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.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

more LBL second guessing

It’s been a week since LBL and can't get it out of my mind that I've performed progressively worse each year. Even though not in the shape I was in last year, I’m convinced of several reasons for my latest disappointment -- one has been very obvious from the outset. After a speed work yesterday, I confirmed what was already suspected -- I have NO speed. Since I don’t care much for running on hard surfaces, I’ve been grossly negligent in scheduling speed works, and because, for the most part, had been mainly focusing on endurance training this year with the McNaughton 100 miler on tap this spring. The biggest benefit of the speed workouts is that I really notice they give my legs a wider range of motion. I had no range of motion in the LBL race. In the quicker pace of the 1st part of the race I was using muscles I had not stretched out in a long time. With Clinton Lake coming up in less than 2 weeks, I’m wary of another speed work though -- just too close, especially since the long break from doing them regularly and afraid I'll overdo it. Will go back to training on sloppy trails this week & think more about it. Also, planning on looking into adding 5K or 10K races into the training schedule to help on the speed issue in the future.

Monday, March 10, 2008

LBL 2008

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.

Clinton Lake 30 miler is next and I should have time to get over this race – mentally & physically. Clinton will be a new event for me. The course promises numerous small hills and being a wet year, can probably count on a lot of mud.

This is what I came back to in Louisville -- 12 inches plus:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

what, winter storm forecast now?!

Looks like the LBL event, that I’ve been wanting to redeem myself in since last year, now has a high chance of a no go. The weathermen completely changed their mind, which is highly usual (I despise weathermen). No hint of a winter storm for Friday as late as the Tuesday night forecast, but just the next day they say chances are close to 100% for Friday & Friday night. I’ve had recent experience with running a race in the snow, but driving to & from LBL would be a major problem with the car I drive. Will have to wait to see what kind of weather actually arrives tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

lbl taper

The 3 hour run after just having a cold went surprisingly well. A little weak towards the end, but no cough or other ill effects. Since things went well, I wanted to get a good run in Sunday but cut it short after an unexpected rain storm that I was totally unprepared for – temps in the low 40’s with an unrelenting rain was no place to be after just being sick. LBL is looming this weekend and the weather looks like it will be dry & cool – 30’s – great running temps for me as I can’t take the heat. Feeling good coming up to this race, but wish I had more training in (as always). Planning on a short run tomorrow.