Time: 3:27:56 Place: 12/168
We have friends in Morgantown who we hadn’t seen for years so this seemed a good excuse to see them and fit in another long training run, still with no goal race in mind. The course is hilly so definitely not one for a PR.
It wasn’t the best! We drove over on the Saturday morning and had a late lunch with friends and then a burrito late. Not the best prep for a 5am wake up call ready for a 7am start. We were staying in an Airbnb about 2 miles from start, so I planned a gentle jog there and back as a warm up and cool down.
With the plan to treat the race as a hard training run, a goal time of 3:30 seemed appropriate (because of the hills) though I planned to run on feel instead of watching the pace on my watch.
I was so badly prepared that I didn’t even have my bagel for breakfast. This could have really messed me up psychologically but I made do with an instant porridge from CVS and seeing as we were in Morgantown a pepperoni roll! Both crammed down around 5am. I left just before 6 and ran a hilly 2 miles to the start. I had a banana about 30 mins before the start. There were plenty of portajohns and a bag drop service (which I didn’t use).
I decided on Altra Instinct 4.0s (moderately cushioned road shoes)
The race was started with a gunshot from the WVU Mountaineer mascots rifle. I started near the front but new to ignore the front of the race last years winner was aiming to run around 2:30!
I saw chuck Engle in the first mile and ran on and off with him, through residential neighborhoods, with some support (including one boy who shouted out that he wanted me to win… not sure whether it was the British accent or the orange shirt!), lots of turns and several small ups and downs. I had a gel at the aid station around the mile 6 marker. At around this point I felt a tightness in my calf so focused on form on the long up to mile 8 on a highway shoulder and from this point I was running mostly on my own.
I was overtaken by two people at mile 9 as we were turning off the highway onto a quieter road. There was then some nice running on tree lined roads with views and a long downhill to the university. After running down the deserted high street, there was then another section through residential streets. More crowds here but also some steeper hills! I forced myself to run them all but some would have been more efficient to walk! I overtook someone else around mile 12 (Later found out I was in 17th place at 13.1) then passed someone at mile 19 (after some lovely flat miles alongside the river). This followed by another hilly loop on residential streets before dropping down a steep hill to the river. There is then several miles along the riverside path which was lovely but unshaded until you get in among the tall buildings in town. I picked up the pace but not too much as the hills had taken a lot out of me and I knew there was a tough hill in the final mile.
I gradually caught and overtook someone on the riverside trail, though I had to play around with my pace to stave off the onset of cramp. Others were worse off than me though as I overtook another runner on the long climb in the last mile (they were walking), and finally someone who collapsed with cramp at mile 26. I did stop to check whether they were ok(!) but they waved me on.
There was a good crowd at the finish and live music which lifted the spirits for the last .2 across the parking lot for the basketball arena (where the race started and finished). By this point I knew I was going to be well inside 3:30 so was able to enjoy it (and the slight downhill!).
There was beer, fruit, and pizza at the finish. I had some fruit but skipped the rest of the offerings as I still had a couple of miles of running ahead of me.
Water and Gatorade at aid stations. Clif Shot bloks taken every 1-1.5 miles from mile 6. 2 gels at mile 17 and 22.
Morgantown is very hilly.
I felt relatively good on the last hill so I’ve not lost my early season endurance.