Laurel Highlands Ultra 2007 Race Report – Prologue

First, I must say that I’m awfully surprised with my performance at the Laurel Highlands Ultra on Saturday. You were […]

By on June 11, 2007 | Comments

First, I must say that I’m awfully surprised with my performance at the Laurel Highlands Ultra on Saturday. You were quite right, Loomdawg.

Next, I need to correct any mistaken impression I may have given about the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. It IS long, hard, rocky, and nasty. While much of the trail is flat… the vast majority is either rocky or covered by greenery or worse, both. To days later, my sorest muscles (other than ones I fell on) are my abs. Most of the time, you can negotiate around the worst of the rocks, but that means throwing your body around for hour upon hours. Also surprisingly sore are my shoulders. Why surprising? Well, I was wearing a Nathan HPL 020 hydration back, so I wasn’t carrying anything.

As a prelude to my report, I must admit that on balance I was more WUSsy than tough on the day, but very little of either. Knowing I hadn’t trained, especially distance wise, I was not confident about my fitness or my ability to finish the race, and rightfully so. With this in mind, I set out at a comfortable pace. Initially, I set HR alerts to keep me between 145 and 157 bpm. These go annoying, so I turned them off in the first 10 miles. They were unnecessary as with only brief exceptions I settled into my own run (not race) – finding the “all day pace” groove.

In addition to being smart about my pace, I made good gear/food choices. Minutes before the start I ditched my Montrail Nitrus in favor of the Hardrock. I just had a feeling. Oh, how glad I am to have had the Hardrocks on. I’d never raced in them before, but they were stable, protective, and not as clunky as I used to think they were. The only foot problems I had all day were four blisters, including one that’ll lose me a toenail. Two of the blisters were outside heel blisters that I always get hen I run over 50 miles. Wet feet due to fog, dew, and generally damp conditions for the first 45 miles didn’t help them at all. Another blister was caused by a hole in a running socks. The final blister was due to a permanently funky toe nail, so all in all, no unexpected blisters

Also ran long with the HPL 020 for the first time. Love it! My Clif Shots, Clif Bloks, and salt were always readily at hand. The 60 or so ounces were adequate for most of the day, though I did suck it dry twice. I also used the HPL 020 as part of a newly found “trail treat.” Every aid station I tied a dry bandanna onto one of the front loops and would initially use it to clean my glasses, but would then have it to dry my face every once in a while. Quite refreshing.

Lastly, knowing that I was not trained to burn fat as efficiently as I can, I planned for an aggressive eating schedule – not including calories from sports drink, I would eat 200 calories an hour all day long. Early on, this consisted of a Clif Shot every 30 minutes. Worth noting, I’ve never been a fan of fruit flavored sports gels until Saturday, when I couldn’t get enough of the Razz Clif Shots. Later in the day I fell in love with Clif Shot Bloks. I’d never really used them before, but they are so convenient and not nearly as sweet in the mouth, which can be a great thing after eating a dozen Clif Shots in 6 hours. :-D With the Clif Shot Bloks, I was eating 3 every half hour until I started going through a low phase, when I went to 2 every 15 minutes, which is roughly 266 calories an hour.

Ok, that’s it for the teaser. I’ll post about the run itself sometime soon, so be sure to check back in. (Gotta get back to my jobby job.)

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.