Last weekend, Jim Jansen and I drove down to Newark, Delaware to run the 16th Annual Triple Crown Half-Marathon. This race is a fundraising event that benefits 4 local homeless shelter programs. They offer four distance options: 5K, 10K, Half, and Full-Marathon, along with a unique Triple Crown category, where a participant can run the three shorter distance races back to back, to back. White Clay Creek State Park’s 25 miles of hiking and biking trails provided the perfect setting for a trail race.
My goal was to just enjoy running some new trails. Based on my current level of fitness, I was hopeful that I could hold about a 9:00 minute pace and finish the Half in just under two hours. I have been building up to peak for a 50K race in June, so this race would be the perfect test of my fitness. Although I told myself I was there to run, not race; it took a hell of an effort to hold back. I was simply just trying to slow down the first 3 miles (splits: 7:45, 7:55, 8:00), and finally got some help from a large water-crossing, wading across White Clay Creek at mile 3. From then on, it was smooth sailing, and I was able to fully enjoy my natural surroundings, which was a nice change. Usually when I run a race, I am all business, and all my focus is directed to pacing, fueling, and staying on course, which takes away from enjoying the actual trails, which is why I am there in the first place. Since this course was well marked, and not really technical, I was able to focus on and appreciate the beauty of the forest I was moving through. This race course offered a nice variety of trails and habitats to run through. I particularly enjoyed the singletrack crossing the grassy meadows that broke up the thick stands of hardwood forest.
I ended up catching up to Jim at about mile 11, and we ran in the rest together. In the end, I finished the 13.29 mile course in 1:52:01, which was about five minutes ahead of pace and good enough for 46th place out of 238 participants. After taking a short break to refuel, Jim and I decided not to waste this beautiful day, and headed back out for another hour of fun on the trails. We covered 19.3 miles on the day, and left Delaware with our thirst for trails quenched.