Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2009 Dances with Dirt Gnawbone

Weather was a factor a couple years ago in this DWD race in Gnawbone, so I was happy to hear the forecast the morning of the race. The humidity was very high once again at the start, but the temps remained very reasonable the entire day. There was a very nice cool breeze too, which I really enjoyed!

Coming into this race, my goal was to improve on last year's time. But as I started to warm up pre-race, I realized my body/legs were not responding as they should have. As I was trying to figure this out in the dark, I heard someone counting down the race start . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . Go! There I was, 50 yards from the start line at 6:15 a.m. as I just plain lost track of the time. No worry though with chip timing this year, but it made for an unsettling start. I couldn't get my GPS watch set right either, as I was caught off guard, which was disappointing as I was hoping to check my pace.

The first part of the race started with a gravel road. I knew after the first few minutes that it would be a very long day as I didn't have the leg turnover. Usually I'm afraid of going out too fast -- that wasn't a possibility this time! What was on my mind the entire race: how was my approach to the race different this time??

The organizers mixed things up & changed the course for the 3rd time in 3 years. I didn't concentrate on the markers and got off course for a while (along with a few others) a couple times -- absolutely no excuse -- course was marked fairly well. I recognized alot of the trails from last year, but there were also a couple major changes. One was the added 4.3 mile Hoosiers Nest loop which was a fairly narrow trail with a segment of paved road. I really liked this technical trail that wound thru and around some pretty steep hills, but never went straight up or down them. It would have been a little more enjoyable had it not been for having to get out of the way of the relay runners. With the trail pretty narrow most places, a runner was not going to pass unless there was some cooperation -- and I did a lot of that even though I sped up the best I could each time I did this loop. This was the only speed change for me as it seemed I was trudging along the entire way at a 100 mile pace. I didn't walk any, other than the uphills & real muddy areas, so the "running" pace was pretty s-l-o-w.

Coming into the Ogle Lake aid station at the 50k/50m split at about 24 miles, the few runners who were slogging along with me decided to drop down to 50k. Although we had a 45 minute headstart, quite a few 50k runners had already passed us by this point. I didn't feel I needed to drop down -- my only concern was if they decided to cut off the slower runners. I did not note any cutoff times in the pre-race instructions, but coming into the last 2 aid stations, the volunteers did impose conditions on those who wanted to continue, including myself. I knew there were several runners behind me who were not going to make it. My official finish time: 12:55 WO! (last year 11:06)

On a positive note, I finally did get to sample some of the smoked pork after missing out the last 2 years. I sure didn't realize how hungry I was till I started to eat solid food! It sure hit the spot.

As for my next race, I've been debating for some time now whether to drive down to Georgia near the end of the month to try the Sweet H2O 50k , or trying something new on that date: the Run Under the Stars 10 hr run around a horse track in Paducah, KY. Right now, I'm tentatively planning on staying in Kentucky. The way I look at it, the positives could be: the race is at night; it's a 3 1/2 hour same day drive vs. a 6 1/2 hour drive with an overnight stay for the trip to Georgia; it's directed by a great fellow - Steve Durbin; and running a "set time" race is something I may like. Negatives could be: a totally flat, gritty track surface and the same scenery.

Looking further ahead in June, I would like to attempt to finish Mohican this year, especially after my shutdown with back problems at 73 miles last time. Of course, the forecast (temps) will probably determine whether I make that attempt or not.