Wednesday, December 31, 2008

family comes first

With serious health issues in the family this past week, training has been on hold.

May everyone have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 Otter Creek Marathon

Been busy X-mas shopping -- done!

A summary of my day at last Sunday's Otter Creek Marathon:

the prerace - a couple surprises:

I was surprised as I woke up to rain hitting the roof. In the forecast there was no mention of rain till the afternoon -- a 20 or 30% chance with a wind advisory. Fortunately, the rain stopped as I left the house for the 25 minute drive to Otter Creek & I only felt a sprinkle or two during the race. Another morning surprise was my Garmin 405 battery had a 0% charge! Apparently I had set it down, after fully charging it, next to my running gear (instead of my nightstand) which was close to the computer. The Garmin & computer are constantly monitoring for incoming data when they are within wireless range of each other, if so, they try to connect automatically, and that drains the battery. So no GPS pacing this race nor any mapping data. If I had a 12V/110V converter, I could have charged it enough to use it -- that's one item I need for Xmas! Since the park will be closing at the end of the month, I'm heading back to the course later this week to map it, just to satisfy my curiosity.

the race - a couple mistakes:

A bit brisk at the start with fairly constant 25 to 30 mph winds with occasional gusts. The temps were in the 40's and would reach the 50's -- nice. A much larger number of runners for this race compared to last year as I situated myself towards the front half of the pack. The race consists of a short loop, then 3 longer loops of about 8+ miles each. My strategy for the start was to take off at a good clip the 1st half mile to the big downhill & then rest as I walked up the hills on the return part of the loop. I didn't want to be caught up in a line of runners on the long downhill as that was easy running & the technical portions I knew very well. Unfortunately halfway out on the loop, the course made an abrupt turn to the right & headed back to start/finish line! This cut off the big hill completely!! I found out very soon that there were several changes to the course from last year, including 2 major changes. The other major change bypassed some technical sections & a hill on the big loop adding some length to course, thus requiring the shortening of the initial loop. So I burnt myself out on the 1st loop very quickly. What I should have done then was to go ahead & walk anyway, just as I had planned -- but this walking would be on flat ground. Since I'm hard-headed, I didn't rest & continued on (I would pay for this later, of course). Since the 1st loop was much shorter this year, the marathoners caught up to any slower paced 8 & 16 mile runners who started at the same time, but didn't do the short loop. I would say most of the marathoners passed the slower runners & walkers & hikers thruout the entire 1st 8+ mile loop. For the most part, they would yield -- took some extra effort to get around some people on the single track. As I pulled into the only aid station on the big loop besides the start/finish area, it was a traffic jam! I got my arm thru a gap & luckily found one small cup that was half full of water. The cooler lines were long so I just moved on -- my mistake -- this apparently caused me to run at a deficit all day as I never caught up. My 2nd time into this aid station on the next loop was no problem. The volunteer said Gatorade was on the left, water to the right. I drank the Gatorade, but instantly recognized it as Heed. Not my favorite, but I can get it down. I don't know if it was the Heed, but about 5 minutes later my stomach became really upset. This was my upper stomach -- not intestinal distress. I thought if this kept up, my race was over! What bothered me the most though, was I didn't know what caused it (I never had a reaction to Heed before). It didn't get to the point that I felt like throwing up, although that would have probably helped. So I walked & jogged the next couple miles till it finally subsided, whew! About that time, I was coming up to the start/finish area. The last lap was tough as my legs were gone, but I didn't resort to walking (except the hills) as it was easier to jog.

the finish

A bit disappointed with the 5:05 finish as I thought I could easily get under 5 hours. Plus with some hills removed from the loops, the course was much faster than previous years. My home course "advantage" was not much help this time. I would prefer the more technical & hilly trails of previous years, but the trend for Louisville parks has been to smooth & flatten out the trails & that includes Louisville's Lovin' the Hills course here in the Jefferson Memorial Forest.

the park

I don't see the City of Louisville re-opening Otter Creek Park in the foreseeable future with their continuing budget crisis. The park has always been a nice getaway tucked away along the Ohio River -- many in Louisville don't even know the park exists as it's 25 miles from downtown & in a different county. I once saw a bald eagle flying up the creek just 50 feet away several years ago -- what a sight! Many deer come here to escape the hunters on the Fort Knox Military Reservation that borders the park. Maybe access into the closed park can be set up by permit . . .

