It has taken me a couple weeks to report about this race. Don't get me wrong, this is a great event, on a great course (challenging), good atmosphere, and great food following the run, but I wanted to break 6 hours. That was my main focus when I decided to enter this event for the 4th time. Off the top of my head I've finished in 6:32, 6:18, 6:07, and 6:18 this time. I felt like I was better prepared than my 6:07 last attempt. My weight is at a level I haven't been to in 17+ years. I can't event remember the last time I was below the 180lbs mark. This, I figured, had to help me get under the 6hr mark.
This event is listed as the toughest 50k on the east coast. It travels up and down from the parkway twice with a total elevation gain and loss at above 7400ft. It is a beautiful location for a race but holds some very tough and technical terrain.
My problem with this course is that I typically battle cramping of my sartorius, hamstrings, quads, and calves after about the halfway point. This time I made it to mile 21 or so before bad things started to break down. I was following my plan pretty well, hitting my splits or coming in a tad faster, drinking 20oz between aide stations. and eating something at each aide station. I was going at a pretty slow rate on the climb up Apple Orchard falls, I lost a lot of time here, and when I got the sunset fields, the thought of running 5 miles down hill didn't cheer me up. I had to take the downhill pretty easy and cramps made me take at least 4 time outs along the way.
The surprising thing in all this was that very few people passed me during my suffering (that would have been more of a downer). I ended up coming into the finish in 6:18 and 29th place. Not bad overall and concidering it was the hottest race day for this race ever. I just think of what could have been and whether I will succomb to the pressure to run this race again and attempt a 5th try at a sub 6hr finish.