After 4 straight years of disappointment & progressively worse performances at LBL, I'm happy to buck the trend! 50 miles - 10:32:43
With a most tiring February, my focus since the ice storm cleanup & LLTH was getting some rest. With 4 weeks between these 2 races this year, it was just what I needed. The other big factor this time was my new race strategy: start near the back & not pass anyone the first 13 miles (road segment + 1st loop). I was very determined to keep to this plan & I was surprised that I ended up having the discipline to do it. I fought the urge to pass every step of the way -- with only a few exceptions (passed runners who were walking or close to it).
the weather & the course
Driving down from Louisville on I-65 & the Western Kentucky Parkway Friday, it was incredible to see the aftermath of last month's ice storm. I witnessed 180 miles of continuous destruction! There were still trees bent over onto the shoulder of the 4 lane -- some pine tree sections were completely decimated. Arriving at Grand Rivers at LBL, the damage continued to be extensive. You could clearly picture what the course looked like before it was cleared. Having firsthand experience at clearing trails after the ice storm, I fully appreciated the tremendous effort it took to make the race possible this year. SUPER JOB!! THANKS!!
Watching the forecast from a week out, it changed everyday -- from no mention of rain up to a 70% chance. By Friday the chance for race day had been lowered to 30%. I fully expected it to rain anyway. Waking up early Saturday the rain had already started although it would not last all morning. I didn't mind getting wet, but with 40-45 degree temps & the gusty winds off the lakes, a wet shirt made it a little chilly at times.
With the cloudy & drizzly weather, the course was muddy all day. I would best describe the mud initially as being the "soupy & splashy" type. With the well established course normally being a very hard packed dirt surface, the muddy trail did have a "solid" bottom -- not one where your shoes would disappear completely or get stuck. The trails are shared with bikes, not horses & that makes a difference too. I handled the mud fairly well until the 3rd lap when I turned my ankle on a root in a puddle -- splash!! I fell mostly on my hip & one entire side of my body was soaked to the bone! Luckily I shook off the light sprain within a couple miles. As the day wore on the mud became the "sticky" type.
Seeing so many familiar faces at the start, I was busy jabbering & oblivious that the race had started. Keeping to the plan I started off slowly with a couple hundred or so runners ahead of me. I felt like running with my brakes on as we entered the trail, but as I finished the 1st lap, for once in 5 years I felt like I hadn't used much energy at all. In order to make the cutoff time to get to the 50 mile race though, I needed to average a 13 minute pace for the 1st 36 miles. With mile markers all along the course (great!), I was able to check my progress the entire race. Keeping a fairly steady pace I was able to reach my goal of making the cutoff. I then set my sights on breaking 11 hours for the 50 miles. Feeling pretty good at this point, I set off on the last lap really pushing myself. It was fun to turn the tables & pass other runners so late in a race! I was only passed by 3 runners in the last 15 miles: 1 young runner who I played leap frog with for a while & 2 (Brian & ???) just a mile from the finish -- I had passed them earlier at an aid station with 8 miles to go, but was unable to hold them off once we got on the road. It's not often I feel like "racing" near the end of such a long run!
Land Between the Lakes is one of the most organized events I attend all year. Always alot of goodies given out too! I was also awarded a monogrammed waist pack from Steve Durbin (RD) for having attended LBL 5 of the first 6 years. Thanks Steve!
Shared an "Executive Cottage" at the Kentucky Dam State Resort Park this year. Huge for a cottage (more like a house) with 2 stories & about 2000 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 4 TVs, a deck & located right alongside the lake! Thanks Ken for the invite & for securing this "house" for an amazing $104!!!!
Ran into Bob Engel, Brian Young & Robin Meagher at the start line. Little did I know then Robin would lap me on my third loop & easily win the Women's 50 miler (2nd Overall !!) -- an impressive performance! -- & even more impressive considering the course conditions -- Congrats! Other familiar faces I ran into: Alan, David, Brenda, Kathy, Ken, Jeff, Tom, Paige, John, Steve, Cassie, Garret, Logan, Margaret, Mike, Troy & Kara, Chris, Brian K. & Ricky.
With my extended effort at LBL, I've probably compromised my next race at Clinton Lake in 2 weeks. Regardless, my target race for the past year has been the McNaughton 150 (in 4 weeks), so I wasn't planning to push myself very hard at Clinton anyway. The 10 mile loop format & the small hills at Clinton Lake were a good prep for me for the McNaughton 100 last year.