Mar 16, 2009

3/14/09 - Land Between the Lakes 60K (Report)

Made it back from Grand Rivers, KY (7.5hr drive). I had the option for this race to move up to the 50M event and told the RD that I might entertain that thought depending how the day goes. All runners had the option of moving up a race or down. When my friend Brett aka kickrunner senator Brett and I arrived in Grand Rivers, KY (population 350), it was a cool afternoon with cloudy skies. Perfect running weather if it decided not to rain. I brought mention to the population of the town because there were actually 386 runners signed up to run the 23K, Marathon, 60K and 50M. Probably helped the economy out quite a bit. We made our way to the packet pickup in this small lake town surrounded by Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Of which the trail we'd be running would give us great views of both lakes. On a clear day of course. My only real goal for this event was to get a good training run in that was longer than a 50K, but shorter than a 50M leading up to Bull Run Run 50M in April. Training had gone well to this point. The two prior weekends I had done back2back longish runs and felt coming off Crusty 50K I was ready for this next challenge. Finish time really didn't matter as long as I had fun and didn't get hurt. On Friday heading down to LBL, Brett and I stopped off in Champaign, IL for a quick 30 Minute run along this bike path to loosen up the legs and then we got a quick bite to eat at one of my favorite haunts; Cracker Barrel. Course Overviews: (Canal Loop Map) The course starts at Lighthouse Landing, with the first 1.7 miles run on paved roads to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, where the trail begins. This section should allow for separation of participants before entering the trail. The Canal Loop trail (designated by blue markers on trees), is a scenic, well groomed 11.3 mile loop on mostly single-track between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes; offering many breathtaking views of the lakes, and several short challenging hills. Elevation change: has been measured at 1119' for the 23km; 2068' for the marathon, 3017' for the 60k, and 3966' for the 50 mile. Standing Post Race at the LBL Rec Area: So, after picking up our packets, Brett and I headed back to the Super8 in Calvert City, KY. A short drive away. And then after relaxing awhile from the longgg drive down, we headed back into Grand Rivers and ate our prerace meal at Patti's Restaurant. A little salty$$, but the food was great. After that we looked around town a bit and headed back to the hotel for the night to get our drop bags ready. Race day temps were calling for rain/wind/upper 30s. Well, ok then! My first thought was shorts, of which I had ready to wear in the morning along with a longsleeve, hat, gloves and raincoat(or black garbage bag). I was ready to go. Race Morning: The weather station didn't lie. It was pouring down fairly hard and had most of the night. As we headed out the door, I told Brett that I may be switching to tights. So, when we arrived to park in Grand Rivers, I quickly switched out of my shorts to tights, as did he. Smart move in my opinion. Probably could have got away with shorts for the 23K race, but then again you'd only be out there for 1 loop of the course. We headed up to the community center (laid down our drop bags) where most runners were chatting it up, staying dry, before heading down to the start line. All of a sudden, with 10 minutes to go, one of the volunteers gets on the horn and tells us that we need to start heading toward the start line. And we were off at 7:00AM. Daylight was about to break as we headed on the road section toward the trail. Brett and I started off the front for fun, but I knew I wanted no part of going out fast. Must have been a couple hundred runners in front of me making their way up the road. I was really enjoying myself, taking it easy as the rain came down. I also didn't want there to be a log jam at the trailhead when we arrived for the start of the first loop. Just as we arrived to hit the trail there was the first aidstation. Brett and I didn't bother to stop as I had only taken a couple sips off my handheld and had plenty of goodies in my waist pack. Brett and I stayed together for about 1/2 of this first loop, when I decided to take off. Aside from the mud and rain, I was really liking this course layout. Early on it had some small hills and rollers, but nothing that was steap at all in my opinion. I was making my way on the single track, hauling up behind a runner here and there looking for places to pass when I could. I probably passed 50 runners on that first loop, but kept my heartrate in check and didn't waste alot of energy. I walked when I had to and didn't really try to keep up with anyone who decided to pass me. Again, it was still raining fairly hard as I made my way along one of the lakes. I took a glance through the fog along the lake and could only imagine what it must look like on a clear day. I also new that the 2nd, 3rd and maybe 4th loop(if I decided to switch to the 50M), would be down right muddy and slick. The aidstations were spaced out accordingly along the loop, about every 3-4 miles which worked out great. I ended the first loop with the road section included in 2:06 and feeling great. The start of the 2nd loop, I wasted no time at the aidstation and was quickly off. I had picked up the pace now that I knew the trail a little. And just like that the trail turned to a muddy, slick mess. The footing wasn't all that bad as I took advantage of the side of the trail from time to time for better footing among the leaves. Of course, on a singletrack trail you can only do so much of that. My energy level was way up. Must have been the Red Bull I drank prerace (tradition) because I was on top of my game. The trail got muddier and muddier as the rain continued to fall. I never did get cold as the garbage bag I wore kept me warm. About mid way through the loop I decided to discard the bag after a very short pitstop in the woods. Finished the 2nd loop in 1:48(3:55 cumulative time), filled up and quickly headed out of the aidstation on the 3rd loop. The 3rd loop brought alot more mud. The post race pic with Brett standing in his shoes and mine beside don't really tell the whole store. The footing got downright nasty as I began to really work my quads and hips more. I found myself getting more tired than I wanted at this point. As I made my way through the loop, I'd make my way up to a runner or two and we'd chat awhile about how nasty the mud really was on this loop. It was like soup on some sections. The good thing is that I never did fall. I still felt ok during this loop and was still entertaining the thought of running the full 50M, but as I exited to the last aidstation, I gave that thought up and headed back on the road toward the finish. The road section was fairly tough going back and it really wasn't all that bad. I suppose it was the fact that I was caked in mud, wet, tired and simply a mess. I made my way back into Grand Rivers and could see the clock with about 600 yards to go. Other than the end of each loop, I hadn't really paid much attention to my watch and came into the finish in roughly (6:10:23). Finishing the 3rd loop in 2:12. I was pleased because I had run this 60K at nearly the identical pace that I had through the snow at Crusty 50K (5:07) in early February. Training was paying off. I quickly changed out of "all that was mud" and got into warmer clothes. I made my way to the community center for some soup, not knowing when Brett might make his way in and chatted up a few runners including fellow kickrunner, niemsco(Scott). Also out on the course were kickrunners cgerber(Chris) and the The Professor(?), who were indeed running the 50M. I had the opportunity to meet Chris as he finished his race after a tough day on the trail. I will definitely make the long drive back to Grand Rivers, KY in 2010 and tackle this race again. And possibly the 50M version. Another adventure completed. Now onto the next challenge.

