For far too many Sundays over the course of a year, my running friends (Ryan, Sung) and I pound the pavement in Springdale Cemetery. Non-runners always seem a bit shocked when they learn a portion of my weekends are spent with the dead. Springdale has been a friend for runners for a long time. Their crumbled roads provide the perfect terrain for those of us who prefer the hill races. One loop is a quarter marathon and includes three massive hills that will make your lungs burn and your legs scream uncle. This all started when we discovered two races that call this course their home. The Screaming Pumpkin is no longer held (link here), but the IVS Half Marathon is still running strong – and by strong I mean still being held. The participation has always been light, but that is likely due to how tough this course is.
The IVS Half is a two loop adventure through the cemetery. That adds up to 6 … count them .. 6 impressive hill traversals and that doesn’t include the smaller rolling hills that make up the rest of the course. After spending so much time there training, we consider the cemetery our home course. There isn’t a turn, pothole or uneven surface we haven’t committed to memory. Figured since we run it so often, why not get a medal for it!
Hit the jump to see how the race turned out!
Unfortunately, my personal photographer was running our dog at an agility show that weekend. Sorry, folks, but no start, mid or post race shots to share. Just snapped a shot at the start to show how small this turnout is compared to the larger venues like the Bix 7.Granted, anyone that can make it through this race is more than ready for the hills at Bix. Again, with the move to trail running the speed has suffered a bit, however, there was not a concern as to whether I could finish it or not. A special bonus this year was the weather decided to break from the heat and give us downright cool temperatures. At race start it was in the high 50’s – a huge drop compared to the hot ass temps we had the weeks leading up to that. Around the 4th we were suffering through the 90’s. With the heat taken out of the equation, only the hills had to be solved. The first loop went fairly smooth. By the time the second loop came around the other runners were spaced out fairly well leaving only a few runners visible ahead and behind. One of the advantages of all the loops built into the course you at least get to see some people even though they might be minutes ahead or behind you. One of the individuals that was slightly ahead of me was an older runner (definitely older than I) that was keeping an amazingly solid pace. I was doing my best to eat some ground between us. By mile 10 he was in striking distance – but using up serious energy to accomplish that. There were two hills left and that was my ace in the hole. Sure enough, halfway up the first of the two hills I was able to finally take the lead.
By the time I got to mile 12.5 I had made it back to a younger kid that had passed me easily during the first loop. He was feeling the hills by then and struggling to keep the feet moving. I pulled up alongside him to make sure he was going to be okay and remind him he was too close to let the course beat him. He matched pace and thought he was past it until he completely stopped with only a small climb and run out to the end. You should NEVER give up on yourself that close to the finish (to his credit, think he did place in his age group). Oh well, needed to refocus on my own internal struggle. I crossed in 25th at 1:54:06 – about a minute off of last year’s time. I’ll take it. Turns out the guy behind me was 16 years my elder and totally impressive!
In the end, finished 10th in my age group. I was chasing a friend from work (9th place Tim) for most of the race. Thought he would break on the hills, but he powered through them never giving me a chance to make up the ground. He is a full marathon runner and definitely stronger this year in the endurance category – oh well, there is always next year.