Uxbridge "Run for the Diamond" Half Marathon Race Report

Well I didn’t win the diamond… but I did win some age group bling!

On Saturday I woke up to – what a surprise – wind and rain. After going through the usual morning routine and packing a few wardrobe options, we headed off to Wooden Sticks Golf Club in Uxbridge. I picked up my packet and then got ready for an extended warm-up.

My plan was to run 11K before the race, with 6K easy and 5K at MRP. Hubs joined me and we set off to explore the quaint little town. We ran a couple of out-and-backs into the “downtown” area, along an old railway trail and finally in a residential neighbourhood. The wind was pretty strong and it rained lightly the entire time, but it still felt quite warm.

11.0KM (6.8mi) – 1:03:12 – 5:45/KM (9:15/mi)
5K MRP at avg pace 5:11/KM (8:20/mi) [goal 5:13/km (8:23/mi) or better]

I made a complete wardrobe change in the car (including shoes and socks) and decided to wear short sleeves, hoping I wouldn’t regret it if it was very wet and windy out on the course. We walked back up to the golf club and I made one last potty stop while waiting for the start.

It was a small event so I waited until the last couple of minutes to hand off my jacket to hubs and line up. During the final announcements we were instructed to follow the green flags on the trails and suddenly I had a feeling that I might be in for a bit of a surprise out there.

The course started out on rolling country roads and we quickly spread out as everyone got going. I knew right away that it was going to be pretty quiet out there. I turned up my music, took in the scenery and allowed the first few miles to tick by. I was running MRP perfectly as planned, although I could feel that I was working for it when running uphill and/or into the wind. It continued raining but the temp was mild enough that I felt pretty comfortable.

Around the 5K mark we were suddenly directed down a deep ditch, followed by a sharp climb into the woods. And that’s when I knew things were going to get interesting! The next 9K were primarily on wooded trails, unlike anything I have ever “raced” on before. I had to keep a close eye on the flags as well as the footing as I made my way up and down, winding all over the place.

It was impossible to maintain any form of consistent pacing, so I stopped checking the Garmin and focused on keeping a steady effort (and not wiping out in the process).

I would occasionally find myself running behind another runner for a while before eventually passing, but for the most part I felt alone out there. The volunteers were excellent at the aid stations and I made sure to thank everyone, though I was carrying my own water.

Some of the hills were really wearing me out and at times I was tempted to give up slow it down to a comfortable pace. I reminded myself what this should feel like during the marathon and forced myself to imagine what I would do if I was feeling like that with 5, 10 or 15K left to go: keep pushing! (and then I also remembered that thankfully I will not be running my goal marathon in the woods!)

With a third of the race to go, we were finished on the trails and picked up the cart paths of Wooden Sticks Golf Club. This was the section that we had been warned about and I was slightly nervous about what lay ahead, since I had already found the first 14K extremely challenging.

“The last 7K  of the 1/2 marathon and 10K on the golf cart paths are challenging.  It is a rolling course, with the last 2K being the toughest.  There is a final climb to the finish.”

I could see for miles looking out over the rolling landscape of the golf course and it was slightly intimidating, but also beautiful. I also hit a wall of wind coming out of the woods, but the course changed direction so frequently that I never had to run straight into it for very long.

I made my way along the marked paths and the climbs were short, but steep. And plentiful. With 5K to go I finally checked my Garmin to see if I was on pace overall, and I was surprised to see that a 1:50 finish was well within reach. I plugged along and found myself pushing a bit harder. I caught up to a couple of guys and tagged along behind for a few minutes before passing. I couldn’t believe how lonely it was out there!

Before long I could hear the finish area and found myself tackling that final climb we had been warned of. At this point I knew I was way ahead of my goal, so I relaxed and even walked a couple of paces. I got to the top, made one quick turn and the finish line was pretty much right there.

A lady yelled out to me that I was the 5th female, and I smiled big, but thought “No way!” I spotted hubs [who was taking a video, which I’ll post later] and ran it in.