05/17/08 - Berryman Trail 50 Mile (Race Report)

My training partner Brett and I signed up for the Berryman Trail races back in late March. I would be running the 50M event while Brett would be running the marathon (his first trail race) or the "fun run" as the website stipulates. I was excited for him and excited for as well as I hadn't run a race since Louisville's Lovin the Hills 50K back in February. I was way under trained for that event, but finished and knew I had alot of work to do come May 17th. Sure, training can be fun, but there comes a point in time when you really need to get back in the game, back where I feel most comfortable and that is racing.

My biggest issue coming into this race was a bout with ITBand irritation in my left leg. It would come and go, but at times it was excruciating following some runs. Come late April I even emailed the RD to ask if it was possible to move down to the marathon distance as I wasn't entirely sure I would be adequately trained come race day. She said that I could once the race starts, but wouldn't be eligible for any awards. So, I completely pulled myself off the road and concentrated solely on training on the trails. In the past when training for ultras I would use a combination of road marathons/trail running. Leaving the pavement behind helped. Even during trail tempos I experienced no problems the following day and was able to bounce back. I was ready for the challenge. From this point on I wouldn't second guess my decision to stay in the 50M race.

Brett and I set off for our destination, Potosi, MO. A small town about 74 miles southwest of St. Louis. Not far from where we'd be racing at the Berryman Campground inside Mark Twain National Forest. This area of the country is quite beautiful and hilly. I did a little research on the course, but one never knows until they actually get out there as to what it’s like. Sometimes it is best not knowing what you are getting yourself into.

