Friday, November 8, 2013

Bobcat Trail Marathon

This is the first time I’ve attempted the Bobcat Trail Marathon in Burr Oak State Park near Glouster, Ohio.  I really had no idea what to expect, I have never run any trails in the area, I am still struggling with an injured ankle, and I have not trained consistently since August.  Still I was confident I could complete the challenge, it’s only 26.2 miles.    
This race was a little different for me due to my family making the trip, typically for a race this close I would go solo or take just my middle daughter and best crew worker with me, but this time not only did my youngest and wife come but we stayed with a running friend and his family. 
It was a nice morning about 40 degrees, ended up perfect weather for what I wore.  It was supposed to get into the 50’s but I doubt it ever did.  It had rained most of the day before so the course, which had very few road sections, was wet but only really muddy in a few places.  The leaves were down and still wet making it both slick and hard to see obstacles on course.   I think I slipped and tripped more at this race than all the trail runs I’ve done in my 4 years of trail running.  I thought most of the course was runnable the hardest sections being:
 1. The 1st 4 miles, which you don’t notice because you’re fresh and full of adrenalin
2. Miles 14 and 15 seem to be lots of climbing.
3. Miles 22 thru 25 always going up or down.   

This is a great course around a lake; the lake is almost always in view on your right side.  In fact just about the half-way point they tease you by taking right by the lodge where the start finish is, if only that 100 yards or so of water wasn’t there.  The course is hilly or maybe that is just my perspective being a flatlander, but from my experience this course was much harder than the Tecumseh Trail Marathon but comparable to Mohican, I had it at 7600ft of gain and loss. 
The mile 18 aid station (when did water stops become aid stations?) was manned by the Buckeye Trail Volunteers.  I have heard of the buckeye trail but didn’t really know what it was until packet pick up where the Buckeye Trail Volunteers had some information and were more than happy to talk with us.  They did not know of one and I’ve since checked no one has posted a fastest known time for the 1444 mile trail.  Maybe I could take a month or so and do a FKT, new bucket list item. 
As for my race, I went out thinking 4:30 as primary goal, but thought 5 hours was more likely.  The first half I ran well and was near pace at the half way point (about 2:16), but my knee was really starting to hurt and because of my cold I was kind of wheezing a little bit.  I tried to push thru but by 15 miles I was hurting too bad and needed a break, my pace slowed to 15 and 16 minute miles and I started to wonder if I was going to beat 6 hours.  At the mile 18 aid station I stopped asked for some ice and rubbed my knee for a while before continuing.  Something worked, I starting picking it up again about mile 20.  After the last aid station at mile 21 I sat in with a group of five and ran with them for a while, 5 became 4, then 2, and then I went off alone not seeing any of them again until the finish.  I was feeling pretty good considering and was running much better catching a few people and passing them easily.  When I finally made it to the road I knew it was downhill to the finish, the friend I was with was there (he finished 35 minutes earlier) than I was greeted by my youngest who for the first time ran me down the hill (picture above) and then by my middle daughter, who crews and comes to most of my races ran me across the finish line (1st pix).  I crossed in 5:22:50 (52 out of 114). 
This is what I have come to call my Mohican strategy.  I run a good first half, the next ¼ I suffer and bleed time, only to make a miraculous recovery and finish strong the last ¼. 
We all when back to the cottage and finished the day with some pumpkin pancakes than a mad dash home so we could salvage Halloween for the girls (Which should have been on Thursday but was canceled for bad weather which never really came). 
Great fun race, I may be back, I know I left something on the course and could do much better, plus I really had a good time.