Race morning, for me, began in the 3am hour as I brewed my traditional espresso, made my pre-race ritual PB&J, took my meaningless shower (as I knew the mud awaited), and loaded the car for the 1 1/2 hour drive to Mohican State Park in Loudonville, OH. It was a crisp 37F at the start with clear skies. By the end, it would double to 74F at the finish. I checked in then head back to my warm car until it was time for Rob, the race director, to give his pre-race instructions. At 7:30am, we were off and onto the trails. After a short 2-ish miles, the biggest climb of the day arrives, dubbed Big A$$ Hill and rightfully so...because it is! I'm thankful we get this monster first and not 20+ miles later. It's a "knuckle-dragging" kind of hill because of its incline and when you get to the top, you find out that it dips for a moment then keeps on going up which you can't see from the base. I powered past many on this hill as hill climbing is my forte (unless I'm in the WV mountains, from what I've found!) and cruised after getting to the top. (Photo below courtesy of Mark Carroll)
Aid stations are pretty evenly spaced. The longest stretch is the first at 7 miles and then they get closer. Typical ultra fare but I was trying a new strategy at this race. Typically, I partake of Pringles, PB&J, and graze the other salty snacks. On this day, it was all Hammer Nutrition and on a schedule. Just before the top of each hour, I had one Hammer Gel. At the top of the hour, I took one of their new Endurolyte Extreme tablets (3 in 1), and then a Perpetuem Solid about 10min later. For liquid electrolytes, I drank Heed all day. It went very well! The tablets and solids are super light so they traveled well in my short pockets and the gels fit in my handheld's zippered pocket. The only other food I ate were some watermelon slices, a few pieces of bananas, and some oranges. When I saw the oranges, I grabbed a handful simply to get the potassium in me to help ward off the charlie horses after the race. That worked, too! Not a single one. I will continue to use this strategy of fueling, most notably at June's Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run in Davis, WV.
|Photo courtesy of Tim Simenc|
I definitely chit-chat a lot more than normal at Forget the PR during the race. I hadn't seen so many of these folks in quite awhile. Looking back, I have no regrets at all. Did it cost me a few minutes here and there? Sure it did but it's not only about my personal finishing time (which no one else cares about but ME!) but about the journey and enjoying it. It was great to catch up while doing something we all love.
Ahhh...Forget the PR. You have stretches of sky-high evergreens while running on pine needles, sections of mud and water that totally encompass the trail, slippery rocks, leaf-covered trails, relentless climbs that never seem to end, but I love you. Rob and crew, my thanks to you for an incredible race experience yet again and thank you for giving back to the communities and organizations around you. Thanks so much.