Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dances With Dirt – Green Swamp Dade City, Florida:

Dances With Dirt  – Green Swamp Dade City, Florida:  Three LPTR Reports...

Jose Villegas’s Race Report:

Definitely a race for a road marathoner who’s transitioning to trails.  A very fast course for those who like flats!  Oh yeah, lots of sand trails. Those sections reminded me of Keyes Peak.

First half of the race I was very strong and a solid runner. Flew by those aid stations, but I did take showers!  I did eat A fig Newton.  I did not see gators, nor snakes. I do remember a Burnt Hill!  One spot was very spooky, cob webs all over the floor of the woods...this was to run for! 

The last 5 miles! I teamed up with Jodith whom I met at the last aid station.  Asked her to join forces and finish this race! This Pinata was burnt up from Burnt Hill! Really nice to have Good Friends at races!  So the first 3 of these 5 miles were great, got in a trance and a great groove that we were close to being done!  Not, felt like 10 miles!  I started to lose Jodith and I stopped to wait for her. She came around the corner smiling and still marching forward.  I then slowly got back to shuffling my feet again and let Jodith led the last 2 miles!  She rocks, our women in LPTR rock!  Right ladies…My mind just wanted to be done after all that sand and sand, then road, back to sand. Urgh! All this happening, I did not know what the time was or what mile we where on, nothing!

Finally, we get out of the woods and there was the finish! Both Jodith and I lifted our knees to our chins too seal this race and get it behind us! Oh- Jodith also decided that after we passed the finish, to slide in for her fall of the day!  She almost took me out! Hahahaaa…Next Race Chippewa!!!

Cheers to Great Friends…Thanks Marcel and Jodith for Great memories and more…

Food Report:Not very good at all, very disappointed!  Chicken, Coleslaw, and Baked Beans. 

Jodie Taylor’s Race report:

It was an Ultra weekend of Ultra driving, Ultra racing and Ultra fun, what more could I ask for?
At 6:45am, it was still dark with 15min to the start of the race. Without any reason I decided to look up at the sky and in that moment, I saw a shooting star (aka - alien rock burning through earth's atmosphere). It was a magnificent moment to see that - woke me out of my zombie state and got me excited to start the race. 
As usual we lined up near the starting line and "tried" to take pictures of ourselves in the dark. Once it was time to GO, it seemed as if suddenly daylight appeared. 
The first 7 miles were a faster pace than I was planning and we missed a turn because we just kept following the pack instead of paying attention ourselves. Not sure of how much we had to back track, but it wasn't too bad. 
The new sounds in the forest were awesome, I was glad people weren't talking and were just running so I could listen. Once it got brighter and I could see more, I was even more excited by my surroundings and how different everything looked. The trees, the leaves, the shrubs, the flowers, the roots, the ground, the sounds, the smells were all uniquely different and unfamiliar.
Soon Marcel and I slowed our pace and Jose got ahead of us. Then Marcel stopped, but told me to keep going (I later find out that he never caught up because he kept stopping to take tons of pics. Had he not taken all of those pics he probably would have finished before me. But in the end, it was worth it to hang back a little, he captured some excellent images to reminisce.) 
Suddenly my footing was off, I now found myself sliding on a horse trail of deep sand. I at Keyes peak?  This part of the trail lasted a pretty good length. I thought to myself "Jodie, it's just like running in the snow, but hotter and heavier." That wasn't convincing my legs as my muscles started to burn. Luckily, those sandy sections were few and far between. 
We were fortunate to have overcast in the morning, which kept the temperature down. By the time I entered the prairie section was when the sun started to come out. I couldn't wait to get back into the woods. 
There are no rest points in this race, it's flat and fast despite the deep sand. And we ran with the marathoners. I would say this race is one where you should PR (if you're not taking lots of pictures) and even though it was a wonderful experience, I probably wouldn't do this race again. So far out of the DWD series, Devils Lake had the best food (during and after) and Gnaw Bone had the best trails, I have yet to see what Hell, Michigan has to offer.
10 Things I learned:
1) Crossing the finish line and falling on my ass gave me whiplash, now my neck hurts when I laugh, but I can't stop laughing.
2) Running behind a girl with headphones who is singing horribly out loud, should be pushed in the bushes...oops did I say that out loud?
3) Hooters on the coast of Florida actually has really good food, fresh fish and shrimp!
4) Don't watch the TV show House after being attacked by No See - em's (bugs I can't see). Please note: I only received 2 bug bites on my ankle prior to the race and no bug bites during the race. I received the rest of my bug bites out to dinner sitting outside on the decks!!!
5) The swamp was a lot more sandy than I thought it would be.
6) Sitting in a car for over 1,000 miles right before a race isn't the best pre-race exercise.
7) Health food in the southern states means "not fried" (I already knew this from living in NC 15 years ago, but had hoped times would have changed).
8) Florida drivers are worse than Jersey drivers!
9) Thoroughly read the race packet when planning the trip...don't try to pick up your race packet at the running store a day won't be there...
10) Ultra trips are Ultra fun...I already knew that!

