I'll try to keep this brief but that's a tall order, imo.
PREFACE: I'm sure some of you have noticed that I kind of fell off the face of the earth a bit. Cancelled races and a number of other bad excuses led me to run less and less since my last official race in March. The FBG challenges kept me going some but not enough and I've lost a ton in that time (as well as gained back about 15 pounds ). Well about 6 weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I would do the Tecumseh Trail Challenge HM with him. His daughter had bailed and he was probably not going to do it if I didn't. I jumped at the chance to have something to motivate me to get going again. Well, it took a couple weeks to really get me motivated so about a month ago I finally started running more than 1 time a month! I got about 70 miles in since Sept 21st so even that wasn't a ton of work but it's better than the 40 miles total I had run between June 1st and Sept 21st.
THE RACE: To help with social distancing they spread out the start times - 50k 9 am, 6.5 miles 9:30 am, Marathon 10 am, HM 10:15 am. While this helped keep people stretched out, it kind of sucked from a traffic standpoint. Quite a bit of the race was on single lane trails with little room to pass - especially if you came to a conga line of folks in doing the marathon at a hike but this was only a problem during the first 6.5 miles or so as you will see later below.
Part 1 - About the first 2.5 miles +/- were actually all smooth sailing other than it was almost all single lane track and we were already running into some of the Marathon people (same trail X2) and the 50K people - they had about 6 miles on the short loop and about an 75 minute head start so there was a little congestion here and there but not too bad. It was a little up and down but the only real issue was a lot of tree roots and rocks in the first mile. All was dandy and I was feeling good about the day.
Part 2 - The first hill... The family and I had previously hiked this trail a couple times up to this point but we usually go straight/turn left and follow the lake trail. This took a hard right and went straight freaking uphill and we continued going straight freaking uphill for the next 2.5 miles, luckily the steep (for me) part of it was only about a 3/8ths of mile long +/-. This was my first (but not last) hill I walked. Once that steep part mellowed out a bit, I got back to a decent pace the rest of the way up the hill. Part of this was also a horse trail and a bit muddy. I'm still doing pretty good but know it is going to be a long, long day.
Part 3 - At about the 5 mile buzz on my watch, we took a hard left off the wide trail and back into the woods for single lane hiking trail that went down rather quickly with a lot of twists and turns. Not much of a chance to enjoy the view here as it was quite technical. Once down at the bottom for a little bit of flat ground and a chance to relax a little, that was followed by a solid uphill with a few more twists and turns and, at one point, a rather lengthy conga line of people. After the uphill came another fairly steep downhill with some twists and turns but then opened up to the road and around the south end of the lake/damn, up through a parking lot/road and across the main road into the park. We are a little over 7 miles in and the trip up the road is the beginning of hell!
Part 4 - After crossing the main road that goes through the park/forestry, you are on a winding path that felt like it went uphill for the rest of the way. That isn't quite true but it might as well have been! Most of the downhill sections were either twisty paths, full of rocks and roots or both. With thighs and calves that were starting to scream a bit, every step after about mile 8 was starting to be a chore. I originally had dreams of trying to be somewhere around 2:15 or maybe a little less if I was lucky. Every hill I hit on the back section set that goal further and further back. Mile 11 had a big ol' hill that I hoped would be the last one. Mile 12 was downhill and about as slow as climbing up. Mile 13 had what was really the last hill and a huge PITA. Mile 13 was a 16+ minute mile. Somewhere in there my calves tried to cramp up a bit but I was able to fend that off. 13 ended with a downhill, the sound of people and the finish being "close". It also came back down to flat ground on a nice smooth, wide path. I picked up the pace a bit, passed several people but kept waiting on it to end. It finally did much later than I wanted!
Official time: 2:45:12, 52 of 144 overall, 7 of 19 in my AG.
Fun note - watch registered 1683 feet of elevation change. A drop in the bucket for the @Zasada's and @SFBayDuck's of the world but a crapton for me. In March I ran right at 100 miles total, including several trail training runs and a trail HM+. For that entire month I only did about 2100 feet of elevation gain.
Definitely a chore to finish but fun times. Now to just keep my butt moving and get back into shape before I have to go find my fat clothes from last year or so!