Second time finishing the Laurel Highlands Ultra (last time '06.) Started the race without specific ultra training with only one run > 50k since Dec 2009. Finished 8th place of 55 finishers and 86 starters.
Started the day with a goal to beat the '06 time of 15h 54m and was on pace through about 35 miles. Weather not as hot as last year but it was warm and humid. No rain to help cool but I heard others received some. Two factors slowed me down: Sore quads and inner-thigh chafing. The humidity prevented evaporation and eventually my shorts rubbed my legs raw. Was reduced to more walking than running in the last 40+ miles. I swore off ultrarunning at least 100 times. The pain was pretty bad.
The good: no blisters and never removed my shoes. One pair of SmartWool socks did the job. No real issues with electrolytes and hydration. S-cap one per hour for about the first 10 hours. Wore a Nathan hydration pack with water only. Consumed mostly gels and the CLIF protein product "Roks," which are like chocolate malt balls. Energy was okay.
Miles 1-11: Ran among a few others, including the eventual women's winner Debbie from CT.
Miles 12-26: The only runners I saw were two relay runners.
Miles 27-35: Arrived at 32 miles right at 6 hours and on target pace. Two runners caught up to me, including Paul D from WV, and we ran together for a couple miles. Paul went on to run a terrific 14.5 hours in his first attempt at the distance.
Miles 36-44: The dreaded road detour section and my first low point. The quads were barking by this point and was unable to run down the hill. The heat of day rising. Lots of walking here. These eight miles took me 1:55 but I was surprised to arrive mile 44 not too far off my goal pace. Thigh chafing became unbearable. Changed shorts at M44 drop bag but the damage was already done.
Miles 45-53: A long eight miles was closer to 9. Passed 50 miles in approx 10 hours. Leap frogged Debbie again in this section.
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail has mile markers all along the way. By this point in the race, I was reduced to running 3-5 minutes at a time. Miles were taking anywhere from 12-15 minutes.
Miles 54-64: This 11 mile stretch was the longest leg without aid and my second low point of the day. I was swearing off ultrarunning for good. I ran out of water with a mile before the aid station.
Miles 65-69: Debbie and one other kid passed me not far after the mile 64 aid station and I wouldn't see them again.
Miles 69-77: Sue Weightman is the captain of the final aid station and I finally got my act together after that. I knew it was a short 8 miles to the finish and nightfall on the way. Pace picked up quite a bit as I wanted to be done. The final 5 miles were in the dark.
I love the LHT. Gorgeous, technical in spots, and the amazing ferns. Easily 30 miles of forest filled with what seemed like millions of ferns.
If not for the chafing, I imagine I could finish an hour or more faster. But that's how it goes in ultrarunning. My lack of recent ultra experience showed. But not all bad as I did well with my feet, nutrition, and hydration. It is a privilege to have the ability and health to toe the line at an event like this, let alone finish. I am lucky to be able to do so.