Sunday, January 19, 2014

4th Harbison 50k Race Report

The Harbison 50k was on January 4, 2014 and held at Harbison State Forest in Columbia, SC, but with a different Race Director than the first three events. RD David Nance did a wonderful job of continuing the success at this event Dan Hartley had begun in 2011.
This race was going to be like no other that I have done. Out of the 9 marathons and 10 ultras I have completed, I had never gone into a race this under-trained. How undertrained? I had zero miles in September and October due to a foot issue. In November (with some custom orthotics to alleviate the pressure/pain) I began my personal “Couch to 50k in 10 weeks“ program. After one week of only walking, the next 5 weeks went almost as expected, getting up to a long “run” of 10 miles. That was my longest run since April! Then I got sick with a 105° fever, and blurry vision from my antibiotics. That was 10 days off from running. (A month+ later now and I still have that lingering cough.) Just over two weeks before race day, so no time to really do much but try to get some running back in my legs. I knew I would spend much of the race walking and I had an expected time in mind even though I had no earthly idea how my legs would respond as the miles went on.
Race day brought mid 20’s at the start, clouds all day and it got up to maybe 45° - the shivering went away as soon as we started, right on time at 7:30am and it was never bad after that. 2 miles of service roads led us to the twists and turns of the Lost Creek Section. I walked many of the short hills and it was easy to quickly catch up to the small group just ahead of me as we went down the same small hills. The 2nd section was very runnable and I was still ahead of my “prediction” by 12 minutes. I typically walk very fast, so I was not losing as much time as I walked a bit more as the miles went on. Still moved well thru Spiderwoman and the rock garden. It was after the 3rd aid station that I was starting to feel the decline. I made it back to the start of the Lost Creek section (mile ~16.6) to start the second loop in 3:30. Although it was 38 minutes slower than 2013, I was happy to have made it that far and fully expected then I would be able to finish. I was going to walk it in from there as my left hip and inside left thigh began to affect my ability to run. I was able to shuffle on the downhills for the next few miles, but as the discomfort increased after that, my walking got slower and my ability to shuffle on the downhills became non-existent.
The aid stations were, as always, terrific! This year I mostly subsisted on potato chips, pb&j and cookies. Reminder to self – M&M’s when temps are in the twenties are quite solid. Also - can’t forget the hot chicken soup at the halfway mark! 

I was pretty much on my own after the very first aid station. Other than people usually passing me rather quickly, there were only two or three occasions where I had any lengthy conversations with people. I am completely comfortable out on my own and enjoy the solitude. 
At every aid station on the 2nd loop, I kept counting down the miles to the next one (and the finish) - that was my incentive. I knew based on my pace difference from the first loop that I would be close to 7:30, but that came and went during the last section. I was able to muster a trot those last 200 yards as I finished in 7:36!! (and one whole minute slower than my "expected" finish). I was thrilled with finishing, even with walking the last ~17 miles!
Thanks to all the support out there, good seeing Sully, Drew, Michelle, & Bill with great finishes - and congrats to the 2 others who have also finished all 4 Harbison 50k's: Viktor and Seth! See you next year - hopefully, with just a little more training.

First miles-near the back
At the back of this early "train"

After going off course early-Viktor passes me again.

by the Broad River...

Firebreak trail
Walking it in...just past halfway

Sulley running strong

Michelle always enjoying being out there