1:46:19
30/221 overall
5/128 females
2/14 F20-29

We were treated to a buffet-lunch in the golf club after the race (which I shared with my supportive and patient sherpa) and of course we stayed for the awards! Since the overall female winner was first in my age group, I was awarded top spot on the podium!

I won a $75 gift cert for a local shoe store.

I got to meet two readers during/after the awards, which was such a nice treat! Hi Jeff and Jennifer!

The sun came out shortly after the race and it warmed up quickly. I was actually grateful for the rainy morning or I would have been pretty toasty out there.

It was a great experience overall. I love the feel of small races, especially when they are well-organized with excellent amenities such as this one. I would definitely recommend it (if you’re up for a scenic but challenging course!) and I’ll probably be back next year. Maybe I’ll win the diamond next time!

While I ran quite a bit faster than planned overall and didn’t exactly get the steady MRP pacing practice I was hoping for, I know I put in a good solid effort and a strong run for my final 20 miler.

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45 thoughts on “Uxbridge "Run for the Diamond" Half Marathon Race Report

  1. Hi Marlene. It's Jeff Clark that said hello to you after the awards. It was great to meet you. I agree it was a challenging and beautiful course and I was very pleased to run a PB by more than 3 minutes. One reason I think I'm running PBs is that I have bumped up my mileage and long runs thanks to the details you have shared about your own training. I bonked at 20mi in my first 2 marathons but it's not going to happen in my next one on May 15th!Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

  2. geez, marlene! You continually amaze me with your effort on the race course and otherwise. This is so blog nerdy, but I'm crazy excited to see what you are going to do at your goal marathon. You are going to kill it!! Congrats on AG award and top spot on podium….too fun!

  3. Congrats on your podium finish! That is awesome! I honestly have a love hate relationship with races on a golf course. It is so pretty to run there but the rolling hills can be a killer!

  4. Two things – 1. Congrats on yet another awesome race! Way to rock it and go home with hardware!2. And I quote you, "While I ran quite a bit faster than planned overall and didn't exactly get the steady MRP pacing practice I was hoping for, I know I put in a good solid effort and a strong run for my final 20 miler." – Yeah, I'm pretty sure I called that on Friday via Twitter. Just saying. πŸ˜‰

  5. Hi Marlene, it was nice to meet you at the race Saturday. Big congrats on the age-group victory! The 10K course was very tough, so if the half was 11.1K of more of the same, that is a hard-earned result!

  6. Congratulations on the podium finish and a great race! Not only did you finish well physically, it sounds like you ran a great mental race too!

  7. Another amazing performance! I won't even mention your warm up. (so envious of your life! how running/racing is such a shared thing! love it!!) Anyway, don't you just loooove the woods? Great job just going with what the course handed you and doing a awesome job at it!!

  8. Awesome work, Marlene! Congrats on another stellar half-marathon (and on a tough course, no doubt!) and an age-group win! I wanna be like you when I grow up! πŸ™‚

  9. Congrats on your awesome finish! Also, you look AMAZING in those photos! So fit! Finally, I did give a slight chuckle when I saw your tweet on Saturday morning. What a horrible spring for running/racing it has been.

  10. Congrats, yet again! πŸ™‚ This is half #??? Such a smart training tactic to include all of these "races" into your long runs!! I've loved how thsi has helped you 1) progress into new speed and 2) test your MRP. Definitely something I'll look into for the next training cycle. This sounds like an awesome course – challenging, but in a fun/good way! Plus it was probably a little easier on the legs/feet to be on those trails instead of the pavement!

  11. Way to go maurlene! A 1:46 on what sounds like a tough course is excellente. That's spanish for excellent. And the overall winner can't double dip, so you need to own up to your 1/14 AG placement πŸ™‚

  12. Huge congrats on such a great race! Way to kill it! And the course sounded like fun – and though different than what you are used to, it apparently was a good thing! Great job!

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