Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 Scream Half-Marathon

July 20, 2013 8:00 AM
Jonas Ridge, North Carolina

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 1:32:28 7:03 M35-39 2/16 19/139 23/337 1147

Written by Owen:

I signed up for this race so I would know what a downhill race was like and to prepare my body.  It is much more downhill than the St. George Marathon, but I wanted to know how my body would respond and how fast I could run downhill.

The Scream Half-Marathon Elevation Profile, it drops 2,200 feet in 9 miles.
This course is run in a very remote area in the Pisgah National Forest, starting in a town called Jonas Ridge, NC.  It is so remote there is no parking at either the start or the finish.  We had to park several miles away, then we hopped on buses for the 40 minute drive to the start. After the finish, we got back on the bus to go back to our cars.

Because of the logistics, having someone watch and support you was next to impossible, so I decided to do this one by myself.  I drove up to Lenoir, NC on Friday night.  I stayed at a Days Inn, checked out at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning and drove up to the staging area at Brown Mountain Beach Resort.

I wasn't guaranteed a spot on the shuttle, as they were full when I reserved.  If I didn't get on I would have to drive to the start, struggle to find a place to park my car, then try to catch a ride with someone back to the start after the race to get my car.  Luckily I was there early enough and the first bus wanted to leave before it was full, so I was able to get on.  PHEW!

They dropped us off at an aptly named Marathon gas station in Jonas Ridge, NC, about 1/4 mile from the start.

Packet pickup was right there at the gas station before the race.  There was no packet pickup the night before, which made me nervous.  I'm always worried they will have lost my bib, but no troubles at all this time.

I think this is the only other business in Jonas Ridge.
Going in to this race, I had two goals.  My first goal, and one that I didn't think I'd have a problem with was to get a new half-marathon PR.  I'm more fit than I was at my previous PR (1:35:58), plus it was on a pretty difficult course, and I ran it 8 days after a marathon.

My more aggressive goal, but one I didn't think I could reach was to qualify for the sub-corral at next year's Peachtree Road Race 10k.  I would need to break 1:33.

So I made a pace tattoo for each of those paces, one on each arm.  I decided I'd start at the pace of the more aggressive goal and fall back to the other arm if I couldn't keep up.

Before the start.
The horn sounded and we were off.  The first approximately two miles were on a paved road and were flat, with even a little uphill.  I was able to stick to my aggressive plan.  Then the road turned into a dirt/gravel road and the downhill began.

I stuck to my aggressive plan and was actually beating the splits.  They had warned us that the mile markers throughout the course were wrong.  I had to trust my watch, which because of all the trees, I was worried might be off.  It turned out to be perfectly on, and I ran the tangents really well, and there were a lot of switchbacks.

My aggressive pace tattoo.
I knew going in that mile 8 was the steepest downhill.  Because the race was more than half over, I decided to really let gravity do its thing and not hold back.  A quarter of the way through that mile, I looked at my watch and my lap pace for that quarter-mile was 5:45!  That blew my mind.  I ended up running that mile in 6:32.

It was amazing whenever the course would flatten out or even go uphill for a little bit, how hard it was after pounding your legs on those downhills.  I look at the elevation profile and those hills are nothing.  But running them was brutal!

With a few miles to go I started to become optimistic that I could break 1:33.  Then at mile 11, I started getting a really bad side stitch.  That happens to me when I look down at the ground for extended periods, which I do when I am brutally tired, and when I have to watch where I step.  Both were true here.  I forced myself to look in the distance.  I figured if I tripped and fell, the pain would be less than that stupid cramp.  It went away.

The last couple of miles were really hard.  They were flat, my body was destroyed, but I managed to run a 7:23 and 7:29 to finish with a time of 1:32:28.  I couldn't wait to call Malissa and tell her, but of course I had no signal.

The finish line.

After the finish.
I took the bus back to my car and drove home. I'm in the sub-corral!!!

UPDATE:  Here are some pictures I found on Facebook after I wrote this post:


  1. congrats!! that is awesome news for the peachtree!

    1. Thanks, maybe we'll see you there in 2014!