Monday, July 20, 2009

Landsford Canal 50K - 7/18/09

Team Slug t-shirt, beautiful finisher's plaque, and the fake snake

Thanks for keeping the finish line open for me!

Crossing the finish line last means that I get to take home the fake snake! If I had known that before the race, I would have run faster, lol! The fake snake now lays on my coffee table waiting for me to do something with it. My biggest fear when running the trails is encountering a real snake. Snakes and mice . . . I hate them! It makes no logical sense, however. For the most part, I'm bigger than they are, but what scares me is that I can't run fast enough to get away from them, lol. Have you seen these boogers move, lol? Anyway . . . I have to decide what to do with it. One morning, half asleep, I'm liable to come downstairs, forgetting that it's there, and give myself a coronary, lol.

I've learned over the past few years that running multiple loops can be fun. I have to say that the LC50K is one of the best looped course that I have run. The loop is 4.25 miles, with 3 miles on the roads through the Landsford Canal State Park in Catawba, SC, followed by 1.25 miles on the Canal Trail. The Canal Trail was wonderful - relatively flat and wide with very few roots and rocks. The river flows along the entire trail. While running the trail, if you couldn't see the river, you could definitely hear it. There's nothing more soothing than the sound of flowing water. Because the road section became warmer and the hills seemed to grow longer and steeper as the day wore on, it was great motivation to run the road section as quickly as possible so that you could get to the trail section with it's canopy of trees for shade.

We did a 1.25 mile out-n-back along the road and then we ran the 4.25 mile loop 7 times to get in our 31 miles. Mark (NC) was volunteering today, and as we completed the out-n-back, he directed us back out onto the road to start our multiple loops. I had run with him for a little while at the Umstead 100 Mile earlier this year and had seen him a few weeks ago at the Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler. We had also run one of Claude's (the race director) other races, the Big Butt 50K, a few times together over the years. Mark did a great job of volunteering, joking with me, and at the same time, making sure that all the runners had everything they needed.

In that short out-n-back section, I quickly lost sight of my running buddies - Lynn (TN), Andy (FL), Annie (GA), and Andrew (AL). Doug (NC), the race director of the Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler, spoke briefly as he cruised by me. I found out an amazing fact about Doug after running the Boogie. Last year, he successfully ran across the United States! How cool is that!

Before I completed the first loop, the leader lapped me, lol. He was running fast and happy and was encouraging every loop as he passed. He also lapped me on my 2nd and 3rd loops. The only reason he didn't lap me on my 4th loop was because he had finished and won the race, lol. He finished the entire 50K before I had even finished half of the race. Good grief!

At the end of the first loop is when I first saw the fake snake. As I refilled my bottle at the aid station in the start/finish area, I asked Mark if he had placed the fake snake on the trail. He told me that it wasn't a fake snake. I told him that if it wasn't fake, then it was dead, because it wasn't moving, lol.

Over half of the field lapped me at some point during my 2nd loop, but I was okay with that. I was feeling good and enjoying the day. I had finished the first loop in 1 hour, so I was determined to complete the remaining loops in about the same time.

Bill (NC) joined me for a walk break during my 2nd loop. He had been at the Rattlesnake 50K the week before and the Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler in June. He's very fast. He talked with me about the interesting history of the Landsford Canal and told me a few stories about the Rattlesnake 50K. After his rest, he again took off. Well . . . the company was nice while it lasted, lol.

By the end of my 2nd loop, the fake snake had changed location on the trail, lol. Maybe Mark was right, and I was wrong about it being fake or dead. Every time I finished a loop, the fake snake would be in a different location on the Canal Trail.

By the 3rd loop, the remainder of the field lapped me, lol. I was still feeling good, running and walking, and finishing loops in about an hour. Claude had an 11-hour cut-off for the race. That's my kind of race. Even as slow as I am, I can finish an essentially road 50K in less than 11 hours, lol.

Christian (GA) passed by next. I had been following his blog for a while, so I took this opportunity to tell him that I was enjoying it. My new running buddy, Jason (SC), also came along about this time. Jason also has a great blog. We walked and ran along as if we had known each other for years. I wished that I could have kept up with him longer because he was such good company. But he's also a good runner, and once we hit the Canal Trail, he was off like a rocket.

