miles. I knew the course was tough and that the pace he was moving at would be tough to continue. Once we entered the Mountain Bike section (3.4 mile loop) I slowly started to close the gap and by the time we exited the MTB section I was right on his heels. I wanted to run behind him for a bit just to get a good read on him. He was climbing well and was running strong not breathing too heavy. We continued to yo-yo together pretty much the entire middle section of the course. No doubt about it, Im glad he was there to push me because I doubt we would have been moving at that clip if either of us were alone in the lead. We were moving really well for how that course is laid out, its not an easy course by any means. On the flat sections in between some climbs we were moving just under 6 min mile pace. I was feeling good and tried to stay fast but under control because I had no idea what kind of speed he had towards the end if it came down to a kick. Once we got to the steps at the overpass on 97 we were still neck and neck. Tim had been running strong on the flats all race and it made me kind of nervous because after the stairs section its pretty much flat asphalt. Theres a short uphill climb on the asphalt after the stairs and thats where I continued my pace but felt him slipping back a bit. So I decided to surge there and just continued that till the end. Going through the campground and playground area I was checking behind me on the turns but was still slightly pulling away. I just kept pressing knowing there was only about a mile left anyway and that once we got back on the trail for the last section there was one short steep climb then all downhill from there. I was happy with the time and the way I felt. Looking back I might have been able to push it a little bit harder in the middle of the race in Shickshack and Damselfly but the race unfolded the way it did and I did what I thought I needed to do to compete and get the win. No doubt about it, Im so glad Tim was there to run with, it made it so much more enjoyable. It made it feel more like a race and we pushed each other. We were both way under the course record of 1:32:something. 10-8 minutes under.