After gaining some confidence in my last race at the Cumberland Trail 50k, I decided to switch from one of my favorite races, Stone Steps 50k in Cincinnati on Oct 28, to the Pinhoti 100m on Nov 3 in Alabama. In my previous 2 attempts at Pinhoti (in 2008 & 2009), my back shut me down & I only finished 60-65 miles each try. I haven't had much trouble with my back since (knock on wood), so my biggest concern now is my gut. With this change in plans, I also opted to run the Turbo Turtle 50k (TT 50k) this past weekend since that would give me 2 weeks rest afterwards, as opposed to 6 days rest with Stone Steps, before Pinhoti.
TT 50k was organized by Ben Lauer and Lil' J and I found out about this FA event thru the Indiana Trail Running website. The course would be an out'n back on a section of the Tecumseh Trail, a loop of the Low Gap Trail and a loop of the Three Lakes Trail -- all in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest near Martinsville, IN. The RD's did a great job with this event.
Bypassing the short road section, the course starts with the same 1st 7 1/2 miles of the Tecumseh Marathon held in December each year. This course was a major change from my last 2 events -- smooth footing with very little technical trail here. There were a few leaves on the trails, but they weren't hiding ankle-turning rocks. So I was able to "open it up" and ran just about as fast as I could (for about half the 50k, that is). It was quite different from having 5 or 6 hundred other runners (Tecumseh Marathon) jostling for position, bottlenecked at the single track entrance or cued 5 minutes at the 1st stream crossing.
Starting much quicker than my usual pace, I figured this would be my "speed work" (1st of the year!). I also planned that when my legs gave out (& they did so badly about halfway), I would practice my "survival" pace -- a pace I'm sure I'll use again at Pinhoti. It was the 1st time my legs have been pushed like that in over 2 years, so this was a good workout for me. I was pretty tired at the end of this run as finishing 2 50k's in 2 weeks was a big step up in my training.
a few other notes:
There were 2 work crews on the trails during the race: volunteers were building a new bridge on the Tecumseh Trail (I noticed 2 other new structures in the 1st 7 miles) and volunteers were correcting drainage on the Low Gap Trail. There was also an ultra-hike group (w/bibs) on Tecumseh and lots & lots of hikers enjoying the beautiful scenery thruout.
photo courtesy of Charles Moman:
There were flags or ribbons at most junctions and the only other markings were the trail blazes. Several runners (including myself) ended up getting off course. 3 runners even ran the sections in a different order. I turned the wrong way at one junction & got in some extra running before finding a dead end (could have been a very long day).
There was 1 aid station at mile 15 & everyone would pass their car at mile 21. Even though I did experience some gut discomfort starting midway thru the race, I couldn't resist the egg/cheese croissants & brownies (both a first for me). I somehow survived that digression & even slept better than usual the night after -- I think only because I was so exhausted.