The long version, broken down by stages as the race was clearly three different set of efforts for me.
All felt good though the first 8 miles, keeping a relaxed running pace and walking the occasional hill into the 8 mile aid station. At that point you take a road that goes up and turns a couple of times fairly steeply. I felt good on the climb, but as soon as we headed back into the woods to run my legs felt dead and crampy.
That dead feeling lasted the better part of these middle miles. I’d try and run and another part of my legs would get ready to cramp, so I’d slow down and walk. Finally heading up Pisgah Mt., the cramps got worse and I had to stop to stretch and to yell foul words into the air. Actually, I mumbled them angrily as I didn’t want to sounds like a lunatic to others in the area. I finally crested Pisgah Mt. and started to feel slightly better, but still had to mix up walking and running into the 20 mile aid station at Kilburn Pond.
I arrived at the aid station and realized I had been drinking only Gatorade and didn’t use any Nuun electrolyte tabs during the middle miles so I switched back. I also waited a minute or two to rest my legs as I knew the next 5 miles were “easy” and I hoped to be able to recover. Something worked- I started to run and then ran a bit more and was able to run up some of the shorter hills. I finished the loop, refilled my bottles with water and Nuun tabs and ran fairly hard along the road to the next trailhead. I ran all the easy stuff and some of the hills but walked up the steeper sections of Hubbard and Davis Hills. I was hoping to pass somebody- I hadn’t seen anybody in hours and felt it would be nice while feeling good to see some results. After cresting the final hill I let fly and passed a couple of people in the woods, offered some encouragement and ran out to the final road portion. I ran the whole road until hitting one longer uphill, which started a small cramp. After reaching the top I started running again and ran through to the finish line, passing a couple of runners (who were walking it in) and a friend of theirs near the final turn.
I was able to finish strong and in fact would not have minded a longer race since I left so much running out of the middle miles. All in all mission accomplished, a 31 mile workout and session to work through some hydration and nutrition issues.
Next up- western Pennsylvania and the 62 miles at Oil Creek.