Course: Two loops (24.8M per loop) for the 50 mile, 1 for the Marathon, plus a short out and back for each event on a gravel road. There is one crossing of Brazil Creek per loop. The course crosses many other stream beds that may or may not have water in them depending on recent rainfall. Aid Stations will be approximately every 4 to 5 miles apart.

After arriving in Potosi we dropped our stuff off at the local Super 8. A great place to stay for the race and cheap$$. Plus, they had a great breakfast buffet. And the fact that it is located only 15-20 minutes from Berryman Campground. So, we headed out to the campground to pick up our race packets and found they were just getting things set up. It was pretty low key, so we gathered our packets and headed back into Potosi for a bite to eat and some rest as the race would be starting at 6:30AM. We did notice however that the temperature was a bit warmer than northern Indiana and they were predicting start temps in the 50s with a high in the lower 80s. That concerned me a little, but what could we do. At least we'd be running under the canopy.

Going in I really had no expectations as far as finishing time for this ultra. Brett said he'd like to run right around 5hrs. Not knowing what the course was like I through a time out there late on Friday evening prior to the race of 9hrs, but "finishing" was what I was really after.

We turned in somewhat early for a 4:00AM wakeup. I slept about as well before a race as I probably ever had. Everything was ready and we headed toward the campground. The day finally arrived. It was a cool morning, but the sun was slowly rising over a ridge. There wouldn't be a cloud in the sky on this day. We arrived at the campground as others were pulling in. Each of us put a drop bag down for the 16 mile mark after crossing Brazil Creek.

After a few late instructions from the RD, Brett and I wished each other luck and we were off on the short out-n-back section on the gravel road. The 50 Milers would cover .4 miles on the road and the marathoners 1.4 miles before heading back into the woods to start the loop. I started right off the front as did two other 50M runners and a few marathoners. I didn't know these two runners, but by the looks of it they were seasoned trail runners. I stayed close behind them from the start as we entered the trail and was right on their heels. The beginning of the trail is made up of rocky/root covered sections. There were a few dry creek beds, but most had water running through them. The cold water felt pretty good, but my goal was to stay as dry as possible. I stayed with the lead runners just before the first aid station at 4.45 miles. They were going a bit faster than I wanted to go this early and my heart rate was telling me to back off. About that time, just before AS#1, another 50M runner came up behind me and passed. I stayed with him as we headed into AS#1. We left as soon as we came in not wasting any time. I was close behind him. Not far from AS#1 he caught his foot on a rock and rolled it pretty good. I asked him if he was alright and told him to walk it off. Don't run on it immediately. This would plague him all day. Most if not all of this section was very runnable aside from navigating the rockier creek areas.

In 3rd place again, a few of the lead marathoners were making their way along the course. I graciously ran to the right side of the single track letting them pass as their day would end way before mine would. Staying with them would be a huge mistake. I would have no part of that. Over this time as I headed into AS#2 and AS#3, I made sure to power walk nearly every hill. I ran some of them, but it made no sense to waste quad strength that I would need late in the race. By this time the 50M runner who had rolled his ankle was behind me once again and I let him pass. He was running all the hills, but was having a heck of time on the downhill portions where I would trade places with him again and again. I was feeling really good. As we headed into AS#3, another marathoner came in as I was leaving. He caught me going out and we ran together, chatting it up. This section to AS#4 at Brazil Creek ended up being more horse trail then single track. Quite muddy at times, but nothing that stopped me from running through and around it. We headed down the rocky section to Brazel Creek at mile 16 on the course. You had no choice but to jump into the cool water and across. I actually didn't mind it. As soon as you get across and run through a bit of sand, the course veers to the right to the aid station at the campground. I grabbed a glass of coke and filled my hand held with half gator”barf”/half water and grabbed a handful of gummy bears. To this point I was eating Sharkey's and Energy Beans from my belt and the occasional GU.

