Friday, December 21, 2012

Otter Creek Trail Marathon

View of the Ohio River from the "OTC"
The race plan was pretty simple really - take into account that your race fitness has been dwindling recently - be careful because your nutrition / hydration were sub-par at best - see who's around after the first few miles and just take it easy early on. 

Then they said go.  And, I went.  So did the plan.  Plan? What plan? 

First of three laps - (1:04 after the aid station stop to get bottles and fuel - way too fast).  One of the single lappers, Murphy Sheets, had rocketed off the front from the gun and won handily.  But, I was in front of every other person doing one, two or three lap races.  I knew the guy that I had left just past the Blue Hole aid station was only going two laps, but right behind him were Ryan, Mike, and Heath (all super strong guys - Ryan was coming off an injury and unsure how far he'd go, Mike is a pro triathlete that I don't see that much on the trails but I know is crazy fast, and Heath is a pure ultra trail runner who is happy to hammer you the harder it gets and smiles all the time he's doing it).  I was thinking to myself "this might get ugly", but I just tried to put some more distance between me and them, abandoning the plan. 

Second lap - (2:11 after leaving the aid station - I set the course record at Otter Creek last year in 3:19  so seeing an average of just under 1:06 a lap on a slower course was a little scary).  Especially scary considering that it had already started raining and I had already started cramping. 

Finish - (2nd place 3:35)  What happened?  Coming off of the second lap I was experiencing some pretty significant cramping and the picture was getting a little dark around the corners.  But, I hadn't seen anyone behind me in a long time and just tried to maintain something that looked like running.  The rains had made the downhills almost impossible to stand on, let alone run safely down.  The flats and the climbing too slowed due to the mud I tried to tell myself, but in reality I knew I was just dying.  Still, I couldn't see anyone at the top of the descent into Otter Creek when I got to the bottom of what is a long section of trail full of switch backs - so I just kept telling myself that I had put on enough time and this was just a marathon.  "No big deal.  Mine to win".  And, as I had those fleeting thoughts, I was coming apart pretty badly and tightening up on a steep little rise when I heard "On your left!"  What?  It was Mike Hermanson and he was just scooting along with fluidity that I hadn't felt since an hour earlier.  I had no idea he was back there, and by the end, he put over seven minutes on me.  Well, I was right - it got ugly. 

But, it's not necessarily a bad way to end the year.  2011 ended with a win and a course record.  2012 ended with a 2nd and barely dragging my sorry carcass to the finish.  A little fire in the belly is a good thing with the long winter miles approaching.  Time to get ready for Lovin' the Hills - the toughest 50k around.  Can't wait.   

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