Friday, March 1, 2013

Louisville Lovin' the Hills Race Report

Lovin' The Hills 2013- A Review

I choked down yet another energy gel packet, sticking to my nutrition strategy of one gel every 30 minutes. 20 miles had gone by and my stomach felt good, but not great. The previous 20 miles were very strong, but not sheer perfection like the previous year. The final 12 miles would follow suit, worthy of contentment, but not awe. 

In the opening miles I maintained a pace which felt punishing. It was a pace I knew from experience I could maintain throughout the 32 miles of trails that comprise the LLTH 50K course. The course is a little long to be a true 50K, and to add to the challenge the route boasts 6400' of climbing- not bad for a Midwestern ultra!

Entering Scott's Gap at mile 20 I had finally escaped the affable Harvey Lewis who was running in 3rd place. Harvey is a talented runner who is on the TEAM USA 24 Hour Team. Harvey was the second fastest US male at the World Competition this past fall. Scott Breeden was somewhere far ahead of me at this point, and about to gain even more ground during his scorching return on the Siltstone trail. 

This was my seventh year in a row running this race. I know how to run the course. I always use the challenging Scott's Gap loop as a chance to recover slightly before the return on the Siltstone trail, and apparently Scott Breeden did the same, as he only gained two minutes on me while I ran at a relaxed pace. 

Ironically enough, the section of course in which Eric Grossman and I dropped Scott Breeden last year was this same stretch, aptly named Scott's Gap. This year, however, the tables were turned. Scott was in 1st place and swiftly flying through the forest en route to a win. Scott has grown and matured as a runner. He's had a stellar year including a sub-70 minute half marathon and a 50K in which he finished only minutes behind David Riddle, (one of the fastest guys in the country). From his smoking fast times in shorter races I knew he had the physiology to be an amazing ultrarunner, and he showed everyone what he is capable of in his first two ultras of 2013. 

After exiting the Scott's Gap section, Breeden put the hammer down and ran a sub-55 minute Siltstone return. This stretch of trail is the return from an out and back and the runners I passed on their way out weren't giving me any clue as to how far ahead he was. I didn't care. I was punishing myself, and giving it all I had regardless of anyone elses proximity to my churning legs. My one hour return on the Siltstone wasn't enough to bridge the gap he was forming.

As I finished the Siltstone trail and entered the Yost Ridge Trail for the final climb of 3 miles to the finish I contemplated my overall goals in the race.

  • Beat last years time of 4:47
  • Beat the Course Record from 2007 of 4:39
  • Maintain a high heart rate
  • Stay strong mentally. Push myself as hard as possible and "stay in the pain cave..."  
  • Practice good nutrition by eating every 30 minutes
  • Carb-load well the week prior to the race at a 70/18/12 carb/fat/protein ratio.
  • Run from the core. Keep lower abs firm during the race. Kegel throughout.
I closed strong and held my second place finish, with an overall time of 4:37, beating the old course record by two minutes. I knew it would be close, and so I dug deep on the steep grades heading up to the races finish line.

It was a good race considering I didn't taper. The course was a little shorter than the previous year and I ran 10 minutes faster without speedwork in January. Scott Breeden roasted me, but I met my goals.

Not every race can be an A race. Last year this was an "A" race. I tapered well and trained for it. This year however I'm building to peak for the Umstead 100 in April. I'll walk away from LLTH this year content that I ran as strong as last year while training through the race.

Recovery from LLTH which was now 3 weeks ago was fast. I began focusing on mile repeats and tempo runs only a week or so after the race. I was fresh and ready after a January which was high in volume but low to medium in intensity. The workouts my PT Lauren, at Advanced Orthopaedics has me doing helped with recovery as there are fewer imbalances in my form. I felt stronger than ever on the decents and I look forward to the improved recovery times which focusing on hip strength, form, and balance has brought me.

I'm shooting for the Course Record at the Land Between the Lakes 60K this year on March 9, (next weekend). I've opted for the 60K distance over the 50 mi. I'm happy with past performances at the LBL 50 and this is the 7th year I've run LBL. This year I want to spare the legs and endocrine system from the 12 added miles of racing the 50 mi vs. the 60K. The 60K course record attempt will still be challenging as its a stout time. I feel like I am making a wise move by racing the faster 60K at LBL this year which is only 4 weeks prior to Umstead. It boils down to 4 hours of racing compared to 6. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make my goal for Umstead happen; a sub-15 hour 100 miler. (2012 Umstead 100 15:27)



  1. Nice job with the CR (minus the new faster CR) and good luck at Umstead!

  2. Awesome blog. Congratulations on your PR and strong finish at LLTH50K. See you out there this weekend.