"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Kind of a Cuckoo Are You? Sloppy Cucko - Half

Is there anything better than a local race? Perhaps. Is there anything better than a local race that takes place on trails? Maybe. Is there anything better than a local race that takes place on trails and it is very inexpensive with great swag? No, there isn't.

There are 4 reasons why I signed up for the Sloppy Cuckoo Half Marathon, that took place just this past weekend on September 28th.
  1. It was local and close to our house
  2. It was all on trails
  3. It was cheap and had great swag
  4. Amy was doing the 12 hour version so I was going to be there anyway, and I had to get my last long run in before the Blues Cruise 50K this weekend


Sloppy Cuckoo Series is put on by Uberendurance Sports which also features 5K, 10K, the Triple and the 12 hour races. I did not have many expectations going into this race, as this was my first trail half marathon. I've done plenty of road halfs but never one on the trail. Sure, I've run 13 miles and way longer on the trail before, but I never raced that distance. Hence, I was pretty excited. I wanted to get done in under 2 hours as I had to run to get my kids and take them to the soccer practice in time. Another motivator. I knew I could go faster than 2 on the road, but I wasn't so sure about the trail.

Tent setup. Ready to roll
I've never ran in Pennypack Park before so I really did not know what to expect. There were some descriptions of the trail on the web, and even some elevations maps, which were highly questionable. I went into the race with an open mind. I am really not going to bore you with the usual race morning prep. You know the standard, coffee, food, potty, repeat. We got to the park early, setup our tent for Amy's race, got our bibs and just took in the atmosphere. Amy started her race at 7:30, so I had another 30 minutes to kill before the half start at 8am. It was supposed to be in the mid-80s that day, pretty warm for September, but the temperature in the morning was nice and cool. It got pretty hot in the middle of the day, so I was glad I got done early, but still Amy had to suffer through the heat.

Pre-race entertainment
Soon enough we were off. The half course consisted of a short 2 mile loop to start off and then 11 mile figure 8 loop through the park. While the 12 hour race followed the same 6.5 mile loop, we hit that course in the beginning and then again at the end. The course is a mixture of rolling hills, some very rocky, several small stream crossings, very limited pavement sections and few mazes through wooded areas. My watch at the end showed an elevation gain of about 1000ft for the 13 miles. I was keeping a pretty good pace throughout and did not get passed by many people after the initial single trail conga line. People can get very irritating as everyone is in the same place, yet people get annoyed that they are going too slow and can't pass you. It is always great to pass those "speed-demons" later in the race. Be patient and courteous people! If you wanted to go that fast, you should have started up front.

One fall later in the wooded maze, I was crossing the finish line in 1:58:57. I was super excited that I was able to come under 2 hours. It gives me a big boost of confidence going into this weekend's 50K.

Done! 1:58:57
Rest of the day was spend driving the kids back and forth and finally getting back to the park to see Amy run 8 loops for the total of 52 some miles. She really kicked butt at the 12 hour taking home 3rd overall female award. I was really excited for her and very proud. On the other hand, her feet were disgusting. You can read her blog to find out more about that, as I don't want to ruin the good reputation of this fine publication with those images.

Amy finishing her loop 8. Not enough time left to do another loop.
Next up is the 50K, followed by the Runner's World Half, and then the Philly Marathon. What a busy racing season!

Until next time, go forth and run.
Our tent setup

Killing time waiting for mommy

Well hello there. He is waiting for mommy too

It was hot!

Day dreaming while waiting!


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