Rattler Trail Half Marathon, Sanford, North Carolina
April 30, 2016 - This event made me feel like a kid in high school again.  I had run at San-Lee
Park only one time previously, but was taken with the undulating cross-country feel of the bike
trails that are used to negotiate the contours of the hills surrounding the lake.  Unlike trails
that are primarily running paths, mountain bikers give colorful suggestive names to every crease
and fold - Dragon's Tail, Bouldergeist, Lizard Lick, Six Pack, Drop Zone, Rock Nest Monster, San-
Lee Slickrock, Skydive, and Gold Rush.  For me it was a return to my roots - cross country.

A nine o'clock start left me plenty of time to warm up, so I did six miles prior to the start at
about a ten-minute pace to get the juices flowing.  Being just a two-plus-hour event I could
spend the additional energy beforehand without compromising my race effort. Temps were in 
the low sixties with a drizzly rain at race time.  Comfortable.  A small field divided between
three distances made for a nice home-cooked feel even though I knew none of the contestants
other than race directors Dan and Amanda Paige and their family.

Warming up left me with a nice pre-race sweat, so I was ready to make a dash for field position
at the get-go before hitting single track.  The running was easy in queue.  Before the third mile
the field had sorted itself out and from that point until the finish I passed no one and no one 
passed me.  For much of the race I had a train of two or three others following at  fifty yards,
but I stretched this out beyond a quarter mile by the finish.  So I ran alone and was left to my
own imagination much of the time.

The trail twists and turn endlessly, undulating up and down with multiple little stream crossings.
It felt like running a motocross course, using banking where you could and cutting the tangents
otherwise to keep momentum and an efficient gait.  There was enough variety with change of
direction and climbs with descents that there wasn't time for any particular muscle group to
tire and accumulate lactic acid.  I felt strong and resilient throughout, without the slightest
hint of fatigue.  I perhaps could have run faster, but didn't choose to.  It was a good sustained
effort with even breathing and control throughout.  Having come off an arduous 50K and two
stiff training runs of 20 and 26 miles in the previous seven days I had every right to be worn
down some, but it didn't show - a good indicator of my fitness level.

After rolling to the finish at an even two-and-a-half hours for 11th place among half marathon
finishers I shagged down for another couple of miles to make it an even 21 miles for the day,
finishing the month at 252 miles.  Collecting a finisher medal, hugs, and a couple vegie burgers
I was satisfied with the day's effort and headed out to rest before the next challenge.  These
downhome races are still my favorites - low key, friendly, and more about why I do this than
the bigger well-known events.  Thanks so much to Dan and Amanda for a good show.