With just over a month between ultra's I figure to train about like I did for the first one. I only do one long run in between so Aly and I decide to run 10 miles downtown Greenville on the rubber track at the Swamp Rabbit trail and then I will run home from there which will add another 10 miles. The day we did this run I woke up that Sunday morning and just figure today I will do my long run. I did not worry about what I had eaten on Saturday and figured no problem I was very wrong about this. We went down and started running and it was very hot until about 4 miles in then it started to rain really hard so we kept on running and let the rain cool us off for a while. Then it actually started feeling really cold but Aly and I kept on running splashing through puddles until we got to 10 miles. She asked me if I really wanted to run home from downtown and I said ya go ahead and leave I will see ya later. I took off running home along Wade Hampton Blvd. Aly's sister Norma always told me how much she liked running along this road so I did want to try it at least once. It was pouring rain on me and I was so soaking wet after only going a couple miles I was wanting it to be over. I kept running very slow and made it to 17 miles and Aly came to check on me and refill my gatorade, when I saw her coming I made a quick decision that I had enough so when she asked me if I needed more to drink I was already in the car. She laughed and said what are you doing I said take me home 17 is going to have to be enough of a long training run for the Chattooga 50k.
On the Chattooga 50k race morning we had to leave early to make it to the 7:00 am starting time. We arrived right on time, the race briefing was already done and we just had to head right onto the trails. Aly and I were going to run the first half together and then Kyle and Ariel would pace me in on the next half. We started down the trails and right away I knew we were in for a long day. This was not a rolling hill course at all this was the foothills. The trail was very narrow (gnarly singletrack as Wayne would say) with roots, rocks, moss, tree branches hanging low and switchbacks for the first 5 miles. We were alongside the Chattooga river for most of this time and man it is awesome, the rapids, the cool water, the sounds this is a real Ultra. Aly was not feeling real well and after about 3 miles we had to start taking some pit stops. She is really tough and impressed the heck out of me by running in between the pit stops and finishing to the 10 mile aid station. The trail for the second five miles was a little more runnable but it was still up and down quite a bit.
After the 10 mile aid station I told Aly, Ariel and Kyle to meet me at the turn around at Oconee State Park in an hour which was about 5.5 miles away so I took off by myself for awhile. I came upon an older gentleman and asked about his story. His name is Marv Bradley and he is 70 years old running in this ultra, he had finished marathons in 50 states twice and is working on his third time but this time running mostly ultras. He also had ran 7 100 milers what an inspiration, he said this was a training run for the Leadville 100 in August. I was so fired up talking to him I looked down at my Garmin and we were running under 9's, so I checked with Marv and he said that was way to fast for him so I went on ahead by myself. This is the part of the trail where we started meeting the leaders as they had already made the turn around. They were all looking really good and strong so I told em so and kept on running. I made it to the turn around in just about an hour as the trail was really nice for running. The watermelon at the a.s. was awesome, I fueled up best I could and Kyle and I (Ariel decided to only run last 10) headed up the trail. I told Kyle that we should try to catch some people so we started out at a pretty good pace to do that. I also told him it was going to be tough as it was uphill mostly for the 16 miles as we lost over a 1000 feet of elevation on the first half. We did pretty good I think and we made it to the 21 mile a.s. got some food and drink, Ariel joined us and off we went only 10 miles to go. Ariel had alot of energy and she led us down the trail at a great pace and I just kept thinking about the last 5 miles and all that climbing. We were going along and had passed a few people and no one had passed us until at about 6 to go we hear someone come behind us, I turn around and there was Marv just a running like it was the start of a 5k. He asks me "Josh you don't mind if I run by as my legs are nice and warm and I don't want to let them cool off". He ran down the trail and I knew we would not see him again till the finish line. Now I was totally wore out again, with about 3 miles to go we passed a girl who was soaking wet she had fell into a creek and was complaining of cramps, I told her after 28 miles If felt like I was cramping every where. Basically I had totally underestimated the Foothills Trail, Carl Aho had told me it was tough and now I believed him. Luckily my Garmin went dead at 8 hours into the race so I didn't have to check that anymore it was just slow moving till we reached the finish line. At just about 9 hours on the trail we did man it felt so good to finally be done with the hardest thing I had ever finished in my life so far.
I feel like this ultra was definitely harder than the Buncombe 34 for me but I am still totally sold on running all four of Terri's races as she did a great job with the support again. I got another nice finishers award and we headed home.
Kyle and Ariel headed up a nice section of the trail.
In a nice spot by Chattooga River
A campsite by the river.
Me by a waterfall you can't tell from the picture but the fall is about 30' down to the river
At the finish, Kyle enjoying a well deserved Coke, he ran 17 miles with me what a great pacer.
Me again "one happy camper" finally sitting down.