I had been scoping out the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon for several weeks before I decided to register a few weeks ago. It seemed like a great race, but the things that swayed me to do it were that they offered race day packet pickup and it was close enough that I could drive there the morning of the race – it gets expensive booking hotels to go along with my marathons, and I wanted to avoid that just one week after going to Lafayette for Zydeco.
I left the house early early and had an uneventful drive to Seabrook, Texas. I was very excited about this race because all the reviews I’d read were glowingly positive. This would also be my first trail marathon and I wasn’t going to worry about my finish time, so I expected to go out and have fun.
When I arrived I got my packet and race swag, which was amazing! The best free race gear I’ve ever gotten – the only thing comparable was possibly Goldenfliers 5/10-miler in Baton Rouge or the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, but this still topped all – a really cute soccer-style race shirt with cuts for men and women, socks with the race name, a moisture-wicking hat with the marathon logo and a nice duffel bag.
I got there an hour early and was surprised at how much activity was already taking place at the park pavilion where the race’s start/finish was located. It was still pitch black outside. Parking was very organized and directed by volunteers, just a couple of blocks away. After I got my packet, I went back to the car to get everything together and get myself situated. I headed back to the race start about 15 minutes before gun time.
There didn’t seem to be that many marathoners at the race start, but I am always underestimating numbers. The race supports a group that benefits victims of domestic violence, and before the race started, someone gave a short speech about how she had been helped by them. That was pretty cool.
The marathon started 15 minutes ahead of the half marathon. It was my understanding that the trail could get narrow and crowded at points. I didn’t have any plan or goal – I just wanted to go by how I felt. The half marathoners would do 2 legs of the trail, while marathoners would do 4 legs. That was a bit intimidating because sometimes loops can be very mentally challenging.
Each leg was about 6.5 miles long, and I definitely did each subsequent leg slower than the one before. The trail really wasn’t difficult – it was packed dirt and gravel, so very soft on the legs and easy to run on. Hilly parts were minimal. For the first two loops, I had some very decent miles that were probably faster than I wanted to be going. It was pretty warm for most of the race, with a gentle breeze here or there. The heat was the most concerning aspect, and I was constantly sweating, so I made sure to drink plenty of fluids. I took 5 gels during the race as well as three salt packets.
Several portions of the course were out-and-back in and of themselves, so you were constantly seeing people coming in the opposite direction. Doing a course 4 times gets you pretty familiar with it, and I definitely had my favorite and not-so-favorite parts. Any portion where we were surrounded by trees was great with me. There was one part where we had to run about a half-mile down open non-shaded dirt trail, the end of which was blocked by a water stop. We had to basically stop and make a hard turnaround at the water stop and go back the way we came. I don’t know why but I despised that part, my least favorite of the course.
Another favorite part – hitting the Galveston Bay.
I carried my Polaroid Cube with me, so all of the on-course photos are from that camera. I took some others before and after with my phone.
The first half went by pretty quickly. I made one bathroom stop which added about 2 minutes to my time, and I hit the halfway mark around 2:26 – subtract the bathroom time and that is pretty typical for me the past few marathons. The second half fell off a truck, though. I had run several miles faster than planned, and it was starting to wear on me, as was the warm weather.
The third loop was also mentally the toughest, the nature of it being the third time I had done the loop but not being the last time I would have to do it. There were still a good number of people on the course, from marathoners either on their 3rd-4th loop or half marathoners on their 2nd loop. I ended up taking a few walking breaks during the third loop, but only a few. I definitely still ran the majority of that loop by a lot. Then came loop 4.
It felt so great to finally begin my last loop, and I started it off by walking quite a bit. I was tired. I had run a marathon the week before, I had woken up super early that morning after not-a-lot of sleep, it was hot, etc. I had all the excuses and every reason to let myself walk. I had already anticipated the fact that I would have my first 5+ hour finish, and by loops 3-4 I welcomed that thought. I did not feel like nor want to run the pace that would be required for me to get a sub-5. So by loop 4, I walked a lot more. What was the difference to me between 5:00 or 5:15? Those times felt the same. So I walked a ton. I did force myself to run at several points, giving myself a landmark to get to before I could walk again.
At mile 21 I stopped for several minutes to replace a bandaid on my left big toe, which has had blisters pretty much since I ran the RnR NOLA Marathon Jan. 25. At mile 22.5 I took my last gel and then my stomach immediately regretted it. I walked the next .75 mile in fear that running would cause me to throw up. I also noticed how high my heartrate would get when I ran for extended periods of time – every time I stopped running, my heart would be pounding. I took it all in stride, though. I really, truly did not care about my finish time. Except… at some point at the last mile I calculated what I would need to do to break 5:20, and ran the rest of the way to make sure I achieved that.
Chip time= 5:16:16 – My slowest marathon time yet, but I feel fine.
I had no appetite after the race, as per usual, so I didn’t do too much other than wipe my face with a wet towel provided at the finish line, take my finisher’s photo and then head out. This was a first class race! The swag and shirt were great, medal is huge, the course was well-marked and organized, volunteers and water stops were plentiful, etc. etc.
I was shocked to see on the online results that I came in 2nd place in my group! I wonder if I had stuck around would I have gotten an award? Oh well. This was well worth the race fee and gas to get there. Fun times.