Sunday, February 16, 2014

a memorable day

Last weekend I finished my 9th Louisville's Lovin' The Hills 50k (LLTH).  It has to have been the most fun time I've had on the same trails that are my regular training grounds.  The ice covered trees & snowy hills were AWESOME!   Some races may advertise of their most scenic courses, but this was the best one I've ever run.
All photos on the blog today courtesy of Terry Fletcher w/SPORTZbizz:

Race blog recap here.  More pics here & here.

I also love narrow single track -- most of the course on the Siltstone Trail (about 13 miles) was only as wide as my shoe turned sideways -- I checked!  Runners avoided the unpacked snow & kept true to the skinny path or risked discovering the hidden edge/dropoff of the already narrow trail below.

Ryan & Russ w/ice beards:

It was my slowest time for LLTH, but I knew that would occur going in.  Marking & then re-marking (because of the ice storm) on the snowy, obstacle-ridden course completely wore me out.  Also, I just can't hike up & down these hills during the week of any race & expect a good time.  But time was not a concern this day-- I was out to have a memorable run -- and I succeeded!

I took a hand held video camera with me on the 1st 6m loop.  This camera was NOT meant to be used while on the run like a GoPro.   Also, looking at the short & shaky results after the race, it was obvious I didn't always know when the camera was on or off!  In very small letters on the screen it signals red for pause/stop, green for on -- not easy to see when running.  Anyway, here is a short shaky segment -- trying to keep from tripping while avoiding icy branches & trees from knocking the camera from my hands: 
video  The video is in High Definition (HD) although the default on Google Drive is 480p.

Next race is LBL 50M in 3 weeks.  Such a contrast between LLTH & LBL!  I'll need to avg 13 min/mile for the 1st 36 miles in order to be able to continue with the 4th lap.  Based on my recent efforts, that pace will be an extraordinary task!  My back seemed to tolerate the much slower pace better at LLTH last weekend too.

Last year I had one of my worst efforts ever at LBL & I still don't know exactly what happened.  Maybe I need to put in a speed work or two before then?  Will see . . . .

Monday, February 3, 2014

still running

Last weekend I travelled down to Huntsville, AL for my 4th Mountain Mist 50k.  Last year I set a satisfying PB for the course, but based on my recent races, I knew I wasn't going to be anywhere close to that -- if I finished at all.

The RD altered the course this year to try to minimize the congestion that always occurs very early in the race when 300 - 400 runners are funneled down the 1st big hill that's on single track.  The 1st 2 years I ran this I used a quick early pace to avoid the heaviest traffic but ended up running a forced pace afterwards just to keep from getting run over!  This year the course was re-routed so that a couple miles of fairly flat road/trail were shifted to just after the start to help spread out the field.

Well, the field had indeed spread out after 3 miles, but a new problem arose.  As soon as everyone headed down the 1st hill of years past, everyone came to a standstill.  Why?  Because Alabama has had its' share of cold weather --  one of the streams crossing the trail had turned into ice.  It took almost 4 minutes to go inch by inch just to get to the ice.  Had I known I would be standing around that long, I would've ran the 1st 3 miles alot slower (the line behind me was not near as long as the one in front).  One fellow couldn't wait & took a butt slide down the steep hillside to bypass everyone.

The course was the driest I've seen it, so other than the ice crossings, the course was fast.  Surprisingly though, this year the winning time was 27 minutes slower than last year when a record was set in the mud.  Besides the course alteration at the start, there was one other change at mile 24 -- the course felt longer but my Garmin said it was about the same. This years' winner, Scott Breeden, had won Louisville's Lovin' the Hills 50k in record fashion in 2013 after finishing 2nd at Mountain Mist a few weeks earlier.

2014:                                                     2013:


The 1st half of the course is the fastest & least technical.  I always use the 17 mile aid station as the halfway point of this race timewise.  Last year I averaged 12 min/mile to this point.  This year it was 13 min/mile -- it was slower, but felt good & was really enjoying myself.  I had used the same race prep (diet & belt tightening) as before at Tecumseh & up to that point it was working great.  However, the long rocky technical downhills at miles 19 & 27 were tough.  The large step downs on the boulders about did me in.  Most runners jump down them, but for me it was an awkward ballet with the stiff back brace.

After the last tortuous downhill, it was a struggle to continue.  I was hurting and had no energy.  There was Powerade at all the aid stations but it was watered down quite a bit -- I missed my sweet Gatorade.  I ate some pb&j quarters & potato chips - my favorites, but apparently I did not eat near enough.  After I dragged myself across the finish line, I headed straight for the hot pizza.  They have pizza delivered regularly & it's kept in ovens til needed -- it's great!  What Christmas turkey I was able to burn off during the race, I gained back & more with pizza (I think I ate a whole pizza!).  I believe I've found the limit to the special pre-race diet I'm using & need to make some adjustments (eat more) for longer races.

Next up on Saturday is Louisville's Lovin' the Hills 50k.  This race is about as local as it gets -- I can see the course from my front porch.  Earlier today I flagged the 1st leg for the race, about 6 miles.  I had planned on more but wasn't expecting the 5" of snow last night.  Felt like I needed snowshoes in the deeper areas.  Looking ahead at the forecast for the rest of the week, it doesn't look like the snow will be going away anytime soon.  If anything, any melting will freeze over & the course will be solid ice!  Looking forward to the challenge.