Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon Race Recap

The Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon (SLTM) is a small local marathon that takes place on some public trails in the city of Seabrook on Galveston Bay about 30 miles southeast of Houston.  The race is held every year around St. Paddy’s day, hence the name.  The event consists of two days of racing, a Saturday 5k, half marathon and half marathon relay, and a Sunday half marathon, marathon and marathon relay.  As I am not that fond of doubling, and was racing for a top finish at this small event, my recap will only cover the Sunday race (3/15/15).

Lay of the Land – The Course

The course runs along trails through some neighborhoods and along Galveston Bay.  Very nice coastal scenery in some places.  The course is primarily a crushed limestone surface which is very easy on the legs compared to the usual concrete you get in Houston.  There are a few sections that are run on pavement and a small section on grass.  There are a few small wooden bridges as well.  The course is mostly an out and back with a few sections that are looped and is repeated 4 times.  At times, the course does get congested, especially once the half marathon gets going.  This isn’t a huge problem, but at times the out and back segments and water stops can turn into a contact sport.  Congestion, combined with many twists and turns lead to somewhat slower times vs. other races.

Should You Run It? – A Short Review

Yes damn it!  Run this race.  If you live in Texas there is no excuse!  If you live in Alaska there is no excuse!  It is a great event.  It is organized, it is fun, it has a great post-race party and a nice course.  It’s one of the best small marathons in Texas for sure.  Don’t run fulls, then run the half!  If you like expos, this one doesn’t have one, so sorry.  If you like well organized races with food and green beer then this one is for you!

If you don’t care about reading about the rest of my experience, then stop here…you will not offend me!

Play by Play – The Race

I had a pretty terrible night of sleep before this race (every now and then I still get pre-race jitters).  Couple this with a crazy week at work and I was tired before I even got there.  Jenny joined me at the race to support me since I told her I had ambitious goals for this one.  The weather was nearly perfect for mid-March in SE Texas.  Starting temp was in the mid to upper 50’s, not bad.  Got to the race just in the nick of time to use the facilities and get to the start line.  Had a few minutes to BS with some fellow maniacs and then we were off.

The first loop on this course is the fastest, mainly because you get to run 4-5 miles without any real congestion.  I took off at a healthy clip running a 6:32 and 6:35 for mile 1 and 2…a bit too fast.  By the 2nd or 3rd mile I thought I was running in 3rd place (I would prove to be wrong, as the guy running 1st wasn’t running the full).  The legs felt really fresh and the soft surface of the trail led me to run a bit faster than I should have.  I would settle into more comfortable 6:40 – 6:45 splits and slow the breathing a bit.  Even at this point in the race I knew this was a bit faster than my body wanted to do today…the legs were willing but the rest of me wasn’t due to my relative lack of sleep.  But, I was in a let me bank some time and keep the 1st place guy in my sites kind of mood, so I went with it.  I remembered the guy running 1st from last year (I passed him to take 3rd late in the race) and thought this pace was a bit much for him as well…keep him in view and let him bonk because you pressured him.  Do you know your enemy?  I do.  I came roaring through Lap 1 only 12 seconds behind the leader in 43:03, a 6:35 pace.  Let’s do it all again.

Thumbs up early on.

Thumbs up early on, looking good at lap 2!

By the time lap 2 started the sun had started to peak out, but fortunately there was a nice layer of thin clouds to keep it from getting too warm.  It was a bit humid though (being by the bay) and this would prove to sap me later in the race.  Lap 2 was kind of ho-hum.  I took the lead between mile 9 and 10 and just kept knocking out some nice splits – 6:45s.  Sub 3 hour day?  We’ll see, I’m still feeling tired.  Finished the 2nd lap in 44:11 in the lead.  Let’s do it all again.

