Here's my review of Ridge Runner, which is also posted on the race review page on the marathon calendar. Comments more suited to this BB follow the review:
Better watch out, better not pout ... (2002) Course: 4 Organization: 4 Fans: 3 Tim Whitmire from Charlotte, N.C. (6/3/02)
I'll tell you why: This course will kick your butt, and you'll only have yourself to blame.
I went out there figuring I was a strong hill runner, so why should I walk the hills. I'd just take 'em slow and steady, right? Guess I should have paid more attention to all those people who looked like they knew what they were doing who started walking the hills within the first few miles. I hung in there until the mile-long hill that starts around 15.5 finally forced me to walk its final section. By then, the heat and the hills had knocked the stuffing out of me and there were still 10 miles to go. I finished, but it was ugly and slow. I had to walk the final hill, another mile-long killer from 24 to 25.
The bottom line is this: Don't come to this race for a PR. Don't come for big-race amenities (a fancy expo, merchandise that looks like it came from a fancy ad shop). Don't come for time splits every mile (there's one clock, and it's at the finish line). Don't come here for spectators who will cheer your name (there are none).
This is a small, tough race that is well-run and well-organized for the money ($25 entry fee). There were aid stations close to every other mile and they were all staffed and had plenty of water and All Sport. The course was adequately marked. There were medals, bagels, bananas, oranges and All Sport at the finish line.
While a beastly course, this part of West Virginia is pretty beautiful, so for the most part the scenery is great. But again, don't be caught off-guard: Roads are not closed, and you're sharing them with cars and trucks, so stay awake.
Just two minor quibbles about the course itself if anyone out there is listening. If there's any way to do away with the section that leaves Harrisville (miles 13-15, approximately), that would be good given the high level of Saturday morning retail traffic. Second, if there's any way to keep the horseback riders off the rail trail until after the marathoners have passed, that would be appreciated. Running on dirt/gravel from miles 18-23 is tough enough without also having to dodge the gifts left behind by our equine friends.
So I joined several of the other posters here who had disappointing results from their spring marathons. While my goal right now is to get back under 4:00, it took me almost 5:05 to finish Ridge Runner, which ranked as a big letdown. I had hoped to build off a strong return to marathoning at Maine last fall and a good spring of training, including a 1:52 half-marathon in March. But it wasn't to be this time around.
One thing I'd be eager to get feedback about, particularly from those who have run a lot of marathons, is this: Ridge Runner was my 12th marathon and I've noticed that running that many marathons has a real tradeoff effect.
On the plus side, marathons don't tear me down anywhere near as much as they used to. A Saturday 20-miler no longer wipes me out for the entire day, and I'm much less sore after an actual marathon than I used to be. In West Virginia, I finished the race, recovered for a bit, showered, got in the car, drove 7 hours home to Charlotte and was up with my 2-year-old son at 6:30 the next morning and out mowing the lawn that evening. My soreness has abated enough that I'll probably go for a short run tomorrow, four days after the race.
The minus side is that I have a much harder time getting "up" for a marathon than back when one was novelty. The excitement, fear, trepidation that I remember so well from the first few times just aren't there anymore and it seems impossible to recapture them. It's that feeling of, 'I've done this before and I know I can do it again." I'm in the long-term pursuit of a 50+DC goal, so the race really becomes a means to that end, with the only really critical factor being finishing the thing. I mean, yeah, Ridge Runner was a disappointment, but I knocked WV off my list and now I don't have to go back, right?
Maybe that's an inevitable tradeoff and a realistic one if 50+DC is going to be my goal. But I wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts on how to regain the "eye of the tiger" that makes each race an adventure.
One other thing: As I touched on in the review above, it turns out there is a real basis to the fable of the tortoise and the hare. I have a feeling my finishing time would have been much more respectable if I had just respected the course more and walked the hills from the very start. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering a hilly marathon.
Post a reply on the Bulletin Board