Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Land Between the Lakes 60K

I wrote most of this report six weeks ago and have continually forgotten to finish and post it.  I signed us up for this race literally a few hours before registration closed (about a month ago) after getting a well timed warning from Scott Breeden that the race director would be closing registration within an hour or two.  I signed up for the 60k, and Katie signed up for the 10k.

My training for the race looked pretty much like this:

  • Run Lovin the Hills 50K
  • Don't run for a week, body is decimated*
  • Run a 34 mile point to point run to Brown County
  • Fall on a log, bruising shin badly - too painful to run after this
  • Don't run for two weeks*
  • Run another 34 mile point to point to point run to Brown County to test out the body
  • Don't run for a week*
  • Run the race
*I did swim and bike during all this

As we got close to race day we worked out a plan with our friends also running the race (Alex, Giesla, Scott, Becky) and all stayed together the night before the race.  In the race preparations I likely made three key nutrition mistakes:
  • Added an extra late night meal of an entire Subway footlong
  • Added an extra cliff bar to my already adequate breakfast of cereal and milk
  • Forgot to bring my corn flakes and soy milk so had dairy and heavier cheerios, plus extra half bowl of cheerios instead
The consequence of my ravenous pre-race eating would be revealed soon enough.

Course Map (Start, Finish and Canal Loop)

Race Start

As we gathered at the race start in the "center" of the town of Grand Rivers (Lighthouse Landing) I was impressed by the sheer size of the crowd.  The morning was cold but within the mass of almost 700 runners (50 mile, 60k, Marathon, 23k, and 10k simultaneous starts) I felt much warmer.  I wore only a technical shirt and shorts with an Amphipod brand strap hugging several gels above my right hip.  In dry conditions, I've been putting pretty much all of my miles in using the Brooks Pure Grit shoe (excellent on road and trail - but terrible and in fact dangerous grip in slick conditions).

Race Start

Instead of lining up at the front with Scott and the familiar cast of more aggressive running leaders I lined up a bit further back next to Katie, Alex and Giesla.  The race runs on approximately two miles of road before connecting to the single track trail known as "The Canal Loop".  Because of this, I had struggled with a choice:
  • Run faster and get to the single track ahead of most
  • Not worry about it and run further back, allowing myself to run a relaxed first loop of the "Canal Loop" (~12 miles) and deal with passing and catching people later.
I ended up opting for the second option and waffled a little on pace to run back with Katie for a minute (in the 10k) and then run back up to Alex and Giesla again.  After a relaxed 7:40ish pace for 2 miles, we dropped down a small hill onto the start of the singletrack "Canal Loop".

Loop 1

I spent some good times hanging with Alex and Giesla on the first loop.  The lap went by quickly with the first half being the easiest and the second half of the loop adding some small (100 ft. at most) climbs.  Aid stations were plentiful but I didn't really have much more than a cup of water and another cup of Heed.

There were a few nice spots of "cliff"-like trail that looked over the lake off to the left and perhaps were even a little dangerous for an inattentive runner.

As we finished the first loop I could detect that I had a made mistake in diet before the race.  I was going to need to find a bathroom soon.  I slapped a high five to Alex and Giesla as they exited the loop to the road spur back to the finish of the half marathon.  The first loop had ended with a total time of 1:35:00.

Loop 2

At first I tried to pick up some speed on the second loop but after initial few miles of "very easy" terrain I started to slow down.  My stomach again sloshed and I knew I had to find a bathroom.  I couldn't stomach a gel for some reason and took only a Coca Cola can which was actually quite good and provided a nice boost.

I finally found a port-o-pot (which was occupied) and ended up waiting a little before I could get in.  I had passed a few more runners but found (discouragingly) I had to pass them all over again.

I got to the mid-loop aid station and Katie, Alex, Giesla and Becky were all there and got me a throwback Mountain Dew can from my supply bag.  I chatted for a moment, chugged my Mountain Dew and gave Katie a kiss as usual before going off on my way again.  My stomach still sloshed and I again felt nausea when I tried to think about taking a gel.  I sort of mentally settled on only fueling with soda for the rest of the race.

I passed some more runners and chatted with a few who were using the race as a build-up to a 100 miler in the summer.  As I passed another two or three runners I tried to build up a lead as I could feel the need to find a bathroom again.  This didn't happen and I settled for charging up a hill behind some large tree stumps and digging a hole.

Again, it was somewhat discouraging to pass the same 3 or 4 runners again on my way to finally completing the second loop in 1:40:39.  Since I was racing from the far back of the pack, I really had no clue what place I was in or where the next runners were at.

Loop 3

Admittedly, by the 3rd loop I settled into too comfortable of a pace.  I saw few runners until the end of the loop and took two more bathroom stops and two more cans of Coca Cola.  I realized I was at least keeping an even and relaxed pace but had simply stopped too often to gain contact with the next runner or two that I would have liked to catch.

I did run into one guy during the last few miles of the loop who I passed and then continued to push and catch me on the flats.  I got motivated and ran the climbs with as much effort as was reasonable and was able to gain a lead that put me out of sight coming into the end of the loop.  My stops again inflicted a slowdown on the lap, making my time a 1:51:47 for the final trip around.

Looking back the three laps my "moving time" mile splits were pretty consistent at around an 8:30 average but the stops cost me more time with each consecutive lap.


As I dashed out of the trail loop (glad to be out of it finally after three times) I ran for a few seconds next to Alex, Giesla, Katie, Scott and Becky.  Katie sprinted out for a few hundred meters and pulled me into a faster pace.  After a few inside motivational jokes I turned off onto the main road and picked up the pace even more for the last 1.6 miles, starting at around a 7 minute mile pace and running the final stretch at a 5:50 - 6:00 per mile pace.

Finishing fast . . too much kick left

The energy I had finishing led me to believe that I probably should have been pushing myself much harder.  Then again, I was just happy to run reasonably and finish given that I had mostly been mired in injury over the previous few weeks.

I ended up finishing 10th with a total time of 5:34:19.  Had I known that the 3rd-9th runners were all over 5 hours and somewhat within reach perhaps I could have pushed my pace a bit more.  But, in my experience it has always been a little difficult to go out at a slower pace and maintain contact and competition with the faster runners.  In my mind, this also reinforces the "strategy" of staying out of sight on the trail if you don't want to get caught.

That being said, I think I will be motivated to give this race another try next year as I would like to run a much faster time.

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