July 12th, 2020
Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 50 mile Ultra Trail Run
Saturday March 13th, 2010
Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 50 mile Ultra trail run; Grand Rivers, Kentucky.
Sat March 13th, 2010.
FinishTime 8hrs 45mins
“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horse’s and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again!” More about that later. Here is my story.
This was my 2nd 50 mile ultra my last being Dances with Dirt Green Swamp, Dade City, Florida a month ago to the day. It was not my intention to run this race at the start of the year but the idea was dangled carrot style in front of me by some running friends; “the flesh is strong but the spirit is weak”. Being a member of my club (Running Fit Utramarathon Training Team, a.k.a. RUT) is like being in Star Trek and meeting the Borg “resistance is futile you will be assimilated!” The venue was in west Kentucky at a narrow strip of land formed by two artificial lakes; Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, the latter which happens to be the name of my dog. Other team members were: Andrea, Rick, Ken, and “Kansas.”
The start was at a casual 6:00 AM-ish, a few hundred hopeful souls racing 24k, Marathon, 60k or 50 miles. The race director gave some final instructions that were inaudible over the competitors excited Babel; something I suspect vitally important about “watch out for bears and wolves”, you know really important stuff to keep us on the straight and narrow, but I guess I’ll never know. The horn blasted and the exodus started; a mass of excited and adrenaline amped humanity headed a couple of miles down a paved road to the trailhead. Upon reaching it I stared the required four loops, each 11.3 miles. I’ve run 50 miles before but not loops. As a wise friend once ironically mused “You have to be philosophical and not thing too much about this”. I still had to mentally prepare myself though. The plan. I knew loop 1 would be OK, loop 2 bearable but loop 3 would suck, I would be at an emotional low point. I psyched myself by promising myself that loop 4 would be dandy, the home ward loop; a rainbow would appear guiding me to the finish and I would be accompanied by bird song, baby deer and all the woodland creatures, Snow White style. Reality was somewhat different. The first three loops went somewhat according to plan. Loop 3 did suck for a completely different and most unsuspecting reason. At around mile 32 I stumbled on a rock going down hill and found myself momentarily air borne. That was the fun part. Newton being correct I soon plummeted to earth. I reached out with my right arm to break my fall but to no avail. My head hit the trail, hard. I lay there for a few seconds assessing the situation. No sharp pain anywhere so I guessed I was OK. Then I realized my vision was not so good. I wear glasses and they had flown off, but where were they? Being very short sighted I couldn’t see them. I squinted, scanning around low to the ground and there they were. Badly bent and the right lens missing; a.k.a. non functional. No chance of finding a lens amongst the leaves and trail debris. So no need to dwell and time to get a move on, but equally important “where’s my water bottle?” I had a hand carry one in my right hand. During the fall I’d some how tossed it away. I squinted and there it was to my left about twenty feet away buried in the leaves. Back on my feet with 18 miles left, no glasses, feeling reasonably composed I was uncertain how things would turn out. I felt around my right temple and my hand became warm, moist and sticky. I was bleeding and a small watermelon was now in the place my eyebrow should have been. Luckily it was not gushing so the bleeding was not a problem. Reaching the next aid station the helpers appeared concerned, a young girl stepped back when I peaked round the tent. An adult aid worker asked if he could do anything for me, “Yes” I offered, “Can you take my picture”. Photos taken, hydrated and nourished off I set.
A brief mention needs to be made of the trail conditions. The previous day and for most of that week it had rained. But thankfully on race day the rain god’s were appeased and though gray and over cast the clouds were empty. The upshot of all this rain was that after all those pairs of feet had done a couple of loops things were getting somewhat muddy. On some of the up hills I found as I walked I’d start to slip down hill. So to find traction the game was to find fresh terrain that meant the muddy patches increased in width as the day wore on.
I had traveled down to LBL with Ken, an experienced ultra runner rumored amongst fellow RUT-sters to be: “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." LBL was a training run, the main event being Western States 100 mile in June. If doing 50 miles is not enough way not do 100! Oh those Type A ultra runners. Being a training run Ken was running smart, not bolting off and “simply” getting some hours in on his feet. At some point he hooked up with a young lady doing her first 50 miler who was fading fast! Ken saw his opportunity and became her instant coach, providing: guidance, encouragement and moral support. They crossed the finish line together, she was elated and I think Ken had a good race as well.
Following my spill my eyes adjusted satisfactorily and I was able to finish the race uneventfully in 8hrs 45 minutes. I was shooting for around 10hrs so needless to say I was pleased. I hung around the finish line waiting for Ken but being damp the chills quickly set it. I regrouped in the Community Center over a cup of hot soup. Ah the joy. Steadily other finishers joined me as did Ken.
The bling at LBL is quite special, a Buckle. Typically you only get one of those babies for completing a 100 miler. I like this memento a lot. May be the running god’s are hinting to my future. But wise spirits it is early days, let’s see how I hold up the rest of the year before you provoke me any more.
Next up is the McNaughton Park 50 mile trail run, Pekin, Illinois, April 10th, 2010. Again an unscheduled event; damn those Borg! Their website tantalizingly offers "... comparing the high altitude, long climbs of the Western mountains to McNaughton hills is like comparing being eaten by a shark vs. being eaten by a 1000 piranhas ... both are unpleasant ... just in different ways." Now who would want to miss up on that?
“Live long and prosper.”
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