This Land Between the Lakes Marathon in Grand Rivers, KY was not on my radar until a friend and fellow Maniac Matt Heidenreich put out the call on Facebook for folks to come run this race. I saw the post, clicked the link and saw that this was not only a trail marathon, but this race also included a 23k, a 60k and a 50 mile race.
My last race being a 50 miler, I won't lie and say I didn't think about doing the 50 miler, but with my left knee still a little wonky and with a gig pacing at the Georgia Marathon next weekend, I thought I had better leave well enough alone and just do the marathon.
The race was inexpensive and I found a flight to St. Louis from Salt Lake City (a 3 hour drive from Grand Rivers) for $220 RT on Southwest and a rental car for less than $50, I could not pass it up to get Kentucky off my list.
I have never had a bad experience with Southwest Airlines until Friday morning. My flight left Salt Lake City at 6:00am with a short layover in Phoenix, then on to St. Louis.
The flight to Phoenix went smoothly and when I got off the plane I looked for my flight on the departure board and headed to the gate. When I got there I noticed the flight to St. Louis had a stop in Omaha. I thought that was strange as I didn't recall my flight stopping in Omaha. I double checked with the gate agent and he confirmed that I was in the right place.
I took a seat at the gate, when we were told some bobo tried to flush a diaper down the airplane toilet, so the flight would be delayed 30 minutes so they could take the toilet apart to get it out. There was also a woman somewhere in my vicinity that must have bathed in the worst perfume ever and it was making my nauseous. Needless to say I was not a happy camper. I just wanted to get on the plane and get a little sleep for the 3 hour drive I had ahead of me.
When they started boarding the plane, I scanned my boarding pass (that was on my phone) and this loud noise went off (kind of like when you get the wrong answer on Family Feud and that big red X comes up). A different gate agent looked at my boarding pass and told me I was on the wrong flight. WHAT?!!!!! I was exactly where the first agent told me I should be!! The second agent told me that my flight was in the gate next door and it had just left! There were 2 flights to St. Louis right next to each other!
I went back to the first agent and showed him my boarding pass again and he looked at it and apologized for telling me the wrong info and told me the best he could do would be to put me on the flight I had been waiting for. It had a stop in Omaha and got to St. Louis 2 hours later than my original flight, but at this point I didn't have a choice and it would still get me to St. Louis in time and get to Grand Rivers before the packet pick up closed.
When we got to Omaha, the 9 of us that were going to St. Louis were supposed to just stay on the plane, as everyone getting off in Omaha left the plane. I was going to get my stuff and score a seat closer to the front when over the intercom I heard this: "Angelina Pace, please gather your belongings and leave the plane. You will need to see the gate agent. This flight is sold out." SOLD OUT??!!
At that point I was so furious, I was afraid they may have to call security from the expletives that I planned to let loose when the gate agent told me there was nothing I could do and if I had a problem, I would have to take it up with the agent in Phoenix! Instead, I busted into tears and plopped into a seat to figure out how I was getting to the race.
When the gate agent started calling stand-by people on the flight, the NY'er came out and I got the last seat on the plane. One hour later, I was in St. Louis and I had made it to packet pick up with 30 minutes to spare!
Grand Rivers was a really cute little town.
I picked up my packet at the Senior/Community Center and drove across the street to meet a few Maniacs for dinner at Patti's.
After a stressful day, it was so great to see these great people! I love our club!
After dinner around 9:00pm, I headed back to Patti's Inn and Suites, where I was staying. I unpacked and tried to figure out what to wear for the race. It was pouring rain and the forecast indicated that the rain would continue for the race the next day. Once I got that worked out, I laid down on the bed, turned on the TV and got ready to relax when I looked at the clock and realized it was 9:30pm and I had not run today! My streak was in danger!
I was so tired and the last thing I wanted to do was run, but I jumped up, got some running clothes on and headed down to the fitness center, thinking I could get a mile in on the treadmill. The only problem was their fitness center consisted of a stationary bike and an elliptical machine, and due to some flooding it was closed.
I headed back to my room, grabbed the hat I got at packet pick up and a jacket and ran 10 laps in the pouring rain around the hotel where it was light. 10 laps= 1.24 miles! Streak saved! Now it was time for bed!!
A streakers gotta do what a streakers gotta do! 1.24 miles in the rain at 9:30pm the night before the marathon.
The alarm went off at 5:30am and I got up, got dressed headed downstairs for breakfast and drove over to the race start/finish about 3 miles away.
I got a good parking spot and headed into the Community Center, used a real bathroom, grabbed a cup of tea, and chatted with a few Maniacs.
Maniacs keeping warm and dry before the start.
Before we knew it, we were all heading for a short walk down to the starting line, which didn't really exist as far as I could tell. One minute we were all gathering and the next minute I heard a gun go off and that was it. There was no timing mat to go over or anything. I quickly started my Garmin and off we went!
Me walking to the start.
