Tuesday, March 15, 2022

2022 Land Between the Lakes Marathon

This past weekend a friend and I drove down to Grand Rivers, KY to run the Land Between the Lakes marathon. I've run the race several times, but not in recent years. In addition to the marathon, they have a 15 mile, 60K, and 50 miler. The 11-mile trail loop allows for many race distances without extra staff.

On the drive down, we encountered snow and sleet. Seemed like Grand Rivers got about 2 inches of snow. The weather turned cold and the race director (Steve Durbin) postponed the race start from 6:30am to 8:30am to allow volunteers (and runners) more time to get to the start/finish. And allow the sun to warm up the trail. The race start was also moved from the regular Lighthouse Landing spot to right outside of the community center. This way runners did not need to walk and wait out in the cold. Just cross the parking lot and go! It was about 20F at the start, with a 10-15mph wind. 

The first 2 miles (and last 2 miles) are on the road to/from the 11-mile trail loop around Kentucky and Barkley lakes. It's a rolling single track trail with a few big climbs. All runnable if you want, but I (and most others) walked the bigger hills. The trail was fairly frozen at the start of the first loop. Not slick, just firm footing. Until it wasn't! By the middle of the first loop, the trail began to warm up and turn into slick mud. It got progressively worse as the race progressed. My friend decided to drop out after one loop (he finished the 15 mile event). I had considered dropping, but decided to give it a go for one more loop. The mud was pretty bad, and I regretted my decision several times during that loop. But, when I finally hit the road for the final 2 miles, I was happy to be finishing the full marathon. OK, not happy, but pleased to be FINISHING and finally on dry road. 

My first 13 miles was completed in 2:33. I finished the marathon in 5:37. I slowed down on that second loop! Not just because I was fatigued, but that mud got the best of me. Oh well. I completed my 110th ultra/marathon. Here are quick thoughts on the race:

  • Tough to train for a marathon or ultra through the winter in Illinois. I did not get in many long runs in the previous 3 months (only 3 runs over 10 miles). My endurance was lacking. 
  • I don't like Sword sports drink. Should have carried extra Tailwind powder to mix during the race. Or a big bladder full of pre-mixed Tailwind drink.
  • I love trails and trail running, even at the marathon and ultra distances. But I'm not a big fan of mud. For short races, mud can be fun. For marathons and beyond, it gets old. 
  • Patti's Inn and Suites allowed guests to come back and shower after the race. Nice bonus. Felt good to clean the sweat and mud off my body before the 4+ hour car trip home. 
  • Steve Durbin and his volunteers put on a well-organized race. Course was well-marked, aid stations fully stocked, and volunteers were friendly and encouraging. Post race hot food and drink in the community center was appreciated. 
Many thanks to Steve and his crew for putting on another successful LBL race. Maybe I'll see him at Tunnel Hill 50/100 in November. Maybe. At least that rails to trails course will not be muddy! 

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