Running, racing and the numbers game


By Henry Howard


I had a blast racing the Beaver Chase trail marathon, west of Indianapolis, on Aug. 13. The trail marathon was eight loops of 3.5ish miles with three mini hills.


The course, which was incredibly well marked, featured a mix of grassy sections, double-track and limited single track. I did the same race last year, though it was on a completely different course. It turned out to be my first overall win.


This year, like last year, I selected the race because it was timed well with my big goal race of the year, the Hennepin Hundred. (Here’s why I’m returning to Hennepin.) The Beaver Chase race was also an opportunity to test my fitness and, as my coach likes to say, “Shoot my shot.”


Instead of giving a thorough, detailed heavy race recap, I’m instead focusing on the numbers.


Infinite: One of the advantages of a short loop course with multiple distances is encountering other runners throughout. The race had three distances: quarter, half and full, plus a relay option. As I moved through each loop and passed — or got passed — by other runners, I regularly offered encouragement, whether they were walking, running or somewhere in between. The trail and ultra running community is amazing, and it’s inspiring to me to provide a boost, however important it may be, to other runners on the course.


1,130: Total elevation in feet, which is about 130 more than the 100-mile Hennepin race.


70: Number of seconds between my fastest and slowest loop. Six of the eight were within 41 seconds. That’s the consistency I was striving for.

34: Number of my completed races of a marathon distance or greater.


8:44: Average overall pace, four seconds faster than last year’s race. This year’s course had significantly more elevation gain.

3: I finished third overall, not bad for a masters athlete. It was the fourth time I’ve landed on the overall podium, each of those occurring in the last 2 ½ years.

7: Number of weeks until the Hennepin Hundred. I’m feeling really good about this effort, as a solid training run before my big goal race. But for now, it’s time to recover, refuel and dream big.


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