Sunday, March 14, 2010

Land Between the Lakes Marathon

I don't race much in the winter, so my first real test of my training and fitness for the new year is usually an early spring race...and lately that race has been down in Kentucky at one of the Land Between the Lakes races (23K, Marathon, 60K, and 50 miler).  The set of races attracts between 350-400 runners each year.  Other runners must be like me...looking forward to bursting out of the winter doldrums!  All the events start together on the road for about 1.7 miles, then everyone heads onto an 11+ mile trail loop.  Even with the road section that spreads runners out, it can still be fairly packed on the single-track trail for another couple of miles.  After picking your way around runners, you eventually find your desired pace and settle into the ups and downs of the terrain.  The trail has quite a few roots and a few rocks, but it's not that hilly (certainly less than Clinton Lake).  The entire trail is runnable, but I chose to walk the hills.  Overall, it's a beautiful and well-maintained trail that is a fair test of your running ability.

Yesterday, I did the trail marathon and ended up with a 4:07 finish. For me, that means I passed this fitness test with flying colors!  Last year I finished the marathon in 5:34.  Why such a faster time?  Well, the course and weather were better this year.  Last year we had rain and lots of mud.  This year it rained the day before, but race day brought cool overcast skies and a course that was muddy and wet in spots, but pretty firm overall.  Also, I ran my own race this year rather than hanging out with friends to "just get in a training run."  Finally, I think I'm in better shape this year.  Combine those changes and I end up finishing almost 90 minutes faster than one year before!  Not too bad for an early spring race.

I feel quite good today.  I have that lingering "marathon muscle soreness," but no real joint pain or injuries.  Except for the big blister on my right foot's arch.  I rarely get blisters.  I think this blister was mostly due to my quicker pace and "built-up" trail shoes.  I've been migrating to more minimalist shoes with very little cushioning and support...but these trail shoes were your standard tanks with high heels, arch support, and cushioning.  My foot probably enjoyed the extra protection from rocks and roots, but the "arch support" seemed to rub me the wrong way.  Combine that with a faster pace and a slightly wet & muddy course and you have blister-producing conditions.  It hurt like hell while running the last 8-10 miles, but it's already feeling better and starting to heal today.  I'll be back in more minimalist shoes tomorrow...and I hope to be running all my races in them soon. 

I'm looking forward to more training and future races.  My Lydiard-based program is going well and I have confidence to "stay the course" and run mostly aerobic and easy.  With the warmer temperatures, and disappearance of the snow and ice, I plan to get in many more long runs on the trails.  Now that we have the daylight saving time change with accompanying daylight after work, I'll start doing some two-a-day runs.  An easy morning run in the dark followed by an after-work run on the trails. The weekends will find me doing long trail runs...mostly at Clinton Lake.  I've found that training at Clinton Lake prepares me for almost any trail marathon or ultra.  If you are running the race in a couple of weeks, you'll know what I mean when you are done.  That Clinton Lake north fork trail has LOTS OF HILLS.  It's great for building up your running endurance and strength.


Anonymous said...

Awesome job Chris!!!

See u in a couple of weeks.


trailrunner said...

Enjoy your blog! Thanks for sharing!

Chris Ⓥ said...

See you on race day! Hope we have good weather. My blister is healing and I should see you at several races this spring, summer, and fall.

@Trail Runner
Glad you like the blog. It'll take a bit of a twist after this year's race since I'm stepping down as RD. The blog will have the same URL, but probably a different title and a slightly different focus (less about the race and more about trail and ultra running--probably more about me too).

Anonymous said...

4:07 is a fantastic time...well done!

see you in 2 weeks

Greg D.

Chris Ⓥ said...

Thanks. I'm very happy with that 4:07 trail marathon time at LBL. Looking back, I'm a little disappointed I didn't run under 4:00, but if I pushed too hard, I may have injured myself (beyond just a big blister). I'm eager to get back to regular running and I have confidence in my training approach.

runamanda said...

Congrats I ran the marathon too. Well I was suppose to do the 60k but injury forced me down to the marathon. Congrats again

ed said...

More focused or not, that time shows you're in pretty good shape & on track for a BQ -- nice job!

Hey, I ran a couple laps along with a fellow wearing 5 fingers & thought about you -- the mud at LBL would have been ok, but too many roots for me to think about it.

See you soon.

Chris Ⓥ said...

Hi Ed,
Yep, I feel good and am on target for a BQ time! Looks like you had a good run too (11:05). I was thinking about the FiveFingers at LBL, but there are a lot of roots...maybe next year when I'm more adept. See you at Clinton Lake.