I ran into Guinness World Record Holder, Larry Macon and my pal Denis at the start.
This race was originally supposed to be run on the trails, but due to the huge snowfall and rain they had over the last few weeks, there is no way the trails were in any shape to take on so many runners. The trails would have not only been dangerous, but they would have been left in terrible shape. Instead of cancelling the race, Race Director Steve Durbin and his team worked tirelessly to work out a new course, which still had the beauty and challenge of the trail course. I think they succeeded.
The course consisted of one 13.1 mile loop (which was adjusted for the 50 mile runners). You ran 1-4 loops depending on the distance you signed up for. While most of the course was on road (there was a small section of trail and gravel roads), I really could not think of a more beautiful road to run on and the rain made everything smell so good!
There is a road under all those leaves!
Me on the trail!
Brenda and I working up one of the many hills@
This was the gravel road part of the course.
When they moved this to the road I thought this would be a great race to see where I am fitness wise. I really want that BQ in May, but haven't run more than 10 miles in the month following my 50 miler at Rocky Raccoon.
I started the first loop feeling a little tired, but loosened up and found a pace I could live with. They may have taken the race off the trail, but they left all the climbs in! There were a lot of nice hills in this sucker!
I had decided against using my ultra vest, but opted to run with my smaller water belt as there were aid stations 2-3 miles apart. I had also put on a few more layers than I needed, because in my experience, rain = cold and I did NOT want to be cold. Needless to say the layers were shed and around my waist in the first 2 miles and that water belt felt like an anchor pulling me down to the bottom of the sea! I NEEDED to get rid of this stuff for the second loop!
I was disappointed when I hit the half at 2:01 (I was hoping to hit it around 1:55), I figured a sub 4:00 would not happen and this probably would not be a PR day either. I parked right on the course and all I could think about was ditching the layers and my water belt into the car. When I crossed the timing mat and started out for the second loop, I misjudged where I had parked and ended up running right past the car! I thought I was stuck with this stuff for the rest of the race! Luckily, the first/last aid station is a little over a mile from the start/finish, so I dumped the stuff there for my second loop and picked it up for the last mile. Gosh that was freeing!
Rainy and wet, but fun!
Wet, but still moving!
The same hills on the second loop seemed to be even bigger the second time around. This felt so hard! I thought I was doing terrible! Being on the course with the 50 mile runners got me into that "ultra" mindset and I had no problem walking with the 50 mile folks up the big hills and staying a minute or two longer at an aid station than I would at a normal marathon (they have a much better selection of food!). If I was going to suffer. I might as well eat well! Ha Ha!
At the last aid station, I picked up my stuff and headed towards the finish line pretty disappointed in my time of 4:15:16. This was way off my Boston mark. When I crossed the finish line I was given my medal and then I was told I was the 5th overall female and they handed me this really cool eagle trophy! I thought they were joking!
Then I went an looked at the results. The woman's winner was Ashley Dahlman (28 years old). She won the race in 3:43:49. This made me think that it wasn't just me. The course was freaking hard!
It was so cool to run with Brenda Knight! She kicked butt and earned the 4th place female trophy! Maniacs representing! (This photo was taken before I got a look at myself in the mirror. When I saw myself I literally laughed out loud!)
After the race we went into the Community Center for bowls of hot chili, soup, hot tea and Diet Coke! I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
This race had some great swag! The shirt is one of my new faves! I like the hat too!
Me and my eagle trophy and marathon medal!
After a shower and a nap, I headed back down to the finish line to watch the rest of the 50 mile runners com in. It was so cool!
I then went to find a bar that I could just sit at for a bite to eat and I found out the Grand Rivers is in a DRY COUNTY (No wonder I didn't see many runners after the race! Ha Ha!). I drove 10 miles out of town and found a bar that served food and got a bite to eat while hearing and having some interesting/funny conversations with a few locals who kept wanting to buy me drinks.
The next morning before heading back to St. Louis, I got up, had breakfast and headed out for a quick recovery run on the back roads behind the hotel. The weather was so nice. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the cows were mooing!
An old barn.
Me on the back roads of Kentucky!
I was hoping these were moonshine stills. It would have made for a better story! Hee Hee!
Kentucky is beautiful!
After my run, I showered, packed and fueled up the car and me for the 3 hours back to St. Louis!
The car took unleaded, I took Mike and Ike and Coke! Ha Ha!
Huge thanks to Steve Durbin and team for making this race happen. I can't imagine how much work had to go into changing the course days before the race! The course was beautiful!
Huge thanks to Galen Garrison for taking care of Zoe while I was away and huge thanks to Rob Benson for getting up at 4:00am on a workday to take me to the airport and then picking me up from the airport at midnight to drive me home! I have great and generous people in my life!
Next year, I might just have to come back and run this race on the trails. It is worth a second trip!
Oh yeah! I almost stepped on a dead possum! I can't make this stuff up! Ha Ha!