Sunday, March 11, 2012

Race Report - Land Between the Lakes Trail Runs

Land Between the Lakes Trail Run 
Distance: 26.2 miles
Location: Grand Rivers, KY
Time: 3:59:54 (I earned those 6 seconds...)

Let me put it this way.  If had an A+++ goal for this race, I would still have exceeded it.  However, let's start with some background on the race, why I choose it and the details of race morning.

I signed up for a 60k at the Potato Creek Trail Runs in South Bend.  I needed to do some longer trail running and I asked some of my running mentors about what race would be a good one to do in early March.  A number of people mentioned the Land Between the Lakes trail run in Grand Rivers, KY.  The RDs are great, the course is great, the volunteers are great and the weather was amazing. 

The race is roughly 5 hours from Indianapolis, but only 2 from my grandparents place in Evansville, IN.  I stay with them and figured I'd get an early start.  I checked the race start time about 2 weeks out.  6:00 am.  WTF.  At that time, it was still dark at 6:00 am.  That meant that I had to leave my grandparent's place a roughly 3:15 am.  Yeah, that was an early start.  On the bright side, I'd finish the run long before noon if it went well.

I grabbed my 12 oz of coffee, 16 oz of Nuun Lemon Lime (the best flavor) and a couple of these coffee cake donut-ball type things my grandma made. I pulled on my full Patagonia outfit (except for the tights) and then some hobo style sweat pants for the ride in the car.  Just under 2 hours later I pulled into the parking lot in Grand Rivers, KY.  As you can guess, my first stop was the bathroom.  After that I got my race number (2100) and packet.  It included a hat, shirt and bag.  Sweet gear for the price of the race.  As a quick note, before the race started I spotted David Riddle and introduced myself.  He had a great race too.  Watch the link for a race report.

Loop 1:
The start was down by the marina. It was still a little chilly, probably 35 degrees.  I had a beanie on, which I took off less than 15 minutes later. I finally found Farra and Kai at the start line.  I'd been looking for them for a while and I'm glad that I found them.  Farra said something that only Ultra Runners will say.... "I've had the respiratory flu for a couple weeks so I'm only going to run the 60k".  Yeah, crazy girl, only 37.2 miles. She wanted to do the whole 50 miler but hadn't been able to properly prepare.  People like this make marathoners feel inadequate, but in a good way.

Descending down a small hill
At 6:00 am we were off down the road about 2 miles to the 11+ mile loop in the woods.  The first 6-7 miles were very runnable, except for the other 599 people out there.  THe woods were crowded, so I tried to cue myself well prior to the trails.  It was tough to determine exactly where I wanted to be though.  For one, I had to pee at the first aid station, and again at the 3rd.  I'm a classic over-hydrator, usually, but more on that during the second loop.  The final 5 miles of the loop had a few more hills, but no huge ones. I walked up a few hills but tried to keep running through most of it.  I finished the first loop in just over 2 hours.  I wasn't entirely sure because I didn't have my watch set up for auto-laps that worked well with that distance.  I ran with some nice people and even saw Heather at the 3rd aid station.  She looked happy and running strong. 

Busy Trails during the first loop.
Loop 2: 
I felt great going into the second loop.  With the trail open I was able to run some 8ish mpm miles. I tried to keep my heart rate down and just run happy.  About 4 miles into this loop I wasn't feeling great and wasn't sure what was going on.  I pop a gu, had some more spiz (thanks to Jerry for the tip) and kept running.  about 15 minutes later I figured out it was due to dehydration, I think.  I drank quite a bit from my hydration pack and started feeling better in less than 5 minutes, just in time for the hills!

I exited the dirt loop at 3:46 and was told I had 1.75 miles to the finish. At first I didn't give a lot of hope to a sub 4:00 marathon.  I was planning on a sub 4:20.  My previous PR was 4:38.  The weather was perfect and the trail was runnable. At 3:58 I reached the hill and was able to see the finish line.  I turned it on, dug deep and finished as long as I didn't cramp or crap my pants I could get there by 4:00.  At 3 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds I crossed the finish line.  I let out a WHOOO! and the volunteer handing me my medal jumped a little.  

El Fin:
Needless to say, this race was out of my mind.  I never thought I'd be able to do this.  I'm feeling really good about my training for the 60k in April.  My training plan has been

Beautiful Trail
working so far and my nutrition is working.  I need to figure out the amount of water to drink based on temperature and output.  Clearly I drink too much water before the race and not enough during.  Also, I might consider these S-Cap things.  How does everyone else feel about that?

It was great to see some running buddies out there, it's nice to see familar faces that I've never met before (that made sense in my head) and I really want to do this race again next year...maybe the 60k or more?

Quick nutrition note: I switched it up a few weeks ago and started drinking spiz during long runs.  During this race I had 2 bottles each with 16 oz of water and 3 'scoops' of spiz, which is something like 500 calories.  I also had a gu or two during the run.  And 4 peanut butter filled pretzels.  That's it.  Spiz was a wonder drink for me.  I've never used other endurance drinks though, but this one doesn't go bad after mixed, so it was perfect for a drop bag.

Worst after race photo ever.  I wish I had my hat on to hide the balding.


  1. Lol! That respitory flu side comment cracked me up! Nice race Ben! So glad the Spiz worked well for you !

  2. S-Caps are great, but probably unnecessary for only the marathon distance with cool temps like we had. If you go longer or it gets hotter, they're a must. Nearly immediate relief if you have a muscle cramp coming on, in my experience.

    1. Thanks for the comments! I've had off and on issues with cramping so I might investigate.

  3. lol glad I could make u laugh ;) so super happy for you ben!