Monthly Archives: June 2010

“No Soup for You!” The LH Race Report

Race morning was a bit foggy and warm. Weather forecast called for temps in the 75-85 range, with a 50% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Race start seemed to go off right on time. Rick Freeman, Race Director, had warned us if the train was approaching Ohiopyle, less than 1/2 mile from the race start, we would have to wait. It was rather funny to hear a train come through just minutes after most of us crossed the very active rail line.
The fun at the Laurel Highlands Ultra race starts almost immediately-a climb. With over 100 runners registered, it was already a move a foot and stop. But then the trail opens up and it is runnable.
For most. Within a half mile, I try to speed up a bit and WHUMP! down I go-hard. Both knees, right elbow, right palm. Left hand was carrying a handheld water bottle, so was spared. Embarrassed, I spring up. It’s not worth the time to try and clean up the dirt out of the blood.

The first challenge of the course is the 2 mile climb out of mile 6. I had a mini goal of not getting passed through here, and I achieved that. I also passed people. I had my “up” switch going and was in a rhythm, and didn’t want to get sucked into anyone else’s pace. Before long, we were done! with “one” of the worst climbs.

Usually I am rewarded with a nice breeze up around mile 9. Not so much this day. It’s just hot and humid. The first water stop is at mile 12.

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is rather unique in that there is permanent cement mile markers, every mile. While that may play with some runner’s heads, I found it valuable to know exactly how far out I was from the next aid station, and tried to conserve the water.

The first 30 miles I have been on several times, and am most familiar with. I am running leap frog with around the same people. I talk a little bit, listen to some conversations, but don’t get caught up in any deep discussions. Michael Frere, of Elite Runners-Trail Runners, out of Pittsburgh catches me right before we get to Seven Springs and we chat a bit. It is interesting to hear the active clay shooting range right next to us. There was several signs warning us to stay on the trail.
At Seven Springs I wet the bandanna and put it over my head, ala “running the Sahara” look. I know there is no shade as we summit the ski resort. I refill water bottles, eat a bit more, and head out. Jim Chaney catches me on the downhill here. He’s running the 50K, and is a very fast runner. That was another sub goal of mine, to see how far I could get before he caught me-the 50K runners started at 8am-I bet that was a tough humid time to start the race.

Around mile 29 is what I think is the worst hill on the course-a very steep blip on the map. I think people think about Seven Springs being the highest point. Well, it is, but then you run down from the resort, and then basically ascend to the same elevation again.

And it’s warm out. You can cut the humidity with a knife. My clothes are wet, they’ve been soaked through since around mile 2. I’m taking an electrolyte pill every hour. I probably should have been doing more. At this race, the Aid Stations are situated where there is trail access. This means the distances between AS are 7 miles-a close one-and 12 miles.

I come into the Mile 32 AS and ask how far to the next one. “12 miles”. Wild Bill was there too, and looked about as dismayed as I felt. I filled my 2 Liter bladder almost up. I refilled the handheld. I ate some food and headed out.

A few miles down the road, it’s time to run the bonus section.

More Race Ruminating

I’ve enjoyed my work schedule this week. I am working the 11am to 9 pm shift, which I usually don’t like, but I am enjoying this sleeping in! I am getting lots and lots of sleep. I haven’t run since Sunday, and with this rain, I won’t run until Saturday morning.

Race! I’ve printed out the rest of the elevation profile. I’ve kind of split the race up into several blocks in my head.
Ohiopyle to Seven Springs Ski Resort-miles zero to 26. The section I know best. The 50K racers stop at Seven Springs.
Ski Resort to Bridge Closing and Detour-miles 26 to 38.
The Detour-8 miles of the great unknown!
Miles 38 (just the other side of the turnpike, back to the mile markers!) to the finish. I’ve only run this section once, in 2007, in a full blown snowstorm.

I need to knock the dried mud off my trail shoes. Maybe even take the inserts out and get the crud off them.

