Friday, July 22, 2011

Landsford Canal 50K - A Fresh Start


My reasons for picking the Landsford Canal 50K run:

1. It was my “comeback” run. I’d been laid up injured for most on May and some of June and I needed to get back at it. Nothing like a long race to help with that!

2. It was near my hometown……my wonderfully supportive Mom and younger sis’ would get to come hang out.

3. I’ve always wanted to meet the RD-legendary Claude Sinclair

4. There were a ton of GUTS runners already signed up. A long run with friends!

My plan was to head North to Spartanburg SC Friday afternoon to hang out with Mom and then get up extra early Saturday am for the 70 mile drive to the race. Things were shaping up nicely as Mom and I had a picnic out by the pool Friday night and I almost needed a sweater….it was down right cool! A nice break in the brutal temps promised a cooler race.

The drive over Saturday morning was uneventful and boringly entertaining. For a guy living in Atlanta, I rarely get to drive 30 miles at a stretch with barely a stop light. Mom and I started to play the game of “guess how many stop lights or stop signs there will be in the next town”! Places like Chester, Landcaster, and several other dots on the map. I love the backwoods!

This is a small but well run race…..after getting there and introducing myself to Claude, I got to work helping unload some gear and helping organize the aid station before the pre-race routine started. I was well fueled, well rested, and feeling good but severely undertrain after so much time off. No expectations, I just wanted to run the best I could and enjoy the day.

BAM! I knew it was coming and I still wasn’t prepared. Claude starts this race in the beautiful Landsford Canal State Park with a musket shot out of a rifle that must be 4 feet long. That gunshot had my ears ringing for at least the first 1.25 mile out and back. I got a good peak at the hill I’d have to run up 8 times during the day. 1.25 miles up and back down a pretty long hill, followed by 7 4.25 mile loops. The course breaks down link this:

1. First mile: Very long and reasonably steep jaunt up the entrance road of the state park. There were a few breaks, but after a time or two up I wondered if I’d be dreading that hill after a few more times

2. Second mile: Long straight flat and fast improved road. You could see for almost the entire mile. It was fast and fast an awesome transition from the hill. You can fly here

3. Third mile: Finish up the long straight road and take a hard left and start to a big downhill then a hard left onto the trail.

4. Fourth mile: A long and winding fairly flat and perfectly beautiful run along the Landsford Canal. Perfect and other than the turns could be run pretty hard.

I started out pretty hard and planned to run as long as I could at a reasonably stout pace and then hang on towards the end. Joe Fejes had discussed running a 7:15 pace together for the first 26 then all bets off. But anyone that knows me knows I like to run like I feel. Usually fast at the start and then hang on for dear life at the end. Probably a good choice that before the race it was decided we wouldn’t try to run together. I felt good out the gate and trying to stay consistent at 7:15 would have been tough for me.

The loops came and went. I was basically hitting a bit under 30 minutes a loop. Little slower up the hill, flat out on the flats and downhill, somewhere in between on the trail. Never got really tired and even after loop 6 I still felt like I could drop a pretty good time on loop 7. Finished up in 3:36 and 1st OA. I didn’t really expect to run that fast, but I think a couple months of little running had me fresh and hungry.



Great hanging out with Andy Bruner, Jason Sullivan, Schick, Aaron D, Joel T, Beth, Greg, Candy, and a bunch of new friends from the upstate. Fun race. Somewhere between a fast trail race and a road ultra.





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