Each of my 3 trips to Sleepy Hollow State Park I've headed in the night before to enjoy an evening in the campground. It is a pretty typical Michigan State Park campground with good facilities, nice fairly private camp sites, and reasonable prices. I've been wanting to get my whole family to join me for an overnight but other items on the family schedule have always prohibited it.
This year I made it a point to get up here early on the Friday afternoon to just enjoy as much of it as I could. I rolled through Laingsburg around 4pm and got into the park shortly thereafter. I ended up at the same site I had used last year, #31, which works well with my tent and has good proximity to the beach (race start/finish) as well as bathrooms. I bring my REI Half Dome 4 tent which is more than enough space for me and a bit of gear in the tent. I had aspirations of trying out a kayak rental on Lake Ovid this time but the weather Friday night ended up putting a half to that idea. It was fairly windy and the temps were starting to drop into the uppers 50's, chilly for early August! So I ended up making an evening at my camp site.
I was up about 6:30am to get the morning going and some breakfast. I had an oatmeal square, a banana, and a single-serve cup of pineapple. I relaxed a bit while getting my clothes and backpack ready. The race starts at 8am and I wanted to be over to the start area by about 7:30a to see the 5-mile race start. The walk over from my campsite was no more than 5 minutes. The pre-race festivities at the start line here are typical for Running Fit races. Just some basic information is shared, they line everyone up in the chute lightly trying to sort everyone by pace, and then a fairly casual start. I ended up near the end of the first wave of runners. I kinda wanted to be near the start of the 2nd wave but it wasn't really clear where they were dividing the waves.
I was wearing my typical race shirt from Salomon today and my black 2-in-1 shorts. I had my Salomon Speedcross Vario trail-runners. In my Rev6 pack I put in just over a liter of water and had also put in some ice. I knew things had gotten warm here in year's past and wanted to see if I could keep cold water. On the plus side the temps never got above 65. The ice idea didn't really work though as it was long gone and the water only slightly cool by race's end. I didn't carry anything else this year trying to keep it light.
I carried with me 3 Gu gels and some Endurolytes tabs. I didn't end up taking any of the Endurolytes. The Gu I took at miles 4, 7, and 10. I grabbed an extra Gu at an aid station along the way. At each aid station I would grab one of their Gatorade cups to down a few swigs. Of the liter of water I carried I probably only drank half of it.
I have been attempting to fine tune my running strategy in this race every year now. Each of my first two years I got into the last 3 miles or so and felt like I was running out of gas. This was in part due to going out too fast on the easier terrain in the first few miles. The terrain in the last half has the most hills. It is also sun exposed more in the latter half and later in the morning so there are always warmer temps. I ended up walking small portions each of the first two years and I wanted to avoid that this year hoping to make up time.
In each of my other two favorite races earlier in the 2017, the Pinckney Trail Half and the Highland Loops, I worked to great success a strategy to intentionally go out slower to save energy for the latter half. Coupled with great training before those earlier races I was able to set course PR's on both. For The Legend my training, particularly in July, wasn't quite as great. I had a sense this was true going into the race and so lowered my expectations. Nonetheless, I still hoped to keep a modest start with a strong finish. That ended up working out to a point.
I started slower this year than in either of the previous two. As a benchmark, I hit the highway crossing heading north, around mile 6 in 46:45 in 2015, in 48:21 in 2016 and in 50:30 this year. You can see I was blazing in 2015. I was targeting 8:30 miles over the first half and in the first two miles on this course I had to notably slow up slightly to keep that pace. After the first two minutes I allowed myself to push the pace a bit. I noticed this year a number of my miles after came in a bit below 8:30 but I was never beating it by much and I noticed as the miles added up the effort exerted to push that pace increased. As another benchmark, when I hit the very northern end of the course in 2015 I was at 1:15:45, in 2016 I was at 1:16:30, this year I was at 1:18:49. I had gained some time back but not enough. This would illustrate while my slower start helped in leaving me more energy on the latter half, I may well have been too slow by a minute or two which cost me a PR.
I was pleased in this year's race I was able to finish strong and run to the very end. The only slight walks I had were slowing at aid stations to drink and the one biggest hill on course I walked a bit of its ascent to converse energy. Otherwise I still had good energy at the end and my fastest mile was my last. I think with better training and a slightly stronger start I may well have the key to a course PR next year.
Post race Kayaking
After the race I got my finisher's medal as well as a beer mug with another medal for completing the Serious Series. I was able to look up the race results on my phone and quickly saw I wouldn't place in my age group. The 35-39 age group is apparently highly competitive! I walked back to my campsite and ate and drank a bit. As I cooled off I headed to the showers to get washed up which is another great perk of staying at the campground.
Next I drove on over to the campground office to inquire again about their kayak rentals. The weather was beautifully sunny and just over 70 degrees. They had one kayak left for a $25/day rental. I decided to take it. They gave me a paddle, a PFD and the combination for the padlock to get the kayak at the beach side. I went back to my campsite and packed it up so I could check out and then drove down to the beach.
I carried a nalgene, a Keweenaw Brewing Widow Maker Black Ale, and my phone. At the beach they have a lockup for all of their rentals and basic padlocks to keep them in place. Mine was the lone remaining kayak and got it unlocked and carried over to the beach shore. I got myself pushed into the water and started padding away. I was paddling to the northeast and was going to head towards the dam. The wind was in my face so it was tough work from the beginning to work through the waves. When I got to the dam area things were much calmer and I was able to now follow the western shores south for awhile. I saw a handful of blue herons at water's edge in several places. I follow a small waterway around an island on the west side and the waters in there were very calm. There were a number of sea grasses growing up close to the surface in this lake. They really didn't bother the kayak at all but my paddle would sometimes snag them.
South of the island I came back into the main lake and paddle past the boat ramp and then headed for the south end of the lake. Heading south there was somewhat easier paddling with the wind slightly at my back. At the south end of the lake is a road bridge allowing no passage under it so I turned around there. It was also time for me to begin to head home. I paddled hard northward in the waters with the wind again hitting from the northwest. I paddled around another island in the middle of the lake and then headed northward towards the beach area. I was out for just under 2 hours and got in about 3.5 miles. There were almost a dozen of kayaker's and another 2 small fishing boats. Lake Ovid is a no-wake lake so it keeps the boaters at a snail's pace. This model of kayak I didn't like as much as the one we had rented at Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado. It felt like everytime I would alternate paddling the boat would turn slightly with it and I couldn't hold to a straight course. I also got my rear very wet as water was quickly accumulating into my seat. The drain holes on the bottom of the kayak were not far away from the seat. I'm glad I was able to get out for a couple of hours and will have to look at this again for next year. With it being an all day rental I could reserve mine first thing in the morning to have ready to go after the race. Oh, and the beer I carried along was fantastic, really hit the spot to float out in the lake and have a tasty drink.