20120715

The Scream! Half Marathon

If you've read/heard many glowing reports of the Scream! Half Marathon, mine is going to be less-enthusiastic. It is definitely a race of its own kind and it's worth doing it at least once. After all, this is the only -2700'+ downhill half marathon that I know of. The whole course can be divided in three big chunks of downhills with flats / uphills in between them. I finished in 1:37:26, a time I'm unlikely to replicate in any other half marathon.

As with most point-to-point race, the logistic is a little more complicated to begin with. This year, a fire has affected the campground where the finish area is and the park ranger made a last-minute order that parking at the finish was not allowed. That changed the whole plan. Hats off to RD David Lee for making quick adjustments which worked out smoothly. However, it still added another leg of shuttle for those who were shuttling to the start. We were fortunate that Kate was volunteering and she was able to drop us off at the start and pick us up again at the finish.

4:30 a.m., Kate picked me up to meet Rob, Paul, and Wendy for a 5 a.m. carpool departure. We made it to the start with ample time for packet pickup. Many familiar faces like Peter from Vac and Dash, Sharon Davis, Richard Hefner, and even Jim Wei were already there. I chatted with a couple of them until a few of my hardcore friends like Jen and Rob decided to go for a warm-up run.

Paul, Rob, Wendy, me, and Kate at the start
The race began on pavement for about two miles before it turned into a gravel road. The first two miles were a combination of flat and a slight incline which was enough to have a lot of people questioned, "Where is the alleged downhill?" My calves didn't feel good at all as they had both tighten up. A lot of people passed me by and there's no use in trying to keep up, so I ran my pace and took it one step at a time. Shortly after the first water station where Kate was, we turned onto the gravel road. Within seconds, my calves felt a lot better. Was it because I was wearing my trail shoes? Maybe I started out too fast? The gravel road leveled off and turned downhill as I wondered.

Though my calves were feeling better, I decided to keep taking it easy and enjoy the winding road through the woods. I caught up with a couple people and got to run a little bit with more familiar faces, including Brian Johnson, the RD of OVT trail race. Down, down, down, I go.

After a couple miles came the first "uphill." Right before that was a longer stretch of straight road which gave me a glimpse of the runners in front of me. I was surprised to see quite a few people not too far ahead. Believe it or not, the flat/uphill was a relieve for me. Downhill is not my strong suit and I was just getting bored with it. Perhaps energized by the change of terrain, I closed the gap a little more without intending. Soon enough, the screaming downhill resumed.

This is how the majority of the course is like.
It was during the second flat/uphill section where I saw Emily Hansen and Jen again since the start of the race. I didn't think I'd see them again! They were both on a mission. I caught up with Jen only for a short moment while going uphill then off she went flying downhill again. As I watched her catching up with Emily, I was back to running by myself again. 

Well, the last section of the race was just like the first two. More down, then two more miles of flat/slight incline, and we are done! At the last stretch, I saw Jen again and this time, Jinni Austin as well. It's almost like running in Charlotte.

Since I had a few friends still on the course and was feeling good, I circled back to pace two of my friends in.  Well, to be honest, they didn't need me at all but I just jumped in.  A couple minutes later as I stood at the finish with Kate and Josh, we realized Paul was still on the course. Something must have gone wrong for him since he should be done way ahead. I ran back out to see if I could find him, perhaps walking to finish the race. As I was running up, a lady chased after me and told me that my "husband" was found. My husband!? Anyway, they had found Paul passed out at mile 12 and he was brought back to the finish. Five emergency vehicle came (!). Medics sat him down, monitored him, and gave him IV and oxygen. After over an hour and a lot of convincing that he didn't need to go to the hospital, they finally released him back to us to get back to Charlotte.

Although I hate to say it, but I am indifferent to the course itself. However, I'd do it again for the company. Overall, I'm thankful for a fun and memorable (thanks to Paul) day spent running and hanging out with friends.

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