Where to start? Last semester was for lack of better words, hard. I ended strongly though rounding out a excellent academic year with a 4.0 and straight A's and CR's in all my trail runs. I left Boone a day before the sky dropped out and dumped 30inches on the high country. The storm, however, did not miss Chattanooga and in typical Lookout Mtn. 100k fashion racers and race directors alike were greeted to the prospect of having to run 62.whatever miles in the pouring rain and 33 degrees. Luckily (much to the chagrin of a number of able bodied and overly confident racers) the race directors made a wise decision in cutting the race back to a 50miler. I want to start this report by thanking the staff of Rock/Creek and namely the Wortons who worked tirelessly to put on a race (although shorter) on such short notice. This is simply a testament to the level of commitment and organization that goes into R/C races. At the end of the day the race directors were keeping in mind the best interests of all the racers and volunteers on course and I applaud them for making the correct decision.
Unfortuntely, due to the weather, a number of bigger named racers were not going to be able to make it down (from Asheville). So my initial race plan was kind of thrown out the window. I figured that the best plan of action (knowing the course) was to stay warm (unlike last year, see hypothermia) and eat as much food as possible for the first 18ish miles. Once at mile 18 there is a ~6mi uphill section that I figured I could get a pretty good idea of how bold everyone was feeling and take the race from there. It was here on the climb up to Covenant College (rocking out to The Cure and The Smiths, (I was having a moment) that I started to run alone, again, off the front.
I want to say a special thanks to a few collegiate runners that were training down at Reflection Riding as we came through. Riley I missed you but Will thanks for the support!
I came into mile 22 alone and after a quick change of clothes and a bite to eat I was off towards Lula Lake. From that point on it was cold and rainy and I was sore for most of the way. The stretch from Covenant College to Lula Lake turned out to be one of my favorite stretches as we meandered along a muddy creek bed and through some waist deep (probably knee deep for most people) creek crossings. I got out to Lula Lake to bound down the hill over the bridge and out to the 33ish mile aid station. This section was an out and back so on the back portion I could gage where my lead stood. At that point I figured that it was basically a game of attrition and that unless someone was dropping a minute/mile faster mile splits (I was holding steady at 7min/mi so 6min/mi seemed a tall order) I should survive to the finish.
The rest of the course, although very challenging and clearly the brainchild of Randy Worton, presented all sorts of surprises including a repelling section...well...we used a little rope to descend some steep rocky cliff lines followed by a breath taking long run next to a beautiful waterfall (42ish aid station).
My brother got to run with me for about a mile and half total including the last 1/2mile of the race which was unforgettable. That was very special to me that he came out not only to support me but even managed to throw down the thunder and pushed the pace on my tired legs. Guess that's what I get for being the big brother.
I finished around 6:50. Crossed the line, realized I was quickly becoming hypothermic after I couldn't hold a coffee cut steady from shivering and got in the car. I left and went home and watched the Hawaiian Ironman which seemed to slightly higher on the suckometer than what I had just experienced.
The Lookout Mtn. 100k will go down as probably my favorite race to date in the R/C trail series. Not only does the race present numerous challenges with the time of the year (shortest day) but the weather always promises to add another element of difficultly. This race course is astonishingly beautiful and demanding. The Lookout Mtn. 100k was an experience that I will not soon forget (perhaps because my legs are still sore).
Well, I am back to the grind, buried by medical school applications and the prospect of running Mt. Michell here in a few weeks. I hope the best for everyone in whatever their next adventure maybe in 2010.