10 Remember Whens:
1) Falling on my ass at the finish line.
2) Following the front pack for a 1/4 mile or so and then realizing, we missed the turn...
3) Driving for 24 hours, running for 5 hours 22 min 19 seconds and then driving again for 24 hours
4) Marcel and I obsessively looking for Starbucks on the drive down to Florida.
5) Jose blasting Mexican music on the drive back at 3am in the morning.
6) The waitress in Georgia could not believe we didn't want sausage or bacon with our breakfast.
7) Local weather report "I got pollen on my whip."
8) Delicious scallops and shrimp pre-race dinner.
9) Marcel's step brother running a marathon to meet us for lunch.
10) Awesome times with awesome people.
Marcel Uttech’s Race Report:
Green Swamp, March 24th: This day marked the beginning of the Dances with Dirt series, a 50k in Green Swamp which is located in Dade City, FL. This year Jodie, Jose and I are going after the buckle, so we have to complete the rest of the series that we haven’t done yet. You have 2 years to do all 4…yes the buckle is totally worth it, why would you even ask?
 Jodie and I drove the 23 hours or so down to Orlando, picked up Jose who was there for a trade show, and headed over for packet pickup. We are then informed that packet pickup was the day before…so really we only missed it by a day. This led to conversations where we had to defend why we would drive 23 hours for a race in the swamp anyways… some people just don’t get it, lol. It was good to see palm trees…
That night it stayed in the 60’s. We stayed at a Microtel Inn in Zephyrhills. Decent place, plus you got a discount if you were doing the race-bonus! Also located within 15 minutes of the start-nice. Saturday morning we got up early, watched the weather and dressed as best as we could for the predicted near 90 degree day. 
Adrenaline was kickin’ in (maybe it was the coffee? Probably both) and headed out to the race for packet pickup. It was dark as we navigated our way there, and as you were able to begin to make out shapes the Spanish moss in the trees gave the surrounding woods an eerie look, very cool. As we got our packets we saw the 50milers coming in out of the woods (they started at 5:30) in a line of headlamps…always a nice sight. And yes, I was a little jealous they were already in there…it was like they got to the presents first on Christmas! Not one of them complained of bugs, which was a relief! Something I had not given much thought to until Jodie brought it up. Right around 6:30 the other runners started showing up. The 50k and marathon started at the same time, 7 bells. The Head Goat gave his speech (nice and short- pink first then follow blue) while taking a call (“anyone lost yet?”) and we were off!
I was excited to get into those woods- once I was in there, it was nice and cool, and there was quite a bit of fog everywhere. I couldn’t help but keep staring at the all the palm trees! Lol It was really dry for this time of year down there, so the trails were perfect. Lots of little leaves on the ground, and palm-like vegetation all over, and super green! Huge cypress trees with the Spanish moss hanging all over them…the surroundings were so different than the woods I am used to running in here in the Midwest that I couldn’t help but start taking pictures. 
I wrestled with this thought prerace- on whether I should take my little camera or not, and I was glad I did. I just kept stepping off to the side to snap pics whenever I saw something I thought looked cool. One guy thought I was plotting GPS points (um-what?)After about 20 minutes of run-stop-shoot-run-stop-shoot I had already missed a turn (along with about 12 people I was following) and luckily someone ahead caught it after about a quarter mile since I had no idea! Time to start paying some more attention! So the pictures got put on hold and I decided I’d better start running. 
It was easy to run at a good clip, the course is pretty flat and in the woods the trails were nice and firm. Outside of the woods there were these prairie type areas where the footing turned to mostly sand, tough going in that stuff. Hard on the ankles! This race had a mix of sand, wooded trails, crushed shell roads, and a small road section. Very scenic, and the aid stations were pretty decent. Once you got over how much everything looked like scenes from Jurassic Park the race was like any other, go out too fast and hold on. Most of the first half I was averaging a 9:30 pace,  then started hurting around 19 or so and things slowed down. 
Once it hit 10 it was pretty warm outside, and in those open prairies it was nothing but free sweat. Only one stream crossing, which was still fun to splash through! For the end you come into the finish at 26.2 and then the 50k runners head out for the last 5. This loop was tough, ankles were pretty beat up and hurting from the sand, and I was just ready to be done! Saw a deer fly across the trail, almost stepped on a 4 ft black snake (talk about hitting the brakes) and plenty of little lizards. Coming through the woods I finally heard music- thought “the end already? Sweet!” But it turned out to be 3 old guys playing bluegrass in a park type shelter on a picnic bench. I wanted to stop and listen but the need to be done pushed me on, so later fellas…
I came across a tower that looked so much like our LP tower that first time around I was bummed I didn’t get a pic-then we did the loop again at the finish I was thrilled to see it again and I was able to get a shot of it! I was glad to see Jose and Jodie at the finish, they both ran a terrific race! Coming in together at the end for at time of 5:22! Good enough for Jodie to take first in her age group and 4th woman,( and a PR by 1 minute I believe) and Jose took first in his age group (which is the same one I am in dammit) and 7th overall male. I came in at 5:43 which still earned me a 3rd age group award and a spot at 11 overall male (originally this was posted as 9th, guess there were some errors in paperwork at the race). So I originally thought we all posted in the top 10 overall but I was mistaken.  Jose made it in overall at 10th, Jodie took 11th, and I managed to hang on for 17th
If I were to run this one again I would definitely train differently, and treat it as a marathon type race. This is a FAST race. If you are looking for a change of scenery and a PR, this is a race worth checking out! Sadly I saw no alligators, and the only armadillos were 2 dead ones on the side of the road. Ah well, the palm trees were coolJ
More race pics here:
-Marcel Uttech

Marcel, Jodie and Jose

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