Saturday, November 12, 2016

2016 Abe's Trail Trek Half Marathon

2016 Abe's Trail Trek Half Marathon
New Salem's Lincoln's Home
Petersburg, IL

Justin Stewart
1st Place Overall
1:20:50 (CR)

The first frost of the year. Colder weather has seemed to be on hold going into mid November. It has made for a lot of good runs late into the year and this mornings race was just that. Ive been running out on the New Salem trails for years but Ive never been able to get out for the race. This race has been around since 2012 and this year was the first time my schedule cleared up to make it out and Im glad I did.

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:
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.

After the race I went back out and did some more loops on the hillier sections of Shickshack and the New Salem Village to get in a total of 17 miles for the day in just over 2 hours which was nice. The grind of running on a good trail is just so addictive to me. Being out there with all the other races encouraging them along their way. Congrats to all who competed at all the different distance. Shout out to Steve O'Conner which did an amazing job setting up the course and organizing the race. Its really a hidden gem of a course and event that I think will only grow in the years to come. Till the then.


No comments:

Post a Comment