Sunday, March 6, 2011

(not) Lovin' the Hills, (not even like) February 12, 2011

This was my first time running Lovin' the Hills even though I use to only live about 10 minutes from the course.  I am not a cold weather runner.  I've been trying to change and work on that this year for the first time, but I'm still not quite there yet and I still have some things to figure out.  With that said, I do love Jefferson Memorial Forest.  It is a beautiful little gem hidden just right outside of the city of Louisville.  There a couple of high spots with great views of the city and the surrounding area.  Also, I lucked out with the weather.  The morning temps were in the 30's, with the high suppose to be 49.  So I wasn't overly excited, 
but I felt it was manageable if my lack of training could hold up.  I was parked very close to the starting line and a friend of mine, Dale, had picked up my packet the day before.  (Dale was running his first trail race and his first 50K.  He completely skipped the marthon and just jumped into ultrarunning.  Gotta love it!)  So I stayed in my car until I saw the runners lining up.  I happened to see a fellow I met at the Backyard ultra in TN last year, Naresh, so I went over to chat with him and ended up meeting the race director of the Flying Monkey marathon, Trent.  (I had dropped from this race last year due to tendonitis- so we had chatted via email, but now I had a face to go with the name.)  We listened to the race director's husband give the pre race details; also informing us of his father-in-law passing away.  Hence the reason his wife Cynthia, the heart behind the Hills was not there this morning.  He quickly started us off and I fell in step with Trent.  It usually takes me awhile to get a groove and get the kinks worked out, but I found out running with someone and chatting helped to not notice that.  So I was very thankful for Trent's company, though I knew it wouldn't last.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up too long.  I was proved right as we came upon the first hill.  Naresh had also caught up with us, so I let them go as I trudged uphill.  I knew I was going to have to walk all of the hills after 2 training runs on the course had beat me up pretty badly and I did not get any further hill training in.
  The course is basically 3 modified lollipops (out and backs with a loop at the end).  The first leg is 5.5 miles, the second leg is 7.5 miles, and the 3rd leg is 19 miles.  Even though the 3rd leg was obviously the longest and double the first 2 legs, in my head I still broke the race down into 3 sections to complete.  Crazy I know, but I'm a head games person.  Mostly I lose due to my head.  : )  I soon completed the first leg and stopped at the port-o-pot before heading onto the 2nd leg.  I wasn't feeling too bad and the trails weren't too bad, just a little ice and snow on them.  Overall first leg went well.  I headed out onto the second leg feeling not too bad.  Alas, the second leg is a bummer- the Yost trail.  Very hilly and the trails were beginning to thaw.  I passed Todd Heady (RD's hubby) directing traffic at the 15K/50M split, but the course was marked which way to go.  When I got to the aid station on the 2nd loop, I heard that some of the runners had went left instead of right and had skipped the 2nd leg all together.  Not sure how that happened, but glad I didn't do that.  I finally returned to the split and was really tempted to call it a day.  Be happy with 15 miles and pack it in.  I even thought about it after I had passed the split and almost turned around and trudged back and still call it a day.  I didn't.  I had told my hub that I would do the best I could and stopping at 15 miles wasn't the best I could do but I knew it was going to be a long day out there.  I kept telling myself I was
2/3rds of the way there since I had finished 2 legs.  Then my mathematical mind would take over and spoil
it. Sigh...  I made it to the welcome center and had to take off my shoes so I wouldn't track mud in, but I had to potty.  I finished and sat out on the bench putting my shoes on and resting for a second before crossing the road and heading onto the Siltstone trail.  I finally reached Scotts gap, the loop part of the out and back on the 3rd leg.  I figured Dale was way ahead of me and I hadn't seen any other runners besides the one resting on the table at the aid station before I started on Scotts gap loop.  The trail was plenty thawed, but this was where I was really disliking everything.  I had been trying to avoid the mud as best as possible, but I completely gave up!  Pretty much gave up all around.  Death march had been going for a while.  Even if I tried to run the mud slowed me down.  I had already decided to pack it in and call it a day.  It was taking me forever to finish this loop and the runner that was leaning up against the aid station table had caught up and passed me.  I knew I had to be the last one out here.  I wasn't going to keep the volunteers out any longer than need be.  I finally arrived to the aid station.  I asked
if I was the last one.  NO- there was 17 runners behind me.  Dang- I had already resolved to quit.  I headed to the potty again and came out ready to go.  If I wasn't last, I had no reason to quit other than it was easier than marching back to the finish line.  As I finished grabbing some snacks, Dale came thru with another runner.  He was in the same frame of mind.  Yep, still 15 runners behind us.  I headed on out.  I could hear voices behind me and eventually Tom from Ohio caught up to me.  We chatted for a little bit, but although older he was smoking me.  I din't care.  I just wanted to finish this thing.  Dale eventually caught up to me.  We headed inward chatting.  Misery loves company.  There was another runner behind us, whom I had seen several times throughout the day (at one point sitting down at an aid station).  He was slowly catching us.  Dale wanted to run, I told him to go ahead.  I knew I was going to make it, but the mud had sucked the life out of me.  That and the hills and my lack of training for the race.  Eventually, the other guy also passed me.  That was okay because one more climb and I could hear the cheers.  Dale had crossed the finish line.  I made it to the top of the hill and a volunteer pointed for me to go left.  I headed down the road actually trotting for the finish line. Almost done.  Up an embankment and there was the finish line.  Woo hoo  9:25:35
I was done!  It was ugly and pitiful, but I finished and I was glad to have stuck it out.  I went to my truck for fresh clean clothes, changed, and cracked open an ice cold yoo hoo as I headed the bus home.

Shirt, buff, spruce tree, woooden plaque
Dale first and longest run!!!

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