Tuesday, December 18, 2012

at Otter Creek Park

The Otter Creek Marathon, south of Louisville near Brandenburg, is a flatter course than the Tecumseh Marathon with only one hill (repeated 3 times) of any consequence.  Several years ago Otter Creek followed Tecumseh by one week & I did both for 5 years (2004-2008).  I didn't have much recovery time, but since the Otter Creek course was easier, I was pretty much able to run both with very similar times the last 3 years.  Although a 2 week gap this year, it would still be a good check to see if my fast early pace at Tecumseh really did do me in that race.

With early pace a priority, I made it a point to take it easy from the very start.  About 240 runners, mostly 8m & 16m runners, would enter the single track only a quarter mile from the starting line.  I started near the back & runners got cued up several times the 1st 4 to 5 miles, which I expected.  Temps were in the 40's & 50's - OK.  It started to rain soon after the start & that made some runners really slow down (in slick areas) and I passed more people than I was planning on the 1st 8.5 mile loop.  The rain would continue & the course would steadily deteriorate as the day went on.  Places where the Forest Service had removed leaves for safety actually made it more dangerous.  I slipped down twice, but no "falls" this day.   

The view at the overlook along the Ohio River is always fantastic!  Years ago there WAS an overlook along the creek too, but the Forest Service removed that challenging rocky climb & descent & replaced it with a somewhat boring, back & forth trail away from the scenic creek and in a flat area.  Unfortunately, that same trail manager packed his bags a few years ago & moved to the Jefferson Memorial Forest & is now doing the same deal here with the Louisville's Lovin' The Hills (LLTH) course -- and that is removing challenging trails & replacing them with multi-purpose, family friendly trails -- how sad.

Besides being a fun race, one of the things I enjoy most about Otter Creek is that I can stay local & see friends & meet other trail runners from the Louisville area.  Long distance trail races & runners are fairly rare in Kentucky in comparison to other surrounding states.  It was great to see so many familiar faces & see such a good turnout for this event.

I was able to keep an even pace for about 17 miles (1st 2 laps).  I was feeling I could easily finish in between 5 hours & 5 1/2 hours, but my legs were beginning to give in.  Although the rain had stopped, the course conditions were by far the worst on that final lap.  Those who were done early (8 milers, 16 milers & the winner who lapped me) didn't get to enjoy the best of the mud!  Not all the course was muddy & I've encountered much, much more difficult conditions . . . still it felt like I was carrying leg weights with the caked on mud & it took its toll near the end.

I was able to better my time from Tecumseh, so I can say now that too fast of an early pace was a big negative there as I had thought.  Had the Otter Creek course not been so sloppy, it's possible I could have taken 10 more minutes off.

As to my gut, well it cooperated & was not a big factor, and for reasons why, I don't know.  The night before each race was terrible, as usual, but each race day was completely different.  Maybe it was the slower early pace, maybe because I didn't have to drive far, maybe it's all in my head (as the Drs. think) or maybe . . . 


 next up:

I was thinking about running my 1st HUFF 50k next week, but right now I believe I will run the new LLTH 50k course on my own about that time.  I have laid out a new course for the event since the Forest Service removed the hilliest portion of this challenging course -- several miles of narrow single track (including 7 hills and probably 1000 feet of elevation gain) have been replaced with a smooth, multi-purpose, ATV wide, handicap accessible (flat) dirt trail.  Overall, it's still a hilly course & it should be a long, fun run.


Chris said...

Loving the hills has a course change that includes LESS hills? Say it ain't so!

ed said...

They're calling it "progress" & they sure are proud of it.

On those five miles of gnarly single track that were lost, it was all up or down -- there were no flat sections. Guess I'm just hard core.