This last Saturday I took a short retreat from the usual training runs at Stony Creek and headed over to Pontiac Lake Recreation Area to run some trails with the RUT group. RUT = RunningFit Ultramarathon Team. I was warned in advance that the trails out there were tough and even saw online that they are were ranked one of the toughest in the country. On the drive there that morning one my friends called and asked if he would be “passing” me at the Hell Michigan Run that morning, another well know tough course. Yes there is actually a town in Michigan called Hell. I told him that I had totally forgotten about that race and informed him that I would be running the Pontiac Lake Trails for the first time. He first thought I was joking and told me that I usually train at Stony on Saturday mornings so I must be lost. After some joking around he knew I was serious and began to warn me about the trails. Fellow runners like to scare each other when one of them is going to run on new territory but I knew he was serious when he repeated several time to seriously be careful and that the trails I was about to run on were even harder than the Hell Michigan Run. After arriving at the park we all headed out single file because the trails were narrow. My friend Jeff led us out and at his usually quick pace. The pace was fast but not to fast. I quickly discovered that my friend was not making any of this up. The trails were rough. Lots of steep ups and down. Big roots and large rocks even on the downhill’s that you had to watch your footing on. I learned that when running on these trails that if you let the great views distract you for too long you could fall on your face. For the entire run I almost wiped out about 5 times and was thankful that my past football stay on your feel training was being used. This was a run where you had to pay attention! All of the other runners that were with us assured me that I was not really that clumsy and they also had their moments. We ran single file for most of the 10 mile loop which I liked because you wanted to keep up with the person in front of you but not be passed by the person that was behind you. Jeff turned out to be a good run leader and acted as the tour guide as he warned me about the corkscrew sections of the trail and the last set of hills called puke hill. Once you get to the top of the hill and are trying to catch your breath you realize that it was named appropriately. Overall it was a good training run and I hope that I am able to make it out there at least once a month.
When I woke up on the morning of August 3rd I think I had finally realized what I had done to myself by setting up to complete two events in the same weekend. One of them being on the other side of the state no less. Oh well there was no turning back now. I packed up my stuff and headed out to Benton Harbor to check in at the event, and also the hotel. After arriving for check in at the event I was first disappointed at the expo they had setup. This being a larger event I was expecting some cool vendors with funny shirts or gear, but there were none to be found. After picking up my race packet and getting body marked I headed over to the transition area to check in the bike. I was amazed at the size of the transition area and also impressed at the way it was setup. It did not look too crowed or congested like some other events I have been to. They had all of us 70.3 relay team members racked on the far side of the transition area together in one general area. After leaving the race site and checking into the hotel I talked to my other team mates and found out they were on there way out and should arrive later that night. Event morning August 4th, we were all up and going around 4:00AM, ate breakfast and headed to the race site. After we arrived at the race site and setup our transition area we headed down to the beach to watch our swimmer take off and then headed back to our transition area to “patiently” await for our swimmer to return. Lake Michigan looked a little choppy that morning, the water was warm, but seeing the over one smile swim course laid out was very intimidating. It took our swimmer a little over an hour to complete her leg and the chip was handed off to our biker. Since I was doing the final running portion of 13.1 miles I still have to wait while our biker did the 56 mile course. As the other relay bikers came in and we talked to them we discovered that our biker more than likely was stopped by a flat tire, but it was under control. Meaning that she was fixing it. After our biker returned I was off for my half marathon. I felt great, passing people left and right, and was running under the 8 minute per mile planned pace. Around mile 5 though I started to feel very weak and my pace began to slow down. I was only 5 miles in so what could be wrong? After mile 6 my brain entered the conversation and reminded me that I had not eaten a solid meal in over 7 hours! Do’h! I knew I was going to be the last leg of the relay but it totally slipped my mind that the usual pre-event meal around 5:00AM was not going to cut it. I should have packed a lunch. Lessons learned for next time. So I continued to truck along and took advantage of the well stocked aid stations that had Power Bars and Bananas. I treated the rest of the run as training for running weak and tired, or at least that is what I kept telling myself. I finished my 13.1 mile leg with a terrible time of 2:14:15. That time was even worst than my first half marathon I ever ran. Overall it was another good learning experience of endurance.
August 5th I woke up and knew that this crazy weekend was about half over. After driving home from Benton Harbor last night it was now time to head out for the Craig Greenfield Duathlon. Rain was predicted and the sky was overcast. The temperature was not that bad and the humidity seemed low. Yes you seem to turn into a weather man when weather conditions have a big bearing on how you may perform at an event. After arriving at the event I picked up my packet and setup my transition area. I talked with some of the other racers that I knew and we all headed down to the start area. I was not sure how my body was going to respond after yesterday so the plan was to go out hard and see what happened. I had the feeling that since I was drained from the previous day that I may not break my time from the previous year but finishing strong was important. Once they started us off I felt good. No pain, no soreness and I was running at a pretty fast pace for me of 6:27 per mile. After finishing the first run of 2 miles I jumped on the bike and was off. I was riding and pushing it as hard as I could. A drizzle had started to fall but it was cooling things off and not affecting the bike course at all. I have to say that I never really took any breaks on the bike potion and pushed it hard at the end. After getting off the bike I started the final 4.5 mile run portion or the course. After about one mile my body was on empty and the effects of not resting the day before were very noticeable. I pushed on a finished with a time of 1:50:19. That time was about 5 minutes slower than the previous year but I still got 2nd place in my age group. Now I know for sure that if I want a good time I am not supposed to run a half marathon the day before an event. Simply another weekend of putting the body on notice of the races that are soon to come.
- Awesome Team and Upcoming Adventures
- Has it Really Been Almost 6 Months Since I Have Blogged?
- Mohican 100
- Dances with Dirt – Gnaw Bone
- Marathon Number Nine
- Welcoming Spring with Some PR’s
- Paging Spring…..Hello?
- Can Winter Please be Over
- Dashing Through the Snow
- Turkeys and Colder Temps
- Fall Updates