Monday, March 31, 2008

clinton lake 2008

Not much training since my last entry with only a short run Tuesday before the Clinton Lake 30 miler Saturday.

With Clinton Lake a 4 ½ hour drive from Louisville, it was a bit far to drive on race morning, so I drove down on Friday evening. I arrived in Farmer City, IL before sunset so decided to go down to the race site & check out the area. The blue dome at the nuclear plant just a couple miles from the start really stood out in the flat terrain. To my amazement, I saw more deer gathered than I had ever seen in one spot – about 20 were grazing in a close group in the corn stubble! It didn’t end there -- as I drove to the start/finish area & then around the lake to the far aid station location there was a group around every turn and I even had 7 deer crossing in front of me, some clearing the road in a single bound! All together, I counted at least 12 different groups of deer easily totaling 100 or more -- in less than half an hour. I also noted white “blobs” in the fields – at first I thought it was trash or some odd field markers. But, as I drove closer to some of these, I did a double take as I sure thought they looked like seagulls. When some started to move I was able to confirm this – they sure are large birds. I walked a little of the trail & drove back to Farmer City to share a room with Ken & Dave who came up from the Louisville area earlier in the day. We stayed at the Days Inn – pretty small rooms, but were functional. The next morning I arrived early at the start/finish to pick up my packet & drove over to the second aid station with my drop bag – I did not see a single deer! The morning was cool & the temperature display in my car said it was 30 degrees outside, though it felt a lot cooler with the breeze off the lake. Jumping out of the car just before the start, I was hoping to get into a group running at my pace -- I started just behind mid pack. My goal was 6 hours, an average of 12 minutes per mile. The race started in the parking lot with a short distance to the single track trail. Immediately entering the trail there was a small hill and as soon as I reached that point, everyone was coming to a stop as someone in front was walking up the hill. I thought, maybe I should’ve started closer to the front . . . As it turns out, that was the only bottleneck I encountered as I was able to pick my pace soon after. Talking about pace, this course was a roller coaster, it was either up or down. Flat segments were very few so it seemed a 2 pace race -- slower than normal going up then faster than usual going down the entire way. Although the hills all looked to be less than 50 feet in elevation, they were numerous. After the first 10 mile lap at an average of 11 minutes per mile, I was on schedule to reach my goal. 1 hour 50 minutes for the 1st lap, 2 hours for the 2nd lap and a final lap of 2 hours 10 minutes seemed reachable. A mile into the 2nd lap though, there was some internal discomfort down below and then I had a new concern that I could not ignore. After sweating it out another mile, it became evident I could not make it 3 miles more to the port-o-let at the aid station, so I darted off the trail in search of some good leaves. Felt a little weakened after that episode and lost what momentum I had the remainder of the lap (I still haven’t figured out what caused this as I had followed my usual prerace regimen the last 48 hours). Coming down the road to the end of the 2nd loop, there was a lot of whooping & hollering and people were jumping up & down. What, all this cheering for me? Of course not, it was for the winner about to lap me! Checking my watch, it was just over 4 hours into the race – a lap time of around 2 hours 10 minutes, 10 minutes behind the time I was hoping for. After seeing the winner cross the finish line, it was difficult to think I had one whole lap to go -– my motivation was slipping. It was great to be able to stop at my car at the end of each loop and pick up anything I needed, but it sure made it easy if I wanted to drop out. I thought seriously about doing just that -- sitting down, closing the door & driving off – so simple. As I stood there for 5 minutes debating what to do, I saw Ken going thru the aid station. Ken, at 60 years young, was looking good & steady. Hmmm . . . I thought maybe he could help pull me along. But I was in slow motion and by the time I got moving, Ken was out of sight -- but I decided to go for it anyway. By the next aid station, I was feeling better and picked up the pace a little. I caught up to Ken & told him we could make it in 6 hours 30 minutes, so we paced ourselves accordingly and made it with just a few seconds to spare.

Some thoughts & comments: I thought the course had been prepared & maintained well as I could see evidence throughout that there had been a good deal of effort put into it. The aid stations had plenty of help and the volunteers were very encouraging. It was nice to be able to shake hands with Chris, a very friendly & likeable RD & my inspiration for getting into blogs. It was great to witness the super running ability of Logan, the overall winner although be it just a very short time. It was a pleasure to meet Ellen, the ladies winner (no surprise there) as she put in another solid performance. The comaraderie among the B-U-F-F-A-L-O as I heard the echoes throughout the race (they’re everywhere!) is admirable. I look forward to attending again next year and I think this race has made a good tuneup for McNaughton less than 2 weeks away. There will be some larger hills in Pekin, but less in number, which means more flat sections.


Anonymous said...

congratulations on fighting through your potential drop out after 2 loops and finishing. I will also be at McNaughton, but doing the 50 miler. Good luck!


ed said...

Thanks Brian. Ultras always seem to bring out those critical moments to battle, but they also bring out a lot of fun times that make it worthwhile! Glad to see you & others taking this race on too, so close to McNaughton. I think the 10 mile lap format and the hills have been good preparation – just hope the trails are not as muddy as hear it was last year. You had a good time this race, I hope you do as well or better in Pekin!

Chris said...

Nice race report Ed. I added a link from my Clinton Lake race blog to your report. Good luck at McNaughton Park! Looks like a chance for some wind, rain, and cool temps. See you in Pekin.

ed said...

Thanks Chris. See you at the start!