I will buy a “trail treat” to put in my drop bag. I think these will be Little Debbie Choclate Creme Pies or brownies-items, that if they get mushed, will still be fine to eat. (And with buying a dozen, I can tempt my runner with the leftovers next weekend at Mohican!)

I just checked the weather again, around 75/62 at Seven Springs…


Well, I don’t have to worry about the 330 am bus ride! I am apparently staying close to the start of the race, and someone is going to drive us to the start. Then Dan, Bob and I will have one vehicle stashed at the finish line, and will drive back to the lodging! Whee! One less worry!

Weather forecast from Seven Springs Ski Resort is a high around 78, scattered thunderstorms. Pretty usual for the area in the spring.

4 AM in the Morning

Dan and I at the overlook, around mile 7?

Did I run yesterday? Oh yeah, I did. During all the torrential rain, I got 4 miles in on the treadmill and watched “You are What you Eat”.

The early morning rain storm woke me. My thoughts turn to my race…in five days. In some ways, I am more uneasy about this race than my previous Umstead and Mohican attempts. Or maybe I’m just not remembering the uneasiness. This race is “only” 77 miles. That is usually, at Mohican, where I get timed out, around the 75 mile mark, in about 24 hours. And the race limit for this 77 mile race is 24 hours. But this is a much tougher course. But more of it is runnable. But how can I compare two race courses. It’s apples and oranges.

Then I think about the bus drive to the start. It’s a point to point race, so there is 1.5 hour bus drive. I don’t do well on mass transportation, that’s usually when I get a panic attack. So I resolve to bring a Xanax along. Well, great, that will take care of the panic, but then I will be sleepy and sluggish at the start of an all day race. Oh, I resolve to bring a can of ice cold sugared Coke and start sipping on it as we near Ohio Pyle, to counteract the drug, if I need to take it.

What else did I think of? Oh right, race goals. My plan is to finish the race. Beat the cutoffs. Then I start thinking about “B” goals: maybe be at certain places at certain times? All I can think of is I want to get through the ski resort in the daylight. (I know where this stems from, during the Slim Pickins FA last fall, I was trying to get to the ski resort with some light left.) Well duh, Kim, the ski resort will be mile 26 during this race, I sure hope you make it there in daylight! But I might as well leave that as a goal!

An aside on race day goals: most people have several goals in mind for a race. “C” goals usually mean what you are planning to do, like finish the race. A “B” goal might be something a little loftier, like a time to beat, or maybe to record a new “personal record” on the course. An “A” goal may be that “pie in the sky” where everything falls into alignment, where you BQ a marathon, or win the race….or it might be just simply finishing the race.

I eventually got back to some sleep. I’m still just slightly wired for this race. Since this is a new race for me, I don’t have any preconceptions. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort box. I feel up for the challenge, and ready for it. I just wish it was tomorrow and I could get the waiting over with!!

From the epic Slim Pickins 2008 version, I believe we will have slightly less snow on the trail.

Help Me Win A Scale!

Cuz I don’t obsess enough with my old Tanita…

My friend Ray has done another excellent in-depth review of the Withings scale. When he does these reviews, the gear is usually returned to the company. However, this time, the company told him to keep the scale, so he decided to spread the love and is giving it away!

The terms of his contest were simple: one entry for a comment on his website; another entry for following him on Twitter: dcrainmakerblog; and a third entry for mentioning him on the blog.

You really should go check out Ray’s blog. He writes in depth review of gear; detailed, awesome race reports, and fabulous photography. Ray is a hard core triathlete. By hard core I mean he got hit by a car in his last event and still managed to finish the race! He is also a foodie and looks like he makes some mean looking food! The pics of the food are great!

Uh, so I guess there’s really nothing you have to do to help me win a scale, besides maybe introducing you to another great athlete and blogger out there!

20 in 10

It’s the half way point, time to revisit my “20 in ’10” goals….

