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Clarksburg half, race review November 16, 2011

Posted by Merrilee in Uncategorized.

As I said in my previous post, I had significant anxiety about the Clarksburg Half. It wasn’t just about the course, it was about doubt. When I ran the Humboldt Half, I was a blank slate. Finishing would be good, and finishing “around 2 hours” would be better. So I did both, finish and around (but slightly over) 2 hours. But what if both of those were flukes? What if I really couldn’t finish a second half (four weeks later)? And what if my real time turned out to be much, much higher?

So I tossed and turned and got some sleep (I made the whole family go to bed early, but frankly we all needed it). I was up at 5 and out the door just before 6 to meet fellow LJMS teammate Sarah. Sarah wanted to get to the course early to change her registration from the 20 to the half (the half is part of the PA road racing series and Sarah wanted her race to count for the LMJS women’s racing team). We made good time getting to the small town of Clarksburg, which is on the Sacramento River, just south of Sacramento. Google maps showed that taking highway 4 and then highway 160 was the most direct route, so that’s the way we went. It turned out to also be quite beautiful. Highway 160 is essentially right on the levee of the Sacramento River. As Sarah said, this area of California puts some perspective on how Creedence Clearwater Revival, as an El Cerrito garage band, came up with songs like Born on the Bayou — except for the eucalyptus trees, this area really looks like the South. Driving along the levy and through the Delta also gives you an appreciation for how at risk this area is — as in New Orleans, the river really is above the towns, or so it appeared from our levy perch. I would love to return to this area and do some exploring. It looks perfect for bike touring or houseboating.

Despite a detour around an out-of-service drawbridge, we made good time. Check in at Delta High School was super efficient and Sarah had no problems switching her registration. After checking out the porta potty situation (more than adequate), sweat check (there was one), glancing again at the course map (still puzzling) greeting a few other LMJS ducks (there were more than 10 of us racing) and saying a brief hello to Sesa (running in the 20), we retreated to the car. Sarah catnapped and I messed around with my phone. I had decided, belatedly, to run with music and was still constructing a playlist. Finally I couldn’t take it any more and I headed out with all my gear — Garmin, bluetooth headphones, phone, Chocolate Outrage GU.

I milled around until it was time to head to the line for a leisurely 9:25 start. I found out that not only were there a lot of people running (in the kids run, the 5 K, the 10 K, the half, the 20…) but also a number of walkers. I talked to two women who were walking the half, which kind of blew my mind. If seems like the whole town of Clarksburg turns out for this event. Just before the race, a woman handed me a very random (but important) tip. The course is essentially flat (with one small “hill” at the beginning and end) but the road is subtly cambered. “Run right in the center,” she said. “This course kills people, because you are running on a slant the whole time and don’t know it.” That was good intel, and during the race I paid careful attention to the slant of the road.

When we lined up, I positioned myself towards the back. I wanted to go out slow, as I had at Humboldt, and hopefully do negative splits. My strategy was essentially the same expect I wanted to push myself harder at the end. I wound up going out quite slow indeed but not because I had planned it. For some reason my headset wasn’t synching with my phone so as I was starting to run, I was still messing with it. For a few minutes I thought I would be carrying the whole mess for nothing but then suddenly, there was a Schubert piano concerto (chosen to help me be calm at the beginning) playing as planned.

So let’s take a look at my splits and see how I did…
9:01 8:46 9:00 9:04 9:04 9:01
9:01 9:11 9:31 8:55 9:00 9:05 8:50 (and change)

I think I did okay. Before the turn around I was going a little faster than I wanted to but I think that worked out because at the turn around I realized there was a slight wind (that’s my 9:11 and 9:31). I finally decided it was less of a wind and more of an annoyance and I picked up the pace. The last three miles I kept wondering how terrible it would be if I walked. Then I thought, “Maybe I should run 10Ks.” Then I realized that if I was running a 10K, I’d also want to walk the last three miles — that’s just who I am. I’m pleased that I was actually pushing myself, even while thinking walking thoughts.

The course itself — well this is the Clarksburg COUNTRY Run. I thought it was a little monotonous. You are mostly running on roads with vineyards on either side. Which sounds nice, but this time of year the vines are pretty twiggy. It’s also quite open — tree lined roads would be ideal (this would be brutal with even a little heat). Even more ideal would be running by the river which I had kind of expected given the location. On the other hand, the course is flat and I heard a number of people say how pretty it was. Different strokes.

I’m a little more partial to Clarksburg than I might be otherwise because after all that angst I DID get a PR: 1:59:45. And after the race, I had a nice pasta lunch before heading home.

More race followup, with photos and a tshirt review will follow. But this is enough for now.



1. richendabrim - November 16, 2011

Nice job on breaking 2 hours for your second half! Congratulations!

2. Sesa - November 17, 2011

Here here — two hours is a huge milestone! Those splits are for the most part pretty steady. Awesome job!!

I liked the country roads, but I’m from an agricultural area and enjoy that kind of atmosphere. I do enjoy busy city races the most, but Clarksburg was a lovely little race. Probably won’t do it again tho (especially if I do CIM again, which is only three weeks away — eek!).

It looks like our paces and PRs are similar. We really need to go running together sometime.

3. Elaine - November 17, 2011

Sounds like you had a great run–and a PR! Congratulations!

4. RoseRunner - December 5, 2011

what a beautiful number! I love seeing “just” breaking a huge accomplishment — it shows that you really pushed for that number. It’s also great that you had a kick at the end there with a fast mile. You’ve come a long way in a short time!

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