Sunday, June 23, 2013

Laurel Highlands 50K Relay Race Report

As you may have read in my 50K Trail Relay post, I was able to quickly throw together a three person team and get us entered into the 50K relay group of the Laurel Highlands Ultra. This is something that I've always wanted to do, so I was super excited that it finally worked out!

Saturday morning I met Sherri and Amyjo at the finish line parking lot at 6:00. We left Sherri's car at the finish, since she was running the last leg, then we drove both of the remaining cars to Ohiopyle for the start. The original plan was to shuttle both cars between exchanges during the race, but since Amyjo was planning to end her day back in Ohiopyle with her family, we decided to leave her car there.

Packet pickup went quickly and the t-shirts were pretty nice. We spent the next 10ish minutes wandering around with the rest of the runners waiting until it was time to head off towards the start. 

It was still pretty cold out (low 50s) and it was very damp, so I was debating between long sleeves and short. In the end, I stuck with the long sleeve smartwool shirt that I was already wearing and we started off towards the bathrooms and the starting line. I think the fact that the temperature at IMTX was almost double influenced my clothing choice.  Of course the fact that I was cold was an influence also. 

We snapped a couple of team pictures at the starting line. 

The pre-race briefing was short and to the point and the next thing I knew, they were counting down for the start. Of course I was not paying any attention, so I forgot to start my watch when I crossed the starting line!  Whoops.

I started to regret the choice of long sleeves after about one mile, but it was too late to do anything other than unzip the neck and push up the sleeves as much as I could.

My leg of the race starts out easy and then goes pretty much straight up and down for about seven miles before it finally settles out and is flat or downhill for the last five.  The total climbing is over 3000 feet.  The image below is from a previous trip, where I did not forget to start my watch...

Since I only had a couple of days to think about and prepare for this run I really did not have any kind of detailed plan.  I wanted to push myself, to see what I could do.  I also wanted to finish as quickly as possible because I wanted to leave time for Amyjo to finish her leg under the cutoff time for the Rt. 653 checkpoint.

My best guess was that I would be able to finish somewhere between 2.5 and 3 hours.  I ended up finishing in 2:24 and I'm super happy about that. As the chart below indicates, I pushed myself pretty hard. My average heart rate for the day was 158 and there were several, long periods where I was above 165! In contrast, my average heart rate for the bike section of IMTX was only 131.

I'm pretty happy with the way that my heart rate dropped while I was running the final flat and descent before the last little climb. Of course, I less happy with the way my HR climbed back up as I climbed up the little hill at the very end, but I guess that's to be expected.

Here's a picture of the transition at the end of my run.

Amyjo ran the leg between Jersey Hollow Road and the Route 653 checkpoint. The total climbing on this leg is 1367 feet, according to an old entry in my SportTracks log file.  The elevation profile is below. Recognize that the scale on this is different from the scale on the elevation profile posted above. Regardless, this is a tough 7+ mile stretch of trail!

Amyjo knocked it out and then celebrated (with her eyes closed)!

Sherri ran the final leg, from Route 653 to the finish, in the trail parking lot  just before the Route 31 crossing. Again, I was able to dig out an elevation profile, although this time it came from two previous routes instead of one, so I have two images below.

Again, keep in mind that the scale is different between these two images and also between these and the previous images. The total climb in the first piece of Sherri's run was 1134 feet. My estimate for the second piece is about 500 feet for a total of approximately 1634 feet. I nice tough day for Sherri, probably the hardest 12 miles she's ever run. Not to mention that she took a little detour by mistake and ended up running some extra distance!

Here are two pictures of Sherri at the finish! Go Sherri!

Overall we had a great day. Everyone pushed their limits and everyone was super sore the next few days. Somehow I ended up being more sore after this than I was after IMTX. I'm not sure how that's possible, but that's the way it worked out. Maybe it was the increased intensity or the pounding of the climb, descend, repeat of my day, I don't really know and at this point, I don't really care ;-)

So there you have it, my first trail race is in the books and official.

Hope you all had this much fun with whatever you did last!


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