Sunday, February 17, 2008

LLTH 2008

2008 Louisville’s Lovin’ the Hills is history! A big surprise this year was the good turnout as early signup numbers were low & I’m sure every runner knew the conditions were going to be much less than ideal.

I think that first time LLTH race directors Cynthia & Todd Heady pulled off a great job & should be commended. I’m so happy that they kept the event alive this year. In trying to play a more active role in helping out this year, I’ve truly realized just how much time & effort & organization is required to direct an event of this size.

I tried to update the LLTH blog with an eye on the forecast, but the weathermen kept their record intact as they missed the weather & temps for about 5 of the last 7 days. Had their predictions held true thru the week, the course would have been frozen solid with a lot more snow on the course. Instead, the course had sections with no snow and the snow that was there was not solid, but an icy/powdery type snow with a thin crust that was hard to get good traction on. The course also thawed out quick & became muddier as the day went on.

With the temp at an unexpected “warm” 30 degrees approaching the start, I decided to go without tights & keep with the plan to use the Yaktrax Pros for the 1st time. I felt the decision on the tights ended up the right one as it warmed up quite a bit thru the day. The Yaktrax though, were troublesome all day as I had a constant problem with keeping them positioned correctly on the shoes, and if I ignored them at that point, they started to come off. I felt they were most helpful in getting traction on the snow, but not so helpful on the roads or mud or especially when I got tired of bending over to fix them.

Noting my time at early checkpoints in the race, I knew I was running slower than the 6 ½ hour pace of last year and that my goal of finishing in less than 7 hours this year was not going to happen either. Although I was only running 15 minutes slower than last year by the end of the 2nd loop, the course conditions were changing & I knew all that extra effort to get traction in the early miles was going to catch up with me. However, upon reaching the 1st junction on the Purple Heart Trail, I came across a change in the course I was totally unaware of – the biggest part of the trail was being bypassed and the Purple Heart “shortcut” trail was being used. So I stood there pondering at the junction -- I knew the course should have gone to the right, but the big yellow arrow & flagging indicated a left turn. So down the left side of the trail I went. This change would save at least 10 minutes at my pace on the outbound & 10 minutes on the inbound – so less than 7 hours was now a distinct possibility.

I was feeling OK at the turnaround point & still felt I had a good energy reserve to finish well. But, things changed soon after as I was heading up the 1st big hill back. Trying to get out of the way of a runner coming quickly down the hill, I took a big step up the side of the hill & when I did, the left leg locked up stiff & became extremely painful. After a few minutes writhing in pain, it finally subsided. I found I could continue, very slowly at first, but with a much shortened stride. All stepping over logs & up steps was now with the right leg first & very cautiously bringing up the left. Near the end, I felt I had something left, but held back as the leg was still tender & felt if I strained the leg it would lock up again. Officially, I finished in less than 7 hours, but knew if the full course had been run as expected I would not have reached that goal.

Overall, I’m happy with my performance considering the condition I was in & am very hopeful that Cherokee Road Runners will continue this great event next year. I enjoyed getting back together with all the fellow trail runners I’ve gotten to know over the years & am really glad to have started these blogs as it really intensified the experience.


Jeffro said...

Are you saying the course was shorter than last year? If so by how much?

ed said...

According to GPS measurements taken by the RD, the course last year was short. The changes this year would have added more distance. As for the actual distance run this year, it would be hard to say as I’m not sure of the length of the Purple Heart Trail that was used. I’ve personally measured the 1st 2 loops with a wheel & helped mark that portion of the course, but haven’t gotten a chance to wheel the 2nd half yet. My guess at this point would be that the distances were about the same the last couple years, somewhere around 30 miles. Next year it’s already guaranteed it won’t be the same course/distance because of the scheduled re-route on Siltstone.