Set the right goals and you’ll win every time.
Umstead marathon is my favorite marathon. I say that having only run 7 marathons; 4 of them Umstead. Umstead was my 1st, 3rd, 4th, and this my 7th, marathon (2nd was NYC, 5th was Richmond, 6th was Blue Ridge). However many marathons I run in my lifetime, I hope that half of them will be at Umstead.
A few reasons why I love the Umstead Trail Marathon:
- Umstead State Park is my favorite local place to run.
- It’s hard. People don’t sign up for that reason. My point is, marathons are hard. There are no easy marathons!
- Top-notch organization by Carolina Godiva and awesome volunteers.
- Each year a different mascot is chosen and it’s a secret until the day before the race.
- $70 entry fee includes a great t-shirt, finisher’s pint glass, SmartWool socks, Honey Stinger samples, chocolate, Moe’s burrito, and a door prize. Seriously!
- Great hometown flavor and small, friendly feel with just 200 runners.
Lots of folks who are doing the Umstead 100 run Umstead marathon as a final run before starting their taper, so that was an easy decision. In the past, I’ve had trouble racing two long races a season (Uwharrie+Umstead, Uwharrie+Blue Ridge, etc.), ending up with nagging injuries during or following the second race. So my focus for Umstead was on a last long training run. No racing!
That doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have a few race goals. When you’re not trying for a PR, these are fun to play with, and you can learn a lot. Here’s what I came up with:
- Run a personal slowest time. My previous Umstead times were 4:21, 4:14, and 4:16.
- Run a negative split. I tried this last time but Cedar Ridge had other ideas.
- Feel good after the race, as measured by my ability to eat the free Moe’s burrito post-race. I have never been able to do this.
Having fun is always one of my race goals, so I didn’t list it here. Because I run for fun!
I’ll cut to the chase with some numbers.
I made all three of my goals, finishing in 4:23 (I was planning 4:30) with a 10:03 pace–averaging a 10:08 pace for the first 14 miles, then 9:55 for the back half. I ran a 9:30 pace for the last 10K, something I did not think was possible since it includes the Corkscrew, Cedar Ridge, and Cemetery Hill (see elevation profile below). Unfortunately, I forgot to record my mile splits, which would have been fun to have. Instead I had to average out my splits for miles 4, 14, 21, and 25 to add the data to my Umstead marathon chart*.
The story that the numbers don’t tell is that I had a great time. The beautiful course and camaraderie among all the participants, organizers, and volunteers are what will keep me coming back!