Here at Rock/Creek, we love Randy & Kris Whorton, and we especially love it when they let us know what they’ve been up to. As it turns out, last weekend they were both in Kentucky for the Land Between the Lakes trail run, and what follows are individual accounts of what they saw!
Randy and I went to Kentucky for the Land Between the Lakes runs. We both did the 60k in 2006 and this year, Randy did the 50 mile and I did the 23k. We ran the first (my only) lap together and I thought the pace he was shooting for, a 9:30 mile, would be a piece of cake.
The race started right on time at 6:00, and we ran south 1.7 miles on the road as the sun rose like a giant orange in the sky. Then we turned onto the canal trail system, which comprises the northern portion of the state park. The first half of the loop is on the Lake Barkley (east) side and the trail is gently rolling with great footing. At about 6.5 miles, runners pass through an aid station at the visitor’s center and continue on to the Kentucky Lake (west) side of the loop. There are some climbs on this section and the views of the lake are fantastic.
I huffed and puffed along behind Randy with my back screaming and my mind begging me to stop. I kept thinking “How will I ever do a 50k again if I can’t get through this race without walking or stopping altogether? How did I ever do a 100 miler?” I kept wanting to ask him to check his Garmin and tell me the distance we’d run and how fast we were going but I wasn’t sure I could talk and I knew I’d sound like a kid saying, “Are we there yet?” So I ran and tried to smile.
We were passed by 5 or 6 people in the last two miles of the loop, but Randy ran strong and encouraged me on and I was thrilled to hit the end of the loop. We hugged and kissed goodbye and he continued on to his second of four laps. I ran up the road, repeating part of the 1.7 mile road section back to the finish. I passed 6 or 7 people in this section, which made me feel like maybe I would make it. I kept my eyes on a lady who had run just 20 yards or so in front of us from the start. She had broadened her gap in the two miles before the road and she was working hard to get to the finish line. I decided to see if I could catch her.
I did, on the downhill to the finish line, but when she looked at me, realized I was a woman, and kicked it into another level, I realized I didn’t want to race her. I wasn’t even sure I could, but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I could tell I’d already worked harder on the run than I should have and I recognized that I still have a long way to go to get back to where I was several years ago, but I will enjoy every run and I won’t rush through them or take them for granted.
After placing ahead of me as first master’s female (with her one-second lead), the woman thanked me for pushing her and I congratulated her on her strong run. We both took our cool LBL keychains and went our separate ways.
Grand Rivers, KY is a great, sleepy little tourist town nestled in this rather small land mass in between two lakes. They really should rename the place, though, as the rivers were turned into lakes in the 1930s and 50s, and some towns (with all their residents) were actually relocated during the dam projects.
This race, now in its 8th year, is organized by the West Kentucky Runners Club. There are four distance options, 23K, Marathon, 60K and 50 Mile. The 450 or so runners took off down the 1.7 mile road section before the sun rose and no one had any reason to complain. The weather was perfect. Kris and I ran the first lap together and we were happy to get off the road. The trail was close to water level most of the trip around the nearly 12 mile loop and, aside from the trash washed up into several coves, the course was spectacular: great footing, beautiful lake views and numerous small stream crossings.
Kris and I enjoyed our two hours together and, although I could tell that her back was causing her some discomfort, she never complained. My goal was to run each lap in 2 hours with sub-8-hour time in mind. All was good until someone turned up the heat. One of the aid workers said that it got up to 78° which I was apparently not prepared for. I was forced to walk all of the hills (and some of the not-so-hills) on that last lap. I rallied with five or so to go and finished with a smile.
One big thumbs-up for the event are the shoes; I ran in the new Hoka Mafate trail running shoes. This makes my 20th race 50 miles or longer and I can say that, without question, every race I have completed that had me on my feet for more than 8 hours resulted in joint pain the rest of that day and for several days after. That is, until now. Sure, some of my muscle groups were a bit sore and still are several days later, but my knees, feet and hips are pain-free.
I do not believe that this is 100% due to the shoes, because over the last year or so I have changed my running form to follow the barefoot style, which is simply to quietly land on the forefoot as the foot starts its travel back (no braking). However, I have been stiff and sore using this technique with other shoes, so the Hokas are a true revolution to me and I believe that they will change the running industry far more than the barefoot running movement has.
Great to hear from both runners, and special congratulations are in order to Randy for completing his twentieth race of 50 miles or longer. Here’s to many more!