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A solid return to racing after surgery

Barely three months after emergency abdominal surgery, I pinned on a bib for a half marathon trail race.

The race — the fourth annual Beaver Chase Urban Trail Race in Indianapolis — calls itself the “only trail quarter, half and full marathon located in downtown Indianapolis.” It is run on two cross-country courses, connected by a grassy section. The website warned of six hills on the course, but I only counted two. Hoosiers might have a different definition of hills.

Throughout the Aug. 11 race, I felt really good, though on the second lap the heat started to climb. My two splits — 57:40 and 58:07 — were remarkably close. Overall, my 1:55:47 official time was good enough for 14th place overall out of 99. I finished second by 30 seconds in my age group of eight participants, and would have won the next oldest and the next youngest age groups.

A fine production by RaceMaker

A total of 262 participants signed up for either the full, half or quarter marathon at the event, put on by RaceMaker Productions. This is my first experience with this race director and I came away extremely pleased.

RaceMaker runs about a dozen of its own races, including triathlons, but the Beaver Chase race is the only option that offers a marathon distance, and only one other has a half marathon. I don’t see any of their races that would be a fit for me now, but hopefully they add some longer-distance events.

The course was incredibly well marked, there were an appropriate number of friendly volunteers at key points and runners received good value for their race entry.

All runners who picked up their bib received a cotton race T-shirt, while finishers received a medal and could get their fill of water, bananas, chips and other snacks post-race. Additionally, a free beer was available for those 21 and older at a nearby bar-restaurant called the Stacked Pickle. (As a Celiac who cannot have gluten, I appreciated that they allowed me to substitute an Angry Orchard for a beer.)

The top three men and women, as well as age group winners, in each of the distances received a pint glass for their strong performances.

On the course, runners passed aid stations six times per loop. Each station had water and Gatorade available, and at the Mile 1.6/6.5 aid station, there were bananas and granola bars.

A good first test

I signed up for this race as a way to gauge my fitness, leading into the fall race season. I have a 20-mile race in September, as a final tune-up to the Chicago Marathon, and then a 50-miler to close out the year.

During my post-surgery training, I focused on building the mileage back up. I was banned from any physical activity for two weeks after my discharge, and then was only allowed to do slow running until July 4 when I was cleared to resume yoga, core work, biking and pretty much anything else.

So considering I had roughly a month to really train for this race, I am ecstatic with the results. I still have some work to do to get my speed back to where it had been three-plus months ago. But today was a good sign that my work has paid off.

Onward and upwards.

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