Thursday, September 25, 2014

Drag-N-Fly deja vu

In 2010, I ran the Brazen Drag-N-Fly Half Marathon in 3:50 with The Boy. We won't talk about the following year since that was a bit of a bizarre aberration, although I suspect the late finishes of that year led to the installation of a cutoff at mile 9.9 in 2012.

Which I missed by 23 minutes.

In 2013, Mrs Notthat and I chose to run the 10K distance since we had been up late the previous night running a 10K.

In 2014, I had a choice to make: Do the comfortable thing and run the 10K again or go out of my comfort zone and run the Half, risking that dreaded cutoff.

The thing was, when I missed the cutoff in 2012, I had been moving fine. I wasn't injured or feeling bad - I had covered that 9.9 miles about as well as I could, but I still missed that cutoff, by a lot.

The funny thing is that, in trying to decide what to do in 2014, I was convinced that the cutoff in 2012 had been 10:45 AM, and that the 2014 cutoff of 11:00 AM was giving me 15 extra minutes to play with. And that's what convinced me to give it another shot. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong about the cutoff in 2012 since it was also at 11:00 AM. If I had known this I doubt I would have attempted the Half again this year.)

In the end, I took a deep breath and signed up for the Half Marathon. I knew it was risky, but I figured with that (totally bogus) 15 minute cushion and with a tiny bit of focus, I could make it fine. Probably.

Captain Ylrac (not her real name, but her real position) at the first aid station.
It was a very clear day that promised to get very warm in a bit, which is typical for this race. Last year though, there was actually a bit of a downpour for the last bit of the race (and since we did the 10K, we were sitting in a restaurant when the clouds opened up).

Weird Haired Mom and Weird Haired Dyoll (not his real name or hair) taunting me.
When you leave that first aid station, you start up a long, moderately steep hill. Since the course is a lollipop shape, we all knew we would get to finish the race by flying back down this hill.

Weird Haired Mom and Weird Haired Dyoll were ahead of me and I figured they would stay that way.

The stick of the lollipop is all a relatively smooth (but decidedly not flat or shaded) fire road. Normally most of this road is heavily cracked and rough to try to run on, but this year, the parks had really smoothed the roads out, making them fairly easy to traverse. Well, other than the hills and lack of shade thing.

This is the second aid station, which was also going to be the fourth aid station, and the home of the cutoff. It's also where the loop that makes up the candy part of the lollipop starts and ends.

The loop is about six miles, and about half of it is among the most technical trails around. It's easily the best bit of this course, but it's really tough - there is a LOT of the downhill that is really hard to walk down, let alone try to run.

Capitan Nad (not his real name) prancing at the third aid station.
It was getting warm by now, but this part of the course has frequent infestations of shade, so it wasn't going so bad. (And yes, that really is pavement. It's really weird how such a technical loop can have about a half mile of pavement in it. Uphill pavement.)

By mile nine or so, I was pretty comfortable that I was going to make the cut off. And then this happened. It took me forever to get down this steep, ridiculously technical trail.

I, along with four others, including WHM and WHDyoll, showed up to the fourth aid station about three minutes after the cutoff. Three stupid minutes.

But that was enough. WHDyoll managed to talk the Brazen Rabbit into being able to continue on, and I'm sure I could have done the same thing, but I have this overdeveloped need to follow the rules, and I had missed the cutoff, so I was done.

I have missed a cutoff and DNFd (Did Not Finish) four times now, and outside of the disappointment, the biggest frustration has been the long wait to get a ride to the finish. That was not the case this time though, as we almost immediately had a ride back.

Which was great because that meant I got to see Mrs Notthat finish!

The Blog and WHM being sad and medal-free.
Lots of non-Blerches in the house!
A group of us ran this race as a virtual Blerch race. Only one of these people is not wearing a finisher medal.

Ekim (not his real name) trying to teach a duck/turkey to sit up pretty. This ended as badly as you are probably  thinking it did.
The front of the shirt and Mrs Notthat's medal. 
The back of the shirt - I love this design!
So, as in 2012, I actually had about as good a first ten miles as I could on this course. I was 20 minutes faster, and was much closer to the cutoff than then.

Here's the thing that makes me a bit nuts though; in 2010 when I finished in 3:50, if there had been this same cutoff in place, I would have missed it by one minute.

There is 3.7 miles to go from this point, and there is a bit of a climb, but it's nothing compared to what you have just been through, and there are no more technical trails to slow you down. The tough part is that that last 3.7 miles is all exposed, and can get really hot. But there is an aid station at about the halfway point where you can cool off again. I honestly think I would have finished in a bit under four hours if I had kept going (the finish line cutoff was 4.5 hours).

In the end, I will have to either get just a few minutes faster on that first 9.9 miles, get comfortable with talking my way into continuing when I'm a few minutes late (this seems to work for others, although it really goes against my instincts), or stick to the 10K for this race. (Yes, there is another option - the early start, but this race already requires us to leave earlier than most, so having to leave an hour earlier is not very appealing.)

Regardless, I had a lot of fun at this event and got to see a lot of running friends - it was still worth coming out for it.

But lordy is this race giving me second thoughts about Rocky Ridge; a course that makes this one seem like a road race. (I will be taking advantage of the early start there. I told Mrs Notthat that I might downgrade to the 10K, and was told that that was not an option since we need matching Half Series coasters. She's right.)

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.


deX said...

Nice race report. I admire how you didn't want to go on because you wanted to follow the strict cutoff rule. I'm sure it will just make you want to do next year even more. I did the Drag N Fly 10K last year and it was fun, but hot! I can only imagine the half marathon. Maybe I'll aim for next year if it works with my training plans.

Laura said...

I wondered what happened when you posted that you DNF'd. Must be a tough course if they had to implement a cut-off. It's great that you gave it a shot even though you might have been uncertain what the outcome would be.

mary ann said...

is there a name for that nasty steep technical trail that kept you from your goal? I'm glad you stil had such a great time - all of you!

Beth said...

So close to home, yet we've not done this one! And since it sounds as if heat is a normal part of this one, probably wont do it. But, it is one of the shirts I'd love to add to my collection! We'll see you at Rocky Ridge.