The winter storm looked to be approaching in 2 waves, so after watching the radar for the break in the precip, I decided to make a dash down to the Land Between the Lakes a day early in a front wheel drive vehicle. As it turns out, that was my best decision of the whole trip. Poor judgment, no discipline and a little bad luck thrown in guaranteed a 4th year of major disappointment on this course. I can’t use the weather as an excuse this time as it was nice & cool. I can only figure that I went out too quick -- the 1st 1.7 miles of this race is on pavement and it’s always a battle not to get sucked up into a faster pace than accustomed to and then fighting the urge to pass after entering the trail. This year though, with the course narrowed down to about 18” or less thru the deep snow & drifts, once everyone entered the trail it was strictly single file. Or, you could pass & expend a lot of effort & energy, or you could step off the packed down trail to let someone by and pay the price of snow into your shoes. Looking behind me, I could see runners snaking around the trail in tight formation for 50 yards or so and not quite as far in front of me. The thing is, I didn’t have enough discipline/sense to step off the trail even though I knew the pace was just too much. Of course the key has always been to find one’s place while on the roadway BEFORE entering the trail, and although I slowed down on the road this year, apparently it was not enough (I think I’ll force myself to walk a portion next year). Halfway thru the first loop of 11.3 miles my legs were gone. From there it was a matter of slowing down to a crawl hoping to regain some legs & then attempting to make the cutoff of 7 hours 45 min before starting the final lap to get 50 miles in 11 hours – not even close. Enough of the negative . . .
Steve & John, & with the help of others, always make this one very organized event year after year. The number of volunteers is always amazing. I also look forward to the goodies given out as they are always so useful. A couple things stood out to me this year: a new spacious building for the start and finish activities that worked out great and just the portion of the roadway used for the course was cleared of snow & ice before the event – you need to know the right people to get this done! I don’t know if the food was better this year as I didn’t eat anything last year, but I was ravenous this time around and the food at the finish was super! When the volunteer said I could take what I wanted of the tasty pasta/casserole from the pan, I honestly could have traded her my plate for the pan!
With the sun out & the snow glistening in the trees, the scenery was stunning in places, especially when the backdrop was the lake. This turned out to be the highlight of the race for me. Another pleasure I was able to witness: at my dead slow pace I was expecting to be lapped but not during my 2nd lap. The 2 leaders went by me but since everyone was passing, I didn't realize it till later that they were on their 4th lap. Ellen Erhardt, who I had seen in action at LLTH just 3 weeks previously, passed me the fastest 30 minutes into my third lap, at what looked to be an 8 minute pace or faster – just incredible considering the course conditions at the time. She commented she was 5 minutes behind and was trying to gain ground. Strides were long and very quick, what a sight to behold! Another runner did not pass me after that till 55 minutes later. I’m curious to see the time for her last lap as she was probably held up during the single file pace and/or un-packed snow on the 1st lap.
This is what I came back to in Louisville -- 12 inches plus: