Ok first off. What an absolutely beautiful course I had the privilege of running today. I was very worried that I would be in a lot of trouble during this race as my right big toe was still very tender from the Rothrock Challenge last weekend. That race may have only been 19 miles, but it was some of the most brutal 19 miles I've ever run. My legs were also still recovering. Regardless, I told myself that I wanted to do my best today, and most importantly....have fun. I have been wanting to see the Laurel Highlands Trail for a while and so this was my perfect chance. Weather was in the high 70's but the humidity was a bit rough. I set a loose goal of finishing in under 7 hours, but wasn't going to push it. Again...just have fun. Add to that the fact that the first 8 miles had basically all of the climbs of the course, and I did not want to burn out my fuel early.
So. The quick recap. I drove down early in the morning to beautiful Ohiopyle, picked up my number and lined up at 8:00 am with about 70 other runners. We set off to an audible "GO!" and I was off. I opted for an almost identical setup as the one I went with for the Rothrock with two major changes. I went with my beefier Brooks Cascadias as opposed to the minimalist New Balance MT101's. Anything to give that toe some extra protection. Also, I carried a secondary handheld bottle as the aid stations were a bit far apart (and the humidity high).'
I'm in here somewhere....
I pushed a little at the beginning to get up front before the course pinched off to a trail, as I knew it started with a "walking climb". Similar to what I did at Rothrock. At about a half-mile in, the single track started....and was it wonderful. The first 6 miles had 2 roller-coaster style ups-and-downs, which I conservatively walked and ran. At 6 the biggest climb of the course started and worked its way up almost 2000 feet to mile 8. (see elevation profile from previous post). After mile 8 though, almost the entire course was run-able. I was glad I saved energy at the beginning, because I was able to run nearly the entire remaining 23 miles. The trail beneath my feat was spectacular, the views gorgeous, and rocks...manageable. This course ranks right up with the Vermont 50 as one of my absolute East Coast favourites now...a true hidden gem. I was like a giddy school kid running down the trail...and was having a blast! Mission accomplished. I ran with several good folks and kept it together for nearly the entirety of the race. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers fantastic. At about mile 29 I finally started feeling the effects of 20+ miles under my feet, added to an insane 30k last weekend, added to about 5 hours of sleep...and I crashed hard. I grimaced and fought my way through the last two miles though and when I crossed the finish I was absolutely shocked by my final time and place:
Time: 5 hrs 54 minutes. (PR for 50k)
Place: 9th Overall, 7th Men
Granted there were only 70 or so runners, but I have never finished in the top 10 in an ultra....ever (Except for the New England Funeral Run 50 - But there was only like 10 runners). Needless to say, I am very pleased with the day. Beautiful trail, great road trip, awesome volunteers, friendly runners, and a great finish.
Good day. Fun Day.
Flight 93 Memorial side-trip:
On the drive back I made a short detour to Shanksville, PA to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial. It's not officially finished until this September, but I got to see the site regardless. To look upon the small patch of grass where the plane actually crashed and where all those people lost their lives.....was quite sobering.
Some Action Shots from Today:
|Coming into Aid Station 1|
|Plugging along near Aid Station 2|
|Coming in to the Finish|
|Three Barns Perched on this Bucolic Pasture|
|View of the grassy spot where the plane hit|
Equipment and Nutrition Stats:
Hydration: Nathan X-Trainer 1 Bottle Mutation Belt, 1 handheld amphipod, Gatorade and additional water at aid stations.
Salts: Four Endurolyte tabs
Nutrition: Four Honey Stinger Gels, 1 Nathan PB packet, ~5-6 fresh dates, Honey Stinger Peanut Butter/Chocolate Bar, Cookies and other snacks at aid stations
Clothing: Icebreaker Merino 150 shirt, Patagonia Nine Trails shorts, Headsweats cap, Darn tough wool 1/4 socks.
Shoes: Brooks Cascadia 5's
Additional: Polar RS100 heart-rate monitor, Sportslick gel, and mild DEET repellent (for ticks)
Calories Burned ~5000, max HR:178 bpm avg HR: 154 bpm