This race is competitive and the course is not easy. Both courses are an out and back with the same start and finish line. You start with a downhill first half mile. Once you pass Lake Crabtree on your left and go into Umstead State Park you transition from the paved road to crushed gravel to hard packed dirt of a bridal trail. It is not a technical surface. It's a gradual uphill until into Umstead until you get to about 2.3 miles. It's a little rolling after that to the 10K turn around sign. The half keeps going all the way to the end of the Reedy Creek Trail, the main bridal trail that cuts through the park, and turns onto Turkey Creek for a little bit before coming back the same way. The half is way tougher than the 10K because you have to climb from Reedy Creek Lake till you reach Turkey Creek, climb the corkscrew hills coming back, go up Cemetery Hill, and have the same tough half mile uphill finish.
Race morning arrived and the weather was great for late May. It was in the low 60s with a light mist of rain in the air. The breeze was actually chilly enough to need a light jacket while waiting for the start. I arrived at the start around 6:15am. The 10K didn't start till 7:20 but I wanted to get there early because the half started at 7am and wanted to get a parking spot close to the start finish. I was able to park right across the street from the start/finish. About an hour before the start I ate a Honey Stinger waffle and then just chilled in my car listening to music. About 35 minutes before the start I did my dynamic warm-up routine and drank a scoop and a half of Generation UCAN before heading out for an easy 1.5 miles.
I felt alright but felt like that first mile took more effort than it should have especially with the first half being downhill. I focused on settling in and grinding the gradual hill into Umstead. We started passing some of the half marathon pacers and runners after the first 1.5 miles. As we neared two miles a runner caught me from behind and was now pulling beside and passing me. He must have started slower and was now picking up the pace. I ran mile two in 6:12. I was now in fourth watching third place run down first and second place. I just wanted to maintain effort and pick the pace back up after the halfway point. I knew we wouldn't have to go down Cemetery Hill which I was thankful for because I didn't feel like climbing back up that in a race today.
I wasn't sure how far fifth place was behind me and I wasn't looking to find out. I just knew I had to work the downhill coming out before the half mile uphill finish. My goal was to hold onto fourth place and still run as fast as I could even if my legs were feeling heavy and tired. The downhill coming out of Umstead towards Lake Crabtree always feels nice. You get to lengthen your stride and stretch the legs out and increase turnover. I typically run from Lake Crabtree because of the fast downhill finish coming out on long runs. I also run from Harrison Ave and that's a good test with a steep half mile uphill finish too, steeper than the finish of this race. Taking advantage of the downhill I ran mile five in 5:58.
I was ok with my time considering I was tired after racing and winning a Beach Run just five days before. This race was very organized thanks to the NCRC President Rebecca Sitton. The awards were very nice. Along with a gift card I got a decorative tile for my age group win. This is an event worth doing because of the location. Umstead is such a great place to run even if it is tough with the hills.
Socks: Smartwool PhD Run Ultra Light low cut
Shoes: New Balance 1400v4 road flats
Shorts: The North Face Better Than Naked Split Shorts 3"
Singlet: The Running Syndicate Adidas singlet
Road ID Wrist ID Slim
Watch: Garmin 920XT
Sunglasses: Rudy Project Rydon