Link to the RD's thoughts of the race & the upcoming Louisville's Lovin' the Hills race:

Next up is Mountain Mist 50k, back down at Monte Santo in Alabama where I ran the Dizzy Fifties a month ago. I haven't ruled out HUFF 50k on Dec 27 completely -- a race I did not try before as it was too far away (but have since expanded my range). Weather & course conditions will be big factors in giving HUFF further consideration.

Monday, December 8, 2008

2008 Tecumseh Marathon

Once again, DINO put on a well organized event! I've enjoyed it so much each year that after every race I start looking foward to the next year -- this was my 6th straight running of this marathon.

the snow

When I look at the forecast for a race and it says at least a 30% chance of precipitation, that means 100% in my book. So when I heard the chance of snow was 40% on the morning of the Tecumseh Marathon, I fully expected it to snow -- it did. So much for my hopes to finish in less than 5 hours. The snow covered ground highlighted the topo of the area though -- it was very nice scenery for a run. The snow covered roads added 15 minutes for the bus ride to the start, but no motion sickness this time. Also, for this year only, I did not see any hunters!

the race

The main issue for me this race was traction. There were not very many times when I felt I could push off with full force without some small amount of slippage. Snow on dry leaves seemed the par for the course. Even on gravel roads it was a bit slick. The treacherous spots on the course were where the snow was packed down & glazed over at narrow points along the trail -- I could usually spot those areas by seeing the snow & leaves scattered everywhere -- evidence of someone having found it the hard way. So I just "plowed" along carefully at a slow but steady pace all day.

I had expected a larger crowd with 600 entries compared to 450+ runners last year, but I really didn't notice any difference. In trail ultras, I usually find myself running alone after the 1st few miles at most. For this race, I did seem to be situated in one line of runners or another much of the 1st half of the race (as last year) & I even ended up in a line of 15 runners at about mile 20 -- I hadn't had that happen before. We seemed to be all going at an ultra pace at the time, which was fine by me! My official finish time was 5:12:30.

A Google Earth pic of the finish line at Yellowwood Lake:

Well, the first half of my double is now complete. I didn't feel this race completely exhausted me as I felt like sprinting near the end (but didn't as the road was slick!), so hopefully I can improve at Otter Creek.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

no massanutten

With the deadline for entering the lottery for the May 16, 2009 Massanutten 100 coming up Monday, I debated whether to sign-up, but the same argument always wins out -- just too far away. It's the same with another race I'd like to try, the Arkansas Traveller 100 -- both of these races are an equal 560 miles east or west of here -- a long drive & I don't like to fly. Add the time of the drive & the time of the race and I'm looking at 4 long days -- just can't do that right now.

I'm looking forward to my annual marathon double: the Tecumseh (Dec 6) & Otter Creek (Dec 14) Marathons. I seem to have been fairly consistent with these 2 except when I had major issues. I ran with a cold last year & it showed:

..............Tecumseh.....Otter Creek
2003......... 4:36............... --
2004......... 4:39.............. 5:33
2005......... 4:27.............. 4:47
2006......... 4:48.............. 4:47
2007......... 5:29.............. 5:35
2008............?.................. ?

I heard news yesterday that the mayor of Louisville has proposed shutting down one city park starting December 14th as a part of various budget cuts -- and that park is
Otter Creek Park!! I hope they lock the gates after we're gone. Sure doesn't look good for a continuation of the marathon double next year . . . . .