  • Read one book a week- check. Been doing very well. I bought a Kindle and have been reading away
  • Run a 5K- not yet. Need to start looking around and run one! The original goal was a 30 minute 5 K, but I would like to think I could improve on this!
  • Lose 20 lbs- about 18 lbs lost! Maybe, at the end of this week~!
  • Learn to swim- the local pool is open. I am thinking of going this Thursday or Friday for the first time!
  • Run a marathon/ultra in a new state-would Virginia count? (Again?) I am not so much thinking about travelling just for the sake of a new state. I am, however, planning on running MMT in 2011. My choice of races for the rest of this year are going to be to build on training for MMT 2011. So I may run races closer, or revisit old races, that will help build me for MMT 2011.
  • Leave blogging comments more-I still need to do better at this!
  • Go to wine country with hubby-Check. Well, it’s happening at the end of this month!
  • Implement weight training/core routine-I have started, but need to get better at this.
  • Run 50 Miles at URINEO-still planning on this! This is a December 2010 goal
  • Complete Laurel Highlands 70 Mile Race-planning on finishing this on June 13!!

So that is the first ten goals. I still need ten more to go.

  • Call my mother more. Enough said. Implement!!!! ( just went off and spent 20 minutes on the phone with her 🙂 )
  • Finish the WV Trilogy-my target fall race. It’s a 50K on Friday, a 50 mile race on Saturday, and a 1/2 marathon on Sunday
  • Get my podcast going. Once upon the time, I was half of a successful podcast. I’ve been planning on doing another podcast on trail running-solo. It’s time to get back to this.

So I need seven more. Still thinking about them! Any thoughts??

Laurel Highlands-Twelve Days Out!!

I decided on the Laurel Highlands Race not too long after our annual club run on trail, last fall. Of course, at that time, it was the traditional 70.5 miles, which is the entire length of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The unexpected twist (and extra mileage) occurred in December, where the bridge that crosses the PA turnpike was deemed unsafe and closed. I believe the bridge has since been removed.(Note: I ran across it and it seemed to hold my weight.)

Reviewing the aid stations for the race, I re

The LH trail has some very good climbs, and much of the footing is pretty technical-rocky. The LH trail is permanently blazed with yellow blazes-even over blazed. You can see one or possible two or three while on this trail-eliminating the lost factor!

alize I’ve had it pretty easy with runs/races in the past. Aid Stations have been generally 4-5 miles apart. For the Laurel Highlands Ult

The Race Director has since found a detour,which adds about 7 miles to the race. He’s also extended the time limit to 24 hours for the race.

ra, the aid stations are around 6 miles apart, with two spots where the aid stations are 11.7 and 12 miles about.

Prepping for this, I’ve been 1) losing weight so 2) I can carry more weight on my back-aka in the form of water. My hydration vest has a reservoir of a 2 liter capacity. I do not fill it up all the way! Two liters of water weighs 4.4 lbs, which is a little too much on my back! I usually fill it to about the one liter mark. I will also, at the start of the race, carry one hand-held water bottle for extra hydration. I can also dip this into a stream if needed. No, it is not a good idea to drink from streams, but sometimes you get a little desperate. Michelle just posted on FB about having to call EMS on the LH Trail on Sunday for a dehyrdated hiker.

My nutrition is going to consist of mainly Hammer gels and some Clif Blockshots. I will eat off the aid station tables. Drop bags are only at two stations: miles 44 and 64. I will stash some tasty treat that I will forget about and then be delighted to discover.

I will also have spare clothing at the drop bags. Having a dry bra and shirt could come in handy IF it becomes colder in the late afternoon and evening. Although it will be a hot and humid day (most likely) we will be at a higher elevation and it may be colder. Or it may not be. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to have extra clothing.

I will also have some music stashed out there. Music is a good carrot for me, especially as something to look forward to down the trail. As this is a point to point run, you won’t be seeing runners coming back toward you. And after the sun goes down, sometimes it’s good to have music as a treat. I always develop a new playlist for a race. The playlist will have some songs I always listen to, and I like to find new songs-new blood-for a new race. I also like to listen to what I call “comfort songs” usually songs from my childhood.

There will be several factors to contribute to a successful Laurel Highlands finish: managing food and hydration, managing the weather, and most of all, relentless forward motion!