This past Saturday, I headed back down to the Piedmont to run a tune-up race for Uwharrie in 3 weeks. The race was the inaugural running of the Lakeside 25k in Greensboro on some of my favorite trails in NC. The run benefited Greensboro Youth Soccer and the Greensboro Trails. After some slow sign up rate preceding the run, people finally started to commit in the last week and registered runners went from around 60 to 110 at the race start. A pretty good amount of folks for this inaugural run.
When I heard of this race back in November, I wasn't sure I was going to run it, but as the date grew closer I couldn't pass not running it. I had ran the loop part of the course a few times over Christmas break and fell in love with it. It is such a beautiful section of trail and super fast at that. I knew that I could lay down a pretty stout time during this run. But because of the recent wintry precipitation that swung through the area earlier in the week, the trail would not be ideal for laying down a super fast time, just an average time. That is why I wouldn't be that upset with missing my goal of running the distance in under 2 hours.
After saying some hellos to a couple of friends that were there as well, I toed the line and was ready to go. The pace out the gate was a bit too fast for me, so I just settled into a rhythm I was comfortable with and decided just to race my race (keeping an average of 7:30-8:00 min/miles). The trail was a mix of hard pack snow/ice and crunchy snow with some mud/dirt in occasional sun soaked parts of the trail. Grip was minimal and made it difficult to run fast around the many short turns in the trail. I am almost completely sure that this lack of grip attributed to a loss of about 3-5 minutes on everyone's times and maybe even more.
Throughout the first half of the race, my legs weren't feeling that great and felt pretty heavy. They finally started to feel like they should about 8 miles into the run and this is when I started to pass people again. I'm not sure if I get stronger the longer I get into a run (doubt it) or if the rest of the competition just starts to break down more than me the longer into a race. No matter which it is (probably the later), I tend to pass a lot of people toward the end of runs. When I got to the last aid station (4 miles left) I had promptly 28ish minutes to make it to the finish in under 2 hours. That meant that I would have to average just around a 7 min/mile for probably the toughest trail in the run. In my attempt to push my pace, I promptly busted my butt two times by once slipping on the mud and falling on my hip at the last aid station and then again by slipping on some ice on the last bridge landing on the same hip on a harder surface a mile from the finish. I think my pride was more hurt than my body from both falls, although I would have a bruised hip and little finger for the next few days.
After falling at the bridge, I had about 5:30 minutes to get to the finish in under 2 hours. My hopes for a sub 2 hour finish was gone (the fastest timed mile I have ever run was just under 6 minutes on a flat track), but I still pushed it hard to at least get near the 2 hour mark. I crossed the line at exactly 2:02:00! I still secured 2nd in my age group (20-29) and 9th overall. I was pretty satisfied with my run although I didn't reach my goal, but I know that I would have if the trails were not covered in snow/ice.
This was a great race that was well organized and I will definitely be running it again in the future. It definitely filled my expectations of a good tune-up race for Uwharrie in 3 weeks. I hope they add a 50k option next year, which would be an even better tune-up for Uwharrie. The trails are all single track with just enough technicality with roots in sections to make a bit challenging, but not overly challenging. Plus, the trails are so flat that you can just bust out a super fast PR effort. Hope to see more people out for it next year!