Friday, August 9, 2013

catch up - continued

After the mental disaster at Massanutten, I could hardly think about anything else.  I figured the best medicine to help get over it was to run another race as soon as possible.  I looked at the calendar & saw a familiar race in Mohican in June, so I set my sights on that race, although twice before (2008 & 2009) it was too hot for me & I also had major back problems.  I mostly don't consider Mohican each year because of that heat (mid 80's to low 90's).  So for it to be a possibility this year, I figured I needed to cram in some heat training. 

I looked for a shorter race in the heat that wasn't too far to drive to and found a 50k in Tennessee: the inaugural Music City Trail Ultra just outside Nashville.  As the date for this race approached, it was clear it was going to be what I was looking for:  forecast was for 89 degrees w/partly cloudy skies, humid and a chance of thundershowers.  I've NEVER finished an ultra where the temps have reached the mid 80's, so I knew it would be a challenge just to finish! 

I camped right at the start/finish line.  It was a hot & muggy night.  There were over 200 that signed up for the 50k, 25k & 10k -- a pretty good turnout for a first time running.  The RD had carved out a rugged course in what seemed to be a rarely frequented nature preserve & consisted of gravel roads, fire breaks and ancient logging roads, with a small amount of seldom used single track & a little bushwacking.  I heard it took months to knock down the brush & weeds to fashion out the trails.

Early in the race on a firebreak, pic courtesy of Chris Bosh:

The ticks & flies were the worst.  The flies weren't the usual deer flies I'm used to.  They didn't seem to bite as much but I've never encountered so many flies (kept the mouth closed). These were like huge houseflies (small horseflies?) that you could knock 2 or 3 down with every swing.  Aid station workers were pulling ticks off my legs even though I had soaked myself with repellent (probably lost it with sweat & going thru the streams).  I also ran over a long black snake before I knew it, as I thought it was just a stick.

I could hardly make heads or tails of the course from the small map on the website.  I couldn't tell which direction the race proceeded and on which trails -- turns out this would affect my race.  I came across 2 confusing intersections.  The 1st one I lucked out as a group of runners came up on me & after a consensus, decided the way to go (I would have went the wrong way otherwise).  At the 2nd intersection, I was by myself & with another 50/50 chance, I took the wrong way.  Ended up with about 1 bonus mile after double tracking twice.  I think if the people who marked the course went in both directions on the out'n'back sections, they would notice the markings can look alot different going in the other direction.

The skies were mostly cloudy with periods of sun thruout the day.  This kept the temps down (only 85!).  The sun only seemed to come out when I was out in open & then it felt like 110.  But what helped the most was the unexpected breeze.  Occasionally there would be a hint of rain in that humid breeze -- I finished the last mile in a downpour.  Had it reached 89 with partly cloudy skies & no wind, I would NOT have finished this race.  This was the hottest ultra I've ever finished.  I survived the challenge (w/the lucky break in the weather) & felt I was ready for an attempt at Mohican.

1 more catch up report to follow . . .

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