Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 Clinton Lake

Coming into this Clinton Lake 30M event, I was hoping to have a solid run in preparation for my target race at McNaughton Park -- now in just 11 days! I felt better than expected after the extended effort 2 weeks ago in the 50 miler at LBL & I ended up reaching the goal I had set last year of sub-6 hours. This time I did not have the intestinal issues that sidelined my effort last year. However, I did end up pushing it more than I probably should have the last 4 miles as then I realized my old goal was within reach.

the race:

Chris Migotsky (RD) & all the wonderful volunteers pulled off another great job this year! I didn't mind the weather, although it did keep any socializing before & after the race this year to a minimum.

A change from last year was the clockwise direction around the lake to prevent the quick entry into the single track trail -- the backup of last year was averted -- and it also felt like a whole new trail going in this direction. With near freezing temps & very windy conditions, I wore shorts with a technical long sleeve over a singlet & also wore sleeves, gloves & a buff.

Chris sent us off on time at 8:00. With the road section before entering the trail, I apparently picked my spot well as the group I was with on the single track was at an 11 minute pace, just what I was hoping for. The trail was in great condition -- soft & damp with no obstructions.

An enthusiastic bunch welcomed us at the aid station at the midpoint of the loop. Gregg was my cheerleader here all day! Jeff, who greeted everyone as he trekked on the trail (here and at LBL 2 weeks ago) in the opposite direction, was my cheerleader on the course -- Thanks guys!

Keeping the same pace for the remainder of the loop, I finished it with about the same time as last year -- around 1:50 or 11 minutes per mile. Chris had said there were 33 hills on each 10 mile loop & I really didn't notice that many -- but I did notice they seemed to grow in size as the day wore on. I dropped off my long sleeve & buff at the car & headed out for the 2nd 10 trying to maintain the same pace. Also new this year were the mile markers -- great for keeping track of your progress.

By the time I reached the aid station this time, a light rain had started. I'm glad I had already ditched the long sleeve as I hate running with it when it's soaked. The sleeves I wore worked perfectly (Thanks again Jeffro for steering me to these!). I had alot of "Aren't you cold?" questions, but no more than usual -- I felt just right. With no intestinal issues at this point like last year, I finished up this loop at an average of just under 12 minutes per mile.

As I started the last loop I noticed this gal (I later learned her name at the finish to be Juli), who I frequently saw in front of me, was pretty much running at the same pace as I was but we approached the course quite differently. Apparently she did not believe in walking! She ran up ALL the hills as I walked, but somehow I managed to catch back up each time.

With 4 miles to go, I realized that I was within reach of the sub-6 hour goal I had set for myself last year. I was slowing down though and the rain was coming down harder, so I put out a little extra effort. Juli was still just within sight & she made me laugh as I could hear her let out a "cheer" as she passed each mile marker! With a mile or so to go I was close enough to talk to her -- she was going for the same goal! We pushed it the rest of the way -- finished with a minute or so to spare. Juli is one tough gal!

a couple surprises:

There were alot of Buffalo (the human kind) on the course, as usual . . . . and one COYOTE! When it crossed right in front of us, I initially thought it was a wolf. It had a winter coat that was bushy & multi-shaded -- he looked fearless and right at home.

Also, I was plodding along as I came up on two runners that looked very familiar. Could it be Don Frichtl & Ellen Erhardt? I thought, NO WAY!! But yep, there they were. Usually, the only time I see them is at the start or when they lapped me! In fact, Ellen easily won the women's event here last year! As I soon learned from them, they were taking an "easy day". They sure could have picked a better weather day for a "stroll" at the lake!


My focus for the next 11 days will be REST. I'm really looking forward to this upcoming challenge -- to run in a race that will go thru 2 entire days & nights is going to be exciting -- I wonder how my body is going to react? My goal for 150 miles: finish! The countdown continues . . .

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 Land Between the Lakes

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.

the race

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!

other notes

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.