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Hocking Hills 40k – September 2012

The Hocking Hills Indian Run. I got what I expected… some quality running with a side order of pain and frustration. This year I opted for the 40k because my hip and hamstring were still a bit problematic, so my training was not where I needed it to be for the full 60k run.

It was a beautiful day – relatively cool, some humidity, but nothing oppressive. I was joined by Sean Mulford for the trip down to Hocking Hills – it always makes the prerace

hocking hills 2012

I felt strong from the get go and settled into a comfortable pace. I started running and chatting with a younger runner (Brian) as we made our way down the initial road sections towards Steel Hill. I was spending the miles sharing my “wisdom” with Brian – basically yammering on about running and pacing and nutrition- and subsequently lost focus on my pace. It was nothing too drastic, but could tell I was more tired than I “should” be by the time we hit Rose Lake and the campground for the first time. I was still moving well throughout the entire first loop, and we came in slightly ahead of my goal pace but it seemed a very doable challenge at that point. We got back to the lodge, the start-finish area, just around 1:40. I was shooting for a finish time around 3:30 to 3:40, so I was definitely ahead of schedule. I took a moment to get some food and prepare myself for the second go around.

Something happened as we began the second loop of the course – psychological? physiological? Within a couple of miles I was slowed to walk – I just was not able to take a full breath. I felt a tightness (almost nausea) in my upper stomach. I thought it could have been too many electrolytes (I was using both endurolytes and fizz in an attempt to avoid the cramps that usually plague me in this run) which may have led to water retention in my upper stomach area. Anyhow, not sure about the cause, but the result was pain, nausea, and an inability to breath whenever I stressed my system – basically anytime I was going uphill… My legs were only slightly fatigued. There were a few twinges of cramping, but they felt ok and they functioned well when I could get past the stomach issue. Even though he volunteered to slog along with me, I sent Brian ahead, and he sped off. I struggled through, and took a number of walking segments during the first part of that loop. Eventually, I got moving much more steadily during the ridge trail section. I was happy to be back on the trails, and my breathing was more steady. I chugged along, and actually began to enjoy myself a bit. Of course, I got into the mix with a group of other 40k runners that caught up to me during my struggles, so I felt some competitive urges. There were probably 7 or 8 runners that passed me as I walked and I would pass back once I got running. As we passed by Rose Lake and the campground the second time, I lost sight of a few of this pack and was able to put a few others behind me. The final mile uphill on the road was tough – I was definitely pushing myself enough that the nausea returned, but I knew the end was in sight…

I finished in 9th place out of 35 runners. I had the distinction of being the first male masters finisher (although the first female masters runner beat me…). It was a rough outing, but given the challenges I had with my hips and back during the first part of the year, I was just happy to be out there.

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