Lap 3 was pretty uneventful.  I started to lose some gas late in the lap (mile 19 or so) but still managed respectable 6:50 splits for most of it.  My tiredness and the humidity was starting to get to me.  I knew at this point that lap 4 would be a struggle.  I threw any time goals out the window and just wanted to hang on for the win.  “Hang on” and “keep it together” were now my mantra.  Lap 3 was done in 45:28, only losing 10s of my minute plus lead…hold on, here we go…let’s do it all again.

Shortly into lap 4 I knew the bonk was inevitable, it was just how bad was I going to bonk (please don’t let me walk).  I held on for a few miles but felt really bad by 23, and started slowing down.  As I came through an out and back section I saw that my lead was now around 20 seconds…not good.  At 24.5 he was on my heels, I’m going to get passed.

130466-026-022f

Oh poop! I’m about to get passed…

He caught me just before 25.  I told him “nice job, you got this, I’m bonking hard.”  He said, “I don’t know about that.”  He passed me and part of me said “2nd is still pretty good.”  The other part said, “keep him in view and you have a chance.”  I followed him for about 2-3 minutes, maybe staying 10 to 20 seconds behind.  He wasn’t taking off, good sign!  Suddenly just inside mile 25 he started walking!  Wow, here is my chance.  I kept running and picked up the pace (at least it felt like I did) and told myself if I don’t walk I’ve got this thing.  In one of the final turns in the last half mile I saw that I had a 30 second lead and knew I then I had won…snatching victory from the jaws of defeat!  I crossed the finish line elated!  Second career win with a late come from behind run!

130466-219-027f

Oh yeah!!! That feels good!

So, an awesome day for sure!  Jenny got to cheer me on and celebrate with me, I got to watch a fellow maniac finish as overall female, but most importantly I got to not go to work and run a nice course on a nice day!

So what did I learn from this race?  First, I love this course and love this race.  It is one of the best produced out there with an amazing atmosphere and a wonderful post-race party.  I’m already signed-up for next year.  Second, mantras work!  Keep your mind pushing your body and good things happen.  Last…if I ever win another one I need to get more creative at the finish line.

The Stats:

Lifetime Marathon Number: 26

2015 Marathon Number: 6

Finish Time: 3:03:06

Overall Place: 1st!

Time Rank: 11th fastest

Number of Times Running Race: 2

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4 comments

  1. Alvaro Sarmiento

    Hello Dan,
    How could you compare this race with Houston Marathon, regarding time? I just finished Houston in 3:03:08 and I want to run another marathon and see if a sub 3hrs is possible. I know that if I want to run this race I need to train in trails like Memorial Park, but besides that, do you recommend this race for a PR?
    Regards
    Alvaro

    Like

    • booch82

      Hi Alvaro – What I will say is this race will be difficult to PR if you are going to run it at a similar fitness level as Houston. As an example, in 2014 I ran Houston in 2:58:50 and ran Seabrook in 3:04:50 at what I’d call a similar fitness level. In 2015 I ran Houston in 2:53:19, and ran 3:03:08 at Seabrook (I believe I was slightly less fit for Seabrook vs. Houston however). You will need to expect a slower time for a few reasons. First, the soft surface of the course simply takes more effort to run on, especially if it has rained recently (which it did in both 2014 and 2015). Second, the course turns a lot and has some sharp u-turns which will very much slow you down. Lastly, it is basically a bike path with a lot of out and backs that is run 4 times. There is a ton of traffic so if you are running fast you will be constantly trying to pass people. I would expect to run a time that is 3-7 minutes slower than your Houston time given similar fitness levels. Houston is a very fast course.

      Like

      • Alvaro Sarmiento

        Thank you very much for the response Dan, it was very helpful. I think I will wait until October and try to get a slot for Chicago and see if I can do a PR there.
        Thanks and regards,
        Alvaro

        Like

      • booch82

        Best of luck! All depends on what you want. If a PR is an absolute must for you, then Seabrook is probably not the right race. It is a wonderful race though, and I would more than encourage you to run it. They have two half marathons (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) which will give you the same experience of a great race without needed to do the marathon distance.

        Like

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