I knew coming into this Stone Steps race that the 50k distance would be stretching my limits & that the course itself was not the easiest one for an attempt to return to ultrarunning after a 4-5 month layoff. And it proved just that - tough!
My legs were so sore after the 1st of 7 loops that I knew then I would be walking quite a bit this race -- & did. I really hit a wall with 2 loops (8.5 miles) to go & couldn't take another step. But I got some help: Brad Compton, who had signed up but didn't race due to an injury, showed real dedication & drove to the race anyway to volunteer. He was instrumental in getting me off the picnic table bench that I had been glued to. And also, thanks to Mike Matteson, I was able to start walking (baby steps at first) on the 6th loop. A couple miles later, I was able to break into a shuffle & continue that (w/walk breaks on inclines) to the finish. Final time was just under the 8 hour cutoff for the race -- almost exactly an hour slower than my previously slowest time on this course last year when I was recovering from the flu.
What made it so enjoyable though: I know or recognize more runners at Stone Steps than any other event that I regularly run. Yes, it's in Ohio, but KY only has 2 (or sometimes 3) ultras the entire year. It was great to hear how everyone's been doing! Of course, I would have enjoyed this event more had I been in better shape . . .
One thing was drastically changed this year at Stone Steps, and I hope it was just a one time deal (but I don't think so): A 27k race was added this year. They started a half hour later than the 50k. Exactly 6 miles into the race, the leader of the 27k unexpectedly passed me -- that meant he was running right at 5 minutes per mile faster than I was -- I blinked once & he was out of sight. That was just the beginning. In the next 2 1/2 laps, it seemed like every 27k runner passed me on the sometimes narrow trail. It became crowded on the 2nd pass thru the short out & back of the 3 mile loop: there were alot of runners behind (27k runners) & even more runners approaching (50k & 27k runners) -- all moving faster than I was. I think I just happened to hit the rush hour for this portion of the course & had I been running faster up to this point, I probably would have avoided most of the traffic jam.
A few weeks ago, I signed up for the OPSF 50/50, instead of the Pinhoti 100 (which I had plans on running before my problems over the summer). At the time though, I didn't realize I would aggravate a (ganglion?) cyst on my right foot during Stone Steps. The cyst looks like a bunion, but mine is near the small toe. Trying to divert excessive pressure off that side, I also strained my arch somewhat. So I'm going to see how my foot progresses before deciding to take on the race. As for my abdomen where I had surgery, I could tell my gut was not the same, but I did not have any issues thank goodness!