At the start of my 4th loop, I saw Charlie (TN). He was there to pace Lynn on her last 2 loops. I was beginning to wish I had a pacer, lol. Runners were rapidly finishing, and the number of runners lapping me was starting to die down. Still I continued on, trying to cover the now hot-as-Hades road section as quickly as possible, so that I could get back to the Canal Trail. Did I mention that I was loving that Canal Trail?

By the 5th loop, I was starting to have a mental meltdown. I was alternating between eating goldfish crackers and ginger snaps, and I was now also downing a cup of coke each loop in addition to the Gatorade and water. Two more loops . . . nothing to it but to do it, lol. Run, walk, repeat.

During the Canal Trail section, Andy (NC) lapped me but slowed down to chat a while. Yes . . . just what the doctor ordered, another running buddy to pull me out of the spiraling pit of negative emotions that I was encountering on this 5th loop. Andy and Charlie had both run the Grandfather Mountain Marathon the weekend before the LC50K. I've only run that race once, the one time that it didn't conflict with the Rattlesnake 50K. That's my biggest problem - too many wonderful races and too few weekends to run them all. For some reason, Andy thought he had seen me at Grandfather's the previous weekend, but I told him that the last time he'd seen me was at the Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler in June. The light went on for him, and we both laughed. It's nice to know that I'm not the only runner who loses track of what races they run from weekend to weekend.

Andy (NC) took off again as we were nearing the end of the Canal Trail. Mark was walking the trail towards me. Apparently, the fake snake was now missing, and he was out looking for it! Seriously, however, he warned me that he had seen a not-too-happy real snake at the end of the trail section. Now I was ready to be done, lol. Luckily, over the next two loops, I never saw the real snake, but I was freaked out enough not to dilly-dally on the Canal Trail.

And just like that, starting my 6th loop, I was feeling better. I could see the proverbial light that would be at the end of my 7th loop, lol. Climbing the first hill of the loop, I came upon Annie. It's rare that I catch up to anybody in races these days, so I knew something must be wrong. Annie was having tummy troubles, probably from the heat. We were talking and moving fairly well, when she suddenly said she had to sit down. Annie's an experienced runner, so I knew she would be okay, but I felt guilty for leaving her. As I continued on, I kept looking back, but I never saw her. I just knew she would finish. She just needed a little break, I said to myself.

Loop #7 . . . Woo Hoo! I grabbed some more coke, and I was on my way. Run, walk, repeat. There weren't any runners lapping me now. The parking lot was becoming sparse. Jason, who had finished in a blazing time of 6:13:40, yelled out "bell lap" as I passed by. Yes, indeed!

The hot and hilly road section was lonely, but I wouldn't allow myself to contemplate that now. It was time to put this baby to bed. Run, walk, repeat.

I crossed the finish line in 7:49:49! Claude promptly presented me with one of his beautiful hand-made finisher's plaque, a Team Slug t-shirt, and the fake snake, of course. As Claude, his wife, and Mark were busily packing up the aid station, I inquired about Annie. I found out that she had dropped, taking a marathon finish for the day. My heart went out to her. No runner ever wants to hear of another runner having a bad day. Annie's tough, and I'm sure her next race will be great.

Charlie was relaxing under a tree, playing a soft melody on his guitar, and Lynn had accomplished her sub-7 hour goal for the day in a fine time of 6:43:01. She was chilling with Charlie and sipping on her signature beverage, lol. She deserves it!

Andy (FL) was also still hanging around, after finishing a few minutes behind Lynn in 6:48:18. He asked what race I would be going to the upcoming weekend, since he had not found a race to run as of yet. I told him about the Make It By Midnight Marathon in Macon, GA, so hopefully, he'll get to participate.

The LC50K was a wonderful experience. If Claude decides to put on this race again, I would love to come back. I'll have to "win" a female fake snake to keep "Jake the Snake" company, however. Yes, I've named the darn thing. He moved along that trail just as well as the famous NFL quarterback moved around the football field, lol.

1 comment:

  1. Tiger - It was a pleasure to meet you in person and match a wonderful personality with your great blog! I wish that I could have seen your face when you saw the fake snake on the trail. I nearly jumped into a tree :]

    Looking forward to running with you again @ Lynch's Woods. Great job at Landsford!