We left AS#4 through a small clearing and out onto the only paved road section on the course. I decided to walk half of it before heading back onto the trail into the woods. Soon after I would catch the marathoner I had run with prior and we chatted awhile. The pace felt comfortable so I went with it. He told me there are days when he'll mountain bike this course and then run it. I could probably do it but when it comes to biking I'm a green horn and would probably hurt myself on this course. From this point on we would run together until he finished. Most of the bigger (long) hills were from 16 miles on until the completion of the first loop. I would continue to power walk the hills as fast as I could while the two runners I was with would run them. Again, after the hill I would catch them shortly after.

We made it into AS#5 (19.5M) and filled up. I chose to stay away from any solid foods. Nothing looked good to me at the time. I was drinking well and popping an S-cap nearly every 1hr-1.5hrs. One of the volunteers told me he'd have ice and popsicles for the 2nd loop. I told him I'd hold him to it and laughed as we headed out toward AS#6. More climbing ensued, but alot of this section was easy running.

We headed into AS#6 greeted by two lovely ladies, filled up quickly and were gone. One more longggg climb remained and then some rollers back to Berryman Campground to end the first loop. I was feeling good as I came through the start/finish area in 3:49. Maybe a little to good as the temperature was rising. Here you had the option of dropping to the marathon distance by running an additional out-n-back if things weren’t going as planned. I filled up quickly and was out of there. Now I was thinking that maybe I had a shot at setting a new PR. Two other runners came in behind me at the end of the loop and quickly caught me. The guy who rolled his ankle early on and another runner I had not seen to this point in the race. I let them both by and stayed close behind the runner hobbling on his ankle. He quickly pulled off to the side as we headed into AS#1 and I wouldn't seem him again until the race was over. The other guy took off down the trail.

From this point on I would run solo the remainder of the race aside from coming up behind a few late marathon runners. I think at the time I was in 4th place. It was getting hotter. Each time I stepped out of the shade on the trail into the sunlight the sun seemed that much warmer. I kept moving forward. Just before Brazil Creek I came upon 5 horses and their riders on the muddier section of the trail. I quickly moved off to the side not wanting to spook them as they went by. I crossed the creek into the Brazil Creek AS and joked with the two girls volunteering, asking them if this was a school project or were they just giving up their Saturday for us. I thanked them and quickly left. Things were still going well. As I excited Brazil Creek and out on to the small road section I chose to walk the entire length of it until reaching the woods and took off once again. More climbing would ensue. To this point I still had my legs and had no problems running without having to grimace in pain because my quads hurt like in past races.

For some reason with like 5-6 miles to go I kept thinking about the lead female catching me. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it is my competitive nature or something. The funny thing is that I didn’t know who it was and didn’t see her all day. I suppose this motivated me a bit to push on harder. I had two more aid stations to go to the finish. With 6:35 on my watch I headed into the 2nd to last AS. Low and behold they had ice and a lime freeze pop. Just like the guy said that he would. I filled up my bottle and walked out of the AS. Man did that freeze pop hit the spot.

Within a quarter of a mile leading into the last aid station I noticed the runner who passed me at the beginning of the 2nd loop was limping. I asked him if he was ok as I went by and told him to walk it off to the next AS. Now I was in position to take 3rd overall and a new PR was within reach. I entered the last AS and quickly exited after a fill up. I knew there was one long climb to go. I knew I would really have to push myself at this point. I wasn’t struggling, but at this point in the race with it being over 80F, I felt depleted. I could feel the salt hanging on my face and arms. I knew the finish was near. After power walking the last climb, I took off only seeing a few late marathon runners ahead on the trail. I exited the woods and across the gravel road and could nearly see the finish area. I picked it up a bit as they rang the cowbells with people cheering me on. It felt good to be done although I would have pushed on had the race been longer. I met Brett at the finish. He had finished his first trail marathon in 5:17. I was happy for him.

Finish: 3rd Overall (8:30:09PR) - (Old 2006 PR: 8:43:55)
1st Place – 7:37
2nd Place – 7:54