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.
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.
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: http://cynthiaheadfirst.blogspot.com/2008/12/otter-creek.html
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.