On December 1st, Lester Farmer and I set out at 5am to attempt running 100 miles from Palmetto Bible Camp to Oconee State Park. Lester made it all the way to the other side of the Laurel Valley section by Whitewater Falls. I only made it to the entrance to Laurel Valley which was about 35 miles.
Garmin data for the first twenty something miles. Check out the elevation profile.
In my run I got to go across Jones Gap State Park, over Raven Cliff Falls, across Caesar's Head State Park, across the Watson Cooper Heritage Preserve, and up and back down Sassafrass Mountain. Whew! For the last 18 miles or so I battled cramps mostly in my quads but also in my back. I kept pressing on the hopes that they would give up, but that never did happen. I knew that once I entered Laurel Valley it would mean 33 miles of no turning back so that meant I really needed to assess myself on that last little 4.7 miles before getting there.
Well, the first step I took downwards, my leg locked up. I fell down the next few steps and landed on the leaf cushioned trail. My quads were cramping so I would try to bend my leg, but then my quad would cramp in the way that it makes a huge dimple in the heart of the muscle. I would try to straighten it out and the quad would speak up again. The whole scene was pretty humorous to me so I started laughing.
Bad idea. My little muscles around my ribs locked up. That was even funnier, but since I didn't really have it in me to physically laugh, I just made a note of it and took in the coming sunset from the top of the tallest mountain in South Carolina.
I knew that Meg would be driving like a bat out of hell to get to the bottom and set up the most elaborate and important aid station so far so there would be no hope of catching her in time to bail. I considered going to the top and begging for a ride, but I thought that since I would not be finishing the whole run that I might as well do this last 4.7 miles.
Did I mention that downhills are what was killing me and that this section is all downhill climbing? Fun stuff.
There is a road intersection about 2 miles from the bottom that I considered waiting until I could flag someone down, but then I figured I could make the last little bit. I was worried about holding up Lester and Scott Hodukavich. Scott had come up from Columbia to pace Lester and I through Laurel Valley. Scott met up with me before I reached the bottom of the mountain and walked it in with me all the way to the entrance to Laurel Valley. That was nice. I convinced him that I was definitely not going to continue after much encouragement from him and he left to catch up with Lester who had left about 15 minutes earlier.
That is where my trail fun would end and the car cramping would begin. Hips, quads, and stomach. All of this suffering gave me great cause to sharpen my pencil on what I might do differently next time to be more successful.
Here's what I came up with:
I need to more consistently train. I did long difficult runs, but doing theothers in between would have better prepared me.
Do more training bombing downhills. Slamming down the hills seems to be theeasiest, quickest, safer, and more importantly, funnest way to get down steephills. Unfortunately, because of my lackof sufficient training in this area, it really beat me up which became an issuewhen piled on top of huge climbs, more huge descents, and everything inbetween.
Core training. Squats, dead lifts, planks, side planks, supermans. My back was killing me after all of thatsteep climbing, more than a little of it using all four limbs.
I had cut a v shape in the heel of my shoes because when Iran in them without socks it would rub on my Achilles and remove skin. When running in those same shoes insemi-thick socks, my heel would all but slip out the back when climbing steepascents. So, for big climbing runs,either wear a shoe with a more substantial heel cup or very thin or nosocks.
Weighing less would certainly help when doing that muchclimbing and descending. I believe I amaround 185. I would prefer more around160. The number 1 culprit? Beer.
Need to also focus on strengthening my hips. Though some serious downhill running and moreconsistent training would help this. Ithink some more focused work such as doggy peeing on the fire hydrant leg liftsand clock squats will help as well.
What worked well?
My ultraspire pack. I usually carry a handheld as well, but I just used my pack. With the crewing Meg Wempe did, the pack was enough. I would have refilled out of the streams in Laurel Valley, but, other than that, I had more than enough fluid between aid.
Drymax socks. I have never worn socks while running. Though they created more slippage because of their cushion, I had no rubbed spots. I never get blisters so that was unchanged.
Tights and a tight shirt. No chaffage!
Meg Wempe-great crew person and someone that you can depend on to both be there and be there in good spirits.