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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reflections on Tecumseh

A couple days before the Tecumseh Trail marathon, rain hit Indiana. Hard enough that the race organizers posted the following message to the race website:
Weather Notice 11/30/06
The Tecumseh Trail Marathon and Yellowwood Lake Fun Run will continue as scheduled. We understand the forecast is lousy for Friday. Considering the commitment of time and money that participants and volunteers have made, the race will continue as planned. We have contingency plans for potentially flooded areas. Saturday's forecast looks comparatively pleasant. Come ready to be flexible and knowing the trail will be wet. Please travel carefully!

The weather here was cold, stupidly windy, and snowy. Snowy enough that Amtrak canceled Josh's train down here from Chicago and we weren't able to get the dogs to the kennel (luckily we found a dogsitter at the very last minute). Josh ended up here by virtue of Greyhound, and we were in Bloomington around 9:30 Friday night, just in time for last minute gear organization and a thoroughly mediocre Italian dinner (I'll refrain from naming the restaurant that we ordered from).

Saturday morning I had my traditional pre-race breakfast of soy yogurt and granola, and we made our way over to the race finish (more on that later). Over hill, dale, and flooded out gravel road we did travel, finding ourselves in the middle of the Yellowwood State Forest.

Josh and I got our race packets and had just enough time to pose for snazzy pre-race pictures taken by the lovely Kathleen...

...make sure we had everything we needed, and hit the bus for the ride over to the starting line

We got to the starting point to discover that the race start would be delayed by about 45 minutes, so we took care of pre-race physical necessities, got back on the bus, and waited. During the pre-race announcements, we also learned that about 3 miles of the course was re-routed from trail to roads due to flooding. At about 1100, we were off into the woods for a grand adventure...

Josh and I ran together for the first couple miles, and then he told me to go ahead (see Josh's blog for details on how things ended up for him)

I was maintaining a pretty good pace after that (walking the uphills, runnning as much as possible aside from that), although my Garmin kept losing signal, so the pace calculations are pretty messed up on that. A few miles after Josh and I got separated, I ended up stopping for 5-10 minutes to help a fallen runner (someone decided to avoid the mud by going off the course, tripped over some barbed wire, fell face-first onto a root, split his lip open, and I think briefly knocked himself out). We got him sitting and were trying to decide what to do at that point when another runner came up and indicated that he was there with the fallen runner and would take over from there, so we ran on from there. I saw a number of runners trying somewhat desperately to avoid mud/stream crossings, but I decided that the best/quickest way to deal with mud and streams was going straight through....

The rest of the race was:
  • Epic
  • Muddy (ankle-deep mud in a number of places)
  • Hilly
I tried to go into the race with a few specific goals as possible, since I'd never done the race, and had no idea of how the trail conditions would impact my performance. That said, I really wanted to break 6 hours if at all possible. I had no idea of how realistic/possible that was, it just seemed to click for me. I was also doing something a little different in terms of fueling, bringing the following with me:
  • 7 Hammer Gels, 4 with caffeine, 3 without
  • 2 Coconut Acai Prana Bars
  • 2 packages Primal Strips (1 Hickory-Smoked Soy, 1 Thai Peanut Seitan)

My plan was 1 Hammer Gel per hour after the start, consuming the non-caffeinated ones first, keeping the 7th one in case I finished slow/needed it, and consuming the Prana Bars and Primal Strips when my body told me I needed solid food. I also had Endurolytes, Tissue Rejuvenator, and Anti-Fatigue Caps from Hammer, and was planning on 2 Endurolytes per hour, plus 1 TR and 1 A-F every hour starting at 2 hours in. The race organizers had aid stations roughly every 2-3 miles, so I decided not to carry water with me.

At about mile 22 or 23, I realized that I was still making pretty good time, but that I was going to need to pick up the pace a bit if I was going to finish in sub-6:00. so, I ran as much as possible for the rest of the race, finishing in what felt like a sprint (I'm still not sure how quickly I was actually moving at that point, but I know I was running)

I finished in 05:58:34, placing 340th out of 424 finishers. The fueling plan worked great - I consumed 6 of the 7 Hammer Gels, and all of the rest of the food/supplements, etc. Most importantly, I had no bonk. I was unhappy on the 3 mile road section, but that was because I wanted to be back on the trails, and that was the worst it got .

Remember that mud I mentioned?

Trying to remember how to eat soup

Can't sleep, ice clown'll eat me!

We went out to dinner that night for what may be the perfect post-trail meal:
  • Fried pickles
  • Beer
  • Cheeseburger

I'll definitely be back next year...and next year, I'll buy Arrogant Bastard on Saturday, rather than being frustrated by blue laws on Sunday...


Full Metal Lunchbox said...

Nice report.  You really captured the mood.

I may be stupid enough to try this race again next year.

12:34 PM  
Shea said...

I'd be honored to have you join me again next year!

12:59 PM  

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