Thursday, March 19, 2009

Land Between the Lakes 60K - 3/14/09

Steve, Race Director
Terri (SC)
Norman (IL)
Jim (CA) and Frank (MN)
The LBL 60K is one of my favorite races. I missed it last year, after a freak snow storm in the middle of March prevented me from making the 2 hour drive to Grand Rivers, KY. Steve, the race director, is one of the nicest (and fastest) guys you will ever meet. Since a lot of his runners could not make it to the race last year, he offered to either send them their goody bags or allow them to register for the 2009 race with a 50% discount on the entry fee. I took the 50% discount and crossed my fingers for no snow storm this year. Well . . . there wasn't any snow, but the heavy rain the morning of the race was the issue. Granted, by the time we started, the rain had slacked off and the temperature was pretty comfortable, but the mud was unbelievable!

My friend Terri (SC), who is also a race director for a great 4 race series of ultramarathons in SC, drove to my house on Friday. We awoke early Saturday morning to drive up to KY for the race. It rained the whole time, and all we could think about was that the trail was going to be messy. This trail is very runnable, a few ups and downs to keep it interesting, very few rocks or roots, and no stream crossings, even with the heavy rain. When dry, the trail is so soft it's like running on cotton. So you know if it rains, it just turns into glue, sucking the shoes right off your feet.

A whole slew of my running buddies were there: Frank (MN), Bonnie (MN), Larry (TX), Gene (IL), Norman and Joyce (IL), Meg (KY), Danny (KY), Jim (CA), Houston (TN), Diane (TN), and Kevin (TN). There are four distances to choose from: 23K, marathon, 60K, and 50 Mile, corresponding to 1, 2, 3 or 4 loops of the 11 mile course. Everybody does the 2 mile out-n-back on the highway at the beginning and end of their chosen race. There were about 367 runners over the 4 distances. All those feet, running those multi-loops, in all of that mud . . . sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

And I loved every minute of it! It was one of my better races for the year so far. I felt great all day. The rain did not bother me, and the mud only gave me more opportunities for walk breaks. Even on such a gloomy day, the views of Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake were still amazing. I felt like a kid, just as happy as could be, slipping and sliding (not falling . . . wahoo!), playing in the mud, like a pig wallowing in the mud sty. It could not have been a better day.

On the first loop, I mainly ran with Danny and Frank. By the 2nd loop, Frank was feeling good, so he went on ahead, and Danny was enjoying the trail a little more than I was, so he dropped back. But I was never lonely. There were mountain bikers out on the course, and they were very courteous, pulling off to the side and allowing us to pass on the trail. The volunteers were wonderful, and the food . . . ahh . . . trail mix, brownies, bean and cheese wraps. Delicious!

My third loop was humbling as the 50 Milers passed by, finishing their 4th loop. It was amazing that they were a good 11 miles ahead of me. I was happy for them, but I secretly wished that I was fast enough to make the 11 hour cut-off to run this beautiful loop a 4th time.

I checked the results, and all of my running buddies finished their chosen distance. Congratulations, my friends! I finished in 10:38:45, not bad for 37 miles on a muddy course. I'm happy with it. In 2006, I ran 9:32:31 at this race, but I can't even compare the two times. Steve gives out beautiful buckles to the 60K'ers and 50 Milers. I now have a matching set! The red technical tank top, tan and white hat, and red drop bag are very nice additions. I need to put this race on my schedule every year. Maybe one day I'll be fast enough to run the 50 Miler here, lol!

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