Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eagle Creek Trail Marathon

First and foremost I have to thank Carrie from St. Louis, MO (read on to find out why).

Second, huge kudos to Sheri and Planet Adventure - she was super helpful, and their entire crew puts on a wonderful event.
Interesting photo angle - jumping some concrete drainage ditch.
Any of you'all out there that know me very well would probably agree that social media is not my thing.  Evidenced by my less than one year old foray in the world of facebook, which usually consists only of checking out the Brooks ID team group and ignoring friend requests (I don't even know what my "wall" looks like).  I did put one photo of me running in the dark when I first set up a profile just so I didn't appear as a little blue head on the Brooks group page.

So what's this have to do with Eagle Creek?  Well, I decided a few weeks ago that I was coming around from my 140+ miles on the Sheltowee Trace Trail and might like to get one last hard race in before school starts and XC season begins in earnest.  A week or so out from the race, I checked online at their prices and field size limits and thought "Heck. 650 runners seems like a lot of slots to fill even for a big metro area.  I'll wait a little while."  The weekend prior I even called the promotion company's number and she (I think Sheri) informed me that they were down to about a hundred and to check their facebook page the next week.  And, I did on Thursday, and it was closed!  However, I saw a lone comment.  It was from Carrie.  She wasn't able to attend and was looking to possibly transfer her entry.  Could this little blue box with a tiny little photo of someone I didn't know somehow get me into this event?  I replied.  Actually, through our correspondence, I think I doubled my previous total number of facebook comments.

A couple of hours later, a couple of direct emails with Carrie and Sheri, and it looked like I was in.  Friday afternoon I was on my way up I-65.  Six-thirty Saturday morning I was rolling into Eagle Creek with a bib in hand, anxious to see how I'd fare knocking off a hard 26.2.

It's an interesting format in that there is a full, half and quarter marathons, and it's an out and back course with a small loop on the outer end.  There is not too much elevation change and there are a number of wide fast sections.  There are however quite a few log crossings (presumably to discourage mountain bikers) and three sets of wooden stairs, well twelve if you count seeing each four times.  The views around the lake were beautiful. it was unseasonably cool for early August, showers from the night before made the humidity super high, and the trail surface was pretty sweet.  Seemed like a good day for a fast time as we rolled away from the start for lap number one.

Ran with Kelly (super strong trail ultrarunner from KY) for the first half of the first lap, and we enjoyed some conversation even though the pace felt pretty quick.  Somewhere out on the loop, I rolled away applying a little pressure and decided to see how I'd feel just hitting the open sections a little harder.  By the end of the lap I had close to three minutes on Kelly, but noticed that many of the other full marathoners were close behind.  One looked so fresh and fast that I asked him if he was doing the full as we passed one another running opposite directions.  He was.

I was doing the math, a sub 1:41 half was 3:22 pace.  Told myself  "you've done 3:19 on a course with climbing - this is doable - don't falter."  Progressively through that lap my hamstrings grew tighter despite what I thought to be adequately regimented sodium and electrolyte intake.  Each hammy balled up at separate points, and I knew that I was simply running to try and not get caught.  Found myself looking back a lot as I grew slower ad slower.  Atop one of the staircases I had a good vantage point.  Unfortunately in my view was Keith Harris looking really fast.  What seemed like two seconds later, I was yielding the trail to him.  Tried to stay close for as long as could, mostly in an effort not to lose any more places as I knew my hopes for a good time were shot.  The long causeway did me good as I stayed pretty close to his pace, but once back in the woods, he was gone.

Keith put on what I would describe as a "how to run a marathon clinic."  He did a five minute negative split - I went over ten minutes positive.  I hoped to be able to report to Carrie that I had used her entry to win and set the course record.  Well, I came within five minutes of both.  Considering I didn't think I was going to be racing on Thursday mid-day, it wasn't a bad weekend - 2nd place, 3:32.

And, I just accepted Carrie's friend request.

Fast twitch muscles don't fail me now.  Jump.  


Well run race by Keith.  I just got finished and he's already go his shoes off!