A.K.A. Lemming Loop 3 HourIt's been a long running season for me. And, I like to think, a successful one. Not only did I break my PR at END-SURE (not exactly a difficult chore), but I also got a huge monkey off my back by completing my first 100 miler. I one-upped by crawling onto the monkey's back and completed Superior 100. I like to think of this as doing two fifths of the Gnarly Bandit, the race series of which I DNFed every race I entered last year.
When I signed up for Lemming Loop (LL), I figured that my legs were still going to be hurting somewhat from Superior three weeks earlier. In this, I was correct. It looks like I recover from 100 milers a lot slower than I would have thought. It's not a linear function for me, where it's 4 times as long as with a marathon, and twice as long as with a 50 miler. My muscles seem to heal fine, but my joints stay tender for a long time. Knowing this, I signed up for the shortest LL distance; the 3-hour race. Good decision, as I came down with a cold and wouldn't have been able to run anything longer anyway. Compared to all my other races this year, this one was going to be a balls-out sprint.
I toed the start line with Craig Desjarlais, who also ran Superior, and settled into a nice rhythm. One guy took off like a bullet. Craig and I looked at each other, and we both agreed that we would see him again soon. The body of runners soon split up into packs, and I chose to stick with the lead one, which consisted of Craig, myself, and the lead female (I think her name is Judy Nagy). We caught up to the bullet about halfway through the loop, and never looked back. Craig decided to speed up a bit, and I thought it would be best to let him go. I don't have the leg speed to run like Craig. So it was just Judy and me.
Judy and I traded leads for the first two laps, until she stopped at the aid station. I kept going. I was now all alone and forced to pace all by myself. I was hurting pretty good at this point, but threw all the pain into my newly-dubbed "pain cave". I figured I could deal with it after the end. After all, it was only going to be 3 hours of discomfort.
My plan this race was to carry all my gels with me, and carry a single water bottle. This way, I could pretty much ignore the aid station and only use it to refill my water bottle. This was a strategy that served me well. After the third loop, I made my first aid station stop and was out of there in about 10 seconds.
The race from there on was fairly uneventful until near the end. I felt like a superstar, blowing past runners who had been out there for 18 hours already. I tried to give everybody encouragement, and never expected anyone to get out of my way. But for some reason, almost every single one moved over to let me pass. Seriously? I was fresh, and had the legs to be able to take to the tall grass. Maybe they were just using me as an excuse to move over and get a few seconds of rest before continuing on their way. The volunteers at the aid station were telling me that I was catching up to Craig, and if I turned it up I could catch him. I wasn't going to do that and blow myself up. If he really was slowing down, I would just let him come to me. Turns out they were telling Craig that I was catching up to him too (I wasn't), and were playing us both against each other. Evil.
When it was time to start doing short loops, Christine and Bean showed up to cheer me on. Nothing pumps me up like hearing them chant "Go Daddy Go!". After one short loop, my watch was showing that I didn't have enough time to complete a second one. I was nearing the end of my race. I told Bean that if he got to the start line, he could run with daddy until the finish. He happily obliged. Together, we ticked off the final 500 metres before the horn sounded. On the way back, my legs started to cramp up. Surely, a sign that I ran almost perfectly.
Craig finished first. I finished second. Judy ended up finishing 2nd female. I don't podium often, so it felt really good even though the field was pretty shallow.
Considering that my secret goal was to run 18 miles, I did pretty good. Fairly even splits except for the 19:55 near the end. In total, I ran 19.51 miles on tired legs. When I got home, I went straight to sleep.