Sunday, August 3, 2014

Race Report - 2014 Hot To Trot 8 Hour Run

A sea of pink during the pre-race briefing.

Day #2 of my back to back adventure
I woke up at 5AM to get ready for part 2 of my weekend adventure in ATL. I did my usual morning routine and headed from my hotel in downtown Atlanta to Lithia Springs State Park. I've been there a few times for different ultra events and this time I was headed there for my first "Hot To Trot 8 Hour Run". However, my goal was not to run for 8 hours the day after the Stone Mountain repeats. Instead, I set a more reasonable goal for a 50K distance, giving me back to back long runs with lots of elevation gain.


Early trail loop section approaching the creek.

I arrived at the park, paid my park entry fee and arrived for the race check in with plenty of time to spare before the race start to set up a chair along the course near the start/finish area. The race course consisted of a single loop of roughly 1.2 miles with a couple of climbs, one somewhat major, one rather minor. However, over the course of 8 hours running loop after loop, the elevation gain becomes more significant with every loop you run.

Running along the creek.
As I was setting up my chair/mini aid station with my cooler, I decided to get my GoPro camera ready to take it with my on my first loop. After all, I was feeling slightly sore from the day before, so no reason to actually race the first loop. Instead, I planned to take is really easy on loop one to see if I would be able to loosen up and actually race.


Sunrise above the creek.
The race was scheduled to start at 8AM and after the pre-race briefing, the race just kinda started with some folks still wondering if this was actually the start of the race. Very informal, just the way I like my ultras:-) I settled in the back of the pack to not keep anyone from running "their" race while I was trying to record some footage from the course. I barely moved at a running pace, taking notice of the course to see how difficult it would be. I noticed quite a few familiar faces during this first loop and it made for some brief but very enjoyable conversations.

The big climb on the loop.
Once I arrived back at the start/finish area, I tried to set up my GoPro to take some stationary snapshots while I was out there running, but that really didn't work out so well (see below). After I got back out there, I decided to start running. I left my hand bottle at my chair with plans to stop for a quick sip and any other nutritional needs every other loop. That strategy worked out great for me.

GoPro selfie during lap one:-)
Initially, all I wanted to do discover 31 miles in a decent time, but as I continued to run, I started to feel better and better with any soreness basically gone. So I started to pick up the pace. It was a training run, so I decided to run every one of the hills as long as I could. As it turned out, I never had to start walking. I also did not need a lot of nutrition aside from Gatorade and a banana. I was feeling great and before I knew it, I only had 3 loops left to complete a 50K. My GPS watch was off and when I realized how close I was to completing the 50K distance, I noticed that I could actually get a new PR of sub 5 hour, albeit an unofficial PR. So I started running a little harder again, since my pace had dropped off a little over the last few laps. When I finally logged my last lap, the race clock showed 4 hours 54 minutes, new unofficial PR. I never bonked, took plenty of salt, drank plenty of fluids, but only ate a couple of banana pieces and half a potato, feeling great the entire way.

Pretty serious profile:-)
I hope to be back next to run with the GUTS peeps, great RD, crew and fellow runners! Thanks everyone for a great ultra experience!

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