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Lake Martin Recon Run 1.28.18

By Kat Whitaker

After registering for the Lake Martin 100 just before the New Year, Josh and I decided it would be a good idea to make the 3 hour drive to the Russel Lands trail system and get aquainted with the Lake Martin course before race day.

We set the date for Sunday, January 28th, with a plan to leave around 5AM and make an entire day of trail recon, running, hiking, trail scouting and adventure.

The night before the training run, Josh and I got our gear set out and packed, basically as a dry run for the 100 miler.   

Josh's Gear: UD Pack with 1.5L bladder, NB Hierro V2 Shoes, 5hr Energy (testing), Pre-tapping Supplies (testing) typical ultra snacks and some homemade banana oatmeal bars.

Josh's Gear: UD Pack with 1.5L bladder, NB Hierro V2 Shoes, 5hr Energy (testing), Pre-tapping Supplies (testing) typical ultra snacks and some homemade banana oatmeal bars.

Kat's Clothing:  Academy BCG tech shirt, Lucy High Impact sports bra, Patagonia Trail Nine Shorts, Darn Tough crew socks, New Balance Gobi 2 Trail shoes. I also packed a set of backup clothing with my Topo Runventure2 shoes.  Gear : Trekking Poles (I didn't use), packable windjacket, soft cup, battery charger. Hydration: Nathan VaporHowe with bladder filled with water, Solomon soft flask filled with Tailwind.  Fuel : various treats such as baby snicker bars, sunflower seeds, Cliff bars, Honey Stinger gels, and Overnight Oats to eat before we started.    Other : Trail Toes and 2Toms for lube, TP for trailside visits, a small baggie with meds (advil, dramamine, immodium, and carmex).

Kat's Clothing: Academy BCG tech shirt, Lucy High Impact sports bra, Patagonia Trail Nine Shorts, Darn Tough crew socks, New Balance Gobi 2 Trail shoes.
I also packed a set of backup clothing with my Topo Runventure2 shoes.
Gear: Trekking Poles (I didn't use), packable windjacket, soft cup, battery charger.
Hydration: Nathan VaporHowe with bladder filled with water, Solomon soft flask filled with Tailwind.
Fuel: various treats such as baby snicker bars, sunflower seeds, Cliff bars, Honey Stinger gels, and Overnight Oats to eat before we started.  
Other: Trail Toes and 2Toms for lube, TP for trailside visits, a small baggie with meds (advil, dramamine, immodium, and carmex).

The next morning, we headed West to Lake Martin in the dark and through mostly heavy rain.  We were all a little quite on the trip over.  

Chuck was driving us, as he is going to be my Crew during the race and he wanted to get an idea of where the aid stations and crew access points were located.  The plan was for him to meet us at each of the access points and let us restock on hydration and snacks.  Myself, Josh, Tiff and her husband Mike were running the trails.  

A trail running virtual friend (Thanks Kaci!) sent me a GPX file of the Lake Martin loop that she ran the previous year.  I was able to upload the course on my Garmin.  The plan was to follow the course route using my Garmin and to use printed maps we got from the race website.  Note: I'd never used the navagation on my Garmin before this run!

Plans do go awry!  Once we got to the trail system, we set out and Chuck drove away to stake out his first access spot.  We went in the general direction as indicated on the map and very soon my Garmin was fussing at us "off course".  We spent the first 2.5 miles of running, mostly in circles.  We melted our paper maps within minutes due to the pouring rain.  After getting another map of the trail system from a park employee, we headed back out and finally got to a point on the course that my Garmin was happy with and we decided to head out into the trails and see what we could figure out.

30 mintues later we were finally making progress.  However, I was slightly disturbed about the type of trail this course was following.  The trail, although beautiful, even considering the dreary wet day, was not a clear trail.  There are leaves covering the entire trail, making it difficult to even know if you were in fact on the trail.  I tried not to freak myself out about this, reminding myself that the course would be marked on race day.

Do you see a trail?  This might be fun in the middle of the night!

Do you see a trail?  This might be fun in the middle of the night!

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We realized that we had already made a few navigational errors, and taken part of the third loop to get to Chuck instead of the intended first loop.  My Garmin only knows if you are on part of the course, it doesn't really care WHICH part of the course you are on!

The day was full of water crossings, due to the high level of rain coming through the area.  We were getting rained on 90% of the time we were out there.  After you get wet, you're just wet.  After you trudge through the first water crossing, you really don't care anymore.  For the most part it was fun acting like kids running through the rain and streams.

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We ticked off the miles, getting lost, finding our way, meeting up with Chuck, refueling, singing, laughing, leaping over mounds of horse poop and dumping the sand out of our shoes.  We originally planned to run the entire 25 mile loop.  After getting off track so many times, the miles added up even though we hadn't seen the entire course. 

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At around 19 I started getting pissy.  I had to take care of some business on the trail side, and afterwards I didn't feel fantastic.  Then I got mad when I realized that once again, we weren't where we thought we were on the course.  I decided that I wasn't going to do the fourth and final south loop, which would put us at a total of around 26-27 miles if we started the last loop.  Everyone else was totally down with calling it a day at just over 20 miles.

Tiff and Mike had to head home to pick up thier kids.  Chuck, Josh and myself stopped at the Red Robin in Columbus for Burgers and Beer.  Perfect way to end a day of romping around in the woods.  

Lessons Learned:

  • I love Trail Toes.  I've been using it on my feet and as general lube for other chafe prone areas for about 3 years.  I realized that I hadn't been using enough of it on my feet.  I slathered my bunions and toes with it before we ran and didn't get one single blister affte 6 + hours with soaking wet feet.
  • Josh pre-taped his feet and was happy with the results after his time with wet feet as well.  He plans to bring extra shoes, socks and lube if it does rain on race day.
  • Cheez-Its will be added to my fuel plan.  I ate a ton of them at two stops with Chuck and they were so so good!
  • Josh noted that the slower pace dictated by the hilly terrain would require more calories than he expected, and he will pack accordingly next time.
  • Chuck is going to have a super easy time crewing me for this race, as opposed to Yeti.  There were portions of Yeti that he had to drive 45 minutes to navigate down the trail 5 miles to meet me.  Gotta love mountain areas!
  • If it rains, we are going to be fine.  If it doesn't, we are going to be FANTASTIC.
  • Tiff plans to practice more with her headlamp on our morning runs, since she'll be pacing me at night and the trails are hard to see.  She also plans to have an assortment of snacks for me to try in case all of the food that I bring doesn't sound appetizing (which is very likely).
  • Lake Martin has some hella hills.  Who would have guessed???