Well, it's been almost 2 months since my last post here, but I didn't abandon blogland during this time -- I've been working on my LLTH PLUS blog & it's been really fun!
As for this year's version of LLTH, there was no ice storm cleanup to worry about like last year, but there was always the worry that the weather would be so bad that nobody could make it to the race. We lucked out on that & despite the weather & road conditions, most of the entrants were able to make it to the event. Some runners may have opted out and not attended due to the expected "less than ideal" trail conditions, but they sure missed out if they did -- it had to be the most scenic race of all previous years. I thought the race went very smoothly start to finish & was a big success.
a couple small disappointments coming in :
Last year I ran the Mountain Mist 50k in Alabama in January -- I thought it was an excellent tuneup for LLTH. But since I had the swine flu last fall when registration opened, I did not get a chance to enter as it quickly filled up. So, I did not have a race which I felt I needed in January this year.
The Highway Dept has always had the 2 hills leading to LLTH, on Holsclaw Hill and Brooks Hill Roads, at the same priority as Interstates when it comes to clearing & salting the roads in bad weather. For some reason, they did not do any salting till late -- it was a little slick when I came in & it could have been worse. With the rain the day before, I think they were unable to pretreat the roads with their brine and when it came Saturday morning they were just way behind -- plus I think because it was Saturday, they probably thought: who would want to drive up these hills then? Next time they're going to get a call as a reminder . . .
Last year, I came into the race tired from clearing the trails after the ice storm & the course marking was done very late too. This year, Cynthia & I got almost all of the trails marked a week before. Plus, I decided to hike the trails when marking this time & not to run & wear myself out -- or risk injury too. So I felt pretty fresh, though undertrained still, for the race this year.
I recognized quite a few LLTH veterans present & was able to talk to, or throw out words of encouragement to several people I knew or met prerace & on the trail: Todd, Cynthia, Jeff, Suzan, Larry, David, Kim, Brian, Mike, Brenda, Logan, Jennifer, Tony, Eric, Troy, Ricky, Steve, Matt -- everybody was in such a happy mood -- this was a most enjoyable day!
I took it easy this year, compared to previous years, on the 1st loop & I was content to follow along where I started -- somewhere in the back half. The scenery was absolutely stunning with all the snow blanketing everything & stuck to all the trees & undergrowth like glue. I got in a good chat with Steve Durbin (RD) of LBL (March 13) before he sped off (great run Steve!). I don't think I passed anyone till on the 2nd loop. The footing was more tricky & sloppy on the Yellow Trail, but I knew the course very well. Several runners passed me on the road section though, but I hope those runners enjoyed it while they could -- they may not have this road next year! If the new trail from the Welcome Center to the Yost section is completed this summer, I am pushing for this 1 mile section (done twice) on the 2nd leg to be replaced by trail -- along with the gravel road & highway on the 3rd leg. If the new trail is completed & I have my way, the only pavement on the course will be the short section at Scott's Gap & several road crossings -- that's it! And, I'm even working on bypassing that short piece of road at Scott's Gap!
Starting the 3rd loop, I noticed my time was really slow compared to previous years. I felt OK with that though and also felt I didn't need to push it with the trail conditions as they were. So I kept a slow, but steady pace the remainder of the race. I did get to thank Eric Grossman for the pictures he sent, as he ran past me on the out and back -- I believe it took him a little by surprise! How effortless it seemed in his running style. The next runners who were some distance behind him, looked to be struggling somewhat & feeling their efforts.
On my return trip from Scott's Gap, I passed Rob Apple & Susan Donnelly on their way out to Scott's Gap. I was surprised to see them so far back, but Susan said they were taking pictures & taking their time -- I was so happy that they did! These photos let me relive the race as I recognized most every location that the pictures were taken. Such beautiful scenery has now been captured for posterity. Thank you so much Susan!!
All the photos in this blog post today are courtesy of Susan Donnelly.
My official time: 7:53:36 -- slowest in the 6 years I've run this event. Winning time was an impressive 5:02:38 by Eric Grossman.
I have the Mt. Cheaha 50k in Alabama on my calendar in a couple weeks. The trails around here look to be packed with snow for at least the next week or so, so it's going to be tough to get in some good running. I'm looking forward to the race though -- it looks like I've run part of it during the Pinhoti 100, except in the opposite direction. After Mt. Cheaha, it's going to be a short 2 weeks to Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 50 miler. Last year, I had one of my better races there, so I'm looking forward to trying to match that effort this year.
Oh yes, my crash diet ending last month was just that. After reaching a whopping 195 #'s in December, I lost 10 #'s after starving myself. But I gained almost all of it back already -- on this last race day, I weighed 191 #'s (obese again).